Healthy Holiday Tip of the Week: Hosting a Party with Healthy Options

Christmas cookie platters, cheese and cracker plates and peppermint mochas laced with sweet liquor are part and parcel of the typical holiday party. You’ve been keeping on point with your own eating but how can you please a crowd with healthy food? If you’re hosting a holiday get together, it’s easy to feel like you’ve got to choose between compromising the eating habits you’ve developed and believe in whole heartedly and making food that everyone will enjoy. But does this have to be the case? Not at all. One of the things I love best about teaching clients and students in the hands-on cooking classes is how it absolutely does not need to be a choice between eating food that tastes good and food that is good for us! Below are my top five tips for successfully hosting a holiday party without feeling like you’ve got to resort to some of those not-so-healthy traditional classics!

  1. First off, don’t position it that way… depending on who your crowd is, of course.  While your friends from yoga will dig that you’ve prepared a marinated kale salad, chilled cedar plank salmon and crudités with guacamole, it’s quite possible that your friends from work would be better off being pleasantly surprised when they walk into your kitchen and see the array of colors, beautiful presentation and decadent smells wafting from the oven rather than arriving with a mindset that they’re going to  have to eat rabbit food, as one client once said.
  2. Meet your audience half way.  Yes, I happen to love blanced broccoli served with muhammara, but that’s not the case for everyone.    Cured meats, while not necessarily something you’d want to eat every day, can fit in perfectly in order to make a lovely charcuterie tray or an amuse bouche of chilled melon wrapped in uncured, pastured prosciutto.
  3. Keep it simple and pair well. Two-three ingredient options are perfect here.  A fresh fig stuffed with a pecan, warmed ever so slightly in the oven with a touch of coconut oil melted on top; or that special occasion bacon-wrapped date which is so delicious it’s just ridiculous.
  4. Don’t underestimate some go-to basics. For me, that’d be crudités with guacamole. Not seasonally traditional, perhaps, but always a hit nevertheless.  In addition, a fresh fruit platter with raw sprouted nuts on the side, sprinkled with fresh pomegranate seeds offers a nice complement to the savory nature of the other offerings.
  5. As far as drink? Skip the egg nog, Rompope or sugary cocktails in favor of a glass of vino or a neat spirit can be fitting. Choose a potato-vodka, such as Chopin or Karlssen’s or even the grape-based Ciroq. Another alternative is a neat tequila or my current favorite, mezcal, served in a jicara with a slice of orange and some chili (or if you’re at an authentic mezcal bar, you may be lucky enough to find it served traditionally – with ground crickets!)

Take the proverbial bull by the horns, plan your holiday party and own it.   Why apologize about not serving sugary food and drink to your guests when you’ve provided options that are not only far tastier, they’re also the tools for your friends and family to mimic your recipes and whip them up for themselves and their families, too!