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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Tasty Party-Fare Makeovers

I love appetizers, dips and noshables as much as the next guy, but that doesn't mean I go hog-wild and offer my family and friends an artery-blocking buffet.  Here are some links to my favorite made-over recipes that are so tasty you don't miss the original:
  •  Spinach Artichoke Dip This recipe from Cooking Light is a real crowd pleaser.  Instead of the reduced fat cream cheese - try Greek Cream Cheese (cream cheese made from greek yogurt).  Serve with some whole grain pita chips or my favorite: Triscuits.
  • Chocolate Cherry Chunk Meringues This isn't necessarily a makeover recipe, but I wanted to include it as a good substitute for Christmas cookies or calorie-laden desserts.  Plus, I'm a sucker for chocolate, cherry and meringues!
  • Mushroom Polenta Canapes I love, love, love this appetizer!  It is fairly simple - but adds a lot of flavor and wow-factor to your party.  Plus it's low fat, decent fiber content make it a great savory substitution for any fried, battered, pie-crust-filled appetizer you pick up at the store.
  • Spring Rolls At 100 calories per serving - these beat the pants off of any fried egg roll.  Consider letting your guests help with the assembly - as it makes it more fun and efficient.  
  • Hot Bean & Cheese Dip Instead of going with a nacho-cheese dip for your southwest flavor-fix, try this recipe.  Loaded with fiber and lower in calories and sodium than store-bought ones.  Serve with veggies or whole grain chips.  
  • Sweet Chipotle Snack Mix Instead of putting out the candy dish - set this mix out.  Such as tasty flavor combination - enjoying healthy nuts and seeds never tasted so good.
  • Water  No this isn't a link . . . no recipe needed.  The best makeover for cocktails or party beverages is to not drink your calories.  You might want to provide some fun garnishes for the glasses:  Freeze cranberries on a skewer to use as a substitute for ice.  Lemon, lime and blood orange slices make a gorgeous garnish for the ultimate calorie free beverage.  
I had a makeover request for a buffalo chicken dip recipe.  While there are some variations in the different recipes out there - some of the constant ingredients involve cream cheese, sour cream and cheese.  So here are my tips to lighten it without losing it's flavor identity:  Go with a mix of reduced fat and fat free cream cheese (or greek cream cheese), swap out the sour cream for nonfat greek yogurt and go with a strong-flavored cheese but less.  For example: instead of using 2 cups of cheddar or colby jack cheese, use 1 cup sharp cheddar.  And if it calls for blue cheese - the flavor is strong enough that a little goes a long way, so the quantity is usually fairly modest.  Serve with celery and keep in mind that it is all about balancing portions.  Have some, but don't make a dip appetizer your entire meal.

Don't forget to set out plenty of fruit and veggie trays - and enjoy noshing on them the next day or two.  Have a healthy, festive and merry Christmas!

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