Low carb appetizers
Finger food at the typical cocktail party may seem harmless - it's so small, it couldn't possibly damage your diet, right? But little bites of chips and dips, miniature quiches, crostini, rice and meat balls, and quesadilla wedges - though low in calories and carbs per bite - can add up and turn a seemingly diet-friendly evening into a high calorie, high carb ordeal. To help you with your holiday quest to eat more healthfully despite the near endless offerings of food, here are a few low carb recipes for appetizers - just make sure you savor each little bite and reasonably limit the number you eat.
Easy appetizersIn addition to the following appetizers, offer guests their choice of fresh vegetables and fruits.
Crudites and dips: Place baby carrots, celery sticks, trimmed radishes, raw mushrooms, jicama sticks, and small sweet peppers on a party platter with one or two low carb dips. The vegetables are low in calories and carbs, provide a nice satisfying crunch, and are easy to prepare.
Berries and cream: Instead of high calorie, high sugar cheesecake bites, cookies, and other confections, place mixed berries in a festive serving bowl and top with unsweetened whipped cream. Your guests will love the natural sweetness and color of the fresh fruit as well as the indulgent topping of cream.
Cheese plate: Small bites of artisan cheeses, slices of fruit and whole nuts are a divine party offering. Visit your local supermarket deli or specialty cheese shop and buy three or four different types of cheese. Pair them with apples, pears, grapes and other fresh fruit. Serve with small bowls of walnut and pecan halves, hazelnuts, and almonds.
low carb appetizer recipesWondering how many appetizers to serve at your cocktail party? Figure 6 to 8 bites per guest per hour. If you are hosting an early gathering, consider 10 to 12 bites per guest per hour, since your guests may not have a chance to eat dinner.
Blue Cheese WafersMakes 36 wafers
Ideal for nibbling with vegetables or a glass of wine.
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
8 ounces finely crumbled blue cheese
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
Pinch of salt
Pinch of black pepper or more to taste
1. In a large mixing bowl, use a hand-held electric mixer to beat butter and cheese until smooth. Add flour, walnuts, salt and pepper and mix until well-combined. Divide the dough in half and roll into two logs about 1-1/2 inches in diameter.
2. Wrap each log with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375 degrees F. and spray two large cookie sheets with nonstick cooking spray. Remove logs from refrigerator and unwrap.
3. Use a sharp knife to slice the chilled dough into 36 rounds (18 per log). Place rounds on the cookies sheets, leaving space in between each round, and bake for 11 to 12 minutes, or until lightly browned. Transfer to wire racks to cool. Serve at room temperature.
Smoked Salmon Chive DipMakes about 2-1/4 cups
8 ounces cream cheese or goat cheese, softened at room temperature
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
6 ounces chopped smoked salmon
Juice of half a lemon
3 tablespoons minced fresh chives
Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. Transfer to a serving bowl and use as a dip for vegetables or low carb toasts or crackers.
Olive Cheese BitesMakes 36 bites
Full of flavor, you may want to make extra of these irresistible bites.
2 (8-ounce) blocks Monterrey jack or pepper jack cheese
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Black pepper to taste
24 green olives
Cut each block of cheese into 18 cubes and set aside. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes and black pepper. Add cheese and toss to coat. Refrigerate overnight. When ready to serve, place an olive on top of a cube of cheese and skewer with a cocktail toothpick and place on a party platter. Repeat with remaining olives and cheese and serve.
Pesto Turkey MeatballsMakes 36 meatballs
Lean ground turkey or beef can be used for this recipe. Meatballs are filling and nearly carb-free.
1 pound lean ground turkey
1/2 cup low carb breadcrumbs*
1/4 cup store-bought basil or sun-dried tomato pesto
3 tablespoons minced red onion
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon olive oil
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a large mixing bowl, combine turkey, egg, breadcrumbs, pesto, onion, oregano and garlic powder. Roll mixture into 36 meatballs.
2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. In batches, place meatballs in skillet and cook, turning, until all sides are lightly browned. Transfer to a large baking dish and bake for 15 minutes or until meatballs are cooked through.
3. Transfer meatballs to paper towels to drain. Serve with cocktail toothpicks and a low carb sauce of your choice.
*To make low carb breadcrumbs, cut 2 to 3 slices of low carb bread into cubes and bake in a 350 degree oven until dry and lightly toasted. Transfer bread cubes to a food processor and pulse until fine crumbs form.