Most of us have a love/hate relationship with holiday appetizers; we love to eat them, but hate the toll they take our waistlines come January.
Here are my 10 tips on how to indulge in delicious party starters without finishing the season filled with regret.
1. Start with a strategy. “Heavy appetizers” do not a meal make; although it may sound counter-intuitive to eat dinner beforehand, you’ll be less apt to overindulge at that next soirée if you arrive without a grumbling tummy.
2. Come prepared. Better yet, bring your own delicious dish to a potluck, and rest assured you’ll have something good to snack on without blowing your healthy eating habits over the holidays.
3. Make simple swaps. Get creative with traditional recipes; use yogurt in place of sour cream, try ground turkey instead of beef, drop creamy dressings in favor of vinaigrette, and sprinkle a salad with walnuts instead of croutons, just to name a few.
4. Go nuts…in moderation. Fast and festive, protein-packed and full of “good” fat, nuts are a favorite holiday snack. They’re healthy, too – just not in an excessive number of handfuls.
5. Corner the crudités. Fill up on veggies during the first round, and you’ll not only squeeze in a few of your recommended daily servings, but you’ll also be less tempted by the siren song of the pigs-in-a-blanket platter on round two.
6. Amp up flavor, not fat. It’s easy to make a meal of the cheese tray (guilty, as charged), but try to target dry, aged varieties over soft ones; not only will you need to nibble less of a bolder-tasting cheese, but it’ll also pack fewer grams of fat and calories.
7. (Try to) fly by anything fried. Does this one need any explanation? But if you simply can’t part with a family-favorite recipe, try baking for the same crunchy texture with diminished damage to the diet.
8. Seek smarter dips (and dippers). Steer clear of anything that oozes, skip the chips, and opt instead for something veggie-based, such as this Seven-Layer Fat-Fighting Dip from TV’s Dr. Oz.
9. Rethink the drinks. By all means, toast to the season with your favorite cocktail or glass of wine – just don’t go overboard, lest you’ll be tempted to throw caution to the wind…diet, and otherwise (and, let’s face it, no one likes a sloppy party guest).
10. Remember, less is more. Follow the lead of the French, originators of the phrase “amuse-bouche” (meaning, “amuse the mouth”), and go for for quality over quantity by offering a refined selection that is light, luxurious and, most importantly, memorable.
How do you retain some sense of self control at holiday get-togethers?