Katie's Healthy Bites: Holiday Antipasti

The holidays are right around the corner. With them come big parties and lots of guests -- some unexpected. I thought I'd share a few healthy holiday appetizers that are a cinch to make and won't add to that dreaded holiday weight gain. Believe me, your friends will have no idea these are lighter choices.

In my Italian family, no holiday is complete without a colorful antipasto spread. Below are my adaptations of some family favorites. The first few recipes require nothing more then a well-stocked pantry and a few minutes in the kitchen. The last ones need a bit more planning, but don’t require any ingredients you can't have ready in the fridge during the holidays. Note: Keep some raw veggies or store-bought grilled veggies, crackers, pita or fresh bread on hand for easy accompaniments.

Olive Tapenade

12 servings
• 1 1/2 cups kalamata olives, pitted
• 1 cup green olives, pitted
• 1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and drained
• 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
• 2 teaspoons fresh oregano
• 1 lemon, zested
• 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
• 1 garlic clove
• 2 tablespoon olive oil
• pepper, to taste

Combine all ingredients in a food processor; pulse 10 to 15 times or until olives are finely chopped but not pureed.

Nutrition Info:

Calories: 83 calories; Fat: 8.6 grams; Saturated Fat: .33 grams; Protein: 0 grams; Carbohydrates: 2.8 grams; Cholesterol: 0 milligrams; Sodium: 301 milligrams; Fiber: 0 grams

Chickpea Salad
* Great to make ahead or on the spot!

8 servings
• 2 (15.5 ounces) cans chickpeas, drained
• 1/2 cup red onion, chopped
• 1 tablespoon fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
• 1 teaspoon fresh oregano, chopped
• 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
• 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
• Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Serve.

Nutrition Info:

Calories: 120; Fat: 3.2 grams; Saturated Fat: .25 grams; Protein: 5.2 grams; Carbohydrates: 18 grams; Cholesterol: 0 milligrams; Sodium: 281 milligrams; Fiber: 4.2 grams

Pesto White Bean Dip

* My all-time favorite, this white bean dip has two ingredients -- that's about as simple as it gets. Check out my past post on beans for the full recipe.

Zucchini and Herbed Ricotta Rolls Ups

4 servings
• 2 small zucchini, cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch thick slices
• 2 small yellow squash, cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch thick slices
• 1 cup part skim ricotta cheese
• 1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
• 1 tablespoon fresh mint
• 1 lemon, juiced and zested
• Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat grill or grill pan to medium. Grill zucchini and squash until tender but not mushy, about 4 minutes per side. In a small bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, herbs, lemon juice and lemon zest. Put 1 teaspoon of the ricotta mixture about 1/2 inch from the end of a zucchini slice. Roll up and place seam side down on a platter. Repeat with remaining zucchini slices. You can make a day ahead and store in the fridge.

Nutrition Info:

Calories: 109; Fat: 4.8 grams; Saturated Fat: 2.9 grams; Protein: 8.6 grams; Carbohydrates: 9.8 grams; Cholesterol: 17.6 milligrams; Sodium: 22 milligrams; Fiber: 2 grams

Chicken Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms

6 servings

• 1/2-3/4 pound fresh, uncooked chicken sausage (try spinach and feta)

• 24 large button or cremini (baby portabella) mushrooms, stems removed

• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 1 cup balsamic vinegar
• Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. In a small saucepan, bring balsamic vinegar to a boil. Reduce heat to medium; cook until reduced to 1/4 cup (about 5 minutes). Remove from heat.

To prepare sausage, remove casings and place meat into a small bowl. Lay mushroom caps, top side down, on an oiled baking sheet. Brush edges with oil and fill centers with chicken sausage; be generous. Season with salt and pepper.

Bake mushrooms, uncovered, for about 15 minutes or until mushrooms are tender and sausage is cooked through. Drizzle with 3 to 4 tablespoons of balsamic syrup (you will have leftovers). Serve hot.

Nutrition Info:

Calories: 105; Fat: 7.2 grams; Saturated Fat: 1.7 grams; Protein: 5.8 grams; Carbohydrates: 5.6 grams; Cholesterol: 26.6 milligrams; Sodium: 328 milligrams; Fiber: .76 grams

Roasted Peppers

These are great to make ahead and serve with dips above.

Serves 8
• 2 large red bell peppers
• 2 large yellow or orange bell peppers
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chiffonade
• 1 clove garlic, minced

Place peppers on a grill or stove top directly over an open flame. Char on all sides (about 2 to 3 minutes per side). Remove from flame and place in bowl. Cover. Allow to steam for 10 minutes. Remove peppers from bowl and, using hands, peel off skin. Remove stem and seeds. Slice peppers and place in a small bowl. Mix with olive oil, basil and garlic. Marinate for 1 hour and serve. You can make the peppers can be made a day or two ahead and store them in the refrigerator.

Nutrition Info:

Calories: 32; Fat: 1.94 grams; Saturated Fat: .3 grams; Protein .7 grams; Carbohydrates: 3.96 grams; Cholesterol: 0 milligrams; Sodium: 1.39 milligrams; Fiber: 1.24 grams

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