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Christmas is a time for celebration and gatherings. Whether you’re planning a small house party or an elaborate office party, serving delicious yet healthy dishes will impress everyone. With proper planning, all guests can enjoy a little holiday indulgence without sacrificing their health goals.
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1. Plan Colorful Appetizers
Appetizers are probably the best course to include a variety of colorful and fresh vegetables. Hence, plan for vegetables and colorful salads to serve as appetizers and don't worry too much about having carb foods. That’s because most desserts like pastries, cookies and cakes are already carb-heavy. A typical party will not be short of carbohydrates, so skip the carb foods in your appetizers and focus on colors. For instance, instead of pasta salad, make or order a green vegetable salad. In addition to the usual green veggies, plan to include multiple colors and work in some seasonal orange vegetables, such as pumpkin and sweet potatoes! Different colors offer different nutrients.
2. Add Healthy Protein Choices
Protein food choices are typically the stars of a party! So it makes sense to include a few options to please your guests. Regardless of what meat you’re making or ordering, choose roasted ones, such as roasted turkey, roasted ribeye steak, or rack of lamb. Not only is a rack of roasted meat a crowd pleaser, it is also a healthy meat choice as roasting is one of the most healthy ways to cook meat while retaining its natural flavor without adding a ton of sauce. Among all, turkey is the healthiest option, clocking in at only 160 calories per 100g of cooked meat! In addition, seafood is an excellent healthy alternative, as almost all seafood have less calories than meat. A sushi or sashimi platter, or a hors d'oeuvre filled omega-3-rich smoked salmon are sure to excite your seafood lover guests!
3. Lighten up the Desserts
Well… It’s not a party without desserts! And isn’t there a saying about ladies having “a second stomach for desserts”? While it’s traditional to serve a variety of rich cakes, offer lighter alternatives as well. Think fruits! Prepare or order fruit cups, fruit tarts, or other healthy sweet options such as fruity yogurt cups. Various dessert options will satisfy any guests with a sweet tooth.
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4. Vegans on the Guest List? 
Nowadays an increasing number of people are vegan, and it doesn’t take much of an extra effort to plan a party to offer dishes that they can also enjoy. Double-check the salad you order, sometimes it may have included meat in it. And if you have vegans on your guest list, avoid the cream-based salad dressing (it may contain dairy or eggs) and go for vinaigrette instead. The same applies to desserts - most desserts are made with dairy and eggs. Definitely offer a fruit medley or purchase a box of vegan cookies at your local supermarket as a backup. Lastly, don’t forget to offer plant-based protein options such as tofu, honey-roasted walnuts, or beans and lentils. Your vegan friends will be pleased that you have their health interests in mind.
Written by Canadian Registered Dietitian Gloria Tsang Yan Yan