11 Easy Ways to Make Your Summer Party a Little Healthier
Hosting a summer soirée? These expert tricks for healthy food will keep your bash fun, delicious, and ensure guests won't feel as if they need to go for a walk after dinner.
Is a summer gathering really a summer gathering without a big bowl of crunchy chips?No.And that's exactly why it's time to swap out the bagged version for something healthier, but just as tasty. By making a homemade version of your favorites — from regular ol' potatoes to different varieties like carrot and beet chips — you'll cut down on calories with minimal effort.
Everything good in the summer is served out of a bun. Burgers, hot dogs — the list goes on and on. But an easy way to cut some calories is to ditch the bun and use a bibb lettuce wrap instead. It's fresh, tasty, and totally guilt-free. And to make things even healthier, swap out your beef burger for a veggie version like this one from The First Mess.
Making your own ice cream may sound like a lot of work, but this alternative dessert will be ready as soon as you hit "start." Follow Clean Food author Terry Walters' lead and throw pecans, almonds, a dash of vanilla, a few sprinkles of cinnamon, and ice into a high-power blender for an instantaneous — and shockingly creamy — treat.
Salad greens with cucumbers and tomatoes get old fast. Walters recommends switching it up with a bed of kale, pumpkin seeds — an excellent source of zinc — and dried goji berries, drizzled with a little olive oil and lemon for a satisfying starter.
TakeThe Omni Dietauthor Tana Amen's cue when it comes to choosing a light but satisfying appetizer. Combine chopped shrimp, mixed greens, and julienned carrots, cucumbers, and mangoes, then wrap in rice paper. Instead of serving the rolls with traditional cocktail sauce, make a dip by mixing a half-cup of light coconut milk, one tablespoon of honey, a little lime juice, and sprinkles of curry powder, cinnamon, turmeric, and cilantro.
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Store-bought rubs and glazes often contain gluten, and given the rise in sensitivity to the protein, one of your guests is bound to be gluten-free. Head off complaints by pouring a glaze of reduced low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth, chives, and cilantro over meat or fish. Or, whip up Amen's favorite marinade of rosemary, thyme, lemon juice, olive oil, and sea salt.
Or shooters, at least. Skip canned coconut juice and instead crack open a real coconut. Mix with vodka in a pitcher, and garnish with basil leaves for a real treat, says Foodist author Darya Rose.
We won't lie to you — if you merely serve fruit in lieu of a sweet dessert, guests may be disappointed. However, when presented with Amen's macadamia-nut sauce, no one will be waiting for the cake to appear. In a high-power blender, mix a half-cup of macadamia nuts, two tablespoons of coconut flakes, a half-cup of light coconut milk, 10 drops of stevia, one tablespoon of raw honey, and one-quarter cup of unsweetened almond milk. Then drizzle over three cups of berries. "These healthy fats and proteins send the signal to your brain that you're full, so you don't gorge," says Amen.
You want to serve a vegetable-rich meal, but if this is a family affair, kids may not be so wild about the idea. Amen, the mother of a nine-year-old daughter, heads off complaints by making chili, mixing one-third of the meat and sauce with three cups of veggies in a high-power blender. She then throws the mixture back in the pot with the rest of the chili. "That purées the vegetables," says Amen. "Kids don't see or taste it, but they're happy to eat it."
Instead of claiming you'll drink a glass of water between every alcoholic drink — c'mon, who actually does that? — try this fun trick to stay hydrated: Make coconut water ice cubes, and drop them in beverages. You can even freeze a berry inside to make them extra picture-worthy.
Additives like flax, hemp, and chia seeds are all the rage — and for good reason. "Chia seeds create a wet food because they expand to six times their size in water," says Koff. "That means you can get full on half the food, and they're a good source of fiber and omega-3 fatty acids." Next time you barbecue, mix a handful with ground turkey meat and you'll find yourself just as satisfied by a four-ounce burger as by your standard eight-ounce helping.
Unlike salt, which often spurs sugar cravings, spices are a satisfying way to up flavor with a ton of health benefits. Many help kill off bacteria, and studies have shown that spicy foods cause us to eat less. Koff recommends adding chili powder and Indian spice blends to potato salad, which will make it easy to keep portions under control, not to mention have guests demanding your secret recipe.
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