Star-Worthy Oscar Party Treats, Slimmed Down!

Entertaining Snacks

I love any excuse to have some friends and family over, hover around the television and host a potluck or a party – so obviously I am planning something fun for Sunday’s Oscars! But snacking doesn’t have to be mindless, and it doesn’t have to break your calorie bank, either! These suggestions below are what I will be having at my Academy Awards party – and I promise they are winners!

No Bake Peanut Butter Balls IMG_2751

These peanut butter balls taste like a rich dessert, but offer up filling fiber and protein, with minimal sugar! Also, they only take about 10 minutes to make from start to finish (plus some time to chill in the fridge). I love to keep these around and throw them in a bag for the day or snack on them at night when I want something sweet, and they stay in the fridge for about a week, or in the freezer for longer.

This is how the batter should look once blended

This is how the batter should look once blended

10 large, dried medjool dates, pitted

1/2 C natural peanut butter (only ingredients should be peanuts and a small amount of salt!)

1/4 C rolled oats

1/2 C unsweetened, dark chocolate chips

*Makes 15-18, 1″ balls

plain pb balls!

plain pb balls!

1. Soak oats in hot water for a few minutes (so that they soften)

2. Chop dates into small pieces and place in food processor or blender (I used my Magic Bullet).

3. Add peanut butter and oats. Blend until batter is course and ingredients are well incorporated.

4. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Take a small spoon and scoop small portions of batter into your hands, forming small balls that measure approximately 1″ in diameter. Place each peanut butter ball on baking sheet and form rows of 3 or 4. Place baking sheet in fridge or freezer.*If you don’t want to make these chocolate covered, you are done after this step! I like to make about half chocolate covered and leave half plain, so continue if you plan to dip these in chocolate!

5. Melt chocolate chips. I prefer to use a double boiler (bring a small amount of water to a boil in a pot and cover with a large bowl. Add chocolate to bowl once water is boiling and allow the steam from the boiling water to melt the chocolate, stirring until chocolate is smooth). You can also melt the chocolate in the microwave, but this often results in burnt patches. Place the chocolate in the microwave for short time segments if you prefer this method, and stir the chocolate often.

6. Take peanut butter balls from the fridge (they should be somewhat cool and solidified) and, using one at a time, roll each ball in the chocolate mixture, using a small spoon. Scoop ball up with spoon after it is coated and place back on baking sheet. Repeat for as many as you’d like dipped in chocolate!

7. Place in refrigerator to cool. They can be kept there overnight (or longer) or you can make these about an hour or two before your guests arrive (or you want to start eating them!) and take them out to serve once they are cooled. Enjoy!

1/2 chocolate dipped, 1/2 plain pb balls!

1/2 chocolate dipped, 1/2 plain pb balls!

Nutrient Breakdown for 1 ball (assuming recipe yields 16 servings): Calories 110 calories, Total Fat 7 g, Saturated Fat 2 g, Cholesterol 0 mg, Carbohydrates 11 g, Fiber 2 g, Protein 2 g, Sodium 26 mg, Calcium 3 mg

Sweet and Salty Popcorn

This popcorn is the easiest recipe you will ever make, and it is such a hit at parties! Also, popcorn is a whole grain and is a great, whole-food  choice over snacks like cookies and chips!

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2 1/2 C popcorn (*Note: Find a brand that simply uses popcorn, with perhaps some oil or salt – do not use buttered popcorn for this recipe! It should be simple, air-popped popcorn or very similar.)

1/4 C unsweetened, dark chocolate chips

1/2 tsp salt (if using unsalted or very lightly salted popcorn)

*Makes 5 half-cup servings

1. Microwave popcorn according to directions on box or bag. Remove popcorn from microwave and open bag to let steam escape and popcorn cool. place popcorn in large bowl.

2. Melt chocolate chips using double boiler method (listed above in step 4 of ‘No Bake Peanut Butter Balls’ recipe). Drizzle chocolate over popcorn by dipping a spoon or knife into the melted chocolate and gently flicking it over the popcorn.

3. If using unsalted or very lightly salted popcorn, top with salt. Set aside (or place in fridge for about 15-20 minutes), until chocolate has solidified and cooled. Serve at room temperature.

Nutrient Breakdown for 1/2 C popcorn: Calories 71 calories, Total Fat 4 g, Saturated fat 2 g, Cholesterol 0 mg, Carbohydrates 10 g, Fiber 1 g, Protein 1 g, Sodium 233 mg, Calcium 0 mg

Popcorn on Fire

This savory popcorn is a good alternative to sweets  – and you can snack on handfuls for minimal calories and fat!

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2 1/2 C popcorn (*Note: Same rules as above recipe – air-popped and unbuttered!)

2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1/4 tsp paprika

1/4 tsp chili powder

1/4 tsp onion powder

1/8 tsp ground cumin

1/8 tsp ground black pepper

1/8 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp salt (only if using unsalted or very lightly salted popcorn)

*Makes 5 half-cup servings

The spice lineup!

The spice lineup!

1. Combine all spices in small bowl and mix well.

2. Microwave popcorn according to directions on box or bag.

3. Once popcorn is all popped (and while it is still hot) open the bag drizzle oil over popcorn and mix with a spoon.

4. Slowly pour spices over the popcorn so that spices are evenly distributed. Mix well with spoon. Serve hot or at room temperature!

Nutrient breakdown for 1/2 C popcorn: Calories 65 calories, Total Fat 6 g, Saturated Fat 1 g, Cholesterol 0 mg, Carbohydrates 3 g, Fiber 1 g, Protein 1 g, Sodium 234 mg, Calcium 1 mg

Other Ideas

If you wanted other savory ideas, my dips are also great for entertaining! Find my buffalo-style cauliflower dip recipe HERE, my skinny spinach artichoke dip recipe HERE, and my guacamole recipe HERE! Also, veggies and pita with hummus is always a crowd-pleaser. Still craving something sweet? A fruit platter may just do the trick, without too much prep time (and without busting through the calorie budget)!

Looking forward to a night of fun, family, friends and food and fashion!

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This Spicy Dip Has A Hot Secret: Cauliflower!

Buffalo-Style Cauliflower Dip

I was inspired to make this after seeing so many amazing looking recipes for similar dips, but so many of them were laden with cream and calories. This spicy, hearty-tasting dip only feels like a treat! It packs in a heaping portion of cruciferous standout, cauliflower, along with its fiber, vitamins C, K and and many B-complex vitamins! And for 100 calories and only 4 g fat per serving, you can get your buffalo wing fix without all the extra calories and fat. Serve with veggies, pita, bread, crackers or chips, or eat it on its own!

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Ingredients (serves 10):

1 large head cauliflower, cut into florets (or about 6 C florets)

2 Tbsp canola oil

1 small vidalia or sweet onion, chopped

1/2 C Cholula hot sauce (or similar hot sauce)

1 can (15 oz) white beans (also called navy beans), rinsed and drained

3 cloves garlic, minced

3/4 C 0% fat, plain Greek yogurt

1 Tbsp all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp paprika

1/8 tsp ground black pepper

dash table salt (to taste)

nonstick vegetable oil cooking spray

Ready to bake in the oven! Got a little messy - I used my immersion blender!

Got a little messy – I used my immersion blender!

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 415 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Lay cauliflower, onions and garlic on baking sheet sprayed with nonstick vegetable oil spray. Drizzle oil over vegetables and roast for 20-25 minutes, until soft and slightly browned.

3. While vegetables are roasting, blend all other ingredients together (Greek yogurt, flour, beans, hot sauce, spices).

4. Once vegetables are roasted, add to blender. Blend or pulse for a few seconds, keeping chunks of cauliflower visible. Bake in oven 20-30 minutes at 375 degrees Fahrenheit, until dip is warm and set. Serve with veggies, pita or chips and enjoy!

*This dip stays really well in the fridge and is amazing cold as leftovers (or warmed up for a few seconds in the microwave). I like to keep it around as an alternative to hummus and pack it for lunch!

The Goods: What’s Inside?

Calories 100, Total Fat 4 g, Saturated Fat 1 g, Cholesterol 2 mg, Carbohydrates 13 g, Fiber 4 g, Protein 5 g, Sodium 248 mg, Calcium 63 mg

Ready to bake in the oven!

Ready to bake in the oven!

It’s Soup Season!

Mushroom Barley Soup

This soup is a winter favorite of mine! The barley adds a hearty taste and texture to the warming vegetable soup, plus it’s packed with nutrients like fiber from the barley and vegetables, beta-carotene (which our body converts to vitamin A) from the carrots and B-complex vitamins from mushrooms. I usually make a large pot of this soup early in the week and eat a bowl every day with lunch or dinner (or sometimes both)! Perfectly portable for work and perfectly nutritious, this homemade soup is a must-try for cold winter days!

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Ingredients (serves 10):

8 C low sodium vegetable broth

8 C water

1 C barley, uncooked

5 C mushrooms, sliced

1 sweet onion, small, chopped

3 garlic cloves, chopped finely

1 C carrots, chopped

1/2 C celery, chopped

1 Tbsp butter or margarine

3/4 tsp salt

3/4 tsp ground black pepper

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp onion powder

Directions:

1. Melt butter in a large pot. Add onions and mushrooms and sauté until slightly browned and softened, stirring occasionally (approximately 10 minutes).

2. Add carrots and celery. Add liquid (water and vegetable broth). Add spices. Bring to a boil and cook for approximately 15 minutes, until vegetables are softened.

3.Add barley and boil for another 10 minutes. Cover and reduce to a simmer for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Serve and enjoy!

*I love to make this soup for the entire week. If you still have leftovers at the end of the week, just store in single or double serving, airtight containers in the freezer!

The Goods: What’s Inside?

Calories 91 calories, Total Fat 1 g, Saturated Fat 0 g, Cholesterol 0 mg, Carbohydrates 18 g, Fiber 4 g, Protein 3 g, Sodium 312 mg, Calcium 32 mg

May require serious stove clean-up, but so worth it! My pot wasn't large enough and some boiled over...live and learn!

May require serious stove clean-up, but so worth it! My pot wasn’t large enough and some boiled over…live and learn!

A More Nutritious Bowl Of ‘Spaghetti’

Spaghetti Squash with Marinara Sauce and Cheese

This winter squash is a great alternative to pasta for those who are looking for a more nutritious bowl! With less than 200 calories per serving and packed with fiber and antioxidants like beta carotene (which our bodies convert to vitamin A) and vitamin C, this dish is filled with good nutrition and satisfies a carb craving for the starchy stuff!

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Ingredients (serves 5):

1 3-pound spaghetti squash

1 tsp canola oil

dash salt

dash ground black pepper

1 C tomato sauce (I like 365 brand tomato and basil pasta sauce from Whole Foods), or feel free to make your own!

4 oz reduced fat mozzarella cheese

Nonstick vegetable oil cooking spray

Now just turn the squash face down and bake in the oven!

Now just turn the squash face down and bake in the oven!

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Spray baking pan with nonstick vegetable oil cooking spray. Cut spaghetti squash in half, lengthwise. Remove pulp and seeds with a spoon. Pour oil in your palms (make sure they are clean!) and rub hands together so that oil coats your hands. Next, rub the oil on the spaghetti squash. Sprinkle dash of salt and pepper on top of squash and turn squash over (face down).

3. Bake spaghetti squash for 25-35 minutes. When the squash is cooked, you will be able to pull the “spaghetti” strands with a fork, but it will be able to hold its form. Continue to do this until all of the squash is out of the skin (I like to pull the strands into a large bowl). Once all squash is in the bowl, pour sauce over squash and stir. Top with cheese. You may need to heat the squash in the microwave for a minute to warm the sauce. Serve and enjoy!

This is how the spaghetti squash should pull apart with a fork - it forms 'spaghetti'!

This is how the spaghetti squash should pull apart with a fork – it forms ‘spaghetti’!

The Goods: What’s Inside?

Nutritional Analysis Per Serving:

Calories 167 calories, Total Fat 6 g, Saturated Fat 2 g, Cholesterol 12 mg, Carbohydrates 22 g, Fiber 6 g, Protein 9 g, Sodium 399 mg, Calcium 411 mg

Now just stir together and serve!

Now just stir together and serve!