Hors d’oeuvres, dips, spreads and plenty of chips and crackers are what holiday parties thrive on. Fortunately, you needn’t deprive yourself to keep your skinny vibe going. A little creativity and a few simple swaps will give you plenty of choices.
You don’t have to forgo your favourite creamy dips and spreads, just be smart about the dairy. Greek-style yogurt can stand in for sour cream in classics like onion or spinach dip, and Neufchatel cheese works in recipes that call for cream cheese. Whip Neufchatel cheese first to increase the volume, then add favourite ingredients like roasted red peppers, smoked tuna, clams, chili sauce, or sliced black or green olives. Cottage cheese also makes a satisfying dip base if you cream it in a blender or food processor. For a quick dip, add barbecue sauce to the creamed cottage cheese, or thin the creamed cottage cheese with a little milk, add a dash of Worcestershire sauce and finish with a clove of crushed garlic.
World Class Dips
Think outside our boarders for veggie-based dips and spreads that don’t pack on pounds. Salsa is a good choice, especially if you swap fried taco chips for baked. Hummus, baba ghanoush and olive tapenade have big taste and a relatively small amount of olive oil. A Serbian delight called Ajvar combines roasted eggplant, roasted red peppers, garlic and paprika to make a rustic relish that’s perfect with pita chips. Almost any kind of canned beans make a delicious dip. Add Mexican spices and picante sauce to pureed black or pinto beans for bean dip that isn’t refried. Pureed white beans mixed with garlic, a squeeze lemon juice and a drizzle of olive oil is a Mediterranean classic.
Chips and crackers go down too easily and have more fat than bread. Bread cubes and baked pita triangles or bagel chips are tasty dippers and you’ll eat fewer carbohydrates and less fat. For hors d’oeuvres that need a base, cut party rye in triangles, arrange on a baking sheet, and toast lightly in the oven. You can make your own crostini from a baguette cut in quarter-inch slices and baked until thoroughly crisp and golden brown. For a snack that needs no topping, brush baguette slices lightly with olive oil and top with a sprinkling of celery salt and a whisper of chili powder or turmeric.
Broaden Your Menu
Increasing the variety of your party menu will decrease the chance that you’ll feel bored and deprived. Think beyond dips and spreads to naturally skinny canapés like stuffed mushrooms, ceviche, chicken satay, stuffed grape leaves, teriyaki meatballs, devilled eggs, baked jalapeño poppers and cucumbers topped with goat cheese or dilled Neufchatel. Don’t forget that vegetables make great dippers and add festive colour. Broccoli florets, cherry tomatoes, crunchy green beans and pea pods, crisp asparagus, radishes and rings of bell pepper make a splash on any table.
Include a few expensive treats you usually forgo. Deck your party table with shrimp cocktail, a tray of sushi or a bowl of fresh strawberries drizzled with good balsamic vinegar. Cut fresh figs in half and top with thin strips of prosciutto. Bring out the tuna tartar, smoked salmon and caviar. This is the holiday season. Indulge!