By Lauren Denos: 12/16/2014 (Nutrition)

Appetizers are generally part of the festivities of the holiday party experience. Just because you have appetizers at a party does not mean that it has to be sugar laden, super-processed junk food. Here are a few ideas and recipes to make your pre-meal snacking better and healthier.

Chips or Veggies, and Dip

Chips are one of the staples of the snack food table. I say keep the chips on the table but give it a little bit of a makeover. Instead of fried tortilla chips go for baked ones. Salsa and hummus are both good lean dip options. Guacamole is another that is great to add, even thought it is higher in fat it is a healthy fat your body uses really well.

Many people like to do a veggie tray with a ranch or french onion dip, but there is a super easy way to make this a healthier option. Simply take whatever seasoning packet you were going to use and mix it with some greek yogurt. The 4% tastes best for this. Serve with your favorite veggies!

Shrimp Cocktails

This needs no instructions. It is simply cooked and chilled shrimp served with cocktail dipping sauce. The great part about this one is you can buy the shrimp already cooked peeled and chilled. All you have to do is plate it up.

Meat Skewers

This does not need a specific recipe. All you do is choose the meat of your choice and seasoning of your choice. There are so many types of seasoning packets available that the variety is almost endless and super easy. Cut the meat up into either strips or cubes and skewer and grill. If you are using wooden skewers make sure to soak them for at least 30 minutes. Overnight is best.

Now, onto the recipes.

Deviled Eggs

Most people love deviled eggs. The great thing about them is that they are full of protein and healthy fats. The bad part is people tend to put tons of mayo and sometimes cheese in them. That is not necessary.

1 dozen eggs

1/2 cup Greek yogurt

1/4 tsp smoked paprika (more will add a smokier flavor)

1/4 tsp powdered garlic

1/8 tsp pepper

2 tsp mustard (yellow or gourmet)

salt (to taste)

2 Tbsp minced onion (optional)

Boil eggs in water for about 10 minutes. Make sure the water has plenty of salt in it. This helps them peel easier. When the eggs are done run them under cool water for a few minutes. Then put them in the fridge to cool. Let them cool for at least an hour. It is best to boil them the day before you need to use them so they are completely cool. Peel eggs and cut length wise in half.

Scoop out yolks of the eggs and put into a bowl large enough that you can mash them and add other stuff in. Add all ingredients except the egg white halfs to the bowl with the eggs yolks and mash until smooth. You can add more yogurt if you would like it smoother. Add this mixture to a zip lock bag and cut the edge of the corner on one of the bags. This is what you will pipe the mixture into the whites with.

Lay out all the egg white and pipe in the egg yolk filling. Then if you would like sprinkle a little extra smoked paprika on top for garnish.

Cinnamon Yogurt Dip

This is just as simple as the yogurt dip above. All you need is:

12 oz 4% Greek yogurt

1/4 tsp of cinnamon

1/8 tsp Stevia (or favored sweetener)

1/2 tsp Vanilla extract (optional)

Put all the ingredients into a bowl and mix. For the Stevia start with 2 droppers and add more as you go to find your desired level of sweetness. That is all you have to do. Just serve up with some pears, apples, or even peaches!

Caprese Salad on a Stick

Caprese salads are always a favorite and so easy to make.

1 package of grape or cherry tomatoes

1 container balled whole milk mozzarella, in liquid

1 package fresh basil

3-4 cloves fresh garlic

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

1/2 cup olive oil

sea salt

1 package of long tooth picks

Mince garlic and mix with olive oil, balsamic, and salt to taste. Skewer 1 tomato, one mozzarella ball and 1 basil leaf. You can either leave the sauce to dunk into or you can place all the sauce in a deep plate or dish and set the caprese sticks in the sauce. If you would like to make bigger snacks you can use long skewers and put multiple tomatoes, mozzarella and basil on each skewer.

There are so many healthy options available, hopefully this will solve the answers of what to make and if not then hopefully it gets your creative juices flowing. Happy snacking and happy holidays!



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