West Michigan Moves: Simple Swaps for holiday appetizers

  • Dip into a healthy new year
    • Healthy spinach and artichoke dip:
      • Simple swap(s):
        • Use a combination of low fat and fat-free cream cheese, as well as non-fat, plain, Greek yogurt for ~60% lower calories and ~80% less fat.
        • Double the artichoke amount for higher veggie and fiber content. Use frozen spinach for a time/convenience factor.
      • Recipe: Healthy spinach and artichoke dip
        • Ingredients:
          • 2 (14 oz) cans artichoke hearts, drained and coarsely chopped
          • 1 (10 oz) package frozen spinach, thawed, drained and squeezed dry
          • 1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
          • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
          • 1 cup low-fat Greek yogurt
          • 1 (8 oz) block 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened and cut in 1/2" cubes
          • 1 (8 oz) block fat-free cream cheese, softened and cut in 1/2" cubes
          • 4 cloves garlic, minced (1 tablespoon)
          • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
          • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
          • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced (optional garnish)
        • Directions:
          • Slow cooker method: Coat the slow cooker with cooking spray. Add all ingredients except the red bell pepper. Stir to combine, cover and cook until heated through. 1-1/2 to 2 hours on high, 3 to 4 hours on low. Recipe may be doubled.
          • Oven Method: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Set aside half of mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. In a large bowl, stir together all remaining ingredients but the red bell pepper. Spoon mixture into greased or sprayed 1-1/2 to 2 quart baking dish. Sprinkle top with remaining cheeses. Bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes or until bubbly and golden.
            • To serve: Sprinkle cooked dip with diced red pepper, if desired. Serve warm with crackers, tortilla chips, pita chips, crostini, or raw veggies.

Avoid getting nutty this holiday...

  • Serve air-popped popcorn instead of nuts.
    • Simple swap(s):
      • This holiday season, try serving air-popped popcorn instead of nuts. One half cup of nuts is almost 9x more calories than a half cup of popcorn.
      • Popcorn is a great whole grain snack and great source of dietary fiber.
      • Try fun, new variations of popcorn flavors, such as ginger and wasabi, parmesan and truffle oil with parsley, and paprika and chili powder.
    • Recipe: Chili-Garlic Popcorn
      • Yields: 5- 2 cup servings
      • Ingredients
        • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
        • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
        • 1 teaspoon onion powder
        • 1 teaspoon chili powder
        • 1 teaspoon chipotle powder
        • 10 cup freshly popped popcorn
        • 2 tablespoons olive oil
      • Preparation
        • Mix garlic salt, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder and chipotle powder in a bowl.
        • Toss popcorn with oil. Sprinkle spice mixture over it; toss again to evenly coat. Transfer to a large bowl and serve, or let cool and store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Get creative with your meatballs—

  • When making meatballs, mix half of your ground beef with cooked lentils to lower calories and fat content.
    • Simple swap(s):
      • Reduce the amount of ground beef by half and add cooked lentils in your meatball recipe to provide up to 20% fewer calories and ~40% less fat.
      • If convenience or time is a factor, check to see if there are pre-cooked lentils available in the produce section at the grocery store.
    • Recipe: Spiced Beef and Lentil Meatballs:
      • Prep time: 20 mins, Total time: 50 mins, Servings: 12-14 meatballs
      • Ingredients:
        • ¾ lb (341 g) lean ground beef
        • 1 cup (250 ml) cooked green lentils
        • ½ cup (125 ml) finely chopped onion
        • 2 garlic cloves, minced
        • ½ cup (125 ml) bread crumbs
        • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
        • 1 tsp (5 ml) dried thyme
        • 1 tsp (5 ml) dried oregano
        • 1 tsp (5 ml) salt
        • ½ tsp (2 ml) ground black pepper
        • 3 Tbsp (45 ml) canola oil
      • Directions:
        • Preheat oven to 400*F.
        • Combine all of the ingredients (except oil) in a large bowl and gently mix until combined.
        • Form into golf ball sized meatballs, about 1 ½ inches in diameter. Arrange on a tray. Should make about 12-14 meatballs.
        • Set a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the oil. Let it warm for 30 seconds. Add half of the meatballs and brown on all sides. Remove to a paper towel lined plate. Repeat with remaining meatballs.
        • Arrange meatballs on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, or until thermometer reads an internal temperature of 160F.

Indulge the right way—

  • Don't let baked goods debunk your diet!
    • Simple swap(s):
      • Use unsweetened applesauce to replace half or more of your margarine, shortening, or oil in your baked goods for ~50% less calories and fat.
    • Recipe: Gingerbread Cookies
      • Prep: 1.5hrs, Total Time: 3.5hrs, Servings: 90
      • Ingredients:
        • ½ cup unsalted butter plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
        • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
        • 1 cup light brown sugar
        • 1 egg
        • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons molasses
        • 2 1/2 cups Gold Medal™ all-purpose flour
        • 2 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
        • 1/2 teaspoon kosher (coarse) salt
        • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
        • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
        • 2 teaspoons ground cloves
        • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
        • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
        • 2/3 cup granulated or coarse sugar
        •  Directions:
          • In large bowl, beat butter and brown sugar with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in egg and molasses. Stir in remaining ingredients except granulated sugar. Cover; refrigerate at least 2 hours.
          • Heat oven to 350°F. Line cookie sheets with cooking parchment paper or silicone baking mat. In small bowl, place granulated sugar. Shape dough into 1-inch balls; roll in sugar. On cookie sheets, place balls 2 inches apart.
          • Bake 8 to 10 minutes or just until set and soft in center. Cool 2 minutes; remove from cookie sheets to cooling racks. Store tightly covered up to 1 week.

Don't drink your diet away

  • Calories can add up from beverages, not just food alone. Keep an eye on your added calories from alcohol and high-calorie drinks.
    • Simple swap(s):
      • Try a different twist on eggnog with a "golden milk" recipe below for 74% or ~ 200 less calories and 28 less grams of sugar.
      • Make a wine spritzer using 3 oz white wine and 2 oz club soda or carbonated water to keep your head clear during holiday parties and to cut back on ~40%/~50 calories.
    • Recipe: Golden milk
      • Prep time: 2 mins, Cook time: 3 mins, Total time: 5 mins
      • Yields: 2 servings
      • Ingredients:
        • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
        • ½ tsp turmeric, ground
        • 1 tsp honey
        • 1/8 tsp cinnamon, ground
        • 1/8 tsp ground ginger (optional)
        • Pinch of black pepper
        • Pinch of sea salt
      • Directions:
        • Mix all ingredients together in a bowl.
        • Next, pour into a small sauce pan and heat for 3-5 minutes over medium heat until hot (without boiling)
        • Drink immediately.

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