By Kathy Siegel, RD, CDN
During the holidays, the party fare tends to be higher in calories, fat and carbs, and not necessarily high in fiber! We all know the importance of getting enough fiber in our diet. A diet rich in fiber may help lower your risk of developing heart disease and diabetes, and prevent gastrointestinal disorders.
But did you know that dietary fiber will also help satisfy your appetite much longer? And the longer your appetite is satisfied, the easier it is to manage your eating. So how do you incorporate more fiber into your holiday parties without sacrificing taste? Follow these tips to a healthier holiday party filled with high fiber party snacks!
Begin with the basics
We all have traditional foods that are part of our holiday celebrations. Incorporating more fiber-rich foods along with time-honored recipes allows for a greater selection of healthy options on your table. Ingredients to look for include: grains and whole-grain products, fruits and vegetables, beans, peas and other legumes, and nuts and seeds.
Some easy ways to boost your fiber count include adding whole vegetables to a soup, or nuts to a salad, or topping a lean protein (like turkey breast) with a fruit chutney instead of gravy. Help curb your cravings by incorporating more satisfying fiber-rich foods to your favorite family recipes.
Let’s start the party right!
Have the starters out and ready when your guests arrive. Include cut-up vegetables, whole wheat crackers and fiber-rich dips such as hummus, tzatziki, guacamole, or black beans. Make the vegetables festive and get creative. Include lots of colors, red cherry tomatoes and red bell peppers can bring a festive pop to a plate.
Fruit isn’t just for dessert! Put out a fruit platter with the appetizers and include toothpicks for easy snacking for your guests. Whole-wheat crackers and low-fat cheeses are always crowd pleasers when entertaining at the holidays.
Does your crowd like chips? Try whole-grain corn or whole-wheat tortilla, black bean, falafel or lentil chips with tomato salsa to fill your guests up with fiber. Finally, don’t forget to put out dried fruit, nuts or edamame on those cocktail tables!
Serve your soup and salad before you sit down for dinner!
Passing out small salad plates and soup bowls/mugs will allow your guests to fill up on healthier fiber-rich foods. Soup is a delicious way to add fiber-packed veggies to your holiday fare. Some of our faves include Carrot Butternut Squash Soup or Cauliflower Soup. Get creative with salads and include lots of different fruits and vegetables, as well as nuts and seeds. An asparagus and arugula salad topped with roasted red peppers looks very festive and is packed with fiber.
The Main Fare
Including high fiber accompaniments alongside lean protein is great way to raise the bar. Experiment with different grains such as quinoa, wheat berries, brown rice, wild rice, whole-wheat couscous, barley or bulgar. Swap pasta for whole-wheat pasta, and again, remember to add more vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds. Explore new tastes and add a roasted sweet potato and pear side dish. Add dried cranberries and pine nuts to grains or salads for a festive twist.
Top it all off with dessert
Change up some of your old favorites by using whole-wheat flour, adding nuts, seeds or dried fruit and subtracting added sugars. Downsize portions by pre-plating small tastes of pies and cakes with berries. Make mini muffins and bite size cookies with white whole wheat flour, and no one will even suspect they’re eating healthier (if you don’t tell them)!