When hosting a party, many people turn to heat-and-serve packaged appetizers full of saturated fat, sodium, sugar and excess calories. But there's no reason to serve these to guests to save time--making healthy appetizers is easy. There are a variety of things you can quickly make and serve that are full of both nutrients and delicious flavor.
Hummus and Vegetables
Hummus is a dip made of garbanzo beans, or chickpeas, and it is full of protein, fiber and heart-healthy fat. It is an ideal dip for fresh vegetables. To make your own, in a food processor combine one can of drained and rinsed garbanzo beans and one tablespoon of tahini (sesame paste). Blend well until a smooth paste is formed and then slowly add two tablespoons of olive oil. You can add more or less oil depending on how thick you want the hummus to be. Season to your taste with salt, pepper, cumin or crushed red pepper.
Purchase some pre-cut fresh vegetables or make your own by cutting up carrot and celery sticks and slicing cucumber, red pepper and broccoli florets. Place a bowl of hummus on a platter, then arrange the vegetables around it to serve.
Bruschetta is a flavorful appetizer that uses simple, fresh ingredients and is low in calories. Take a baguette and slice into pieces about one half inch thick. In a bowl, combine one cup of chopped tomato with two tbsp. of olive oil, two tbsp. diced onion, one tbsp. of grated Parmesan cheese and 10 fresh basil leaves thinly sliced. Toss to combine and add one fourth tsp. of salt and one eighth tsp. of black pepper. Place the bread slices on a cookie sheet and top each slice with some of the tomato mixture. Heat the oven to 450 degrees and bake the bruschetta until they are heated through and the edges are browned, about five to seven minutes.
Don't be afraid to start your meal with something sweet. Fruit kabobs are full of vitamins and minerals and low in calories. This is an especially good idea for an appetizer if you are hosting a cocktail party where your guests will be standing. Use standard wooden kabob skewers and choose a selection of fruit that can easily be chopped into large pieces, about one to two inches. Melon, whole grapes, peaches, apples and pineapple are good options. Slide the pieces on the skewer, alternating different types of fruit. Consider sprinkling them with cinnamon before serving. If you are hosting an outdoor party, also consider heating them on the grill to enhance the flavor.