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Healthy Snacks for Parties

Do you hesitate to invite friends over because you agonize over what to serve? Do you wish there were a simple checklist to help you prepare easy snacks for parties? Entertaining with style just seems to come naturally to some; for most of us, however, the agony sometimes outweighs the ecstasy and we simply put it off. Too often, it seems that having friends over turns into a question of "what kind of pizza to order."

But that doesn't have to be your story. Learning how to serve low-calorie, healthy hors d'oeuvres while not overdoing the alcoholic beverages is as easy as applying some basic principles of nutrition. All it takes is a little planning, a dash of ingenuity, and a full measure of good humor.

When selecting which snacks you should serve, simply take the following tips to heart:

  • Mix up the flavors and textures, balancing the salty, the spicy and the sweet.
  • Keep it simple.
  • Serve protein.

Remember these are snacks; you are not obligated to fill people up. If you run out of food, you'll know you did something right! And by then, the time to end the party will, no doubt, be near. So simply thank your guests for their presence and be gracious as you bid them farewell.

What you choose to serve will, of course, depend upon both the number of guests you aim to entertain and your own space and serving limitations. For a small or medium-sized group, plan to spend little time in the kitchen, and use restraint when buying and ordering. Go as light on the cash as you go on the calories. In fact, the bulk of your time and energy might best be spent on fluffing sofa pillows and finding serving pieces.

The amount of food you serve depends on the type of party. If it's cocktails at your house before going out to dinner, plan three-five appetizers per person and with 45 minutes to an hour of time allotted for eating amidst pleasantries. If your event is for hors d'oeuvres and drinks only, you should provide food that's a bit more substantial, but it still should not be a substitute for dinner. Try to limit the amount of both spirits and soft drinks you serve, and always provide something non-alcoholic.

Simple Selections for Any Celebration

Option 1: Go Greek. Stuffed grape leaves, tzatziki with fresh vegetables and pita wedges, spiced Greek shrimp, and a mixture of olives. These foods are great complements to chilled wine spritzers, and can be managed easily with just a napkin as "finger foods." Add crunchy vegetable chips or spiced nuts, yogurt-covered pretzels or lemon-cream almonds. Medjool dates may also supply a fine finishing touch.

Option 2: Italian Antipasti. Platters of Italian cold cuts with a variety of cheeses, grilled vegetables and marinated olives; crusty bread with herb-flavored olive oil, artichoke spreads, and hummus for dipping- these foods are suitable for a stand-up cocktail party or for filling a small plate from a buffet table. Of course, it's easier if you don't have to balance a plate in one hand with a glass in the other, so you might want to provide plenty of seating. Whether you buy it ready to go from the deli section or put it together yourself, it's sure to be a hit.

Option 3: Traditional Smorgasbord. Fancy deviled eggs, herring in wine sauce, smoked salmon, thinly-sliced Danish ham, a cheese board with thin slices of mild Swiss, a creamy goat cheese, smoked gouda and a pungent bleu; serve it all with fresh rye bread and dark pumpernickel for a spread that is simply divine. Add fresh radishes and cucumber spears, small boiled potatoes or beets tossed with olive oil, garlic and herbs to be speared with toothpicks. Put out bowls of fresh or dried berries with some dark chocolate pieces for something sweet.

Option 4: Trail Mix Parfait Bar. Have a DIY trail mix parfait bar where you serve plain or vanilla yogurt with a variety of trail mix type topping, like: granola, sliced almonds, dried diced pineapple, and baby dried strawberries.

Whichever ideas strike your fancy, keep a file of snack tips and some basic ingredients on-hand, as some of the best parties happen unexpectedly. Entertaining effectively is a learned skill, but it is one that truly becomes easier and more enjoyable every time you do it. So don't delay; start preparing your guest list now. With each passing party, concentrate on finding a variety of "keeper" recipes. You'll soon be calling them "old friends" as well.

Recommended Recipes for Palatable Party Snacks

To start your list of “old friends” with some notable new ones, we’ve compiled a catalog of our favorite recipes for our most flavorful party favors. Check out the suggestions below that were formulated by our Health Nut and Registered Dietitian.

Chlorella Guacamole

Chlorella Guacamole Recipe

This scrumptious spread supplies all the same savors as standard guacs with an added supplement of the superfood chlorella to proffer lasting energy into the night. Pair this delectable side dish with any number of delectable chips for your next shindig.
Ingredients: Avocados, tomato, onion, lime juice, fresh cilantro, garlic, jalapeno pepper, chlorella powder, salt, crushed pepper.
Total Time: 15 minutes | Yield: 3 cups (10 servings)

Quinoa Veggie Wrap {vegan}

Quinoa Veggie Wrap Recipe {vegan}

This flavorful finger-food offers a healthy alternative to typical tortilla wraps with a blend of the superfood quinoa and fresh vegetables. Cut each wrap in half to produce a more readily edible bite to be shared amongst guests allowing everyone the opportunity to sample each snack.
Ingredients: Tortilla wraps, quinoa, hummus, fresh spinach, sun-tomatoes, shredded carrots.
Total Time: 30 minutes | Yield: 4 wraps

Blueberry Crumb Bars {gluten-free, vegan}

Blueberry Crumb Bars Recipe {gluten-free, vegan}

These crumbly confections supply a sweet savor to satiate any craving. Pair these pastries with a creamy beverage or simply set them out as a delicious dessert to be thoroughly enjoyed after the rest of the hors d'oeuvres have been thoroughly devoured.
Ingredients: Almond flour, coconut flour, coconut oil, agave syrup, water, baking soda, blueberries, arrowroot powder (or cornstarch), brown rice flour, ground cinnamon, sugar.
Total Time: 1 hour | Yield: 12 bars

No-Bake Lemon Cheesecake Bites {gluten-free, vegan}

No-Bake Lemon Cheesecake Bites Recipe {luten-free, vegan}

Yet another tasty treat that can be enjoyed throughout the party or as a flavorful final course, these airy collations are light enough to entice your tastebuds without feeling too filling.
Ingredients: Raw almonds, unsweetened shredded coconut, gluten-free rolled oats, flaxseed meal, maple syrup, lemons, coconut cream, macadamia nuts, slivered almonds.
Total Time: 20 minutes | Yield: 15 servings

Party Snack Recommendations

When it comes to selecting snacks for a party, healthy foods may or may not be on the top of your mind. Although, the good news is that there are plenty of healthy snacks that are perfect for parties and deliver health helping nutrients. For healthy snacking think focusing your snack options around veggies, dried fruit, and nuts. Things like trail mix, pistachios, almonds, cashews, or veggie chips are crowd favorites and perfect staples.

Check out this roundup of healthy snack ideas from our Health Nut and Registered Dietitian!