I’ve always loved entertaining in my home. The opportunity to have friends, family and food all coming together on a starry night excites me.
In the past, when I invited new people to my home for dinner, I typically got the following reaction: “Sounds like fun—but is all the food going to be healthy?” Lately, however, I’ve noticed that people appear to be more concerned about their health and what foods they choose to put into their mouths. So much so that people are actually excited and intrigued to find out what healthy foods I will serve. This has become so prevalent that I’ve actually printed recipes ahead of time, anticipating at least one request for them.
If your goal is to provide healthy food at your next dinner party and still have your guests come back again, consider these eight tips:
Downsize your plates. Typical dinner parties involve several courses and these courses usually appear on various-sized plates. The bigger the plate, the bigger the portion. I serve appetizers on very small plates and main dishes on larger salad plates. It’s not about policing how much food your guests take; it’s more about increasing awareness of portion size.
Expand appetizer options. Instead of serving cheese with crackers as an appetizer (tasty, but high in saturated fat and calories and low in fiber), try healthy bean or non-fat yogurt dips served with vegetables, roasted nuts and grapes or apple slices. Hummus is another great choice and usually a crowd pleaser at my house.
Nix the buffet. While buffets make life easier, they essentially allow all of the food to be eaten at once. Instead, pace the courses like they do in a restaurant rather than serving them in quick succession. Allow adequate time for your guests to enjoy all of the food offerings. Start with appetizers and wine for at least one hour. Once your guests are seated, serve subsequent courses, allowing at least 25 minutes between each course. Taking the approach to stagger food will give you time to breathe as the host/hostess, but it also will give you time to digest so you know when you are full, not stuffed.
Keep salads healthy. Don’t ruin your salad with pre-made bottled dressings that can be loaded with sugar and saturated fat. Instead, make your own with fresh ingredients. Try the Lifestyle 180® salad dressing below at your next dinner party. Another approach is to serve soup instead of salad. Soup makes you feel fuller faster so you won’t feel the need to stuff yourself during the rest of the meal. Soups are also an easy way to pack extra veggies into your dishes. I always notice that people are very impressed with a soup alternative since it isn’t something you see often at a dinner party.
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