Your next summer party doesn't have to be an exercise in fatty food, too much alcohol, and post-party regret. Have a blast and still feel good the next morning with this prescription for summertime fun, without the unhealthy excess.
What’s the secret to serving healthy party food? Treat your favorite treats as just that -- treats. Enjoy those goodies in moderation. Then fill out the rest of the feast with tasty, good-for-you foods, like this baker's dozen of delectable treats for your shindig.
Grill Up a Good Time
The grill usually stars in any backyard bash, so while you've got yours warmed up, have it do double duty by whipping up healthy meals instead of just burgers and franks.
- Roasted veggies. Transform sweet red onions, yellow zucchini, crunchy broccoli, and vibrant peppers into finger foods even the kids will love. Marinate these and other seasonal veggies briefly in olive oil and balsamic vinegar, add a dash of salt, pepper, and oregano, then roast everything on the grill. A lack of leftovers is virtually guaranteed.
- Veggie pita pizzas and quesadillas. Make a meal of those roasted veggies. Chop them up, spread them over pita rounds and top with low-fat shredded cheese, then pop them on the grill. Or add veggies to a tortilla, top with cheese, fold over and grill for easy, quick quesadillas.
- Fruits on the barby. If you've never put peaches, pineapple, plums, or other fruits on the grill for a quick sear over the flames, you've missed a summer treat. Grilling fruits like these caramelizes their sugars, enhancing and intensifying their sweetness. Who needs cake?
- Better bread. Slice a loaf of whole wheat French bread the long way, rub with garlic, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with spices, then place the bread face down on a hot grill. In seconds, you've got a crunchy, chewy addition to any barbecue.
- Better than chips. Slice pita or tortilla rounds into a half dozen wedges and give them the same grill treatment and you've got a great vehicle for homemade veggie salsas, too. Or brush the grilled wedges with a bit of oil and sprinkle with sugar-cinnamon and you've got a perfect mate for fruit salsas.
Savor Summery Sides
When the weather's hot, you want something easy to make and cool to eat, so give one of these treats a try. The best part? They can all be made in the blender.
- Chill with cool veggie soup. Take tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and celery, add a dash of Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, and a few other ingredients and you've got a backyard superstar: gazpacho. Make it a meal with a side of grilled bread.
- Fruit soups. Sweet produce works great as a cold soup, too. Grill up your favorite fruits, then combine them with a touch of fruit juice, salt, red pepper flakes, and balsamic vinegar.
- Delectable dips. While you've got the blender out and the grill going, roast a little eggplant, then mix up some smooth baba ghanoush (eggplant dip), or give homemade hummus a spin.
- Fruit and veggie salsas. Give those grilled pitas and tortillas something to do by roughly chopping a couple kinds of chunky salsa. You can go with the tried-and-true mix of onions, tomatoes, and avocado, or mix it up with a fruity summer salsa of pineapple, peaches, mangos, and hot peppers.
Dice Up Delicious Desserts
Ice cream isn't the only cool dessert for summer, try a few of these easy-to-make chilly treats:
- Fruit pops. Watermelon, strawberries, grapes, cherries -- summer produce is everywhere right now, so make the most of the bounty. Toss your favorites in a blender with fruit juice and yogurt, pour into small paper cups or molds, and unveil at your backyard bash. Drippy, sweet, and good for you, too.
- Frozen bananas. Bananas transform into super-creamy treats when they're frozen. Roll them in nuts or drizzle a little dark chocolate over them before freezing for an even more decadent treat.
- Bring out the blender again. Mix summer fruits, a little ice, and a splash of a fruity, herbal iced tea and the resulting smoothie is a great way to bring a hot day to heel. Add a jot of your favorite liqueur or spiced rum for a dessert smoothie that doubles as an adult treat.
- Parfaits. Dice summer fruits like kiwis and strawberries into a tall glass, top with frozen yogurt and nuts, then repeat the layers and chill.