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Is it possible to make low-fat appetizers that are satisfying and tasty?

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With the New Year coming I thought I would try to find some healthy but delicious appetizer recipes to serve my guests. If they are trying to lose weight, I don't want to sabotage them. I would at least like to offer them an alternative. Have you had any success in this area? Would you like to share?

Happy New Year all!

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  1. Cucumber cups are popular these days...you could fill them with a yogurt or hummus mixture and top with chopped radish for a "wow! green and red!" effect...also, nuts offer good fats tho' high in calories, so maybe a dish of spiced walnuts or almonds? Also, there's a recipe for Spicy Carrot dip around also that might be an option?

    1. Dips, toppings and sauces made with 0% Greek Yogurt are low fat and very good for you, especially when you're dipping vegetables.
      Marcona almonds are a real treat.
      Olives and Giardinara are low cal, but high in salt.
      Serve belgian endive for dipping, instead of bread.
      Make/serve breads that are lower in the glycemic index, such as whole wheat pita or socca.
      Use almost fat-free ground chicken or turkey vs. ground beef in nibbles such as mini-meatballs. Serve with marinara.

      1. Spring rolls with a high proportion of lettuce with dipping sauce

        Crab Rangoon dip with low fat cream cheese(or no fat, but I am not a fan of it)

        lettuce wraps with Asian chicken

        hummus with veggie tray

        1. I make crabmeat (or steamed chopped Maine shrimp) mixed with homemade cocktail sauce - serve with stoneground crackers.

          1. I find myself making healthy spreads and dips all the time now, quick and easy and everyone goes for it big time. Goodhealthgourmet's Healthy Black Bean Dip is top of my list, then any of these: tapenade (I especially like to make it with figs), hummus, baba ganoush, caponata, ajvar or an anitpasta platter with roasted peppers, artichoke hearts, olives and so on. Put out some crackers, some Italian bread, some pita, or whatever catches your fancy to complement it. I can eat any of the above with no bread at all though.

            2 Replies
            1. re: coll

              caponata, yum!

              A Middle Eastern platter . . .An Italian platter . . .

              yum!

              1. re: financialdistrictresident

                See, I told you it was a crowd pleaser! And so easy to throw together at the last minute.

                Just remembered, I visited my friends from Morocco recently and their sister in law made such a gorgeous platter of hummus and babaganosh served traditionally on cucumber slices and olives on top, homemade pita on the side. Gotta remember that for my next appetizer menu. And a chef I know at a local yacht club, who is from "Persia", makes seared tuna served the same way, only for people he knows though.

            2. If you have the patience to hollow out pieces of veggies (carrots, cucumbers, radishes, etc.) you can fill them with low fat yogurt (Greek yogurt mentioned previously) mixed with a wide range of herbs and spices for excellent appetizers that also make a nice colorful presentation.

              1. Wonton skins can be made into little baked "cups" in a mini muffin tin. They can be done in advance and filled right before serving. I've filled with an Asian coleslaw mix topped with peanuts.

                1. If you eliminate high-fat dairy from your ingredient list--butter, cheese, cream cheese, sour cream--and look toward recipes that don't focus on those--like Asian recipes--I think you can have delicious appetizers. Also avoid all kinds of chips and consider other crispy/crunchy things to replace them and go for 0 fat yogurt and goat cheese where you do want creaminess.

                  1. Chicken skewers with dipping sauces (rasberry chipotle, etc.).

                    Raw almonds roasted so they are spicy (if I remember I'll post a recipe). Almonds are one of the healthier nuts.

                    Raw pepitas roasted with lime juice, cayenne pepper, etc. Crunchy, low-cal and spicy.

                    Second shrimp cocktail with red cocktail sauce. Almost no calories. Shrimp is high in cholesterol but low fat.

                    Grilled shrimp with different dipping sauces.

                    Grilled vegetables.

                    Roasted curry cauliflower florets w/a golden raisin. Stick a toothpick in them . . .

                    Oven roasted fennel w/grated Parmesan Reggiano and EVOO. Giada's recipe is my favorite. Could be presented in a creative way so it would work as a finger food . . .

                    Second the Asian cooking suggestion (no dairy, so low cal) and Middle Eastern and Italian themed platters. . .

                    1. chicken meat balls, white bean/roasted red pepper dip. bean dips can be creamy without dairy

                      1. I've made a recipe for crab stuffed cucumber cups that is low fat and delish. It contains pickled ginger (sushi ginger). http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                        Pinwheels would work. Spread a large tortilla/wrap with low fat boursin (or similar), a layer of sliced turkey, a row of roasted red peppers, a row of steamed asparagus. Roll it up tight, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate. Slice into "wheels" just before serving. Very pretty and great for party nibbling. Can be made the day before.

                        Asian chicken lettuce wraps are another idea. Also, frozen Asian dumplings/gyoza. The veggie and shrimp varieties can be light, but do some label comparison. Some contain a lot of fat, some don't.

                        If you're up for a brief bit of cooking during the party, consider making mussels in white wine and garlic.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: Christnp

                          Or you could make your own dumplings. I use round wonton wrappers from the Asian grocery and fill with a mixture of tofu, scallions, shredded carrots, water chesnuts, hoisin sauce, toasted sesame oil, rice vinegar, and soy sauce.

                          They can be prepared in advance also. I 'panfry' in a nonstick skillet sprayed with PAM. When they're done, let cool, and freeze on a sheet tray. Transfer to a ziplock bag and freeze. Night of the party, bake on greased cookie sheets till they're warmed thru and crunchy on the outside. I made a ton about a month ago and have been heating them up this way for dinner on weeknights.

                          1. re: cheesecake17

                            That's an excellent idea. My local Japanese place charges way too much for them anyway, it's definitely time to start making them at home...

                            1. re: Feastonthcheap

                              An order of duplings is about $6 for 5 or 6 pieces. It's really worth it to try to make them at home! I don't do any fancy crimping or tucking or folding, just fold them over into half moons and seal the edges with a bit of water. If you're not into the veggie version, use ground turkey instead of tofu.

                              1. re: cheesecake17

                                Depending on where you live, some dumpling restaurants will sell them frozen in bulk -- something like $5 for 25.

                        2. Bruschetta -- tomatoes, basil, a shallot, a splash of balsamic, olive oil, and S&P --- always a crowd pleaser, because it's delicious AND healthy! Serve it on pita chips or similar if you can't stand the thought of the traditional grilled bread. Good shaved Parmesan is a great topper.

                          I made it for a work thing (we were having an appetizer party to trade recipes for the holiday season) and I couldn't find my bowl anywhere...later in the day, I found the Italian CFO sitting in his office, eating my bruschetta straight from the bowl with a fork.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: sunshine842

                            I love the freshness of bruschetta but I find it very messy to eat. Perhaps the answer is to use a more forgiving surface? I have been using pantini which is baked pretty solidly all the way through. Or more mouth-sized servings?

                            1. re: twodales

                              I just slice small rounds of bread (or half-slices if I can't find a small enough French or Italian loaf), brush them with olive oil, then toast them lightly under the broiler. When they come out, rub them with the cut side of a clove of garlic. (and yeah, remind yourself that if you eat 'em all warm and garlicky, there won't be any left for your guests...)

                              It's just dry enough to absorb the liquid from the tomatoes, which in turns softens the toast just a little.

                              1. re: sunshine842

                                Sunshine: How far ahead should you toast the bread?

                                1. re: twodales

                                  Any time -- up to the day before -- just put it in ziplocs as soon as it's cool.

                                  Another reason I love this as an appetizer -- not only *can* it be done ahead of time, but if it's in the fridge for a few hours to allow the flavors to marry, it's *better* done ahead of time!

                                  More time for me and my guests is always good.

                          2. Thanks everyone. My problem is I love the fatty-cheesy-deliciousness of most appetizers. To benefit myself and others it would be good to lighten up but if the "lighter" foods aren't tasty I know I won't stick to choosing them instead. Fresh and light can be good too but in the long run just not as satisfying. Living in a cold climate is more problematic because we crave those comfort foods.
                            I am going to experiment with the recipes you've provided and see what my guinea pigs like. I have 2 weeks until my party so I'll see what works.
                            Thanks all and Happy New Year!

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: twodales

                              I made Tomato and Bacon Salad in Bibb Lettuce Cups on Christmas Eve. Highly recommend them:

                              http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                              They are light, but the bacon makes them really satisfying. I used quartered grape tomatoes, but in the summer, I would use a regular fresher tomato.