Christmas and New Year brings lots of opportunity to get together with friends and loved ones, which usually means plenty of eating opportunities.
When food is constantly within reach, it can be difficult to say no, and very often it's the snacking, which causes us to take in way too many calories at this time of year.
So, rather than serving up the usual potato chips and chocolate, here are some healthy holiday appetizer and snack ideas, which will be a little kinder to your waistline and heart.
1. Feta and Cucumber
Baked wholewheat pita bread is great for dipping, and they are so much healthier than store-bought potato chips or tortilla chips. They can be baked ahead of time, and stored in an airtight container for about two days.
Why not try topping them with the following recipe to make a delicious appetizer or snack.
1 pack wholewheat pita bread, cut into small triangles
1/4 cup jarred olive tapenade
1 cucumber, finely sliced
2 oz feta cheese, crumbled
- Place the pita triangles on a baking sheet, and bake until golden brown and completely crisp; about 10 minutes. Allow to cool.
- Then, spread 1/2 teaspoon olive tapenade on each pita triangle. Top with a cucumber slice, and a little crumbled feta.
- Just before serving, drizzle each bite with a squeeze of lemon juice.
2. Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese
4 tsp reduced fat cream cheese
1/4 tsp dill, chopped
15 radishes, sliced finely
2 oz smoked salmon, finely chopped
Dill sprigs, to garnish
- Combine the cream cheese and the dill.
- Then, top each radish slice with a little salmon, a dollop of cream cheese mix, and a sprig of fresh dill.
- Finish with a squeeze of lemon juice over each.
3. Olives and Feta
This marinated olive and feta recipe could be served with the baked pita triangles from the recipe above, or with some wholegrain crackers. This is a great option if you're stuck for time, since it can be made one day ahead.
1 cup pitted olives, sliced
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp rosemary, chopped
Ground black pepper to taste
- Combine the olives, feta, oil, zest, juice, garlic, rosemary, and black pepper in a medium bowl.
- Cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day.
- When ready to serve, simply top your wholegrain crackers (or pita triangles) with the olive and feta mix, or place the bowl and crackers on a serving plate, and allow everyone to dip and serve their own.
4. Dip and Crudités
This is such an easy snack option, which can largely be made ahead of time. It's always a favorite with kids and adults, alike, not to mention super healthy!
Try a dip such as french onion, spinach dip, hummus, or a ranch dip, with a colorful variety of raw veg crudites.
Good choices include, baby carrots, sliced bell peppers, sugar snap peas, radishes, baby corn, broccoli florets, cauliflower florets, cucumber wedges, and grape tomatoes.
5. Apricot Canapes
I love the idea of sweet and savory snacks, which satisfy cravings, without adding too many calories, or unhealthy ingredients.
20 dried apricot halves
8 tsp crumbly texture cheese, such as blue cheese, or wensleydale
2 oz pistachios, finely chopped
Freshly ground pepper
Organic honey (optional)
- Top each apricot half with 1/2 teaspoon cheese, then sprinkle with the pistachios, and season with ground pepper.
- For added luxury, drizzle with a small amount of organic honey.
6. Fresh Fruit Platter
Don't forget how delicious and refreshing a large platter of fruit can be, when you feel stuffed to the brim with turkey and all the trimmings.
You can make your fruit platter a little more indulgent, by serving with a small pot of melted dark chocolate for dipping.
Try this recipe to make chocolate fondue, without adding heavy cream.
1/2 cup cocoa powder (good quality)
1/2 cup nonfat evaporated milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 oz dark chocolate (60-70% cocoa), finely chopped
- Place the cocoa powder in a medium saucepan. Then, gradually pour in the evaporated milk, and whisk to make a paste.
- Place the saucepan over a low heat, and stir constantly, until simmering.
- Remove from the heat, whisk in the vanilla and chocolate, and stir until the chocolate is melted.
- It will thicken slightly as it cools.
- Serve in a small bowl or fondue pot, with a selection of seasonal fruit for dipping.
Also, unsalted wholenuts and air popped popcorn are also healthy alternatives for your holiday snack table.
What are your favorite holiday snacks?
Melanie Thomassian is a registered dietitian, health writer, busy wife, and mum. Her goal is to promote good health and better lifestyles in the online community. For more healthy eating tips, check out her blog.