Essentia Health Menu
Home > About Us > Media Article Library > Take a healthy dish to your next holiday party
Published on December 14, 2017
By Bonnie Brost, licensed and registered dietitian at Essentia Health.
We're in the holiday season when parties challenge our commitment to healthy eating.
There are family parties, club parties, work parties and annual gathering of friends. These events are often centered on food that's loaded with calories, sugar, fat and sodium.
When you're invited to bring a dish to share, consider a healthy option that looks and tastes good. Think about dishes that feature fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts and whole grains. Avoid bringing more sweets, desserts and dishes loaded with full-fat ingredients such as cheese.
Many of our friends and family members have special diet needs, such as food allergies. They may need to watch their sodium due to high blood pressure, heart failure or kidney disease. Low-sugar and low-carbohydrate options are appreciated by people with diabetes. Let's think about these needs as we gather to enjoy each other's company.
Here are some healthy potluck options along with some recipes (note the asterisk) that I've shared with my co-workers and patients.Bring this Instead of thisHummus and whole-grain crackers Cheese and sausage with low-fiber crackers Fruit parfaits* Cookie trayHomemade appetizer meatballs* Little sausage links in sauceHomemade taco dip* Full-fat taco dipLightly salted nuts or trail mixes CandyVegetable side salad* Ramen noodle broccoli saladBean salsa* High-sodium bottled salsa Lower-sodium soup or chili*\High-sodium canned or frozen soupHomemade salmon spread* Cheese ball or spread
Try this healthy dessert instead of a fruit pie.Fruit ParfaitFruit of your choice Vanilla or plain low-fat, light or fat-free Greek yogurtTopping, such as granola or nutsFor one parfait, prepare about ¾ cup of fruit. Put ¼ cup of fruit into a bowl or cup and top with 1 tablespoon yogurt. Repeat the layers and top with 1 tablespoon of nuts or granola.
Great fruit choices are:Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberriesGrapesMelons, peeled and cubed: Watermelon, cantaloupe or honeydew melonKiwi, peeled and slicedMango, peeled and cubedOrange segmentsPineapple chunks, fresh or canned (drained)Peach slicesPomegranate
Nutrition facts (estimated)Serving size, about 1 cup; calories, 100-150; total fat, 1 gm; saturated fat, 0 gm; cholesterol, 0 mg; sodium, 20-30 mg; carbohydrates, 18-25 gm; fiber, 2-5 gm; protein, 3-5 gm; calcium, 60 mg.
Frozen meatballs are usually high in sodium and fat. Look for the chili sauce that's the lowest in sodium and use a lower sugar grape jelly to decrease calories and carbohydrates.Appetizer MeatballsMeatballs1 pound 93 percent lean ground beef or ground turkey1 cup onion, minced1 egg, beaten½ teaspoon black pepper2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce1 tablespoon Canola oil
Combine all ingredients except oil and shape into 1-inch meatballs. Warm oil in an electric skillet over medium heat. Add meatballs and cook for 10-15 minutes or until browned. Cool meatballs by draining on paper towels. Discard oil
Sauce12-ounce bottle chili sauce10-ounce jar lower-sugar grape jelly
Combine chili sauce and jelly in a medium saucepan (or electric skillet); stir well until jelly is melted. Add meatballs and simmer uncovered on low for 30 minutes to thicken the sauce, stirring occasionally. Serve hot meatballs with toothpicks out of the skillet or a slow cooker or chafing dish set on low to keep warm. Makes 36 meatballs.
Nutrition factsServings: 18; serving size, 2 meatballs with 1 tablespoon sauce; calories, 48; total fat, 3 gm; saturated fat, 0.7gm; carbohydrate, 5gm; protein, 6 gm; sodium, 115mg.
Try this low-fat taco dip, which has 100 fewer calories than the full-fat version.Taco Dip8-ounce fat-free cream cheese or fat-free plain Greek yogurt8-ounce fat-free sour cream1 teaspoon lemon juice4 tablespoons Newman's Mild Salsa2 teaspoons chili powder¼ teaspoon onion powder¼ teaspoon garlic powder¼ teaspoon cuminChopped tomatoesChopped lettuceChopped onions
Mix cream cheese or yogurt, sour cream, lemon juice, salsa and spices in mixing bowl until well blended. Or use a food processor. Spread onto serving platter. Top with chopped vegetables. Serve with tortilla chips such as Bearitos or Garden of Eatin, Sage Valley or Xochitl or vegetables.
Nutrition factsServing size, 2 tablespoons; calories, 35; total fat, 0 gm; saturated fat, 0 gm; cholesterol, 3 mg; sodium, 140 mg; carbohydrates, 4 gm; fiber, 0 gm; protein, 3 gm.
Broccoli-Bacon Salad1 clove garlic (Â½ teaspoon)¼ cup olive oil mayonnaise¼ cup reduced-fat sour cream2 teaspoons cider vinegar1 teaspoon sugar4 cups broccoli crowns, finely chopped1 cucumber, chopped3 slices lower-sodium bacon, cooked and crumbled3 tablespoons dried cranberriesFreshly ground pepper, to taste
Whisk garlic, mayonnaise, sour cream, vinegar and sugar in a large bowl. Add broccoli, cucumber, bacon, cranberries and pepper; stir to coat with the dressing. You can cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day.
Nutrition factsServing size, 2/3 cup; calories, 75; total fat, 4 gm; saturated fat, 1 gm; cholesterol, 5 gm; sodium, 100 mg; carbohydrates, 8 gm; fiber, 2 gm; protein, 3 gm.
This dip is a great way to add more vegetables to your snacks or meals. Choose tortilla chips made from whole-grain corn and you will have added veggies and whole grains in your menu plans.Southwest Black Bean Dip2 tablespoons lime juice1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil½ teaspoon ground cumin1 1/2 cups frozen corn ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro15-ounce can lower-sodium black beans, rinsed and drained1 large red bell pepper, choppedJalapeno pepper, chopped (if desired)Tortilla chips or dipping vegetables
Mix lime juice, oil and cumin in a small bowl. Combine corn, cilantro, black beans, red bell pepper and jalapeno pepper; toss. Drizzle dressing over bean mixture and mix. Serve with whole-grain tortilla chips or dipping vegetables.
Nutrition factsServing size, ½ cup; calories, 80; total fat, 1.5 gm; saturated fat, 0 gm; cholesterol, 0 mg; sodium, 60 mg; carbohydrates, 13 gm; fiber, 3 gm; protein, 3 gm.
Turkey Squash Soup1 tablespoon canola oil3/4 cup onion or leeks, chopped1 red bell pepper, chopped (about 1 cup)1 cup carrots, chopped1 cup celery, diced3 cloves garlic, minced (1Â½ teaspoons minced garlic in jar)6 cups unsalted chicken stock (less than 150 mg sodium per cup)1½ pounds butternut squash (2-3 cups), peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes2 tablespoons minced fresh thyme or 2 teaspoons dried thyme1½ teaspoons ground cumin½ cup raw wild rice, rinsed3 cups cooked fresh turkey or chicken (about 1Â½ pounds)2 cups frozen corn kernels2 tablespoons lime juice½ teaspoon crushed red pepper¼ teaspoon saltFreshly ground pepper to taste
Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion (or leeks), bell pepper, carrots, and celery. Cook until the vegetables begin to soften, about 3-4 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute more. Stir in broth, squash, wild rice, thyme and cumin. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.
Add turkey (or chicken) and corn. Return to simmer and cook until the turkey is heated through, about 30-45 minutes. Cooking for several hours will enhance the flavor. You can also cook in a slow cooker for 5-8 hours on low. Add lime, red pepper, salt and pepper just before serving.
Nutrition factsServings size, 1 cup; calories 155; total fat, 2.5 gm; saturated fat, 0 gm; cholesterol, 40 mg; sodium, 180 mg; carbohydrates, 16 gm; fiber, 3 gm; protein, 19 gm.
This is a great way to add healthy omega 3 fatty acids. Use fresh or frozen salmon instead of canned fish to cut the sodium level. Salmon Spread8 ounces of salmon, baked or poached8-ounces fat-free cream cheese or fat-free plain Greek yogurt2 tablespoons olive oil mayonnaise2 teaspoons lemon juice½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce½ teaspoon minced garlic¼ teaspoon onion powder¾ teaspoon Tabasco Sauce1 dash ground black pepper¼ teaspoon liquid smoke
Bake or poach salmon until flaky and then cool. Put all ingredients in a food processor and process until creamy. Serve with fresh vegetables or whole-grain crackers.
Nutrition factsServing size, 2 tablespoons; calories, 45; total fat, 2 gm; saturated fat, 0.5 gm; cholesterol, 15 mg; sodium. 130 mg; carbohydrates, 2 gm; fiber, 0 gm; protein, 5 gm.