Frozen eggrolls or puff pastry hors d'oeuvres make for easy holiday party prep, but they don't do your guests any nutritional favors.
Sure, a couple of nibbles of a bacon-wrapped this or deep-fried that won't tank your diet. But when the holiday party punch is flowing and the mood is merry, moderation can be hard to manage.
So, why not offer your guests some finger foods they can feel good about, even after seconds or thirds?
Bean dips, such as hummus, are a good choice. Even more indulgent dips made with cheese or sour cream can be made healthier when they're served with lots of fresh vegetables instead of chips. Dairy-based dips also can be blended with nonfat Greek-style plain yogurt.
Fruits combined with a savory element can be sophisticated and delicious. Try small wedges of honeydew melon wrapped in a strip of rosemary ham (available at most well-stocked deli counters) or slices of pear (dipped in a mixture of lemon juice and water to keep them from turning brown) topped with some crumbles of assertive Stilton cheese.
Shrimp are another crowd pleaser that are inexpensive and easy to prep. Plus, they are low in calories and virtually fat-free.
Precooked cocktail shrimp are the most convenient, but for better flavor buy raw shrimp, thread them onto bamboo skewers and toss them on the grill.
Rather than serving the standard horseradish-based cocktail sauce with shrimp, try a Thai-style pesto, which is made from a combination of three fresh herbs, fresh ginger, spicy chilies, lime juice and roasted peanuts. The recipe calls for only 2 tablespoons of oil and no cheese, making it lighter than many varieties of pesto.
For parties, serve the pesto with grilled shrimp for dipping. If you're just making a quick dinner, use the pesto to top grilled chicken or fish, or as a sauce for rice noodles.