Sometimes it seems as though get-togethers, whether casual or formal, revolve around food, which can be challenging for anyone, but especially for those living with diabetes. So I’ve put together a few favorite “party tricks” that help me create healthier food that satisfies. I’m able to keep my party menu with some simple adjustments, starting with a few tips for dips and salsas that allow everyone to enjoy healthier munchies without losing the good taste. I invite you to dip in!
Serve up the salsa
Whether it’s a pre-dinner snack or on the buffet for the entire event, dips and chips are a popular choice on any party menu. Serve salsa as a healthier option, and you will be delighted to know that a one-half cup serving of salsa has under fifty calories. If you get it from a jar bought at a grocery store or made it fresh at home, any variety of salsa – from black bean and corn to peach – may be a great dipping choice. Just be sure to read the Nutrition Data labels of store-bought versions, as many can be high in sodium.
Dairy in dips
A key ingredient in many dips is dairy, which may be high in saturated and trans fats. First, make sure to select low-fat dairy ingredients, such as reduced-fat cream cheese, fat-free sour cream, and nonfat milk. Note that low-fat products sometimes have higher carb counts, so be sure to read the label and see how these foods, and all my suggestions, fit in your meal plan. Then try these substitutions to add creaminess and taste:
- Look for rich, creamy Greek yogurt to substitute for sour cream.
- If a dip calls for mayo, use one-quarter light mayo to three-quarters fat-free yogurt.
Easy to add extra veggies
Even if you’re following a recipe, get creative by adding lots of extra veggies. For example, chop one or two juicy ripe summer tomatoes and toss into your favorite dip. Open a can of black beans, drain and rinse, and add to your favorite salsa. Or add extra spinach to the classic version of spinach dip. Not only are you adding nutrition, but you are also “spreading out” your dip, allowing it to feed more of your crowd for fewer calories per person.
Avocados are one of my favorite party tricks! They do contain fat; however, it is mainly the “heart-healthy” monounsaturated type. (Read more about all sorts of fats here.) Because of their rich, velvety flavor, avocados are delicious served in a variety of ways –
just make sure to enjoy in moderation. I like to use avocado in place of another high-fat ingredient, such as cheese or mayonnaise. Some of my favorites:
- “Mock-a-mole” dip made using half avocado and half peas, which add fiber and lowers fat and calories.
- “Guaca-mame” is what I call my tasty mix of both edamame and avocados – a fiesta sensation using protein-rich, low-fat edamame.
- Liven up a jar of salsa with chopped avocado and a little lemon juice.
What is a dip without the chips? Try making your own pita chips by baking high-fiber whole-wheat pitas, cut into triangles, to cut down on the added fat often found in store-bought chips. If you prefer tortilla chips, prepare them the same way as the pitas, but use gluten-free corn or flour tortillas. (Learn more about going gluten-free here.) My speedy secret is to use kitchen scissors to easily accomplish the task. Better yet, cut spears of colorful bell peppers and cucumbers to use for extra nutritious low-carb “chips.” Or use your favorite veggies, such as cauliflower, zucchini, and broccoli for a healthier, but still satisfying, crunch.
Holly Clegg, cookbook author and spokesperson, has helped people prepare healthier everyday meals through her best-selling trim&TERRIFIC® cookbook series, including trim&TERRIFIC™ Diabetic Cooking with the American Diabetes Association. Clegg has appeared on Fox & Friends, NBC Weekend Today, QVC, The 700 Club, and in USA Today and The Huffington Post She also has a smartphone app, Mobile Rush-Hour Recipes, and writes at The Healthy Cooking Blog. Clegg is a paid contributor for The DX. All opinions contained in this article reflect those of the contributor, and not of Sanofi US, its employees, agencies, or affiliates.
© 2013 The DX: The Diabetes Experience