Are you thinking of throwing a garden party to show off all your beautiful spring growth? Maybe you have a baby shower, book club, or simple get-together planned with friends? There is always a reason to celebrate, even if it’s something small, and there’s no celebration that’s complete without food!
Most social gatherings feature desserts, high calorie hors d’oeuvres, croissants, and other goodies that aren’t providing your guests with much nutrition. Spring is to be celebrated with parties and picnics that are fresh and healthy in honor of the season!
Your menu can be delicious, colorful, and highly nutritious if you use the right ingredients. Here are some ideas of things to serve to ensure that your party delights the taste buds while still pleasing your health conscious guests!
Make vegetables a part of each dish
Whether acting as the main star, or a supporting role, there should be a vegetable in every dish. It’s easy to make a vegetable platter and offer a dip, but think creatively and add vegetables where you might not think of them. Add pureed beet or roasted bell pepper to hummus and serve with whole wheat crackers. Not only will it look more appetizing, but be lower in calories and higher in nutrition than plain hummus. Slice cucumbers and top them with herbed cream cheese in place of bread.
Offer water with optional mix-ins
Beverages can be loaded with sugar and calories while providing little nutrition. If you want to please everyone, offer water and provide mix-ins so they can customize their own flavor. These mix ins can include lemon and lime wedges, cucumbers, mint, orange slices, even berries and freshly picked basil. Flavored water is so refreshing and helps improve the desirability of the healthiest thing you can drink!
Use produce as your serving bowls
This is a delicious way to visually improve your party food, while encouraging healthier eating. Instead of using a bread bowl for dip, try hollowing out bell peppers and filling with dip instead. Cabbage and ice-burg lettuce can substitute for platters holding tuna or pasta salads. You can also scoop out the insides of watermelons, pumpkins (better for a fall party) or pineapple (sliced down the middle and laid on its side) for a charming and flavorful display.
The more color the better
Different plant pigments, even within the same family, contain different nutrients. For example purple carrots contain more anthocyanins (the same nutrient that’s found in blueberries) while orange carrots contain more beta carotene. Blood oranges also contain anthocyanin while Cara Cara oranges contain lycopene, the same red pigment that gives tomatoes their health benefits. Varying your colors insures you are varying your nutrients! Mix it up! When purchasing bell peppers, get one of each color. If making a dish that includes cauliflower, try buying the purple, orange or lime green varieties to give it extra appeal.
Garnish your trays with herbs and edible flowers
Garnishes are the perfect way to dress up a dish and make it seem a little fancier. Herbs are a cheap and easy way to make your platter look more appetizing and show off a little extra color. If you want to take it up a notch, using edible flowers is a fresh, fun trend that will beautify your dishes and wow your guests. The best part is that many edible flowers are already growing in your yard! Try using marigolds, pansies, chive blossoms, carnations, chrysanthemums, clover, impatiens, lavender, sunflower, lilac and zucchini blossoms. Just make sure they are properly cleaned and free of pesticides!
Social gatherings don’t have to derail people from their health goals. Learning to prepare delicious party fare that is both healthy, and beautiful will insure that everyone is pleased they came. The more we can make healthy eating accessible and enjoyable, the easier it will become! Enjoy these colorful recipes as part of your next social gathering and prepare to be showered with compliments!
Here are some recipes to spark your inspiration: