Whether you're heading out or staying in, whip up these good-for-you snacks that will impress everyone you share 'em with.
Toby Amidor, M.S., R.D. 1 / 11
With all your friends and family visiting over the holidays, it’s only natural to want to serve them food. But don’t fall into the booby trap of packaged candy and pastries—you can whip up healthy and tasty snacks in minutes. It’s a great way to stay on track with your own eating plan and help your guests avoid the unwanted extra holiday pounds to boot.
Here are 10 sweet and savory holiday snacks that will be a big hit this season.
1) Recipe: Herbed Goat Cheese and Red Pepper Crostini
This delicious snack has a flavorful kick and gorgeous hue. Combining goat cheese with Greek yogurt doesn’t change the flavor (the yogurt picks up the flavor of the cheese), but it does decrease the calories to fewer than 200 per serving.
Skill level: Beginner Serves: 8 (3 crostinis per serving) Start to Finish: 25 minutes Prep: 15 minutes Cook: 10 minutes
Ingredients: 1/2 whole-grain baguette (8 ounces) 5 tablespoons olive oil 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 5 1/2 ounces jarred fire-roasted red bell peppers 2 scallions 4 ounces soft goat cheese (I like Chavrie) 2 tablespoons nonfat plain Greek yogurt 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Instructions: 1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. 2. Cut the baguette into 24 slices, each ¼-inch thick. Arrange them in an even layer on a baking sheet. 3. In a small bowl, combine the olive oil and salt. Brush the oil over both sides of the baguette slices. Bake, turning the slices over halfway through, until the bread is golden brown, about 10 minutes. 4. Meanwhile, slice the red peppers lengthwise into 24 ¾-inch wide slivers. 5. Chop the scallions, both white and green parts. In a medium bowl, combine the chopped scallions, goat cheese, yogurt, thyme, and black pepper. 6. To assemble, spread about 1 teaspoon of cheese mixture over a piece of toasted baguette. Fold a red pepper over the cheese. Repeat with the remaining ingredients, and serve.
Recipe from The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day by Toby Amidor, MS, RD. Used with permission of Grand Central Publishing. All rights reserved. Photo by Hollan Publishing.
Ingredients: 1 cup raw whole almonds ½ tablespoon agave or honey ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon ⅛ teaspoon salt
Instructions: 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 2. Place almonds in a mixing bowl. Drizzle agave or honey over the almonds. Use a spatula to stir and coat the almonds with agave. 3. Mix in cinnamon and salt and stir a with spatula. Try to make sure the almonds are evenly coated. 4. Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray, or drizzle with canola oil (spread oil over pan with paper towel). Spread almonds evenly on the pan. 5. Bake for 10 minutes. 6. While still warm, taste the almonds and add a sprinkle of cinnamon if desired. Let cool, and enjoy!
With all the cooking throughout the holidays, sometimes you just want to buy something already made at the store. Hummusphere offers 5 flavors of hummus, including classic, jalapeno black bean, and Thai coconut curry. Spoon the hummus into a nice bowl and serve with whole wheat pita slices or cut up vegetables.
These sweetly tart cranberries are so much healthier than serving candy to your guests. Cranberries are pretty low in calories and are an excellent source of the antioxidant vitamin C, and a good source of fiber. It’s a fun way to use up any leftover cranberries you have from Thanksgiving.
Skill level: Beginner Serves: 6 (1 cup serving) Start to Finish: 5 minutes Prep: 5 minutes Cook: 0 minutes
Ingredients: 2 bags (6 cups total) fresh cranberries 2 small (0.3 oz) packages of sugar-free gelatin (any flavor) 2 tablespoons sugar or sweetener of choice
Instructions: 1. Rinse and drain cranberries. Drain well but do NOT dry. 2. Line a pan with parchment paper and lay out the cranberries in a single layer. You want them to have a little bit of moisture but not be soaking wet. 3. Sprinkle the gelatin and sugar/sweetener over the cranberries and toss to combine. Place in dehydrator 4-6 hours. Alternatively, you can put into an oven at the lowest setting for 6-8 hours or until desired doneness. These should be crunchy on the outside and soft and chewy in the middle.
These kale chips are a party favorite and take no time to whip up. Be sure, however, to keep an eye on them as they’re baking, since they can burn rather quickly. If you have any leftover fresh kale, you can store it, unwashed, in a plastic bag along with a moist paper towel. Refrigerate the bag. The leftover kale should be used within 2-3 days.
Ingredients: 1 bunch of kale, washed and stems removed Olive oil Minced garlic Fresh lemon juice Himalayan salt Powdered cheddar cheese (I like Cabot’s Cheddar Shake) or fresh Parmesan cheese
Instructions: 1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 2. Use paper towels to pat dry kale leaves. 3. In a bowl add 6 kale leaves. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 minced garlic clove, and the juice of half a fresh lemon. Use your hands to massage into kale. 4. Repeat above procedure until you have used all kale. 5. Place kale on baking sheets (do no not over crowd.) Sprinkle kale with Himalayan salt. 6. Place in oven and bake for about 12 minutes. 7. Remove from oven when crispy. Serve chips on a platter after dusting with cheddar shake or fresh Parmesan cheese.
Ingredients: Half a ripe avocado, pitted, meat scooped out and sliced (I like Avocados from Mexico) 1 slice of bread lightly toasted Red pepper flakes or 1 chile de árbol toasted, crumbled Kosher or sea salt to taste
Instructions: 1. As the slice of bread toasts, scoop out the avocado meat and slice. 2. If using the chile de árbol, toast it on a small skillet set over medium heat, a minute per side. Remove from heat and chop or crumble. 3. Place the bread on a plate, lay avocado slices on top, sprinkle with the red pepper flakes or crumbled chile de arbol, and sprinkle salt to taste. Serve.
It’s the season for pumpkins, which are filled with vitamin A and the plant chemical lutein. Both are beneficial for keeping your eyes healthy. Lutein is found naturally in your macula (the center of the retina) and needs to be replenished regularly. Make sure to use canned pumpkin puree without any added sugar and serve with your favorite whole grain crackers.
Skill level: Beginner Serves: 6 (1/4 cup servings) Start to Finish: 5 minutes Prep: 5 minutes Cook: 0 minutes
Ingredients: 1 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt 1/2 cup pumpkin puree 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg 1/8 teaspoon dried sage 1/4 teaspoon onion powder Salt and pepper, to taste
Instructions: 1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Add salt to taste. 2. Taste test with a cracker.
Ingredients: 1/2 loaf, 15-ounce whole wheat baguette, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices on the bias 1 tablespoon olive oil 1/2 small onion (about 2 1/2 ounces), diced small 1/2 medium zucchini (about 5 ounces), diced small 1/2 medium yellow squash (about 5 ounces), diced small 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 clove garlic, finely chopped 1/2 teaspoon oregano 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese 1/4 cup fresh basil, thinly sliced
Instructions: 1. Preheat the oven to 400'F. Line a 9x13" sheet pan with parchment paper or foil. 2. Heat the oil in a large pan set over medium heat. Add the onion and cook stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes. (You may need to adjust the heat to prevent burning.) Stir in the zucchini, squash and salt and cook an additional 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the garlic and oregano and cook one more minute. Remove pan from the heat. 3. Spread marinara sauce evenly over bread slices, then sprinkle with cheese. Top each slice with some of the squash mixture. Transfer pan to the oven and bake for 10 minutes or until bread is toasted and cheese has melted. 4. Garnish with fresh basil before serving.
Recipe and photo by Chicago-based dietitian, chef, and Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Spokesperson Sara Haas R.D.N., L.D.N.
These bite-sized appetizers have the perfect combo of sweet and salty. Notice the small portions of the higher-calorie foods—it’s just enough to get the terrific flavor without going overboard on calories.
Ingredients: 10 dried dates 1/4" thick slice manchego cheese, cut into twenty 1/2"-pieces 20 almonds 5 thin slices prosciutto, sliced lengthwise into 4 thin strips about 1/2" wide
Instructions: 1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly spray a baking sheet with vegetable spray 2. Slice the dates in half lengthwise and discard the pit. Stuff each date with a piece of cheese and an almond. 3. Wrap prosciutto around the date crosswise a few times and place on the baking sheet. Repeat for the rest of the dates. 4. Bake for 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer to a serving dish.