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How to Have an Unforgettable Holiday Party

Are you one of the lucky ones who gets to host a holiday gathering this year?

Festive get-togethers with family and friends can be joyous fun-filled occasions, but if you are the host, it can also mean a lot of coordination, planning and preparation.  And, it can mean a lot of pressure…after all, you want the party to be a success, where your guests have a great time and make new and lasting memories.

Of course, creating the right atmosphere is important.  (And keeping the highly-opinionated cousin occupied so he or she doesn’t turn the party into a political debate is always a good idea.)  As important as those are, another extremely important ingredient for a great party is...


you guessed it, the FOOD!


Think about how many family get-togethers you attend where you can predict 90% of the food that will be served before you even arrive.  Sure, that's the “safe” way to approach the food because it's within everyone’s comfort zone...but will it be memorable?


If not, what would make the food more memorable?


The most impressive dishes are often the ones that blow people's taste buds away, and are also healthy!  Yes, it can be done...amazing taste AND healthy!  Imagine your guests indulging in food that tastes so good they say “I am going back for more!", or "You have to send me that recipe!".  Then, when you tell them “the best part is it's good for you,” they are shocked!  Now you have them thinking...“No way is that healthy!”  You have changed their perception and created something memorable!

Of course, an important factor to delicious and healthy food is using fresh, in-season ingredients.  This time of year screams out for apples, pears, winter squash, pomegranates, sweet potatoes, beets, fennel, kale and so much more!

How the food is served to your guests also plays a key role.  Just like a good story has a beginning, a middle and an end, this can be a great approach to feeding your guests.


The beginning.


As your guests arrive and enjoy their drinks, serve simple, yet flavorful, appetizers.  Some great options are:

  • Roasted Beet Hummus - using red beets provides a brilliant red color, which is perfect for the holidays.  The key to the amazing flavor is roasting the beets with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  At a recent lunch-and-learn event, a participant said, "I didn't think I liked beets or hummus, but this is fantastic!"


  • Flavored Popcorn - simply pop air-popped popcorn and add flavor combinations to achieve varieties such as sweet & spicy, honey vanilla (kettle corn version!) or even pizza flavored!



  • img_3683Christmas Cranberry Salsa - this salsa has a dazzling festive color and uses two superfoods (cranberry and pomegranate).  While it is perfectly delicious eaten with a spoon, it’s even better enjoyed with tortilla chips!   It will definitely impress your guests and disappear quickly!


  • Layered Mediterranean Dip - this is how you take hummus and toppings like cucumber, tomato, feta cheese and Greek olives and kick them up a notch.  Crazy good flavor combination!


The middle.


There are many creative options for the main meal.  The key is to keep it simple, yet delicious, so you are able to spend time with your guests and enjoy the party, and not be preoccupied with the food.  Some great options include:


Let the slow cooker do the work!


  • Taco Bar - cook chicken or pork on low all day and use it as the foundation for a taco bar or a loaded sweet potato bar.  The Slow Cooker Autumn Pork Tacos are an ideal way to easily transform a seasonal delicious pork into tacos.  Get creative with the toppings too!  You can spiralize apples and combine them with some maple syrup and cinnamon for a fantastic, slightly sweet, topping.  And then, instead of sour cream, combine a little maple syrup with plain Greek yogurt...absolutely delicious!




The end.


It wouldn’t be a party without some sweet treats, right?!  Even dessert can be both delicious and healthy and can make use of in-season ingredients.


  • Dark Chocolate Bark - with added toppings like pomegranate seeds, orange zest, shredded coconut and nuts, it's a creative and delicious party dessert.


  • Pumpkin Almond Butter Bars - just a few ingredients that can be blended up in a food processor and baked for 20 minutes...your guests will be raving about these simple treats...we have heard “Amazing!”, “Incredible!,” and “Crazy good!”


  • Build Your Own Yogurt Parfait - provide lightly-sweetened yogurt, along with a variety of fruit and nuts.  To really impress, serve a seasonal homemade granola, like a Cranberry Coconut Granola.  The perfect ending to a great meal!


This beginning, middle and end will leave your guests extremely satisfied and thanking you over and over for the incredible food.  You may still have to deal with the highly-opinionated cousin, but even he will be better tolerated with great food!


What are your favorite foods to serve at a party...that are both delicious and healthy?

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