Do you have a healthy eating strategy for big holiday parties?
I have a specific game plan that targets the most volatile UNhealthy areas, roots them out, and front loads with the good stuff so there’s less room for the bad.
I call it the “I’ll bring a few appetizers and a dessert” game plan.
The tactics are so subvert, my opponents don’t even know they’re in a battle, and no one feels badly when I win. Which is good, because they’re family and I love them.
You see, most of the time there are real food options for the main course, especially at a Thanksgiving dinner. A turkey, even if CAFO-raised, is at least meat, not some unknown substance my body doesn’t recognize but I have to eat anyway. Mashed potatoes have a chance at being additive-free. And there are always some genuine vegetables floating around.
The dessert table is always a mess of white flour, white sugar, and trans fat, so for Thanksgiving, I bring a few healthy pumpkin pies. I can ensure healthy fats in the crust plus vegetables, pastured organic eggs, and a small amount of unrefined sweetener in the filling. It’s a great way to redeem dessert.
My Secret Strategy.
But my key positioning is in frontloading the meal. I bring at least two appetizers that I know my kids like and coincidentally forget to tell them to “save room for dinner.” I might even subversively encourage them to pig out on what I brought by quietly serving rather large portions.
It’s like the optimist’s glass half full: if my kids are half full of nourishing foods, I don’t have to worry so much about telling them not to eat the junk.
Over the years I’ve also established a few specialties that are so good, family members request that I bring them again and again. [insert maniacal mastermind laugh here] They’re playing right into my hands! Everyone wins.
Trust me, you want to pin that one.
Other recipes rotate in and out over the years, including homemade potato salad, fresh fruit, and deviled eggs. Lately though I’ve been bringing a little probiotic twist on an avocado dip that looks enough like guacamole to be yummy by association (and then holds its own on pure taste, too!).
- 1 avocado
- ½ c. yogurt cheese (or 4 oz. goat cheese)
- 2-3 Tbs. lemon juice
- (optional) ¼ tsp. lemon zest
- 1-3 cloves garlic
- ½ tsp. salt
- ¼ c. fresh parsley or cilantro (or about 1 Tbs. dried)
- Whiz the garlic in a food processor first, then add the avocado, yogurt cheese, lemon juice and salt. Process everything until smooth.
- Stir in herbs.
- Serve with carrot sticks, sliced bell peppers and other vegetables for dipping.
*If you don't have a food processor, crush the garlic separately and try an immersion blender (found on Amazon) or just mash well with a fork.
*If not serving right away, leave the avocado pit in the dip and try to use a cover that touches the dip to prevent oxidation (browning).
*Adapted from Food with Kid Appeal.
Click for more real food party and pot luck food ideas and pin with me as I collect more real food appetizers and holiday options over the next few months! Here’s my real food Thanksgiving board. I’m wondering about putting some of this dip – or at least just mashed avocado – in a Squooshi for the trip to the party for the littlest one. It would be a fun road trip snack! Here’s my Squooshi board (sponsored) with other squooshable recipes to put in a reusable food pouch.
Do you have a strategy for what you bring to holiday gatherings? Feel free to share links to favorite recipes in the comments so everyone can benefit! (and I’ll try to pin them too)
Disclosure: There are affiliate links in this post to Amazon from which I will earn some commission if you make a purchase. Squooshi is a November sponsor receiving their complimentary mention. See my full disclosure statement here.