Sneaking healthy foods onto your party table is tricky as you try to balance great flavors with good-for-you sensibility. But take inspiration from chips and sticks, and you can serve addictive, rave-worthy snacks.
Roast vegetables until crisp or crunchy and get the satisfying mouth feel of your favorite potato chips or pretzel sticks. You'll also be offering an appealing nosh with fewer calories and greater nutritional benefits, say nutrition experts.
"I do a lot of parties to entice people to try healthful ingredients," says Julieanna Hever, registered dietitian, Los Angeles.
As long as you don't use the deep fryer, you're providing vegetables that are high in dietary fiber and antioxidants, while low in calories.
The following recipes for roast green bean sticks and kale crisps are easy, economical and healthful. Each serving has less sodium, total fat and calories than in typical snack foods.
Roast Green Bean Sticks
1 pound green beans, trimmed, cut into 2-inch lengths
1 tablespoon olive oil
1⁄4 teaspoon salt
1⁄4 teaspoon pepper
1⁄8 teaspoon crushed, dried thyme
Low-fat dip, optional
Place green beans on baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Drizzle on oil, salt, pepper and thyme. Roast in preheated 425-degree oven 30 to 35 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or until green beans are well browned, but not burned. Arrange green beans on serving platter. Serve with a low-fat dip if desired. Makes 6 snack servings.
Baked Kale Crisps
1 large bunch kale, about 12 to 14 ounces
1-1⁄2 tablespoons olive oil
1⁄4 teaspoon salt
1⁄4 teaspoon smoked paprika
Rinse kale leaves under cold water. Pat completely dry.
Remove thick center stems from kale. Tear leaves into bite-size pieces. Place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle on oil, salt and paprika. Toss gently but well to coat. Bake in preheated 350-degree oven for 7 minutes; remove and toss gently. Return to oven for 5 minutes or until leaves are lightly browned and crisp to the touch. Remove from oven immediately. Spoon into large serving bowl. Serve hot.
Makes 6 snack servings.