It’s one of the simplest party foods to make: Top a small slice of Italian bread with a gorgeous mixture of tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, and basil and voila — you’ve got bruschetta. And though that piece of bread doesn’t yield much nutritional value, the marriage of tomatoes and olive oil scores top marks for disease prevention. Tomatoes contain lycopene, a powerful antioxidant found to ward off cancer and heart disease. You’ve no doubt heard about the healthy fats found in olive oil — well, in addition, that oil actually helps your body absorb some of the nutrients in the tomatoes. If you are enjoying the Gluten Free life, you can use toasted bread from Canyon Bakehouse or Jennifer’s Original. You can also try Eztikel Sprouted Grain bread (not GF but de-lish!), which is packed with nutritional value, and because it is sprouted, it is easier to digest.
If you’ve got your choice of several dip options, this one should win every time. Gracias, Mexico, for contributing this incredibly tasty finger food to cocktail parties the world over, saving health-minded party goers mucho calories. Salsa’s main ingredients — tomatoes, peppers, and lime — are all jam-packed with vitamins A and C, loaded with fiber, and is super low-calorie.
Avocado plays the starring role in guacamole, which is why it’s loaded with heart-healthy fats and valuable nutrients such as beta-sitosterol, a natural plant sterol which can decrease your levels of bad cholesterol. However, this dish is sometimes made with cream cheese, the saturated fat content of which can outweigh the unsaturated fats in the avocado. Ask first if you are not sure maybe just dip in as opposed to digging in 🙂
Vegetables and Dip
Here’s an ultra-safe strategy for party munching: load up three-quarters of your plate with the veggies from the snack platter. You’ll be so busy chowing down on carotenoids, which are strong sources of vitamin A, that you’ll forget how healthy you’re being. And here’s the bonus: You don’t have to totally forgo those delicious dips. Stick to hummus, guacamole and salsa, and try the 7 layer dip recipe I’ve posted below. Studies show that adding a little bit of fat (like those found in hummus and guacamole) to your veggies helps the body absorb the nutrients in the healthy selections you’ve made.
The meat contained in this Asian-inspired appetizer is usually skinless and grilled, and therefore contains few calories and fat. Plus, the most popular seasoning is a teriyaki glaze, which flavours the meat with less than a teaspoon of sugar. Just one ounce of chicken from this app will give you almost 9 grams of protein, keeping you satisfied enough not to reach for those tempting pigs-in-a-blanket.
This is a low-fat item that, because of the white rice, will keep you satisfied. The pieces with salmon or tuna inside deliver those coveted omega-3s, but even the fish-less variety contains a healthy slice of cucumber or other veggie. The seaweed that hugs the rice, called nori, also packs a nutritious punch, as it contains minerals from the sea. Just make sure the sushi at the party is the freshest possible — take a pass if it’s been sitting out since you walked in. Also steer clear if the pieces are fried (tempura) or contain cream cheese.
Unless the mix is honey-roasted (and therefore coated in sugar), you can consider the nut bowl fair game. Indulging in a few small scoops of plain nuts can give you a nice dose of vitamins, fiber, and protein to keep you full. If you spy some sunflower or pumpkin seeds in there, even better — they’re high in vitamin E, which works wonders for circulation, skin, and even PMS.
Organic Red Wine or Clear Cocktails
Red wine (organic is best) is chock-full of polyphenol, a compound found in the skin of red grapes that aids circulation, lowers blood pressure, and promotes overall heart health. Sweeter wines will have a few more calories than the dry varietals, as will those with higher alcohol content (around 14 to 15 percent). Cut your calories in half by ordering a spritzer — half wine, half seltzer. If you are a cocktail kind of gal, stick to vodka soda and load it with lemon and lime. Keep your alcohol consumption to a minimum, as it is a main irritant for your gut and is extremely dehydrating. Always follow your cocktail with a large glass of H2O.
Bring Your Own Dish
If you are heading out to a party, ask the host if there is anything you can bring and show up with something scrumptious and satisfying. Try my 7 Layer 7 Chakra Dip, which is always a smashing hit when served with good friends! This recipe is featured in my new cookbook The Simplicity Kitchen, releasing November 2016.
7 Layer 7 Chakra Dip
- 4 perfectly ripe avocados, mashed
- 1 small vine-ripened tomato, seeded and chopped
- Juice of ½ lime
- ¼ tsp salt (taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary)
- ¼ onion, finely diced
- Cilantro or fresh parsley
- 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
- ½ tbsp coconut oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ cup water + ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp lime juice
- Salt, to taste
- Salsa (Choose your favorite or make your own)
- ½ cup Grated Goat Cheese
- 1-2 vine-ripened tomatoes, seeded and chopped
- ¾ cup coarsely chopped red cabbage
- 2-3 green onions, chopped
Refried Beans Instructions:
- Heat ½ tbsp coconut oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
- Add the minced garlic, stir and cook for 15-30 seconds. Add the drained black beans and cook until most of them soften and burst, about 2-3 minutes. Add the chili powder and lime juice. Use a potato masher or fork to mash approximately half of the beans before adding the water+apple cider combo. Finish mashing the beans to your desired consistency. Simmer until thick.
- Taste and adjust the seasonings as necessary.
- In a medium bowl, mash the avocado but leave the mixture a little bit chunky.
- Add the chopped tomato, onion, lime juice, salt, and cilantro or parsley. Mix to combine.
- Taste and adjust the salt and seasonings. Make sure the guacamole is delicious all by itself!
Assemble the dip
This dip is best served in a glass bowl or dish to show off the layers. In a glass serving dish, first layer the refried beans, followed by the guacamole, (optional: add a layer of organic sour cream *omit completely is you avoid all dairy), then the salsa, the hummus and red cabbage. Top with a generous sprinkle of chopped tomato, green onion, and cheese.
As long as the guacamole isn’t exposed to air, you can make this dip 1-2 days ahead of time. Make sure to put the guacamole as one of the bottom layers and you will be good to go! For parties or lunches you can make personal sized dips in small food storage containers.