And now for a little holiday inspiration and recipes from my friend, Heather!
Hi! My name is Heather Walton and I just love to cook. I love all food (except beets & chicken liver!) and I enjoy trying different types of cuisines. I also have fun entertaining. I get a lot of satisfaction when I see others enjoying my creations. As for the food, I lean very strongly towards the healthier side of things, seeing as I’m always weight conscious and I try to stick with mostly whole foods. I just feel better when I eat balanced and whole and stay away from all the processed and packaged junk that has become "the norm" in our industrialized diets of today. So, my goal here is to give you some healthy appetizer options for entertaining this holiday season. They’re all fairly easy and have been road tested by me and my friends…and they’re good to go! Even if you have friends that are known "junkies", I guarantee most of them will still appreciate the taste of good, quality, clean food and will like these recipes. And they’ll be getting a health boost at the same time. Gosh, you’re such a good friend!!! ;)
As for the entertaining part, my motto is KISS – Keep It Simple Sweetie. Bright serving dishes will automatically make it a party! Prepare anything in advance that you can. Always use the freshest and best ingredients that you can afford. Your guests will give thanks with their compliments. So, I hope that you’re able to enjoy some of the following recipes with your friends and family this holiday season. A very happy and healthy one to you and yours!
Veggie Tray with dips
You can never go wrong with a veggie tray. It’s always good to have one for those who may want a healthier option. However, there is usually only one "dip"…Ranch. Although Ranch is tasty, it doesn’t have a lot of health benefits so you’re kind of wiping out the healthfulness of the veggies w/the saturated fat laden Ranch. So, try these other dipping options for your guests. Not only will they like them, they’ll likely appreciate your effort to provide the ‘not so average’ veggie tray. I did this recently and even my friend, who is a known "food junkie" (mozzarella sticks & french fries are her staple foods), loved the labneh! As for veggies, it’s totally up to you!
24 oz Plain Greek Yogurt (I use Greek God’s…easy to find at Kroger)
½ tsp salt
½ Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, pressed or very finely chopped
Strain yogurt through cheese cloth overnight.
It will leave you with almost exactly 2 cups of yogurt once the excess water has drained from it.
Mix in salt, olive oil and garlic. Refrigerate at least an hour before serving to let the flavors marry.
Hummus – I’ve tried several homemade hummus recipes and this is my favorite, by far
15oz can chickpeas – keep the liquid
2 cloves of garlic
½ lemon, juice
½ Tbsp salt
2 Tbsp tahini
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Drain chickpeas and set the liquid aside. Put all ingredients in food processor and blend well. It is never the consistency that I prefer at this point so I add a few tablespoons of the chickpea liquid and continue to blend. Keep adding liquid until you get your desired consistency.
Butternut, Goat Cheese & Walnut Spread
This spread is unusual and not for everyone as some people don’t care for goat cheese. But those that love goat cheese, love this dish! And for as heavy as it is, it’s very refreshing and it’s rather healthy.
1 medium butternut squash (about 1.5 lbs)
1 whole garlic head
1 Tbsp lemon juice
½ tsp salt
3oz goat cheese
¼ cup chopped walnuts, toasted
36 – ½ inch thick slices French bread/baguette
Cut squash in half lengthwise; remove and discard seeds. Place squash halves, cut side down on a foil-lined jelly roll pan coated w/cooking spray. Remove papery skin from the garlic head (don’t peel or separate cloves). Wrap garlic in foil. Place garlic on pan w/squash and bake @ 400° for 30 – 35 minutes (squash should be tender). Cool slightly and scoop out the pulp from the squash into your food processor. Cut off the bottom of the garlic and squeeze the roasted pulp it into the food processor. Add lemon juice, salt and cheese and process until smooth. Spoon into a bowl and sprinkle with walnuts. Serve with baguette slices.
Spicy Roasted Edamame
When you roast edamame, they get crisp and almost hard, like a nut. But, these are healthier than nuts to have sitting out for guests. And well, it’s something different to keep your guests on their toes.
14oz pkg frozen blanched shelled edamame, thawed (Private Selection @ Kroger)
1 Tbsp chili powder (I used Mexene. It’s a blend that tastes great. It’s inexpensive and you can find it at Kroger)
1 tsp onion powder
¾ tsp sea salt
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp cayenne pepper
Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a jelly roll pan w/cooking spray and spread the edamame out in a single layer. Combine all powders in a bowl and sprinkle over edamame. Toss to coat. Bake for 1.5 hours, stirring beans every 30 minutes.
Are you hungry yet? Try one of these delicious recipes out at your holiday party!