Feeling overwhelmed by the holidays? Are you looking for ways to simplify holiday entertaining so you can focus on the things that really matter, like hanging out with your family and friends? I totally get it, which is why I recently appeared on WBAL in Baltimore to share my best tips for easy entertaining. Yes, I said it, easy – it’s really all about keeping the food healthy and the people happy, which is so much simpler than it sounds! Keep reading to learn my favorite time-saving tips and tricks.
Bring a Hostess Gift
If you’re not the one doing the actual entertaining, it’s always thoughtful to bring a gift for the hard-working hostess. I love bringing all the fixings for a signature cocktail station with quality foods. Some of my faves are Sweet Scarletts, which are sweet, Vitamin C-loaded grapefruits with a beautiful red color, antioxidants and potassium-rich POM Wonderful juice, and POM POMS fresh pomegranate arils which do all the work of scooping the seeds for you. Make cocktails with the juices and some vodka or champagne, or make mocktails by adding sparkling water. Use the fresh Sweet Scarlett segments and POM POMS arils for a nutritious and gorgeous garnish. POM has loads of drink recipes on their website for more boozy inspiration.
Another great hostess gift is a cheese board – bring it stocked with your favorite healthy snacks, and then leave it behind when the party ends. I always include cubes of my favorite cheese (I love a sharp Cheddar) and Wonderful pistachios, which are full of protein and filling fiber, and have a big serving size – 30 pistachios have only about 100 calories. Round out the cheese plate with Vitamin-C boosting-Halos, which are sweet, seedless, and easy to peel.
Score a Touchdown at Your Tailgate
Tailgate parties are all about the dip. And did you know that Sabra is the official dip sponsor of the NFL and that you can win prizes like a trip to the 2016 Pro Bowl in Hawaii when you buy their dips?
There are tons of easy, festive ways to use Sabra dips during the holiday season. I’m personally partial to their hummus because it has plant protein, fiber, and good-for-you fats, plus it tastes amazing. Try warming it up since the weather is a bit cooler outside and top it with beautiful red pomegranate arils for a festive touch. The Greek yogurt dip is another family favorite – serve it with your favorite veggies and warm pita triangles (just cut the what pita into wedges and microwave for a few seconds). I like using red and green bell peppers at this time of year for a little kick of holiday cheer. Speaking of red and green, pair up Salsa and Guacamole for a pretty party platter; just place them side by side and fill the rest of the platter with tortilla chips and you have a guaranteed crowd-pleaser. Visit sabradiplife.com for coupons, recipes, and prize info.
Serve Wheat Foods with Confidence
Wheat is the basis of just about all holiday baking and recipes! All your favorites share the benefits of wheat. Wheat foods help provide nutrients everyone needs, including B vitamins, fiber, and carbohydrates. It’s important to remember that carbohydrates are an essential part of a balanced eating. It can be a real time-saver to pick up items for breakfasts and snacks like muffins, banana bread, and scones – serve it with plain yogurt and fresh fruit for a well-balanced start to your day. Check out WheatFoods.org for versatile recipes like this Chicken Cashew Pasta, which you can serve hot or cold. Or a favorite especially around the holidays, Whole Wheat Spinach Lasagna. If you have weight concerns, allow yourself to enjoy all foods in moderation and stick to an exercise routine that’s joyful through the holidays and into the New Year.
Sweeten Your Meals, Naturally
California Raisins are a great way to spice up your holiday menus and they offer a unique twist on traditional family favorites. Make them part of your holiday cookie decorating with festive gingerbread cookies freckled with California raisins. Raisins are an ingredient you can feel good about. They are an all-natural, dried-by-the-sun fruit, with no added sugar, no cholesterol and zero fat
I also love using them in festive side dishes like this Acorn Squash with California Raisins. It’s a beautiful presentation. California Raisins add a natural sweetness to dishes – and with only one ingredient – raisins! Visit LoveYourRaisins.com for these recipes and more!
Now it’s your turn – what are your favorite tips and tricks for holiday entertaining? Leave a comment below or find me on Twitter @ScritchfieldRD.
Disclosure: I was compensated by California Raisins, Wheat Foods Council, Wonderful brands, and Sabra Dipping Company for my work on the TV segment, but was not compensated to write this blog.