14 Healthy New Year's Eve Party Appetizer Ideas
Last Updated: Dec 16, 2013
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Yes, it's possible to eat yummy foods and enjoy a festive New Year's Eve party without completely disregarding healthy eating habits. Keep reading to learn about 14 delicious and healthy appetizers to help you ring in the New Year without ramping up the number on the scale. If you're hosting, consider this your pre-planned menu. Or if you're attending a friend's party, your tasty, healthy dish might just be the highlight of the night!
Surprisingly, deviled eggs won't play devil to your diet. “These party favorites are packed with high-quality protein, and you can get creative with them by adding healthy fat such as pesto or avocado into the mix,” says registered dietitian Karen Graham. Eggs can also help stave off snacking. "Focusing on appetizers that are protein-based can help prevent you from overindulging in food and drink," says Graham.
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Creamy ranch or French onion dip and a bowl of potato chips are staples at most New Year's Eve parties. However, 2 tablespoons of dip and 15 chips (about a 1-ounce serving) can contain more than 200 calories and 15 grams of fat. Breea Johnson, RD, suggests experimenting with different types of bean dips for an appetizer that's low in calories and high in protein and fiber. Whip up a quick and healthy bean dip by combining cooked black beans, chili powder, cumin, garlic salt, oregano and a pinch of cayenne pepper in a blender and then add chopped tomatoes and cook for 10 minutes. Serve with baked pita chips or vegetables for a healthy spread.
Avoid the popcorn shrimp or fried crab claws and give a grilled shrimp appetizer some love. A 3.5-ounce serving of cooked shrimp contains about 99 calories, less than a gram of fat and 24 grams of protein, making it a low-calorie, high-protein option. "Don't fry or bread anything," says registered dietitian Breea Johnson. "Instead, try grilled shrimp, chicken or grass-fed beef on mini skewers for healthy bite-sized appetizers." Add some zing to shrimp without piling on a bunch of calories by skewering them with grilled vegetables and marinating the combination in a mixture of cilantro, chives, garlic and a drizzle of olive oil.
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“Typical party appetizers like chips and dip and crackers are usually full of carbs, unhealthy fats and sodium,” warns Karen Graham, RD. Furthermore, they often lack protein. Graham says this can present a real problem for dieters. "Consuming carbs without protein can cause an increase in cravings and appetite." Three small turkey meatballs contain around 15 grams of protein. Consider disarming your appetite with a few turkey meatballs and marinara sauce before braving the rest of the appetizer table to nosh on less of the unhealthy fare.
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“Instead of reaching for that bowl of cocktail nuts, which can be high in fat and sodium, consider roasted chickpeas as a tasty and savory substitute,” says Karen Graham, RD. These little nuggets are full of some key nutrients. A small 1.5-ounce serving of chickpeas provides you around 10 grams of protein. They're also easy to whip up quickly without a lot of prep time. Simply add olive oil to cooked chickpeas and season with garlic, salt and cayenne pepper to taste. Bake the chickpeas at 450 degrees for around 30 minutes or until crunchy.
Instead of jalapeno poppers, chicken fingers, Buffalo wings and other fried snacks laden with fat and calories, add a plate of stuffed mushrooms to your New Year's Eve party spread. Containing nutrients like copper, potassium, and niacin, mushrooms add a boost of nutrition, especially when stuffed with other vegetables. For a tasty side that is easy on the scale and offers some healthy nutrients, sauté a mixture of onion, chopped mushroom stems, your favorite veggies and garlic. Mix with cottage or ricotta cheese and cracker crumbs and season to taste. Spoon this delectable combination into mushroom caps, top with a sprinkle of zesty cheese and bake until golden at 350 degrees. This savory snack will be a favorite with party guests.
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Raw and cooked vegetables can play understudy to the high-calorie, high-fat regular cast of New Year's party food characters. Breea Johnson, RD, recommends mini grilled vegetable skewers as a healthy holiday dish. Find the freshest veggies at your local grocer and create a nutritious combination with squash, tomatoes, zucchini, broccoli, onions, artichoke hearts and other favorites. Johnson suggests dressing up vegetable skewers with a small piece of fresh mozzarella cheese. If you choose to add meat, go for lean options such as grilled chicken. Include a tasty sauce such as a lemon scallion dip or one of the many soy sauce-based ones. Make sure to use light soy sauce to cut back on sodium.
Pears are a popular winter seasonal fruit, and if you're like most people, you probably have some of these common holiday gifts lying around the house. Not only are they delicious, but pears are also packed with fiber and contain ample amounts of vitamin C. At only 100 calories per serving, these sweet and juicy fruits are diet-friendly. To incorporate these favorites into New Year's Eve party appetizers, pair them with savory trimmings. For instance, mix pear chunks with feta cheese, olive oil, lemon juice and seasoning for a healthy topping for crusty bread or tortilla chips.
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CHILI-ROASTED BLACK-EYED PEAS
Make sure you send guests home with some good luck for the New Year. An old Southern tradition is to eat black-eyed peas right after midnight or on New Year's Day to ensure a year of prosperity and good health. Beyond possibly bringing you good luck, these legumes will provide you with nutrients such as folate, calcium, vitamin A and iron. For a lucky and nutritious appetizer, sprinkle black-eyed peas with chili powder and cumin and then roast them. Package them in mini New Year's-themed mason jars and tie them with ribbon. Pass these out to guests after the clock strikes midnight or as a parting gift to take home.
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ROASTED RED PEPPER HUMMUS
Hummus is a healthy substitute for more fattening dips and spreads. This year try adding some extra ingredients to boost its nutrition power. Red peppers contain a variety of nutrients and add a rich, sweet kick to traditional hummus. These colorful veggies house healthy antioxidants as well as carotene, vitamin C, folic acid and B-6. Incorporating roasted red pepper into hummus is easy. Simply combine traditional hummus ingredients in a blender -- garlic, garbanzo beans, tahini and lemon juice. Once the mixture is smooth, add finely chopped roasted red peppers and seasoning such as basil, salt and pepper. Serve with small pita slices or fresh, raw carrots, celery, cauliflower and broccoli.
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Forgo the fried mozzarella sticks and instead indulge in this healthy and tasty treat. Sure to be a party favorite, these finger foods are delicious dipped in marinara sauce and can hold their own by themselves. Zucchini is a good source of antioxidants, minerals and vitamins C, B-6, riboflavin and K. It also contains respectable amounts of vitamin A, potassium, magnesium, folate and phosphorus. To whip up some zucchini sticks, simply cut zucchini into slices and dip in a mixture of egg whites, salt and pepper. Place them in a zip-close bag with breadcrumbs, cheese and garlic powder and give it a good shake. Spritz with cooking spray, and bake on a greased cookie sheet for 20 to 25 minutes until crispy and brown.
Kale is a trendy vegetable these days, gracing everything from cocktails to omelets. Not only is this leafy green fashionable, but also it's packed with nutrients like flavonoid compounds such as lutein, zeaxanthin and beta carotene and antioxidants -- vitamins A, C, B-6 and K -- and minerals such as iron, calcium, potassium, iron and phosphorus. Swap out traditional potato chips with baked kale chips for a healthy and light option. You can find these at most grocery and health food stores or you can easily make your own. Simply remove the kale ribs and cut into small pieces. Toss the pieces with salt and olive oil and bake at 275 degrees until crispy, about 20 minutes.
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Eggplant is filled with fiber and free of both fat and cholesterol; pickled eggplant can be a distinctive and healthy party appetizer. Even in off-season months, you should be able to find eggplant at the grocery store. You can also purchase eggplant that is already pickled or easily make your own with some planning. For the tastiest pickled eggplant, allow it to pickle in the marinade for three to five days in an airtight container and let it reach room temperature before serving. Serve it solo or skewer it with black olives, pickles and sharp cheese for a savory and salty appetizer.
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Chicken salad is typically thought of as a high-fat, high-calorie dish, but if you substitute But registered Dietitian Breea Johnson recommends using Greek yogurt in place of mayonnaise for a healthy twist on this New Year's staple. One cup of chicken salad made with mayonnaise typically runs around 417 calories and 32 grams of fat. Many of those calories and fat grams are due to the mayonnaise, which contains around 90 calories and 10 grams of fat per tablespoon. One tablespoon of plain, non-fat Greek yogurt contains 9 calories and 0 grams of fat, potentially knocking 100 calories off your chicken salad.
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WHAT DO YOU THINK?
What are your New Year's Eve plans? Will you be hosting or attending a party? Are you planning to make or bring food? What are you serving? Leave us a comment below and let us know!
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