Impress Your Guests and Enjoy the Party with Easy Entertaining Ideas

Anyone who knows me knows that I love to entertain. I want to put out a spread that’s memorable and delicious. For me, the food I serve is like a gift to my guests. I want to impress them, but I don’t want to work my butt off while everyone else is having fun at the party. Ya with me?

I was on Let’s Talk Live this week sharing some of my tips to help you look like you spent all day in the kitchen (without actually doing it!). Read on for some highlights from my segment or check out the full video below:

Idea #1: Easy, Creative Cheese Pairings to Make Your Gathering Fun

KINDInstead of the typical “wine and cheese” pairings, why not try something a little unexpected – KIND and cheese pairing. KIND bars make a great flavor accompaniment to a variety of cheeses, and they’re made with wholesome ingredients you can see and pronounce like nuts, dried fruits, and spices. Plus they’re a great source of protein and fiber, and they taste delicious.

KIND and Cheese Flavor Pairing Fun

Experiment with flavor pairings like:

  • KIND Plus Blueberry Pecan paired with fresh goat cheese
  • Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew with  hard cheese like Parmesan
  • Apple Cinnamon and Pecan with a nutty, sharp cheddar

Idea #2: Save Time With Make-Ahead Dishes You Can Re-purpose Different Ways

mangoInstead of making a dozen different dips for your next party, just make one realllllly good one, and then offer up a bunch of different choices to scoop it up with.

This yummy mango salsa recipe is a great choice because it’s delicious and nutritious. You can make it 1-2 days ahead of the party and the last-minute serving prep takes no time at all!

One cup of mangoes has only 100 calories and gives you 100% of your vitamin C for the day, plus fiber and vitamin A!

I serve this salsa a million ways — here are just a few:

  • with pita or tortilla chips for dipping
  • topped on warm crostini with a bit of goat cheese (toast french bread slices in a 450 oven for 8 minutes)
  • on top of red pepper “boats” (cut big chunks of the peppers and top with the salsa)

If there’s salsa leftover use it to top tacos or salads later in the week. For even more mango recipes AND to learn how to cut a mango properly, you can visit Watch me show Melanie Hastings, Let’s Talk Live’s co-host how to to cut a mango.

Idea #3: Surprise Them With Something “Special”

kebabEveryone expects beef and chicken at parties. Next time you’re entertaining, impress your guests with a surprising flavor that’s easy and delicious — like lamb! You can cook it just like beef and chicken. Sub lamb in your tried and true recipes. I’ve even made lamb pizza!

Lamb is versatile, lean, and nutrient-rich. On average, 3 oz. of lamb provides protein, B12, and other key vitamins and minerals — all for only 175 calories!

For your next gathering, try these easy-to-prepare, impressive lamb and vegetable kebabs or lamb satay. Serve either alongside a cucumber yogurt or peanut sauce and your guests will gobble them right up. For more recipe ideas and inspiration you can check out

What Are Some of Your Favorite Tips and Tricks for Easy Entertaining?

Leave me a comment below and share your favorite tips and tricks for being the hostess/host with the most. I’m always looking for new ideas!

Disclaimer: I was compensated to do the tv segment, but was not compensated to write this blog.

American Culture and Diet: Why Some Immigrants Become Unhealthy

By: Carlene Helble- Elite Nutrition Intern

One of my favorite things to do is learn about foods from other cultures…and try them too! Different cuisines not only broaden your palate’s horizons, but they allow you to try some great produce that is uncommon to US grocery stores. Many immigrants residing in the US are having problems meeting the recommended daily servings of fruits and vegetables because what they are comfortable with is just not there. Imagine being in a foreign country looking for your favorite fruit and never seeing it. Ho-hum.

Dragon Fruit From the Veggie

The May 2010 American Dietetics Association Journal published a study that looked into the availability of culturally specific fruits and vegetables available in African American and Latino communities in Chicago. The study found that stores located in these neighborhoods were more likely to carry culturally relevant fruits and vegetables to the dominant group. But hardly! Only one out of the sixteen culturally specific foods studied was found in the majority of African American grocery stores. The food? Dried pinto beans, but no fruits or vegetables. Latino neighborhoods faired better with seven out of sixteen culturally specific foods available in the majority of stores. The seven foods included more fresh produce but no where near the variety of their normal choices: avocado, mango, papaya, chayote squash, tomatillo, black beans, and garbanzo beans. This restricted availability to culturally specific produce may be a barrier to adequate fruit and vegetable consumption.

Another study the ADA published in the journal was on the dietary quality among Latinos in the US. With a population of roughly 44 million, figures show that the Latino population as a whole is disproportionately affected by obesity and chronic conditions like type two diabetes. Obesity and type two diabetes are both diet related. The poor dietary quality the study speaks of includes low fruit and vegetable intake, consumption of high fat, and high sugar foods. As evidenced by the first study, fruits and vegetables commonly used in Latino cooking that make the native diet nutrient dense, are extremely difficult to obtain in most US grocery stores. The study also found that sodium intake was related to the level of acculturation. The more assimilated to mainstream US culture the participant was, the higher the sodium intake.

So what can be done? The findings suggest the best way to increase fruit and vegetable intake is to provide a greater selection of culturally common produce to grocery stores. Imagine being able to walk into your grocer to be met with the most enormous selection of interesting, different, and delicious produce you have ever seen. A diverse and larger produce section benefits everyone. Make it your goal this summer to try a new fresh fruit or vegetable that is a staple in another culture. Think of it as a wallet friendly vacation! Use City Search to locate an ethnic grocer near you.