Over the holidays, meals begin hours before sitting down and extend well past the main course. In fact, appetizers and desserts often steal the show. To enjoy all the delectable courses without ending up in a food coma, remember these tips:
Plate practically. Using a small appetizer plate or cocktail napkin to plate your food helps avoid mindless nibbling. Only choose the items you enjoy most and leave those that you’re OK doing without to avoid consuming senseless calories you don't absolutely love anyway.
Savor the flavors of seasonal fare. Get in vitamin and fiber-rich foods whenever possible by buying and cooking with colorful, seasonal produce. How to tell what's in season? Ask your local grocer or check out Eat Seasonably's interactive calendar!
Indulge in your company. Regardless of whether backyard football, board games, or parade watching strike your fancy, use this time to plan and enjoy fun activities and conversations with your loved ones without your mouth full or a plate in your hand. Plus, taking brief breaks to chat between courses will give you a better idea of just how full your stomach is!
Need some inspiration for guilt-free starters that will wow your guests? These two health conscious appetizers are sure to please this season. Bonus: they don't take up stovetop or oven space making it easier to work on that turkey or mashed potatoes!
STUFFED DATES WITH NUTS AND PARMESAN
This sweet and salty appetizer couldn’t be easier to prep. Each stuffed date is about 40-50 calories, bursting with flavor, and easy to eat while chatting with family and friends. They can be made a day ahead, plated, covered with plastic wrap and stored in the refrigerator.
an 8-12 ounce package of pitted dates
a 4-8 ounce package of nuts (pecan halves, walnuts or pistachios work well)
4 ounces Parmesan cheese, cut into small shards
Using a paring knife, split each date vertically. Place nuts and a shard of cheese inside each date. Serve at room temperature.
ENDIVE WITH GOAT CHEESE AND PINE NUTS
Adapted from Good Housekeeping “50 Best Low Calorie Snacks”
An exciting, flavorful take on your standard vegetable display, these easy to assemble, oven free, finger foods are a good source of fiber, protein, Vitamin E and Vitamin B1.
2 bunches of Belgian endive, leaves separated
8 ounces goat cheese (preferably herbed)
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
Spread about 1 Tablespoon of goat cheese into each endive leaf. Sprinkle with toasted pine nuts and serve.
Photos by Krizia
Suzanne Hollander, MS, RD
Suzanne practices as a Clinical Dietitian in Los Angeles, where in her free time she enjoys running, hiking, cooking and exploring Southern California (including frequent attempts at the stuffed animal claw machine). Recipes packed with seasonal flavors, conversation-sparking surprises, and easy prep work are her saving graces year-round. Check out her musings on delicious food and healthy living at