Add Flavor to Your Holiday Foods

The holiday season is a time for giving, sharing, being with loved ones, and —celebrating!  If you’re like me, your schedule is probably filled with holiday parties and get-togethers right now.  My first response to a party invite is always, “What can I bring?”  We all want to bring a dish that’s the hit of the party, and I’ve got good news for you – you don’t need a culinary degree to make a flavorful, nutritious dish.  All you need is a little know-how, and you can blend appealing textures and flavors to create delicious foods that will please every crowd.

This past week I appeared on WBAL NBC TV 11 to share some of my favorite holiday entertaining tips.   I demonstrated how to use sweet, savory, tart, crunchy and smooth foods to make dishes that stand out and taste wonderful.

Check out the full video below or keep reading to see the recipes I featured on the show.

 Sweet and Tart

Everyone loves sweet, but instead of “sugar overload” from cookies and cakes, try using fruit to add sweet and tart flavors to your dishes in a more nutritious way.

Blueberry-Butternut-Squash-Cous-Cous-saladBlueberries are one of my favorite fruits, because they’re both sweet and tart – a flavor combination that everyone loves, even kids.  Fresh blueberries are now available year-round, which makes them as accessible as your typical apples, bananas, and grapes. And the best thing about the berries is that they’re incredibly nutritious: one cup of blueberries has only 80 calories, and they’re a good source of fiber and vitamin C.

For the WBAL segment I made this yummy Blueberry Couscous Salad IMAGE that’s full of good stuff like butternut squash, arugula, feta cheese, and, of course, blueberries.  It’s a quick salad with lots of flavor that you can make ahead of time, which makes it a great dish for holiday gatherings.  Find this recipe and others at blueberrycouncil dot Org.

Quick and Crunchy

If you’re looking for a super-short cut for a party, you can’t go wrong with crunchy snacks that everyone can munch on.  I love the delicious baked New York Style snack varieties like New York Style Bagel Crisps and Pita Chips – they have half the fat and fewer calories than regular fried potato chips, so they’re great healthier alternatives.  They’re perfect on their own or paired with toppings, dips and cheeses for a delectable holiday appetizer that’s ready in a minute flat.  You can buy ready-to-eat dips like hummus, salsa and bean dip at the grocery store to keep the snack quick and simple.

Some people are nervous about serving or eating beans at holiday parties – you know, because they’re the “musical fruit”.  But that’s why you have Beano!  Beano® contains a natural enzyme that works with your body’s digestion to break down complex carbohydrates found in gassy foods, like beans, helping to prevent gas before it starts.  With Beano, you can comfortably enjoy nutritious foods that are an essential part of a healthy diet without worrying about any unpleasant “digestive side effects”.  Take Beano before your first bite. Try the Beano® Tablets, Beano® Meltaways and Beano® To Go.Sweet Swirls Cinnabon

New York Style also just launched Sweet Swirls – these sweet treats pack the great flavors of Cinnabon® cinnamon rolls or chocolate into small, crunchy bites.  They really satisfy that sweet craving at only 130 calories per serving.   Try serving them with a dip of whipped cream cheese, cinnamon, and fresh blueberries for a crave-able sweet and crunchy snack.

Savory

A lot of our favorite holiday foods are sweets, but you don’t want to neglect savory dishes at your next party.  I love peanuts and peanut butter, and both can be a great addition to any holiday dish.   Peanuts also make an easy and satisfying snack to keep you going amidst all the holiday excitement.

At 7 grams of protein per serving, peanuts have more protein than ANY other nut.   We consider them “superfoods” because they contain more than 30 essential vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients.  And they’re super-affordable, too, which makes them a double winner in my book.

This Zesty Chili Peanut Popcorn  makes a perfect holiday snack or even a gift. It comes together in less than 30 minutes and serves a crowd, making it a great party nibble.

Chili Popcorn-large

Or if you want to offer some more substance, you can’t go wrong with these Festive Beef Bites with Peanut Sauce.   They’re just skewered steak (or chicken), cooked to your liking and topped with a creamy peanut butter sauce made with apple cider and soy sauce.  They’re festive, have tons of flavor, and are sure to be a party hit.  You can get both these recipes and more at National Peanut Board dot Org.

What are your favorite holiday entertaining tips and recipes?  Leave a comment below to share – I love hearing everyone’s ideas.

Disclaimer: I was compensated by US Highbush Blueberry Council, New York Style chips, Beano, and National Peanut Board to do the tv segment, but was not compensated to write this blog.

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