Party Food: Bring a Meatless Appetizer to Your Next Party

October 01, 2013 Entertaining

Celebrations, sporting events, viewing parties... You name an occasion, and it'll feature greasy, meaty, yummy appetizers. It's that same deep-fried, fatty, tasty party food that usually make us feel bloated and regretful after we've eaten one — or maybe a dozen — too many.

Party appetizers don't have to be sinful. There are plenty of meatless options that taste great and are easier on the waistline. Plus, usually they are much quicker, easier and less expensive to prepare.

You can easily substitute a variety of ingredients to reinvent party food recipes without meat. And if you don't call attention to the vegetarian angle, they'll never miss the meat.

You can easily substitute a variety of ingredients to reinvent party food recipes without meat.

Veggies Instead of Swedish meatballs or baby back riblets, opt for raw, fresh-cut carrots, cucumbers, bell peppers or celery to dunk into some dip. It seems simple enough, but veggies are often completely overlooked. The dip's creamy taste, coupled with the crunch of the veggies, is refreshing and satisfying. You won't miss the grease and won't need napkins afterwards, either.

Vegetables on a stick are always a hit, too. Trade out your skewered chicken or beef and make tomato mozzarella skewers. They're just as tasty, just not so greasy.

Don't forget about mushrooms. Their meaty texture is very flavorful and holds up well coupled with bread or stuffed with fillings. Place sautéed mushrooms atop a crunchy bruschetta base for a filling appetizer. Or, turn your mushrooms upside down, fill them with some Gruyere cheese and bake until the cheese is melted.

Beans Without meat in your dishes, you'll need to find a good substitute. Beans fit the bill. They are a low-fat source of protein and very versatile... perfect vegetarian party food. You can simply substitute the meat in your appetizers with beans, and they'll taste just as good. Use cannellini beans instead of chicken to make a hearty bruschetta. Instead of beef sliders, make spicy black bean burgers.

Another option is a 7-layer dip. Don't forget: Dips are simple to make and are refreshing, light appetizers. You can easily make hummus with garbanzo beans and very few other ingredients. You can store your hummus in an airtight container up to three days in advance of serving. Hummus tastes just as good with veggies as it does with chips or sliced, warmed pita bread.

Cheese Take out the mini hot dog from your pigs in blankets and use some fresh cheese to fold into your phyllo dough. Remember, in order to recoup some of the protein lost from the absence of the meat, choose cheeses with low moisture levels.

The bottom line is that meat doesn't have to dictate your party food selection. If you get creative using other ingredients, chances are you'll feel healthier and more satisfied — physically and mentally.

MeetShari Brooks

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