One of my favorite things about the holiday season is the frequent gatherings with friends and family over delicious food. Yet often when I attend receptions and parties, I am disappointed by how few vegetarian appetizers are available. Plan a delicious spread for everyone to enjoy at your next holiday fiesta and serve healthy vegetarian hors d'oeuvres.
Meatless finger-foods are not just for vegetarians. Reducing your meat intake cuts fat from your diet and can reduce your risk of diet-related diseases like diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. Much of what makes meatless dishes sabroso are flavorful fruits and vegetables, which should make up at least ½ of what you eat.
Even non-vegetarians will want seconds of these healthy, meatless snacks:
Natalie’s Favorite Meatless Party Appetizers
- Salsa and guacamole with tortilla chips: Not only are these dips with sabor Latino delicious crowd-pleasers, they are made with fresh vegetables and are good for you! Avocados provide healthy fats your body needs while tomatoes, onions, garlic, and lime are full of vitamins. Check out my guacamole recipe in Labor Day Meatless Monday: Fresh Guacamole Recipe and my homemade salsa receta in Meatless Monday: My Suegra’s Homemade Summer Salsa. Keep this starter healthy by choosing baked chips without added salt.
- Colombian patacones with hagao sauce: These fried green plantains are sabroso and easy for guests to grab as I share in Meatless Monday: Colombian Independence Day Patacones with Hogao Sauce. Cook plantains in olive oil and go easy on the salt to keep this dish low in sodium and fat.
- Veggie empanadas: Savory pastries are fun to make and great to eat. Try the potato empanada recipe I share in Meatless Monday: Costa Rican Potato Empanadas, or experiment with other meatless fillings like cheese and mushrooms, black beans and rice, or corn and mixed veggies.
- Fresh fruit: Add natural sweetness to your spread with a platter of bite-sized mango, apples, grapes, strawberries, melon, and pineapple or any combination of your favorite frutas. For extra flavor, serve with sweet yogurt-based dip like this one.
- Vegetable tray: You can’t make a healthier choice than fresh, raw veggies! Chop tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, carrots, squash, and celery and serve with healthy homemade garlic or roasted red pepper hummus instead of high-fat dips like ranch and peanut butter.
- Bruschetta: A whole grain baguette drizzled with olive oil and topped with a tomato mixture is a fresh and nutritious appetizer. I love to serve the tomato basil bruschetta recipe I share in Meatless Monday: End-of-Summer Tomato and Basil Bruschetta Recipe.
A table of flavorful appetizers is a great way to bring people together and can be a smart way to prevent overeating later at the dinner table. Make healthy choices to avoid holiday weight gain and steer clear of cheese platters, eggnog, and other dairy-based snacks that can be high in fat and calories.
Remember--even healthy foods should be enjoyed in moderation. It’s easy to overindulge when good food is abundant and conversation keeps you from paying attention to what you eat. Stand far from the food table and use small plates so you don’t pile on too many treats, as I suggest in Meatless Monday: Latino Holiday Desserts.
Everyone loves mingling over good food. Make it easy for you and all of your guests to make smart choices this season and serve healthy vegetarian appetizers.
¿Need Meatless Monday inspiration? Click here to read more of my recipes.
A teacher by day, The Wise Latina Club’s Natalie Wagner Fierro is the co-founder of the Institute for Student Health. She equally loves food (cooking or dining in Washington’s restaurants) and burning calories by distance running, practicing yoga, and archery. Click here to read more about and connect with Natalie.
Edited by: Viviana Hurtado, Ph.D.What are your favorite meatless appetizers?