Healthy Appetizers to Spice up any Party

 

Picture courtesy of foodnetwork.com

Right before Christmas, our dietitian Kim presented three healthy appetizers, on Coastline Cooks, that are perfect for holiday parties. Even though we are now past the holidays, these three appetizers are still a great addition to any party, or for pre-dinner noshing; they’re light, healthy, and easy to make.
The first appetizer is a Warm Spinach and Artichoke Dip courtesy of chef Ellie Krieger. Spinach and artichokes are both great antioxidant-filled vegetables, and in this ligher recipe, they are not drowned in heavy cream and cheese, so you can enjoy this tasty appetizer and not feel guilty.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp. canola oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 (9 ounce) package or jar artichoke hearts, rinsed, dried, and chopped
  • 1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, defrosted, liquid squeezed out
  • 1/2 cup low-fat plain greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup Neufchatel cheese (reduced-fat cream cheese)
  • 1/3 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. fresh ground pepper
  • Whole-grain pita wedges or bread for serving

Preparation: Preheat ovent to 375 degrees. Heat the oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, 4-5 minutes. Add garlic and cook an additional 3-4 minutes, or until onions are light golden but not browned. Remove from heat and cool. In a food processor, blend yogurt, Neufchatel, mozzarella, and salt and pepper. In a large bowl, add artichoke hearts, spinach, and cooked onion-garlic mixture. Add cheese mixture to vegetable mixture and stir to combine. Transfer into a lightly greased 8-inch baking dish and bake 15-20 minutes or until heated through. Serve with pita wedges or bread.

Another quick and light recipe, that is great year-round, is the Dried-Cranberry Spread, found on Epicurious.com. Again, instead of heavy, fatty ingredients, the dried cranberry spread uses healthier alternatives, but still packs great flavor.

Ingredients:

  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 (8 ounce) container non-fat cream cheese (at room temperature)
  • 1/4 cup soft fresh goat cheese
  • 2 tbsp. plain non-fat yogurt
  • 2-3 tbsp. honey

Preparation: Spray the metal blades of a food processor with nonstick spray. Add dried cranberries to processor and coarsely chop. Add non-fat cream cheese, goat cheese, non-fat yogurt, and honey; process until well blended. Transfer spread to bowl and serve with pita wedges, or low-fat crackers.

Kim’s last recipe, Wrap ‘n Stack Sandwiches found in Family Fun Magazine, is a great lunchtime recipe to make with your children or grandchildren. They will have fun putting the sandwiches together and undoubtedly enjoy eating them too! This is also a great, easy-to-make appetizer to bring to any party. Feel free to switch up the turkey for ham and the cranberry sauce for mustard or roasted red peppers, or any of your favorite sandwich ingredients.

Ingredients:

  • 1 (16 ounce) can whole-berry cranberry sauce
  • 4 large (9 or 10 inch) spinach-flour or whole wheat tortillas
  • 3/4 pound thinly sliced Monterey Jack or American cheese
  • 3/4 pound thinly sliced smoked turkey
  • 1/2 head green-leaf lettuce
  • Toothpicks

Preparation: Spoon cranberry sauce into a food processor and pulse it briefly. Lay the tortillas on a flat working surface and top each tortilla with a layer of cheese and turkey; spread cranberry sauce on the turkey layers and cover them with lettuce. Finally, snugly roll up the sandwiches, and with a serrated kinfe, cut each roll into 1 1/4 inch-wide pinwheels and insert a toothpick to hold each one together, and enjoy.

Although we are past the holidays, I hope you will still try one or all of these recipes to bring to a Superbowl party or just to enjoy at home yourself. Keep watching Coastline Cooks and the website for more healthy recipes!

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