B.Y.O. Healthful Party Food

I love going to parties but  sometimes I can’t find anything to eat when I’m there! Sure there are usually many plates of assorted appetizers and bowls of dips and chips — but it’s often stuff I don’t really want to put into my body!  I know what you’re thinking; oh, big deal, it’s a party. Just have fun and go wild. Here’s the thing: I don’t consider junk food a splurge or any kind of reward. Junk food is a punishment!

Many years ago I decided to take matters into my own hands. I started offering to bring a healthful appetizer or two to the party. I’ve perfected a few standard plates that always elicit lots of ooohs and ahhhs when I place them on the table. You might think a plate of green vegetables or vegetable roll ups would be boring; au contraire! It’s all in the presentation and of course, this stuff tastes great too. I’ve noticed that my healthful vegetable plates are generally the first thing to go. I knew it!  People want to eat the good stuff — it’s just not always there so they resort to the not-so-healthy foods.

Here’s one of the things I’ve been making for my own parties and bringing to others for many many years. These veggie roll ups have countless variations. This time I used red pepper hummus as the spread. I love Cava brand but you can use any other flavor or even a thin layer of Boursin cheese. I’m not a big fan of dairy and lots of people are lactose intolerant so I generally stick to the hummus. I drive out of my way to purchase the whole wheat roll ups from Whole Foods ( this of course doesn’t  help the gluten intolerant folks, but the rice roll ups just don’t work in this recipe; they crack and fall apart — I’ve tried!)

Ingredients

1 package All Natural Roll Ups from Whole Foods, whole wheat variety

Red pepper hummus

1 large bin greens like baby romaine or mesclun mix

2 large carrots, shredded or julianned

1 organic red pepper (part of the dirty dozen), sliced as thinly as possible

About 15 cherry tomatoes, halved

3-5 very thin slices of red onion

About 10-12 red grapes, halved (optional but gives a nice sweet taste)

1/2  avocado, sliced

Sea salt, freshly ground pepper

Small amount home-made balsamic vinaigrette

rollupsHow To Make the Roll Ups

Set up an assembly line, placing each vegetable in a separate bowl. Generously spread 3 roll ups with hummus leaving an inch of space around the edges.

rolluphummusNow place a big handful or two of greens on each roll up and distribute evenly. Divide the prepared vegetables and grapes between the roll ups, making a horizontal line near the center. Add about 4 thin slices of avocado; sprinkle with salt and pepper and a little drizzle of vinaigrette. Be careful not to add too much dressing or the roll ups will become mushy and difficult to eat.

rollupwithveggie

Starting from the side nearest you tuck the end and roll up as tightly as possible (sort of like rolling sushi if you’ve done that). Make sure to roll evenly so the whole wrap is very tight. Keep rolling until you’ve reached the end. Add some hummus to the last edge so your roll up will stay closed.

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Holding the roll up tightly cut off and discard the first inch or so (good for snacking!), then slice the remainder with a bread knife into one inch pieces.

slicerollups

Place the roll ups on the plate face up so you can see the colorful veggies. Bring to the party and impress your friends– and make these part of  your healthy dinner. And yes, it’s ok to eat what you bring to the party!

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Cold Refreshing Soup

I’ve really tried to like cold soup in the past, really I have!  I’ve made so many different gazpacho recipes I can’t count them all! I know it’s super healthful and full of nutrients–but I just don’t enjoy eating a big (or small) bowl of cold tomatoes, zucchini, onions and whatever else is in there!

Recently though I came across a recipe for cold cucumber soup. I was especially drawn to this one because it has an avocado and I think I might be slightly addicted to avocados! I was also attracted by the simplicity of the recipe. After you cook for a long time you get pretty good at eyeballing recipes and knowing right away if you’ll like them or not.

I have a rather short attention span so anything with tons of ingredients (a la Martha Stewart) is an instant turn off.  Sometime I can look at a recipe and know right away what ingredients I can omit and still achieve the desired tasty result.

I just love soup as an afternoon snack or as part of a lunch that also includes some kind of salad. This one is slightly sweet because of the coconut yogurt and so refreshing due to the lime and cucumber (did I mention I love lime juice too?). When the weather gets hot we should eat lighter foods that are also cooling. It’s always best to eat what’s in season too.

Here’s what you’ll need: 1 avocado, 2 scallions, juice of one lime, 1 cucumber, 1 container coconut yogurt, pinch of sea salt and pepper and 1/4 cup water.

cukesouping.

What To Do:

Blend all of the ingredients (except the cilantro) in a food processor or blender.  Chill and top with cilantro when served. Hint: the cilantro looks better than it tastes!

cukesoup

Perfect for a hot, steamy DC day!