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Many holiday appetizers are loaded with fat, sodium or sugar. It can be hard to get in the seasonal spirit when you're eating such unhealthy foods, so why not try a more nutritious dish? Use these three recipes at your next big holiday gathering to feed the crowd while still staying healthy.
1. Layered Greek dip
Your typical party dip has sour cream, refried beans and lots of cheese. Needless to say, it's not the healthiest option at the buffet. Mix up your party's food offering with this delicious Greek-style dip. It cuts back on the cheese and adds in some fresh vegetables for a tasty dip that is full of nutrients. The recipe serves 16 people, but it's easy to double if all your friends from the retirement community are going to stop by.
Spread the hummus evenly in the bottom of the serving dish. In a small bowl, mix together yogurt, parsley, lemon juice and pepper, then pour over the hummus. Top with onion, tomato, olives, cucumber and cheese. Finally, drizzle the olive oil over the top, and it's ready to serve. Use snacks like fresh bell peppers, pita bread or whole grain crackers for dipping.
2. Zucchini bites
If you can find some fresh zucchini in the grocery store, use it to make these colorful vegetable bites. They have less than 20 calories per piece, so you won't feel bad indulging on a few while you work! The recipe will serve around 18 people if each guest has two bites.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Slice the zucchini into 3/4-inch pieces and arrange on an ungreased baking sheet. Use a small spoon to scoop out the insides of each slice, leaving the bottom intact. Spoon a little bit of crumbled blue or goat cheese into each little zucchini "bowl." Mix together the Parmesan cheese, basil and pepper in a small bowl, then sprinkle the mixture over each piece of zucchini. Thinly slice the tomatoes and place a piece on top of the cheese mixture. Drizzle each bite with a little bit of olive oil, then place the cooking sheet in the oven. Bake for five to eight minutes, or until the cheese is melted. Let the bites cool for a minute and serve warm.
3. Homemade meatballs and roasted Brussels sprouts
Swedish meatballs are a staple at many holiday gatherings, but those finger foods can pack a serious caloric punch. Skip the store-bought version this season and whip up your own version with a healthy side of Brussels sprouts. The flavors go great together and the recipe will serve your crowd of 20.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and coat a baking pan with cooking spray. Cut off the brown ends of the Brussels sprouts and pull off any yellow leaves. Toss the vegetables in the olive oil, then spread on the baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt, then bake for 40 to 45 minutes. Shake the pan twice during cooking to ensure even browning.
While the sprouts are roasting, combine pork and remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Mix together well, then divide into 40 small meatballs. Arrange them on a jelly-roll pan lined with parchment paper. Bake the meatballs at 375 degrees for 20 minutes or until the tops begin to brown. Serve the veggies and meatballs with toothpicks for a healthy pre-dinner snack.