'Tis the season to be jolly at parties, where delicious spreads are
a highlight. But overindulging in those holiday appetizers, cocktails
and desserts can lead to a belly like a bowl full of jelly. To be a good
holiday host or hostess, here are five things to swap out from your buffet
table, and five things to serve in their place.
1. Swap out: Brie and baguettes | Serve: Vegetable crostinis
Use a whole-grain bread for your crostini toast, improving on the higher
carbs and enriched white flour of the baguette. There are a wealth of
veggie options--peas, beets, eggplants, parsnips, bell peppers and artichokes,
either roasted or pureed and topped with fresh herbs. If you simply must
have cheese, add a small sprinkling of goat cheese; it's got less
calories and fat than many cheeses, including brie.
2. Swap out: Pigs in a blanket | Serve: Mushroom tarts with phyllo dough
Encase a processed meat high in saturated fat, salt and unhealthy nitrates
in a buttery dough heavy in fat and calories, and you've got a nutritional
lump of coal. The delicate, thin sheets of phyllo dough are better for
your health than puff pastry (phyllo has 1.7 grams of fat and 85 calories
per ounce, compared to puff pastry's 10.91 grams of fat and 158 calories).
Mushrooms offer a savory, meaty flavor with low calories and lots of nutrients.
3. Swap out: Eggnog | Serve: Hot toddies
Mix cream, sugar, eggs and whole milk with some spices and alcohol and
you get eggnog--and at least 350 calories in a single serving. A hot toddy
offers the same spiced goodness with its cinnamon and cloves, sweetness
from brandy and a little honey and vitamin C zing from lemon--at about
half the calories of eggnog per serving. Plus, a hot toddy's warmth
is ideal for cold winter nights.
4. Swap out: Fudge | Serve: Candied nuts
Let's face it--both these sweet treats should be eaten in small doses.
But if you have to pick one, better to go with the health benefits of
nuts (high protein and fiber, rich in heart-healthy unsaturated fats)
than fudge, which uses a lot of sugar and, depending on the recipe, butter,
sweetened condensed milk or marshmallow creme.
5. Swap out: Iced sugar cookies | Serve: Meringue cookies
Sugar cookies are festive with their holiday shapes and colorful frosting,
but so are meringue cookies, whose pristine white and delicate texture
are reminiscent of snowflakes. But meringues take the edge nutritionally,
with less sugar and fat as well as a lower carb and calorie count. If
vanilla meringues are too plain for you, try a flavored variety such as
peppermint, lemon or coconut.