Holiday Party Survival Guide

There are more parties to attend between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day than any other time of the year.  Although the community and fellowship is good, constantly eating party food doesn’t do much for our weight and stress levels.  The following pages contain tips and recipes to help you spread some healthy holiday cheer at this year’s festivities.

  1.  Snack Before the Party – Going to a holiday gathering on an empty stomach is like asking for 3 servings of everything.  30-60 minutes before attending the party, grab a healthy snack like an apple and a handful of nuts.  The snack will curb your hunger and help you from over-indulging.
  2. “Mingle” All The Way – Make it a point to socialize with others at the party.  Talk to some old friends.  Ask your uncle how he’s doing.  Listen to your boss tell his favorite story.  Talking and mingling during the party is a great way to build community and relationships and it also keeps you away from the buffet table.   On another note, make sure you do more listening than talking.  Good listeners are hard to find these days.
  3. Drink Up – Alcohol and a variety of fruit punches will be flowing freely at most parties.  Start each party off with 2 or 3 glasses of water.  The water will keep you feeling full, keep you hydrated and quench your thirst.  It will prevent you from over-indulging in higher calorie, less healthy choices. 
  4. Eat The Good Stuff – Fill your plate with healthy favors and appetizers such as shrimp, salmon, unsalted nuts, fruits, vegetables, salsa, whole grain chips and low-fat cheeses.  Limit consumption of chips, dips, greasy finger foods, cakes, pies and pastries.
  5. Just “Bring” It – If you are attending a covered dish party, take a healthy option.  Check out the recipes below.


Spinach and Artichoke Dip
A typical serving of spinach and artichoke dip contains up to 1,100 calories and 100 grams of fat, which is almost a day's worth of calories! Substitute high-fat cheese for fat-free Greek yogurt to keep the creamy texture while slashing more than half the calories and artery-clogging saturated fat.

3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
6-ounce container nonfat Greek yogurt (such as Fage or Chobani)
1/3 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
1 clove garlic, minced
1 (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed, well drained
1/2 cup part-skim mozzarella, shredded

1. Heat oven to 350 F.
2. Mix ingredients; spoon into 9-inch quiche dish or pie plate.
3. Bake 20 minutes or until heated through.

*Serve this dip with the roasted vegetable chips or whole-wheat pita chips

Serves: 8 (1/4 cup)
Nutritional Content per Serving: 126 calories, 8 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 10 g protein, 6g fat, 03 g sat fat, 264 mg sodium

Roasted Vegetable "Chips"
Potato chips are a popular salty snack and a classic favorite of many, but a typical serving of potato chips runs around 250 calories, 20 grams of fat and only 1 gram of dietary fiber. This dish combines the benefits of high-fiber vegetables while satisfying a salty, crispy craving at the same time. For only 40 calories, 0.5 grams of fat and more than 2 grams of waist-slimming fiber, you can still enjoy a salty and tasty snack without excess calories. Serve this dish in bowls during a family get together or party to give your guests a guilt-free, tasty snack to enjoy.

Cooking spray
2 medium zucchini, sliced crosswise into 1/8-inch thick slices
2 medium yellow summer squash, sliced crosswise in 1/8-inch thick slices
3 large carrots, peeled and sliced diagonally into 1/8-inch thick slices
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 tablespoon oregano, or to taste

1. Preheat oven to 200 F. Coat 2 large baking sheets with cooking spray.
2. Place zucchini and squash in a single layer on one baking sheet.
3. Place carrots on other sheet in a single layer.
4. Coat vegetables with cooking spray and season tops of vegetables with salt and oregano.
5. Roast for 1 hour, then rotate trays. Roast until vegetables are crisp and dry, about 30 to 60 minutes more.

Cook's Note: Use a mandolin to evenly slice vegetables if you have one.

Serves: 6
Nutrition Content per Serving: 40 calories, 8.4 g carbohydrate, 2.8 g fiber, 2 g protein, 0.5 g total fat, 0.1 g saturated fat, 425 mg sodium

Spanakopita Frittata "Bites"
These frittata bites are loaded with protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals, and taste great, too! Using only the white of each egg saves you more than 200 mg of cholesterol and 5 grams of fat per egg. Instead of using full-fat cheese, opt for low-fat varieties. Not only will this save you hundreds of calories, but this will certainly decrease your risks for heart disease.

12 eggs
1/2 Vidalia onion
1 (10-ounce) package of frozen spinach
4 ounces low-fat feta cheese, crumbled
Nonstick cooking spray
Salt and pepper

1. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
2. While pan is heating, separate the eggs. Discard 6 of the yolks and set aside the other 6 yolks.
3. Place the whites into a bowl and beat with a fork until foamy. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Gently fold the 6 egg yolks into the egg whites.
5. Add onion to the skillet and saute until translucent, approximately 3 minutes.
6. Add spinach and cook until spinach is wilted.
7. Coat a mini muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray. Add a spoonful of vegetable mixture to each cup, and then pour egg mixture over the vegetables. Top each with a few crumbles of feta cheese
8. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the frittata bites have risen and are golden brown.

Serves: 24 mini frittata bites
Nutrition Content per Serving: 52 calories, 1 g carbohydrate, .5 g fiber, 4.6 g protein, 3 g total fat, 1 g saturated fat, 141 mg sodium

Sweet and Spicy Almonds
Almonds are a great on-the-go snack that contains tons of healthy fats and a good amount of fiber and protein. Now you can enjoy them with a kick of metabolism-boosting spice and a satisfying sweet taste all at once! Nuts have also been linked to decreased abdominal fat storage.

2 1/2 cups unblanched almonds
3 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
2. Spread almonds on a rimmed baking sheet; toast until just beginning to brown, about 10 minutes.
3. In a large bowl, combine sugar, salt, cinnamon and cayenne pepper.
4. In a large skillet over medium heat, cook honey and water with olive oil, stirring until combined, about 1 minute.
5. Add almonds to the honey mixture; toss to thoroughly coat each almond.
6. Transfer nuts to the sugar mixture; toss to coat almonds thoroughly. Cool in a single layer.

Serves: 12
Nutrition Content per Serving: 195 calories, 11 g carbohydrate, 3.5 g fiber, 6 g protein, 15 g total fat, 1 g saturated fat, 291 mg sodium


Tuna Tartar Wrapped in Cucumber
Great for dinner parties and special occasions, as most people find it's the perfect finger-food appetizer when tightly wrapped with sliced cucumber. While dining out, tuna tartar is usually one of the lowest-calorie appetizers.

1 tablespoon mayonnaise
3/4 teaspoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sriracha (Asian chili sauce)
8 ounces fresh, sushi-grade tuna, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 avocado, peeled, cut into 1/8-inch dice
1 tablespoon thinly sliced fresh chives, plus 1-inch pieces for garnish
2 seedless cucumbers, peeled

1. Using a knife or a mandolin, slice the cucumbers lengthwise as thinly as possible.
2. Mix mayonnaise, soy sauce and sriracha together in a small bowl.
3. Add tuna, avocado and chives, and gently combine with a fork.
4. Spoon 1 tablespoon tuna tartar on the end of the cucumber slice. Roll up and place a toothpick through the middle to secure the filling. Garnish with chives and serve.

Serves: 12
Nutrition Content per Serving: 56 calories, 2.5 g carbohydrate, 1.25 g fiber, 5 g protein, 3 g total fat, .43 g saturated fat, 47 mg sodium