Holiday time is here and so are the parties. With the cheese boards, puff pastry wrapped anythings, cookies, and festive cocktails, it can be a challenge to stay on track AND have a good time. Luckily, I've got your back with three holiday appropriate hors d'oeuvres that will not leave you regretful the morning after....well at least about your food choices.
Everyone loves a good dip. Switch up the traditional hummus with a creamy white bean dip topped with sun-dried tomatoes and olive tapenade.
White Bean Hummus with Sun-dried Tomato Tapenade
Recipe adapted from the Natural Gourmet Institute
makes 1 cup
- 1⁄2 cup cannellini beans, soaked overnight, drained, and rinsed
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 fresh sage leaf
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary
- 1⁄4 teaspoon sea salt + additional to taste
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon chili flakes
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest + 1⁄4 teaspoon lemon juice or more to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 5 sun-dried tomatoes, rehydrated, minced
- 3 tablespoons Kalamata olives, pitted, minced
- 1 tablespoon chopped chives + additional for garnish
- 2 heads of endive, leaves separated for serving
- In large pot, combine the beans, stock, bay leaf, sage leaf, rosemary sprig, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer and partially cover until beans are tender, about 40 minutes.
- Drain the beans and remove the rosemary, sage, and bay leaf. Reserve any remaining bean liquid.
- In a small sauté pan, warm the olive oil over low heat. Add garlic and chili flakes and sauté until garlic just begins to turn golden. Remove from heat.
- In food processor, combine the beans, garlic with the garlic oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Blend until a creamy consistency is achieved. Add the reserved bean cooking liquid, a tablespoon at a time, if the hummus is not creamy and smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning, if needed.
- In a small bowl, combine the sun-dried tomatoes, olives, and chives.
- To serve, spoon a heaping teaspoon of white bean hummus onto each endive leaf. Top with a sun-dried tomato tapenade and additional chives, if you wish.
Vegan meatballs?! Yup, these lentil and mushroom loaded balls are delicious and nutritious. Serve them with pesto, classic marinara, or stick with the mushroom theme and dip them into a mushroom sauce.
Lentil mushroom meatballs
- 1 cup green lentils, soaked overnight, drained
- 2 cups mushroom or vegetable stock
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 shallot, minced
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon chili flakes
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 8 oz button mushrooms, stems removed, cleaned and sliced
- 1/2 cup rolled oats, oat flour, or chickpea flour
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 1 flax egg or 2 eggs, beaten (For the flax egg, whisk 1 tablespoon of flax meal with 1 teaspoon psyllium husk, and 3 tablespoons water. If you don't have psyllium husk, you can omit it. Alternatively, you can add 2 eggs, beaten, for a non-vegan option.)
- 1 tablespoon coconut aminos or tamari
- 1/2 cup parsley, minced
- Marinara, pesto, or mushroom sauce for serving
- Cook the lentils in the stock until slightly tender and a little firm, about 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.
- In a large sauté pan or dutch oven, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallots, garlic, chili flakes, oregano, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Sauté until lightly golden, about 3 to 5 minutes.
- Add the tomato paste and cook for another minute. Add the mushrooms, coconut aminos or tamari, and cook until mushrooms are tender. Add the drained lentils and stir to combine. Turn off heat and let cool.
- In a food processor, pulse the oats, if using, into a flour-like consistency. If you are using oat flour or chickpea flour, add to the food processor. Add in the mushroom and lentil mixture, parsley, and eggs, if using. Pulse all the ingredients together. Transfer to a bowl, spoon in the flax egg, if making a vegan version, and mix well.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a sheet tray with parchment paper. Using your hands, roll the lentil mushroom mixture into golf ball sized balls. Arrange on the sheet tray and bake for 30 minutes, rotating the sheet tray halfway through cooking.
- Serve with sauce for dipping.
Everyone loves a retro hors d'oeuvre like deviled eggs. For a fun alternative, soak them in beet juice and lose the mayo for a healthifed spin on a classic treat.
Beet Dyed Deviled Eggs
Recipe adapted from the Natural Gourmet Institute
makes 12 deviled eggs
- 3 cups water
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup
- 1 beet, peeled and quartered
- 1/2 dozen large eggs
- 1/4 cup Greek full-fat yogurt
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon curry powder
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- Pinch freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons chopped chives
- Paprika for dusting
- In a large pot, bring water, vinegar, salt, and maple syrup to a boil, stirring to dissolve the salt and sweetener. Add the beets, reduce to a simmer, and cook for 30 minutes. Cool, strain the liquid into another large pot, and set aside.
- Prepare an ice bath. Place the eggs into a large pot covered by an inch of cold water. Place a lid on the pot and bring the water to a boil. Turn off the heat and allow the eggs to sit covered for 8-9 minutes.
- Transfer the eggs to the ice bath, and cool for at least 2 minutes. Remove the eggs, crack the shells on a hard surface, and peel them carefully. Run peeled eggs under water, making sure that all of the shell has been removed.
- Place the eggs in the pot with the beet juice. Let them sit for at least an hour. Remove the eggs from the pot and gently pat dry.
- To prepare the filling, slice the eggs in half and remove the yolks. Place the yolks into a food processor with the yogurt, mustard, curry powder, salt, and pepper. Blend to a creamy consistency. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if needed.
- Place the yolk mixture in a pastry bag with a star tip or in a ziplock bag with the bottom corner snipped. Pipe about 1 tablespoon of filling into each egg white half. Garnish with chives and dust lightly with paprika.
Need help navigating the party circuit while staying on top of your healthy eating? Here are a few of my healthy holiday tips!
Exercise!- Get in a good sweat fest the morning of a holiday party. Be sure to add in an extra workout or two on top of your typical regimen during the season to help counteract additional consumption.
Never Arrive Famished- Arriving at a party starving is setting yourself up to make poor choices. Make sure that you have a snack one to two hours prior to the party that includes fiber, protein, and fat. This can be a hard boiled egg, brown rice crackers with nut butter, vegetables and hummus, or a handful of unsalted nuts.
Game Plan- Go in with a plan! Prep yourself in advance in terms of what you will indulge in or taste, and what foods you will stick too. Avoid crispy fried, pan-fried, or puff pastry wrapped items. Select veggies, shrimp, chicken, or beef that are grilled or sautéd, crudités, bean dips, and olives.
Have a Partner in Crime- Select someone to be on your team to help remind you that you should probably swap the second glass of wine for water or forgo the fried mac and cheese balls.
Avoid Those Festive Cocktails- Eggnog? Mulled wine? Spiced cider? Sounds like a calorically dense headache-inducing bev fest. Stick to the basics. Have A glass of wine or one drink made with a clear spirit and sparkling water. Or keep it simple with a vodka or tequila on the rocks with lemon or lime. Have a full glass of water before you drink, and alternate alcoholic beverages with glasses of water.
Bring the Crudités- If you are attending a party at someone's house, offer to be the bearer of the healthy option. Do not count on your host to have healthy alternatives for you. Consult with your host and see if it is OK to bring a "healthy" dish. Consider freshly cut veggies and homemade dip or beet dyed deviled eggs.
Don't Feel Deprived- It is holiday time, and you do not have the opportunity to eat your grandma's famous snowball cookies, latkes, or baked brie year round. Allow yourself a small portion (two tablespoons) of a decadent item, so you do not feel completely restricted and deprived.
Move Away From the Buffet- Do you really need to be hovering over or chatting near the buffet or food station? No. Have your conversation elsewhere and avoid temptation and mindless eating.
Balance Your Plate- If you are at a sit down party or festive buffet, fill your plate with nutrient dense foods such as roasted vegetables, salad, and lean meat. Avoid calorically dense foods like butter-laden potatoes, cheesy pastas, or breaded vegetables or meats.
Learn to Say No- You don’t really need to try every hors d'oeuvre that goes your way at a holiday party, do you? Take a look at the selection and prioritize what is worth "splurging" or tasting and what you should avoid.
See Ya Later Leftovers- If you are the host of a party or holiday gathering, send your guests home with leftovers. If a guest complimented the mac and cheese, make sure they get some to go. Get the festive foods out of your house so that you won't indulge in late night kitchen raids or days of unhealthy leftovers.
Listen to Your Body- Pace yourself when you are eating, chew slowly, and take sips of water between bites. If you are not satisfied after one plate, allow your body 20 minutes to digest and then consider going back for more. If you do go back, aim for more veggies and fill yourself up on nutrient dense foods.
Remember this time of year is about being grateful and enjoying your friends and family. Take the focus away from the food and savor the company and celebrations of the season.