Note: Another reader contacted me about writing an article for the site. The last contributed article generated a positive response so here is the second one. This one is about 5 Ways to Host a Healthy Dinner Party. I hope you enjoy this one as well. ~Paul
Dinner parties usually imply a bunch of delicious, but unhealthy food – everything from a juicy steak to a huge chocolate cake, but it doesn’t have to be that way. However, it seems that, these days, people are becoming more concerned about their health, and many are facing different dietary restrictions that can determine the dinner menu. It doesn’t matter if you want to arrange a healthy dinner because of your own habits, or to meet the needs of some of your “health buff” friends, healthy food can taste fabulous, look spectacular and leave your guests begging for more. Remember, not all healthy dinners are the same, and they too should be adapted to your guests’ tastes and needs. Here are five most frequent ways you can host a great, yet healthy dinner party.
For Your Vegan Friends
Veganism is the practice of abstaining from the use of animal products in diet, but it is also linked to a philosophy that denies the right of humans to exploit animals in any way, so before you decide to sprinkle some Parmesan on that pasta, think again, because your vegan friends really mean business. Lucky for you, veggies can be so delicious and so colorful that your guests will be amazed.
Consider crispy roasted cauliflower/baby carrots as a starter to make your guests yearning for more, and then move on to a delicious pumpkin/butternut squash soup. Any kind of grilled veggies, potato and mushrooms will work great as the main course. Still, you should be creative with preparing and serving the dishes. Try to make a vegan alternative to some otherwise non-vegan dish, like chili con carne with no carne, if you know what we mean. For the end, wow them with a great dessert. That can be peanut butter cups, coconut doughnuts made with soy milk, Oreo pancakes (with coconut or almond milk and dark chocolate cocoa powder), peanut butter and banana ice-cream, or chia seed pudding.
For Gluten and Dairy Free Folks
Gluten-free has become quite a buzzword, but the truth is that there are a lot of people who are gluten and dairy intolerant. Now whether your friends are just keeping up with the trends or really have problems with these ingredients, you should do your best to prepare them something gluten and dairy free. Avoid wheat, bread, cereals, rye, barley, licorice, milk, cheese and anything dairy.
Start your dinner with salmon croquettes or fish tacos and some kind of vegetable soup. For the main dish, go for zucchini noodles with creamy avocado sauce, or some classic, like chicken wings or meat loaf. Spice up the classics with something unexpected, such as unusual sweet-sour sauce or fresh herbs. You can try turkey meat loaf as a healthier alternative to classic beef recipe. Besides the new taste, give it a new shape by baking individual portions in muffin moldings. Surprise the guests with flourless chocolate cake or something lighter, like poached pears.
For Your Celiac Crew
Similarly to the previous bunch, for this dinner party you’ll have to stay clear of gluten. People suffering from celiac disease have an autoimmune disorder that can damage the small intestine. Besides being gluten intolerant, people with this disorder often have low tolerance to lactose.
Greet your friends with bruschetta (made of gluten-free bread) with mushrooms, tomatoes or fresh basil. You have a huge choice of great soups, such as lentils, tomato, spinach, chicken, etc. All of these soups could benefit from a surprise element like thyme, shiitake mushroom stems, greens and roasted garlic. For the main dish, you can prepare a portion of hot chili, stew with black beans or try something light on the stomach like salad with grilled chicken. Sweeten up the evening with simple fruit salad, fruit popsicles, lime freeze, no-flour brownies or pumpkin pudding.
Pescetarianism is a diet that includes fish and other seafood, but not meat from other animals. Most of the pescetarians are eating vegetarian food as well as the dairy products with the addition of fish. Even if you make your dinner all about the fish and seafood, you will have no problem in preparing absolutely fantastic meals.
Bruschettas are always the perfect starter. This time you can make smoked salmon bruschetta and complement it with tomato-avocado salsa. Any starter with cheese (e.g. cheese balls with olives) will do fine too. As for the soup, follow your hunch. Any kind of veggie soup will do the trick, but you can also prepare shellfish soup. For the main course, opt for grilled salmon with caramelized potato, stuffed eggplant or vegetable curry. Be creative with the dessert, because, for once, everything is allowed. Just don’t lose sight that this should be a healthy dinner party after all, so don’t prepare cheesecake, banana split or the real-deal chocolate cake. Try the refreshing chocolate mint bars, tropical sherbet, carrot cake, fruit granitas or bourbon glazed peaches with yogurt.
For your Gym Buddies
Hosting a dinner party for a group of gym buffs is not at all easy, especially because not all gym-goers are the same. Some want to build muscle, while others want only to lose weight, and both have special nutrition plans based on those goals. Because you probably won’t go around asking people about their fitness goals, this one time, you should stick to low-calorie and low-fat recipes.
The appetizers should have less than 100 calories. Those can be shrimp cocktail, pickled vegetables or a fine-looking cheese mix. Complement the various kinds of cheese with dried cherries, fresh grapes, and dried figs. The soup should have between 200 and 300 calories, so go for pumpkin or chickpea soup. No one expects you to count the exact number of calories per portion, but keep the main course around 500 calories. Gym goers usually love chicken breasts, so you can grill them, chop them, roast them, and do whatever you like. Just combine them with something healthy and low-caloric like sweet potatoes, eggplant, mushrooms or zucchini. As for the desert, go with some low-carb option, such as chocolate zucchini brownies, no-flour almond cake, grilled peaches and chocolate avocado pudding.
There you have it: a healthy dinner can be delicious. Not only that, it is possible to meet all your friends’ needs and respect their dietary choices or difficulties, while still preparing tasty meals – straight from the starters and all the way to desserts.
About the Author:
Roxana is a travel enthusiast and lifestyle consultant from Sydney and she loves to write about her adventures. She is all about the healthy lifestyle, loves to run with her husband and dogs and has fun cooking exotic meals for her family. Being a typical Aussie, she often hits the waves and loves beaches and sunshine! You can find out more about her writing following her on twitter and facebook. She is also one of the editors at Highstylife Magazine.