Do the winter doldrums have you down? If so, lift your spirits—gather the gang for an impromptu party!
Whether you invite them for the big game, Valentine's Day, movie night—or "just because"—give it a fresh and nutritious twist with one of the themes below.
An Appetizers-Only Affair
Serve finger foods so it's easy for guests to mix and mingle. Try your hand at these ideas:
Crunchable munchables. Set out veggies and low-fat dip, hummus with whole-wheat pita wedges, baked chips and salsa, and reduced-fat cheese cubes with whole-grain crackers.
Not-your-average nachos. Make a base of baked chips; top with spoonfuls of fat-free refried beans, salsa, reduced-fat shredded Mexican-blend cheese, diced tomatoes, chopped peppers and sliced green onions.
Chicken strip dippers. Nix the usual fried "party wings" and opt for oven-baked boneless, skinless chicken breast strips paired with a dip of barbecue sauce or low-fat blue cheese dressing.
Comfort Food for a Crowd
Forget the February chill with these heart-warming dishes:
Take-the-chill-off chili. Ladle out bowlfuls of piping-hot chili made with lean ground beef or turkey breast, lots of tomatoes and a variety of beans. Offer toppers like reduced-fat shredded Cheddar and low-fat sour cream.
Very veggie lasagna. Try a lighter take on lasagna. Make the filling with reduced-fat ricotta cheese and spinach (defrost frozen chopped spinach and squeeze dry) and sprinkle with part-skim shredded mozzarella cheese. Make it super-simple by using a veggie-loaded jarred tomato sauce (pick one that's reduced in sodium).
Soup and sandwich bar. Set out a steamy pot of vegetable soup along with sandwich fixings like lean roast beef, turkey and ham, reduced-fat cheeses, sliced tomatoes and onions, a selection of whole-grain breads, mustard and light mayo.
Just Desserts Party
Your friends will think you're sweet when you offer up delicious desserts like these:
Sunday night sundaes. Cap off the weekend by serving sundaes made with reduced-fat ice cream, fruit toppings, small dollops of whipped cream, and a few toasted nuts.
Heavenly treat. Top angel food cake with sliced strawberries (fresh or frozen) and a drizzle of chocolate syrup.
Deceptively delicious brownies. Reduce some of the butter, oil or shortening in your favorite brownie recipe by substituting an equal amount of applesauce or prune puree. Your guests will never guess your "secret ingredient!"