Would it really be a family gathering without a party platter? Veggie trays, pretzels and dip, and sausage, cheese and crackers: perhaps these have become your go-to appetizers as well. Platters are versatile and can be easily adapted to accommodate for friends’ and family’s dietary needs.
A platter is an easy way to appease your guests’ appetites in a tasty and healthy way. Here are some tips for building your best party platter, to nourish the people you love:
- A rainbow of fruits and vegetables. Try to incorporate different textures, shapes, and colors. This will lead to both a pretty plate and a balanced assortment of nutrients. Unsweetened dried cranberries, pineapple, dates, and banana chips can also be tasty additions and pair well with nuts.
- Unsalted nuts. Nuts contain heart healthy fats and filling protein that will keep friends and family satisfied until the main event. Go with the unsalted variety, as most Americans consume over twice the daily recommended amount of sodium.
- Lower-saturated-fat dips. Instead of the usual sour cream or cream cheese based dips, lighten things up! Think homemade guacamole filled with heart healthy fats, creamy tzatziki, a store-bought hummus or a low-sodium tomato salsa. Click here for an easy tzatziki (Greek yogurt & cucumber) dip recipe that has only 5 ingredients!
- Satisfying cheeses. Include flavor-filled cheeses that taste best in moderation. Full-flavor cheeses, such as sharp cheddar, brie, smoked Swiss, and Fontina, can be sliced thin, so you can still enjoy the rich flavors without over-doing it on the portion size. Cheese is high in saturated fat and sodium, but by choosing a higher-quality, fuller-flavor cheese, you will likely feel more satisfied and eat less than if you were to display a mild provolone, for example. Support local! Check out Mineral Point’s award-winning artisan cheese superstars at Hook’s Cheese, for a wide selection of specialty cheeses.
- Something crunchy. Crackers, pretzels, and carrot and celery sticks can all be crunchy, dip-ready additions to a party platter. Go for a cracker made from whole grains and less than 200 mg sodium per serving. Pretzels are generally low in fat and can also be a healthy vehicle for dip, but try to opt for a lower-sodium version. Crostini are another popular choice for appetizer platters – crunchy, crispy, and ready for toppings. Choose a whole grain bread and use olive oil. Check out this healthy crostini recipe from Martha Stewart. Carrot and celery sticks are healthy, nutrient-packed choices and are also a great option if you have a gluten-free party guest.
Valerie Koschnick RDN, CD