23 Healthy Appetizers for the Holidays
Happy Appies for a Healthy Holiday Season
Looking for some healthy holiday food ideas and appetizer recipes? Use these ideas if you are planning a holiday party, bringing an appetizer over to a friend or family members event. You can also use these ideas for family cooking ideas if you simply want to add some seasonal inspiration into your meal planning.
In this blog post, I share tips to get family involved in cooking together as well as easy appetizers you can make this holiday season!
Cooking Together for Comfort and Connection
We eat for many reasons including nourishment, socializing, family traditions, emotions, environmental triggers, cravings and more. During the holiday season things can get busy and overwhelming for many people so think of what you can do to inspire comfort and connection in your home. While many families cook together regularly, in my work as a Dietitian I’ve also found this is not always the case. Sometimes food is consumed sporadically, without thought and cooking is thought of as a dreaded task.
This holiday season I’d love for you to consider creating some new family rituals and traditions for cooking together. While there is absolutely room for more traditional holiday food preparation such as baking gingerbread cookies and shortbread, think broader as well. Plan a tapas theme of healthy appetizers you can assemble together over good conversation. Make a handful of appetizers the entire meal or choose one item and then dive into a card game or board game instead of reaching for tech or television.
Set the Mood
Pick an evening and tell your family you’ve got a fun finger food Friday or happy holiday appetizer night planned and that you’ll need their help to assemble things.
When you are ready to prepare your food items, turn off all technology and turn on some festive music or take turns playing a favorite song or album from the past.
Enjoy a cocktail or in a wine glass or martini glass, pour yourself a sparkling water with a splash of cranberry juice or a squeeze of fresh lemon with pomegranate seeds.
Divide and Conquer the Food Prep
Decide who will do what. Teach younger kids to use a knife, thread skewers, stir things together, arrange things on a plate or create a fun table setting with decorations and candles. Adults and older kids can divide and conquer the rest of the food preparation.
Looking for some ideas to get you started?
Healthy Appetizers for the Holidays
1.Baked Chips with Edamame Guacamole
Take sundried tomato flour tortilla wraps and brush with vegetable oil. Cut with scissors into triangle wedges and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Bake tortillas until lightly browned and toasted. Serve with guacamole blended with shelled cooked edamame beans to add some additional protein. Grab the recipe here: Edamame Guacamole
2. Asparagus Wrapped in Prosciutto
Roll slightly steamed or blanched asparagus with a piece of prosciutto and once you are ready to serve grill on the BBQ or roast in the oven until prosciutto is crispy. Serve asparagus with a splash of balsamic vinegar or bottled balsamic crema.
3. Broccoli Christmas tree
Arrange broccoli in the shape of a tree on a flat large baking sheet or charcuterie board. “Decorate” your tree with cherry tomatoes, radishes, round slices of carrot, round slices of mini cucumbers and yellow pepper slices for garland.
4. Red and Green Fruit Kabobs
On a short appetizer-sized bamboo skewer, thread green grapes, honeydew melon, kiwi fruit slices and fresh strawberry slices for a festive red and green fruit kabob. You can also alternate with cubes of Havarti cheese if you like.
5. Roasted, Spiced Chick Peas/Lentils
6. Guacamole & Red Taco Chips
Make a traditional guacamole or try some of these 5 Guacamole Variations here and serve with green and red taco chips or make your own baked chips using red or green flour tortilla wraps and cutting into wedges with scissors and brushing with oil and baking in the oven until crisp.
7. Bite-sized Caprese Salad
Thread a cherry or grape tomato, fresh basil leaf and mini bocconcini cheese on a toothpick. Once you are ready to serve, drizzle your platter with olive oil and balsamic vinegar (or bottled balsamic crema).
8. Red and Green Veggie and Dip Platter
Make a festive veggie platter with cherry tomatoes, red pepper slices, cucumber slices, broccoli and snap peas with your favorite creamy dip or hummus.
9. Greek Salad Wreath
Thread cubes of feta cheese, red peppers, black olives, purple onion, and cucumbers on toothpicks and assemble them in the shape of a wreath on a plate or tray.
10. Lettuce Wraps
Add grilled chicken, shrimp, tofu to a Romaine lettuce leaf or butter lettuce leaf and drizzle with balsamic crema and top with goat cheese (or alternatively go with your favorite Asian dipping sauce, try this recipe for Hoisin Turkey Lettuce Wraps or our homemade hoisin sauce here.
11. Cucumber Bites
Top cucumber slices with whipped cream cheese and cooked shrimp, smoked salmon, roasted red pepper or sundried tomatoes packed in oil.
12. Avocado Tomato Feta Dip
You can’t go wrong when you add chopped tomato, diced avocado, onion, feta cheese and a drizzle of red wine vinegar and lemon juice. For the exact recipe you can find that on our website here: Avocado Tomato Feta Dip.
13. Manago Shrimp Skewers
Try this tasty recipe here using frozen mangos: Mango Shrimp Skewers or skewer meat, chicken, shrimp or tofu marinated in your favorite vinaigrette and grill or bake. Also try canned/jarred artichokes and sliced fresh red peppers and thin slices of zucchini as well.
14. Handmade Chicken Fingers
15. Strawberry Avocado Salsa
This festive colored dip is good anytime of the year you can find good avocados! Grab the recipe here for Strawberry Avocado Salsa.
16. Pesto Stuffed Mushrooms
Remove stems from small white, brown or cremini mushrooms. Heat a skillet with drizzle of oil and pan-fry mushrooms stem side up for about 5 minutes and then flip over and fill with pesto and cook for another few minutes. Garnish with a couple of pomegranate seeds.
17. Zucchini Bites
18. Baked Brie and Roasted Red Peppers
Bake a round of brie cheese, topped with diced, roasted red peppers (you can purchase these in a jar) and minced garlic (or sundried tomatoes packed in oil), serve with whole grain crackers and celery sticks and red pepper slices with dip.
19. Cracker Appetizer Bites
Whole grain crackers (my favorites are Lesley Stowe raincoast crisps) with whipped cream cheese and red or green hot pepper jelly.
20. Stuffed Baby Potatoes
Boil baby potatoes until tender. Cool and cut in half (trim a small slice from the bottom of each half so it stands upright. Brush with melted butter and top with sour cream and fresh chives.
21. Finger Food Friday Kids Dessert
Make this yummy no-bake recipe for Nutty Chocoholic Balls or Nut-free Energy Balls and if you have kids ask them to do an internet search for “Grinch Fruit Kabobs” so they can see a visual of how assemble these fun skewers (take a toothpick and place a green grape lengthwise to create the head and on top create a Santa hat by placing a slice of banana and whole pointed strawberry with a mini marshmallow on top).
22. Christmas Wreath Salad
Use whatever greens you have on hand and cut beets, oranges, and apples into fun shapes. Assemble into a wreath shape, sprinkle pomegranate seeds and place honey mustard dressing in the middle!
23. Christmas Tree Charcuterie Board
Get a large tray or cutting board and assemble your charcuterie board in the shape of a Christmas tree. Ideas to include: whole grain crackers with cream cheese and hot red pepper jelly, pickles, pickled green beans, veggies and dip (carrots, celery sticks, radishes, snap peas, broccoli, cauliflower and red peppers), green/red olives, fruit (green grapes, pomegranate wedges, kiwi fruit, strawberries, pineapple), dried cranberries/cherries, nuts (pistachios, cashews, almonds) and cubes or slices of cheese.
We hope you’ve enjoyed some of these ideas for healthy appetizers for the holidays! Do you have a favorite healthy appetizer? Let us know in the comments!
Looking for more holiday nutrition tips, recipes, and videos?
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About Andrea Holwegner
CEO, Registered Dietitian, Counseling Practice Director & Professional Speaker
Andrea the «Chocolate Loving Nutritionist» is founder and CEO of Health Stand Nutrition Consulting Inc. since 2000. She is an online nutrition course creator, professional speaker and regular guest in the media. Andrea is the recipient of an award by the Dietitians of Canada: The Speaking of Food & Healthy Living Award for Excellence in Consumer Education....Read more