Christmas Party Food—just a bit healthier! | HerCanberra

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Christmas Party Food—just a bit healthier!

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“Please leave the nutritionist at home” is a common sentiment of my family whenever there’s a party involved.

I mean, come on, let’s not ruin a good party by being too healthy.

It’s a common social idea that healthy and fun can’t go together in the same sentence. We say things like “Let’s be evil and eat cheesecake” and “I was naughty last night and drank lots of wine”. Party, fun, alcohol, sugar. Party, fun, water, vegetables. Hmmmm….

It’s also becoming more common, however, that people are so obsessed with healthy eating that God forbid a piece of cake pass through their lips.

They scrutinise every nutrition information panel for sugar and even truly healthy foods get removed from the diet for fear that their consumption might end in peril. This unhealthy obsession even has a name, it’s called orthorexia.

So how do we strike a healthy balance for healthy eating at Christmas time? Because let’s be honest, in this food-crazed culture in which we live, we obviously need to have some good boundaries and forethought around our food choices.

If we ate whatever was put in front of us all the time, we’d easily find ourselves with the 60% (or more) of Australians currently at an unhealthy body weight.

You don’t have to say ‘no’ to every piece of food deemed as ‘junk’, however, you don’t also need to say ‘yes’ at every party that only offers brownies, chips and wine. So let’s find a happy medium.

You’re hosting or ‘taking a plate’ to a party, you want to offer a range of foods and include plenty of healthy choices as well. Great. Here are some ideas to get you started.

Vegetables Stick Platter

Carrot, celery, capsicum and snow peas all have fabulous crunch factor and are delicious paired with guacamole, hummus or tzatziki dip.

A healthier version of crackers and french onion dip, the colours also look beautiful on your party table. Be creative in how you present them.

Fruit, Nuts and Choc Chips

Pop little bowls around your party filled with raw mixed nuts, dried fruit pieces and dark choc chips.

ypically known as trail mix, this is a much healthier alternative to bowls of lollies and chocolate.

The Healthy Eating Hub has written a recipe for trail mix made by the lovely people at The Muesli Bar that you can buy here.

Gourmet salad, ham, cheese and bread

There are some amazing bakeries in Canberra offering lovely rye, spelt or sourdough style breads. Thinly slice them and serve with shaved ham off the bone and thinly sliced gourmet cheese.

Add sun-dried tomatoes, sautéed mushrooms, baby rocket, roast capsicum and eggplant and other vegetables for people to make their own open sandwiches.

Infused water jugs

Make water fabulous – try adding fresh, fragrant ingredients to your water, like berries, mint leaves, lime wedges and melon cubes. It looks amazing and tastes so refreshing.

Check out the recipe here.

Make vegetables the star of the show

Usually, when you think of canapés, you think pastry, meatballs, spring rolls and other deep-fried style finger food.

Why not be creative with the vegetables and make some fabulous canapés that look amazing, taste great and won’t bust your belt buckle?

Here are some simple ideas:

  • On toothpicks thread 1/2 a cherry tomato, a fresh basil leaf and a small piece of feta/bocconcini
  • Thickly slice cucumber into pieces. Put hummus in a piping bag and gently squirt a dollop onto each slice of cucumber. Sprinkle with cumin spice.
  • Wrap thinly sliced carrot, cucumber, snow peas, capsicum and avocado in rice paper. Serve with a soy, fresh ginger & lime juice dipping sauce.
  • Cut celery sticks into 2 inch long sections. Place feta and cream cheese in the ratio 3:1 in a food processor. Process until smooth. Place whipped feta into a piping bag and squirt into celery. Top with a thinly sliced portion of sun-dried tomato.
  • Thread wooden skewers with red onion, red and yellow capsicum, pre-cooked sweet potato, eggplant chunks and zucchini slices. Cook on a hot BBQ or chargrill for 3-4 minutes and drizzle with lemon juice and extra-virgin olive oil.

Mini pikelets

This cheese and herb pikelet recipe over at The Healthy Eating Hub has heaps of different flavour options you can try.

Make a few variations and have a mini pikelet tasting plate. Make them about the size of a 50c piece and if you like you can give them a topping such as hummus, cream cheese, guacamole and some fresh herb leaves.

Summer fruits and a dollop of cream

One of my quick simple and most favourite desserts is fresh mango, blueberries and strawberries on a platter served with sweet Philly cream.

To make the cream mix 1/2 tub double cream with 1/2 tub original Philadelphia cream cheese and 2-3 tsp castor sugar.

Beat with an electric mixer. Let people help themselves to the fresh fruit and a dollop of cream. Yum!

Rainbow fruit kebabs

They look amazing and people are always more likely to eat fruit when it looks good and it’s been cut up for them.

Use colourful fruit and make it a piece of art! Pineapple, kiwifruit, watermelon, blueberries, bananas, strawberries…

Some other recipes that you might find helpful…

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