Lighten up your holiday entertaining

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Christmas can be a cheerful time of year, surrounded by friends and family. There is nothing better than attending or throwing a party and enjoying laughter food and drinks with those you love.

There is also nothing worse than being afraid that enjoying the appetizers and beverages served at these parties will result in a big jump on the scales in the New Year.

In this day and age many people are concerned about their weight. You work hard all year to maintain or lose weight and it can be reversed in a few weeks, it is easier to gain weight than it is to lose.

When you are throwing a holiday party there are many things you can offer that are easier on the waistline:  

•    When making punch have a low sugar option and ensure you have other diet drinks available for those who are being weight conscious.   

•    Offer pretty pictures of water with orange slices, raspberries or pomegranate seeds for those not drinking alcohol.  

•    When it comes to sweets and appetizers, watch the sugar and fat content.  

•    You can often cut the sugar in baked goods by 25-50 per cent without anyone noticing.

•    Replace 50 per cent of the fat in a regular cake or brownie recipe with yogurt or low fat sour cream (they taste even better).  

•    Use lean meats to prepare meatballs or other products and reduce the amount of sugar and salt in your recipes.  

•    If you are pan frying use oil instead of butter.

•    Make dips with low fat sour cream, Greek yogurt, avocado or chick peas

•    Have vegetables and toasted pita for dipping instead of chips

•    Shrimp rings, oysters and smoked salmon are healthy alternatives

There are many recipes available if you do a quick online search for healthy appetizers and beverages.  Here is a great recipes to get you started!

Holiday Orange Pomegranate Punch


4 cups        pomegranate juice

8 cups        light lemonade (such as Minute Maid Light Lemonade)

2 cups        orange juice

2L        diet ginger ale

1        orange, sliced into rounds

1        Pomegranate, seeds removed


1.    Add the pomegranate juice, light lemonade, and orange juice to a large punch bowl and stir. Refrigerate for a few of hours.

2.    When ready to serve, pour the ginger ale into a punch bowl and gently stir. Add ice, orange slices and pomegranate seeds.

Yield: 20 8oz servings:  Per serving: 40 calories; 0.1g fat; 10g carbohydrate; 0.2g protein; 1mg sodium

Vegetable and Feta Latkes


2 ½ cups grated zucchini

1 cup peeled and shredded potatoes

1 cup shredded carrots

1/8 tsp salt

1 egg, lightly beaten

2 egg whites

1/8 tsp black pepper

¾ cup flour

½ cup chopped fresh parsley

½ cup crumbled light feta cheese

¼ cup canola oil


1.    Place the zucchini, potato and carrots in a colander, place paper towels or cheesecloth over the top and squeeze out as much moisture as possible.  Sprinkle salt over the vegetables and let them drain for 15 minutes.  Squeeze vegetables again in paper towel

2.     In a large mixing bowl combine eggs, vegetables, salt and pepper.  Mix well.  Stir in flour, parsley and feta.

3.    Heat vegetable oil in a large frying pan.  Place vegetable mixture, formed into pancake sized cakes in hot oil and fry until golden brown on both sides.  Cook two or three minutes per side.  Add more oil as needed to keep cakes frying up well.  Drain latkes on paper towels.

Yield: 12 servings: per serving 111 Calories, 6g fat, 1.1g sat fat, 10g carbs, 4g protein, 1g fibre, 203mg sodium

Heather Lang is a professional dietician. She lives in North River and welcomes ideas for future columns. Contact her at

Organizations: Minute Maid

Geographic location: North River

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