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October 30, 2012 > Take Healthy Appetizers to Your Holiday Gathering

Take Healthy Appetizers to Your Holiday Gathering

Washington Women's Center Class Offers Recipes and Tips

The holiday season is almost here and with it plenty of opportunities to eat foods that are high in fat and calories. This year trade some of those fattening appetizers with tempting treats that everyone will enjoy without putting on extra pounds.

"A good way to make sure you don't overindulge at holiday parties is to make sure there are plenty of healthy appetizers available," said Maggie Villagomez, a registered dietitian at Washington Hospital. "There are simple ways to make some of the traditional appetizers we all love less fattening".

She will offer tips and recipes for preparing healthier appetizers at an upcoming class titled "Healthy Holiday Appetizers." The class is scheduled for Thursday, November 8, from 12 to 1 p.m. It will be held in the Women's Center Conference Room, located at 2500 Mowry Avenue (Washington West) in Fremont. You can register online at www.whhs.com or call (510) 608-1301 for more information.

In addition to food preparation information, Villagomez will offer some ways to avoid overindulging during the holidays. For example, don't go to a party hungry.

"When you go hungry, you are tempted to eat everything in sight rather than being more selective," she said. "Have a light, healthy snack before you head out to that family gathering or holiday celebration."

Another tip is to stay away from the food table as much as you can. Don't hang out around the food. Instead, focus on engaging with others at the gathering.

"Compensate for eating a bit more at your party by eating a little less that day," Villagomez added. "Do some extra physical activity the day of your party. Make sure you take a walk or do something active."

She also said it's important to pay attention to your beverage. Avoid rich, creamy drinks and don't consume too much alcohol. Beverages can have hidden calories.

Bringing something healthy to eat is another great way to avoid a lot of fat and calories.

Make it Lighter

Villagomez will provide suggestions for making healthier versions of some traditional holiday appetizers as well as new recipes for some tasty healthy options. For example, substituting light and low-fat cream cheese and sour cream for the full-fatted versions in recipes is a good way to slim them down.

"You can also use low-fat or non-fat Greek-style yogurt, which provides a lot of good protein," she added. "Using olive oil instead of butter is a good substitution for many recipes to get in some healthy fats and limit your saturated fat intake."

Instead of chips, try cutting up pita bread and baking it in the oven. Hummus makes a great low-fat, nutritious dip, she said.

Villagomez suggested adding fruit to cheese plates and using stronger cheeses like gorgonzola because they are more satisfying. Vegetable and fruits trays are always great.

"A pear and gorgonzola plate is simple and tasty," she suggested. "Roasted vegetables also make a great appetizer. Cut them into bite-sized chunks."

Villagomez will provide a number of recipes, including the following one, which participants will get the opportunity to taste:

Sun- Dried Tomato Palmiers

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
4 oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives
1 garlic clove, minced
1 sheet frozen puff pastry dough, thawed

Place first the first five ingredients in a mini chopper and process until finely chopped.

Unfold the dough and roll to a 10 x 9-inch rectangle. Spread the tomato mixture over the dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Roll up the long sides of dough until they meet in the middle. Chill 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cut dough roll crosswise into 20 slices. Arrange slices in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes or until lightly browned.

"These are delicious and offer some good nutrition in addition to being fun to eat," Villagomez said. "There really are ways to enjoy good food during the holidays while reducing the fat and calories."

For more information about other classes offered at Washington Hospital, visit www.whhs.com. To learn more about the Washington Women's Center, visit www.whhs.com/womenscenter.

Download Healthy Recipes Online

Washington Hospital offers nutrition counseling by appointment for individuals with specific medical needs as well as those who wish to maintain optimal health. Visit www.whhs.com/nutrition for more information and to download healthy food recipes.

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