Wholesome Holiday Platters

Image result for party platters healthy

Would it really be a family gathering without a party platter? Veggie trays, pretzels and dip, and sausage, cheese and crackers: perhaps these have become your go-to appetizers as well. Platters are versatile and can be easily adapted to accommodate for friends’ and family’s dietary needs.

A platter is an easy way to appease your guests’ appetites in a tasty and healthy way. Here are some tips for building your best party platter, to nourish the people you love:

  1.  A rainbow of fruits and vegetables. Try to incorporate different textures, shapes, and colors. This will lead to both a pretty plate and a balanced assortment of nutrients. Unsweetened dried cranberries, pineapple, dates, and banana chips can also be tasty additions and pair well with nuts.Image result for dried fresh fruit platter
  2.  Unsalted nuts. Nuts contain heart healthy fats and filling protein that will keep friends and family satisfied until the main event. Go with the unsalted variety, as most Americans consume over twice the daily recommended amount of sodium.
  3.  Lower-saturated-fat dips. Instead of the usual sour cream or cream cheese based dips, lighten things up! Tzatziki 10 glowThink homemade guacamole filled with heart healthy fats, creamy tzatziki, a store-bought hummus or a low-sodium tomato salsa. Click here for an easy tzatziki (Greek yogurt & cucumber) dip recipe that has only 5 ingredients!
  4.  Satisfying cheeses. Include flavor-filled cheeses that taste best in moderation. Full-flavor cheeses, such as sharp cheddar, brie, smoked Swiss, and Fontina, can be sliced thin, so you can still enjoy the rich flavors without over-doing it on the portion size.  Cheese is high in saturated fat and sodium, but by choosing a higher-quality, fuller-flavor cheese, you will likely feel more satisfied and eat less than if you were to display a mild provolone, for example. Support local! Check out Mineral Point’s award-winning artisan cheese superstars at Hook’s Cheese, for a wide selection of specialty cheeses.
  5. Something crunchy. Crackers, pretzels, and carrot and celery sticks can all be crunchy, dip-ready additions to a party platter. Go for a cracker made from whole grains and less than 200 mg sodium per serving. Pretzels are generally low in fat and can also be a healthy vehicle for dip, but try to opt for a lower-sodium version. Crostini are another popular choice for appetizer platters – crunchy, crispy, and ready for toppings. Choose a whole grain bread and use olive oil. Check out this healthy crostini recipe from Martha Stewart. Carrot and celery sticks are healthy, nutrient-packed choices and are also a great option if you have a gluten-free party guest.

 

 

Calories In, Calories Out

calorie

You may have heard of the newest diet fad called CICO, short for “Calories In, Calories Out.” The premise is that you can eat whatever you want, junk food included, as long as you expend more calories than you consume. This simplified diet approach does not take into account the nutritional value of the food one consumes and only focuses on the total caloric intake. Unfortunately, a fad approach to dieting, such as CICO, often backfires in the long run and is generally difficult to maintain.

Being healthy isn’t about calories alone. It is important to consider the whole package of the foods you are eating. Essentially, 100 calories of fresh fruit and vegetables is not the same nutritionally as 100 calories of candy. By following a CICO diet, you may lose weight, however, it is possible that your diet may be deficient in essential vitamins and minerals.

The bottom line is that it is important to look at more than just calories. In order to provide optimal health benefit and prevent chronic diseases, including osteoporosis, cancer, and heart disease, it is necessary to include a variety of foods from all of the food groups. If essential nutrients are missing from your diet, overall health can be compromised.

If CICO isn’t the answer to weight loss, what is? Rather than choosing a fad diet, embrace the idea of long-term nutritious eating and exercise. When we shift our focus to an overall healthier lifestyle, we are more likely to achieve and maintain an appropriate weight. Focus on being healthy rather than being thin and remember that well-being is