It is difficult not to dive into the crisp and the salted nut section of the supermarket when you are planning on entertaining guests. I have found it very useful to combine pre-dinner drink nibbles with the actual starter so that you get straight into the main meal when you sit down.
Also if you invite people over for a drink only, it is lovely to be able to give them healthy and light snacks that can tide them over until they get home or go out to eat themselves.
If you have spent several hours in the kitchen preparing a wonderful meal for yourselves or if you are entertaining then you do not want to fill your guests up in advance so that they cannot do justice to your cooking.
I have some suggestions for some delicious alternatives to the usual salty and fatty products on the shelf.
Starting with the dips.
Dips can be very fattening if you buy them ready prepared but I have a few that you can use either before dinner or as part of your main course. I also want to incorporate the foods that I consider to be superstars when it comes to nutrition and there is no better place to start than with Avocados and in particular Guacamole.
Avocados are great for maintaining healthy cholesterol levels for example.
Onions are great for their anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti histamine properties as well as the levels of chromium that help stabilise insulin levels and help prevent blood platelets clumping leading to cardiovascular disease.
The tomatoes are a perfect base or ingredient in any dips and they of course add their anti-oxidant properties as well as their protective lycopene that helps us fight cancer.
There are countless recipes for this Mexican sauce and when we lived in Texas every time we had a party several guests would arrive with their patented, world-winning version. Pre- dinner you can serve with raw vegetable crudities or with sliced warm Pitta bread. You can spice it up or down depending on your guest’s and your own palates but do watch the chillies.
Ingredients for 4 to 6 people.
- 2 large tomatoes, skinned, seeded and chopped.
- 2 tablespoons of finely chopped mild white onions or spring onions
- 2 large mashed avocado (leave until you have blended the rest of the ingredients)
- Salt to taste
- Juice of 1 large lemon
- 1 small red or green chilli depending on how spicy you would like it.
- Some fresh cilantro to taste.
Blend the onions, chillies, cilantro and salt in a processor, mix in the mashed avocado and the chopped tomatoes and put in a pretty bowl in the middle of your vegetables or Pitta bread.
If you are going to use for your main course with fajitas then chill until you need.
- 5 medium to large fresh tomatoes, skinned and chopped.
- 1 green pepper de-seeded and chopped very finely.
- 1 medium onion or two spring onions chopped finely.
- Juice of one lemon
- 1 small red or green chilli (optional)
- 1 clove of crushed garlic
- 1 tablespoon of fresh chopped cilantro leaves.
- Salt and pepper to taste.
Mix altogether and chill in the refrigerator.
Spinach actually has more nutrients than any other food if you compare it calorie for calorie.
Manganese – Folate – Magnesium – Iron – Vitamin C – calcium – potassium – tryptophan- copper- B6 – phosphorus – Omega 3 – B1 (thiamine) B2 (riboflavin), Zinc and Vitamin K.
A serving of spinach several times a week, particularly eaten raw will give you a powerful nutrient boost.
- 100 gram of fresh baby spinach leaves finely chopped.
- 50grams of fresh parsley finely chopped,
- 50 grams of fresh chives finely chopped
- 250 ml of fresh yoghurt
- 2 teaspoons of tahini or sesame seeds themselves.
Mix altogether and serve chilled.
There are some classic tapas dishes that you can serve before dinner that are light and easy to prepare and here are some of my favourites. Packed with anti-oxidants make your dishes as colourful as possible.
Ingredients per brochette x 2 per person
- Red pepper
- Button mushroom
- Cherry tomatoes
- Slice of onion.
- Olive oil, Pepper, Pimiento and salt
Cut all your vegetables into chunks except for the tomatoes. Thread them all through the wooden skewers. Lay on an ovenproof dish.
Mix your pepper, pimiento and salt together.
Drizzle your brochettes with olive oil and then sprinkle with your dry seasoning mix.
Your oven should be around the 175 to 200 mark and the brochettes will cook in around 15 minutes.
Raw vegetable crudites – just cut the vegetables into strips or small florets.
- Use cherry tomatoes and leave whole.
- Carrot slices
- Cut red and yellow peppers into lengthways slices.
- Broccoli florets
- Celery sticks cut into strips.
- Courgette strips
- Large washed mushrooms with the stalks removed and put to one side.
- 1 medium onion
- 1 small red pepper
- Small tinned tuna in brine or salmon drained and mashed.
- Fresh parsley finely chopped.
- 1 large tomato skinned and finely chopped.
- Olive oil.
- Salt and pepper to taste
Chop the stalks of the mushrooms and add to the other chopped ingredients and the seasoning. Blend in the tuna or salmon and refill the mushrooms. Drizzle with olive oil. Put in a preheated over at about 175 to 200 for about 10 minutes. Serve hot.
You can also give your guests something a little richer, which will certainly go down very well.
- You will need fresh dates if possible but dried will do provided they are moist. Take the stones out although you can buy them already prepared.
- Light cream cheese (plain or savoury)
- Finely chopped walnuts.
Cut the dates lengthways but not through to the back so that they open out.
Mix your light cream cheese with the chopped walnuts and then stuff the dates.
UNSALTED NUTS – All the nuts are full of nutrients although can be heavy on the fats and calories. You will find if you have already reduced your salt intake that you will find that even plain nuts to have a certain amount of salt in them and are still a delicious accompaniment to a drink before dinner.
You can read all the health column posts and summer recipes in this directory : https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/smorgasbord-health-column-news-nutrients-health-conditions-anti-aging/
© Just Food for Health Sally Cronin 1998 – 2018
A little bit about me nutritionally.
A little about me from a nutritional perspective. Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago. I qualified as a nutritional therapist and practiced in Ireland and the UK as well as being a consultant for radio. My first centre was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Here are my health books including a men’s health manual and my anti-aging book.
All available in Ebook from: http://www.amazon.com/Sally-Cronin/e/B0096REZM2
And Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sally-Georgina-Cronin/e/B003B7O0T6
Comprehensive guide to the body, and the major organs and the nutrients needed to be healthy 360 pages, A4: http://www.moyhill.com/html/just_food_for_health.html
Thank you for dropping in and if you have any questions fire away.. If you would like to as a private question then my email is firstname.lastname@example.org. I am no longer in practice and only too pleased to help in any way I can. thanks Sally
Next time – Stuffed Peppers and Fajitas.