Healthy Holiday Classics: Appetizers

Ah, the Holidays. That time when all of your favorite food leaves the kitchen but not your waistline; when the nights are long and the list of calories in the cocktail you just enjoyed is even longer…when the desserts you shunned throughout the year suddenly seem friendly, inviting and possibly not fattening at all. You give in and regret it three weeks later when you can’t fit into last year’s jeans.\r\n\r\nBut you have a New Year’s coming, and a resolution to slim down. Did you ever think there was a way to give in guiltlessly? Of course there is! When the guests arrive and the kids start asking for their favorites, just whip up the following appetizers and you can be satisfied that not only are they low in fat and calories but they’re high in nutrients and flavor.\r\n

Samosas

\r\nFresh and packed with warm, spicy flavor, Indian Samosas are easy to eat and work wonderfully with sweet chili sauce, Sriracha or a mint chutney.\r\n

You will need

\r\n2 tbs olive oil, separate\r\n\r\n1/4 cup chopped onion\r\n\r\n2/3 cup shredded carrots\r\n\r\n2/3 cup thawed frozen green peas\r\n\r\n2 tsp mustard seeds\r\n\r\n1 1/2 tsps garam masala\r\n\r\n1/2 tsp salt\r\n\r\n1 cup mashed potatoes (leftover is perfect!)\r\n\r\n8 (14 x 9-inch) sheets frozen phyllo dough, thawed\r\n\r\nCooking spray or extra olive oil for greasing\r\n

Directions

\r\nPreheat oven to 350°. Heat 1 tbs of olive oil in a large skillet. Add onion and cook for a couple minutes. Add carrots and cook again for a couple minutes. Add peas, garam masala, mustard seeds and salt; cover with lid and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in mashed potatoes and take away from heat.\r\n\r\nUsing one phyllo sheet at once, slice each lengthwise into 3 (3×14”) pieces and coat with cooking spray or olive oil. (Make sure the rest of the phyllo dough is covered!). Put in 1 tbs vegetable mixture on an end of each strip. Fold one corner of dough over the vegetables, creating a triangle, keep going back and forth until the whole strip is wrapped in a triangle around the mixture. Put triangles, seam down, on a baking sheet, and brush with the second tbs of olive oil. Bake at 350° for 24 minutes or until brownish gold. Serve warm or cold with sweet chili sauce, Sriracha or chutney.\r\n

Orange Chipotle Pecans

\r\nGive up on the standard nut mix packed with buttery preservatives and mounds of sodium. Find some fresh pecans and create this unique dish perfect for snacking and getting addicted to. Sneak in natural fats instead of bad ones and be ready for the natural energy pecans source, as well.\r\n

You will need

\r\n1 tbs fresh orange juice (fresh-squeezed and sugarless, if possible!)\r\n\r\n1 tbs grated orange rind\r\n\r\n1 egg white\r\n\r\n1 tbs dark brown sugar\r\n\r\n1 tsp salt\r\n\r\n2 cups pecan halves\r\n\r\n1/2 tsp ground chipotle pepper\r\n\r\nCooking spray or olive oil\r\n\r\n1/2 cup dried cranberries (sweetened or unsweetened)\r\n

Directions

\r\nPreheat oven to 225°. Combine orange rind, orange juice and the egg white in a bowl, whisk. Add pecans. Mix sugar, salt and pepper separately and add to the mixture; mix well. Lay mixture on a jelly roll pan coated with cooking spray or a little bit of olive oil. Bake for an hour, stirring occasionally. Take out of oven and cool completely before adding cranberries. Stir in airtight container. Note: unsweetened cranberries will add a nice tart to the flavor.\r\n

Apricot Delight

\r\nThe finger food continues without any fried chicken nuggets or fattening potato chips in sight. These bite-size apricot treats are naturally sweet and incredibly simple to make. You can easily make 10 minutes before a party and show up the queen of the before-meal snacks. Plus, you can happy knowing they are full of much-needed holiday protein and potassium. Try a few before a holiday workout – you’ll be grateful for the protein.\r\n

You will need

\r\n16 dried apricots (or a bag)\r\n\r\n2 oz chopped, shelled pistachios\r\n\r\n8 tsp crumbled blue cheese\r\n\r\n1/2 tsp fresh local honey (try lavender honey for a unique twist)\r\n\r\nPepper\r\n

Directions

\r\nCover each apricot with 1/2 tsp blue cheese (or less, if you want to cut down the fat a bit). Lightly sprinkle with pistachios and drizzle with honey, either per apricot treat or over an entire dish. Dash with a little bit of black pepper for zing.\r\n\r\nAgain, these recipes are easy. You shouldn’t have to feel more stressed this Holiday seasons! These are simple ways to change your Holiday eating habits.\r\n\r\nStay tuned for Healthier Holiday Classics, Part II: Side Dishes