Sunday, October 16, 2011

Low Carb Holiday Appetizers

What do you think of when you imagine serving your guests holiday appetizers? Usually lots and lots of creamy dips and other goodies? If you are trying to restrict your carb intake, you may be thinking you will have to skip out on all those yummy starters. However, there are ways to cut out the extra carbs without sacrificing all the wonderful flavors you want to enjoy during this festive season. Here are a few suggestions to cut back on the carbs right from the start.

Good Things Come in Small Packages

For some reason, everything seems to be getting super-sized, even appetizers. These little snacks have expanded to almost side-dish portions in recent years. One of the simplest ways to create a healthier appetizer buffet is to create bite-size portions instead of big platters of dips and spreads. You can scale them back down and still make a big splash. Tiny bites, or “tapas” are becoming all the rage, taking the restaurant business by storm. Maybe your own tapas are just what you need to scale down your holiday appetizers to a healthier size.

Instead of the large cheese logs you have made in the past, try making individual bite-size cheese balls. The same can be done with the spinach dips you currently serve in a big bread bowl. Instead, make tiny bites using similar ingredients. By offering smaller, bite sized portions, your guests will not tend to keep dipping and inadvertently fill up on appetizers before they even get a chance to sit down at the table.

Classics With a Twist

Take a look at some of your favorite appetizers and rethink the ingredients. Swedish meatballs is a great hot appetizer that's filling and tasty. You can make them small enough to keep them healthier, yes, but you can also replace high-carb breadcrumbs with low-carb alternatives, such as almond flour and meal. Of course you can buy low-carb baking items like flour and biscuit mixes to help with the types of appetizers that require breadcrumbs or a crust.

One of my favorite appetizers is stuffed mushrooms. But, a breading-based stuffing is not on a low-carb diet. Again, rethink the classic recipe and you'll design a stuffed mushroom that easily fits your dietary needs. Sauté a little onion, garlic, and celery with flavorful sausage, then stir in freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Stuff your mushrooms and you have a low-carb appetizer that is sure to please anyone. If you want a stuffed mushroom more like the ones you enjoy at restaurants (they use more breading because it stretches the stuffing) then stir in a bit of almond meal or even finely ground peanuts. You won't be able to tell the difference, but your figure will.

Those delicious creamy spreads and dips with the thick pieces of crusty bread alongside may be appetizing, but that bread is loaded with carbs. If your diet has you shying away from bread and crackers, can you still enjoy the spreads? Sure you can. Spinach dip, crab dip, cheese balls, and other favorite appetizers are often light on the carbs as long as you find a new 'vehicle' to serve them on, or in. Stuff a grape tomato with crab dip and enjoy! Spread spinach dip on a cucumber slice. Cut celery up into one or two bite pieces, fill them with your favorite cheese ball ingredients, and you have an instant low-carb alternative to cheese and crackers.

Stick With a Few Favorites

There are appetizers that are naturally low-carb. Think of your favorite protein-based appetizers and you'll have a few ideas right away. Wrap just about any seafood in bacon, put it under the broiler, and you have a festive appetizer that is perfect for any holiday buffet. Remember ham and Swiss cheese wrapped asparagus bundles? These are the appetizers that have stood the test of time, and are low-carb diet friendly.

Also, don't ignore the obvious; the antipasto tray. Olives, sausage, cheese, pickles, and artichoke hearts artfully arranged, can be all the appetizers you need. This is a classic that never gets boring. Be sure to include a variety of each element to keep the interest.

When the Holidays come around, we all look forward to the appetizer buffet. But, when you're on a low-carb diet, the choices can feel limiting. The surprising and wonderful thing is... they're not! You have a lot of choices, some very familiar, that will keep you happy as well as low-carb.

No comments:

Post a Comment