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Five Healthy, Easy Party Appetizers

Contributed by: Renee Kennedy

There are a few ingredients within these appetizers that contain fat. However, we've chosen the healthier fats like olive oil. Olive oil is better for you than butter because it is mostly unsaturated fat.

1. Artichokes with dipping sauce:

Kids love this appetizer because it's a fun, unique finger food. Take whole artichokes and boil or steam them for about 20 minutes, until the outer leaves pull off easily.

Dipping sauce:

1/4 cup any type of vinegar, 1-2 tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.

To eat:

Pull off the leaves of the artichoke, dip in the sauce and scrape off the flesh at base of the leaf with your teeth. Don't eat the whole leaf, just the soft parts. When you get to the center of the artichoke, you must scrape out the prickly part with a spoon. Then dip the heart of the artichoke into your sauce and eat the whole thing (this is the best part).

2. Low Fat Baked Tortilla Chips with three kinds of dip.

(Frito Lay has a good low fat tortilla chip with only two ingredients - corn and salt!)

Dips:

  • Salsa - choose a variety that is low in fat with healthy ingredients.
  • Avocado - 2 or 3 ripe avocados, smush with a fork add about a tablespoon of lemon juice. Avocados are very high in fat, but it's a healthy fat.
  • Refried beans - choose a variety that is low in fat, mix up with a little non-fat sour cream to give it a more dip-like consistency, you might even put in a packet of taco seasoning for a spicey dip.

3. Hummus on whole wheat pita bread.

In the deli section of your grocery store, you will find many different flavors of prepared hummus. Hummus is made out of chick peas and the flavored varieties are actually quite yummy. You can also make it yourself by cooking chick peas (garbanzo beans) according to package directions and blending in a food processor with any types of spices you like. Chick peas are bland, so they will pick up any flavor you add to them. Whole wheat pita bread can be found in the bread section of the grocery store.

4. Crostini and toppings.

Crostini are just little pieces of toast; their original topping is chicken liver pate. However, you can really top them with anything. Use any type of small width bread (like a French baguette), slice, single layer on a cookie sheet, and cook for a few minutes in the oven. Watch carefully so they don't burn. You may spread olive oil on these pieces of bread before toasting, but it's not necessary.

Give your guests a selection of low fat toppings:

  • roasted red, yellow or orange peppers
  • diced tomato with basil
  • low fat or fat free mozarella sliced thin
  • roasted eggplant marinated in balsamic vinaigrette dressing
  • 1 can tuna or 1 package imitation crab mixed with low fat mayo and/or low fat sour cream, capers, salt and pepper to taste
  • low-fat cream cheese with black and green olives on top

5. Bread with dips.

Healthy, hearty breads are pumpernickel and whole wheat rosemary. Buy the bread freshly baked in unsliced loaves. Right before serving, rip off chunks of bread for dipping - a great thing to have the kids help you do or even let your guests rip off their own pieces. Dips:

  • Warmed olive oil with fresh ground pepper (especially easy when you don't have a lot of time)
  • Prepared vinaigrettes made with unsaturated oils make excellent dips for bread, heat in the microwave until warm
  • Hot artichoke dip:
    • 1-14 oz can artichokes diced,
    • 1 cup of low-fat or fat free mayo,
    • 1 cup of low-fat cheese shredded,
    • 2 cloves minced garlic.

    Mix all ingredients and bake at 350 in oven proof dish for 20 minutes. (I've tried this with low fat mozarella cheese and fat free mayo, it's pretty good if you like artichoke.)

You may also want to read http://www.nutricounter.com/articles/low-fat.htm Five Low-Fat Party Appetizers.

Come and visit the NutriCounter web site at http://www.nutricounter.com/news.htm for an extensive selection of articles on health, nutrition and exercise.


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