Frozen eggrolls or puff pastry hors d’oeuvres make for easy holiday party prep, but they don’t do your guests any nutritional favors.
Sure, a couple nibbles of a bacon-wrapped this or deep-fried that won’t tank your diet. But, when the holiday party punch is flowing and the mood is merry, moderation can be hard to manage.
So, why not offer your guests some finger foods they can feel good about, even after seconds or thirds?
Bean dips, such as hummus, are a good choice. Even more indulgent dips made with cheese or sour cream can be made healthier when they’re served with lots of fresh vegetables instead of chips.
Dairy-based dips also can be blended with non-fat Greek-style plain yogurt.
Fruits combined with a savory element can be sophisticated and delicious.
Try small wedges of honeydew melon wrapped in a strip of rosemary ham or slices of pear, dipped in a mixture of lemon juice and water to keep them from turning brown, topped with some crumbles of assertive Stilton cheese.
Shrimp are another crowd pleaser that are easy to prep. Plus, they are low in calories and almost fat-free.
Precooked cocktail shrimp are the most convenient. But, for better flavor buy raw shrimp, thread them onto bamboo skewers and toss them on the grill.
Rather than serving the standard horseradish-based cocktail sauce with shrimp, try this Thai-style pesto. The recipe calls for only 2 tablespoons of oil and no cheese, making it lighter than many varieties of pesto.
For parties, serve the pesto with grilled shrimp for dipping. If you’re just making a quick dinner, use the pesto to top grilled chicken or fish or as a sauce for rice noodles.
Grilled shrimp with Thai-style pesto
1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 cup packed fresh mint leaves
2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
1-1/2 tsp. light brown sugar
1/4 cup dry roasted peanuts
1/4 cup lime juice
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and quartered
2 tbsp. canola oil
1/2 tsp. salt
1 lb. raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
12 bamboo skewers
In a food processor or blender, combine the basil, cilantro, mint, ginger, brown sugar, peanuts, lime juice, jalapenos, oil and salt.
Process until smooth. (The pesto can be made up to 4 days in advance and refrigerated.)
Transfer to a serving bowl.
Heat a grill to medium-high. Thread the shrimp onto the skewers and grill, turning once, until the shrimp turn pink and opaque, about 2 minutes per side.
Alternatively, set the oven to broil and cook the shrimp 4 inches from the heat, until they are pink and opaque, about 2 minutes per side.
Remove the shrimp from the skewers and serve with the pesto.
Makes 3/4 cup pesto, enough for 40 to 50 shrimp.
Nutrition facts per serving: 154 calories; 69 calories from fat; 8 g .fat (1 g. saturated; 0 g. trans fats); 158 mg. cholesterol; 5 g. carbohydrate; 16 g. protein; 1 g. fiber; 929 mg. sodium.