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10 Guilt-Free Party Snacks to Make for the Holidays

author image Arthur Bovino
Expert restaurant, food media, and travel writer with strong opinions about pizza, bagels, and sushi who has mastered the art of pinning chefs against critics with his own rating system. Arthur is the managing editor for online indie food site Previously, he was the executive editor and a founding editor for The Daily Meal, one of the highest-trafficked food sites. A trained cook with experience reporting at The New York Times, Arthur has written for Travel + Leisure, Fodor’s, Rough Guides and Time Out and has appeared on New York One and the TODAY Show.

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10 Guilt-Free Party Snacks to Make for the Holidays
Photo Credit: Arthur Bovino

It’s the season when parties and potlucks are in full swing. But instead of bringing the usual casserole or ham to your next gathering, why not bring something different, such as an easy, homemade snack? From roasted chickpeas to zucchini chips, these recipes are unique, healthy and sure to impress a crowd. Read on for 10 snack ideas that you can whip up any time of year — not just over the holidays!

1. Crispy Roasted Chickpeas
Photo Credit: Arthur Bovino

1 Crispy Roasted Chickpeas

Protein-rich chickpeas burst with manganese, which helps support bone development, and folate, which aids in new cell growth. And when roasted, the chickpeas turn into an addictively crunchy, nutty snack. We’re roasting ours with smoky paprika, but if you feel like being adventurous, trying adding your favorite seasonings. Anything from ancho chili powder to cumin can work, so feel free to get creative.

Related: Crispy Roasted Chickpeas Recipe

2. Ricotta, Lemon and Walnut Dip
Photo Credit: Arthur Bovino

2 Ricotta, Lemon and Walnut Dip

Part-skim and fat-free ricotta makes a light but creamy base for this dip. To give our recipe some tang, we’re adding a touch of olive oil and lemon juice, which provides vitamins C, B-6, A and E. You’ll pulse your ingredients in a food processor with chopped walnuts until you achieve a smooth consistency. Walnuts contain heart-healthy omega-3 fats and antioxidants, which fight free-radical damage. Serve as a dip for crackers and carrots. Got leftovers? Enjoy it as a spread for whole-grain toast.

Related: Ricotta, Lemon and Walnut Dip Recipe

3. Zucchini Chips With Feta and Cherry Tomatoes
Photo Credit: Arthur Bovino

3 Zucchini Chips With Feta and Cherry Tomatoes

Watch out, potato chips! We’re making zucchini crisps that are (almost) too pretty to eat. High in water content and rich in fiber, zucchinis can help with weight management by making you feel full longer. We’re topping each thinly sliced zucchini chip with creamy feta and tart, slow-roasted tomatoes. They really are hard to stop eating, which is totally fine — each serving is only 45 calories.

Related: Zucchini Chips With Feta and Cherry Tomatoes Recipe

4. Chai, Malt and Peanut Butter Powdered Apple Chips
Photo Credit: Arthur Bovino

4 Chai, Malt and Peanut Butter Powdered Apple Chips

These low-calorie chips may be just what the doctor ordered. Apples contain the antioxidant quercetin, which helps boost your immune system. The fruit can also regulate blood sugar and reduce cholesterol. We’re flavoring our chips with chai spice, peanut butter powder and malt powder for a treat that’s nutty, spicy and perfectly festive.

Related: Chai, Malt and Peanut Butter Powdered Apple Chips Recipe

5. Roasted Rosemary and Garlic Almonds
Photo Credit: Arthur Bovino

5 Roasted Rosemary and Garlic Almonds

Almonds — raw or roasted — make a great snack, whether you’re enjoying them by yourself or serving them at a party. These crunchy treats are an excellent source of fiber, protein, magnesium and vitamin E. What’s more, almonds can reduce blood pressure and lower cholesterol levels. There are two terrific things about roasting your own almonds: You can adjust the salt level and add your own flavorings, including spices, herbs and oil infusions. Remember that nuts cook fast and can burn easily, so keep an eye on them while they’re roasting.

Related: Roasted Rosemary and Garlic Almonds Recipe

6. Pistachio-Chia Dark Chocolate Balls
Photo Credit: Arthur Bovino

6 Pistachio-Chia Dark Chocolate Balls

In a hurry? These no-cook chocolate balls are a real lifesaver when you’re facing a time crunch. The dates and pistachios add mildly sweet and nutty notes, while the chia seeds add texture and loads of omega-3 fatty acids. We’re also tossing cacao nibs, which can help fight cardiovascular disease, into the mix. It’s a chocolaty treat that you can whip up in 30 minutes.

Related: Pistachio-Chia Dark Chocolate Balls Recipe

7. Cream Cheese and Turkey Bacon Stuffed Piquillo Peppers
Photo Credit: Arthur Bovino

7 Cream Cheese and Turkey Bacon Stuffed Piquillo Peppers

This is one of those recipes that requires you to exercise good judgment. While the low-fat cream cheese and turkey bacon make them much healthier for you than they would otherwise be, they are certainly rich. So make just enough to serve one or two peppers per person. And while chefs often use piping bags for recipes like this, here’s an easy shortcut: Use a sandwich bag with the tip cut off to pipe the filling into the peppers. Easy!

Related: Cream Cheese and Turkey Bacon Stuffed Piquillo Peppers Recipe

8. Baked Salt-and-Vinegar Chips
Photo Credit: Arthur Bovino

8 Baked Salt-and-Vinegar Chips

A party without potato chips is a tough sell. Baked chips provide the same flavor and crunch of the traditional fried variety, they just don’t contain all that fat. Making these at home allows you to play with a range of spices and control the sodium level. For this recipe, we experimented with two methods: applying vinegar powder and soaking the chips in vinegar before baking them. While the powder makes the process quicker, we did find that soaking the chips in vinegar first resulted in a more intense flavor. Either method works, so choose what works best for your schedule.

Related: Baked Salt-and-Vinegar Chips Recipe

9. Yogurt Pimento Cheese
Photo Credit: Arthur Bovino

9 Yogurt Pimento Cheese

Pimento cheese, aka the “caviar of the South,” is passionately loved by those who grew up with it. And these folks have some very strong opinions about how to make it. Some believe in adding ingredients like mustard, pickle juice, Worcestershire sauce, paprika, jalapenos, onions and garlic. Others might call any one or all of these additions heresy. The key to adapting a healthy version is to find one that most appeals to your palate. Don’t dig heat? Skip the cayenne and hot sauce. Prefer a thick spread? Pass on the pickle juice. Just remember that the key ingredients are cheddar, mayonnaise and pimentos.

Related: Yogurt Pimento Cheese Recipe

10. Eggplant Parm “Pizza” Chips
Photo Credit: Arthur Bovino

10 Eggplant Parm “Pizza” Chips

These mini eggplant parm chips have all the quintessential pizza ingredients: cheese, sauce and crispiness. And while these chips taste like a pizza, they contain a fraction of the calories and are also gluten-free, thanks to the eggplant. A rich source of vitamins C, K and B-6, eggplants can help lower cholesterol and boost heart health. Remember to salt the eggplant slices before baking: This helps to draw out the moisture that would otherwise result in soggy chips.

Related: Eggplant Parm “Pizza” Chips Recipe

What Do YOU Think?
Photo Credit: Foxys_forest_manufacture/iStock/Getty Images

What Do YOU Think?

What’s your favorite snack to bring to get-togethers? Do you prefer store-bought snacks or making your own? Which of these recipes would you try? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

Related: Easy Holiday Cookies That Are Actually Healthy

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