It’s the holiday season, yay!  Decorating, claymation cartoons, caroling, parties, and EATING.  This time of year can be murder to navigate if you‘re trying to lose weight, heck it can be murder if you’re trying to just avoid going up a couple sizes.  Though I believe in balance and enjoying yourself, I don’t believe in saying, “screw it” and going hog wild at the buffet table.  Believe it or not, there are plenty of tasty options out there that won’t mysteriously cause your clothes to shrink.  So maybe try bringing a dish or two to the next holiday get-together you attend.

Shrimp Cocktail

You can eat 14 medium sized pieces of shrimp for only about 90 calories, yup you read that right.  And feel free to pile on the cocktail sauce, yeah it’s a little sugary but I’m willing to let it slide, it is the holidays after all.

Guacamole

I love guacamole; I love it so much I would marry it.  You can put it on chips, veggies, or maybe even some shrimp cocktail.  I got this guacamole recipe at a party a few years ago, and it’s my favorite.  I would love to give credit but I honestly don’t even know who gave it to me.

  • 4 ripe Haas avocados
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 6-8 dashes hot pepper sauce
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 medium tomato, seeded and diced
  1. Cut the avocados in half, remove pits, and scoop flesh into a large bowl.
  2. Immediately add all the ingredients except for tomato and toss well.
  3. Using a sharp knife slice avocados in bowl until they’re finely diced.
  4. Add tomato, mix well and add salt and pepper to your taste.

Crab Dip

Believe it or not, dips are some of the easiest recipes to makeover.  Most dips have a cream cheese, sour cream, mayo, or some combo of the three base, and they all have lower fat versions pretty easily available.  Substitute the lower fat versions in dip recipes and no one will even be able to tell the difference.

  • 8 ounces of low fat cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup grated reduced fat pepper Jack cheese
  • ½ cup mayonnaise (reduced fat or organic with olive oil)
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce (feel free to add an extra dash or two if that’s your thing)
  • 1lb lump crap meat, drained and picked clean of shells
  • 1 cup diced tomato (2 medium tomatoes)
  • ¼ cup chopped green onions
  • ¼ cup chopped basil
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 2 avocados
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 1 quart baking dish with nonstick spray.
  2. In a large bowl mix cream cheese, pepper Jack cheese, mayo, lime juice, and hot sauce until smooth.
  3. Fold in crabmeat, tomatoes, green onions, basil, garlic, salt and pepper.
  4. Pour mixture into baking dish, bake until gold and bubbly, about 30 minutes.
  5. Split, peel, and dice avocados and sprinkle over slightly cooled dip.

Chicken Satay

Chicken is good, Greek yogurt is good, natural peanut butter is good, put them all together and what you’ve got is a great alternative to greasy chicken fingers and wings.  This is just a cleaned up version of my favorite chicken satay recipe, tasty and pretty darn easy.

  • 1 cup plain non-fat/low fat Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • About 1 ½ lbs skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into strips
  • 20 wooden skewers, soaked in water for 30 minutes
  • oil for grilling
  • Peanut sauce (recipe follows)
  1. Combine yogurt, ginger, garlic, and curry powder in shallow bowl and stir.  Place chicken in the marinade and toss till well coated.  Cover and let sit in the refrigerator for up to 2 hours.
  2. Thread the chicken onto skewers.  Brush grill or grill pan with oil and grill chicken for about 3-5 minutes each side.  Serve with peanut sauce on the side.

Peanut Sauce for Chicken Satay

  • 1 cup smooth, natural peanut butter
  • ¼ cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons red chili paste
  • 2 tablespoons coconut sugar (or brown sugar)
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • ½ cup of hot water
  • ¼ cup chopped peanuts
  1. Combine peanut butter, soy sauce, red chili paste, coconut sugar, and lime juice in food processor and puree to combine.
  2. While motor is running, drizzle in the hot water to thin out the sauce, you may not need all of it.
  3. Pour sauce into serving bowl and garnish with chopped peanuts.
  4. Serve with the chicken.

Ok, so if you’re going to bring a healthy dish to a party, you have to be prepared to meet with some resistance.  Unless you don’t tell anyone it is healthy, which is exactly what I recommend.  You see if you saunter into a party loudly proclaiming you brought a healthy alternative, people are going to roll their eyes and think you’re a know-it-all health nut jamming your philosophy down everyone’s throats.  Not to mention you’ll probably make the person who brought the Doritos salad feel bad (it’s a real thing, look it up).  Just put your dish out, and if anyone asks you about it answer honestly, if no one brings it just keep it to yourself.  Let’s face it, if someone doesn’t know shrimp cocktail is better for them than fried crab rangoons, there’s not a ton you can do for them anyway.