5 Healthy Holiday Appetizers Your Guests Will Love

Skip the heartburn and hectic holiday hosting by sticking to these tried-and-true appetizer recipes. They’re simple to make and require very little prep

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Asian Turkey Meatballs

The Health Benefits
We all know how a big serving of turkey tends to put even the manliest men to sleep like little babies, but did you know it may also help protect them from cancer? That's because turkey contains selenium, a powerful mineral with unique antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. Though findings have been mixed and additional research is needed, a number of studies suggest that a selenium-rich diet may help reduce the risk of prostate cancer in men. And it's good for women, too, assisting with thyroid function and boosting immunity. Cheers to many more years around the holiday table with Uncle Jerry's inappropriate jokes and Grandpa Joe's big bear hugs.

Recipe
Asian Turkey Meatballs are the perfect make-ahead appetizer. Mix together 1 lb extra-lean ground turkey with 1 beaten egg, 1 minced clove of garlic, 2 tbsp each finely grated onion and whole-grain bread crumbs and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Roll into 24 meatballs and freeze on a parchment-paper-lined baking sheet for at least 2 hours before transferring to a freezer bag. (This can be done up to 3 months ahead.) The night before a holiday party, transfer your meatballs to the fridge to thaw. In the morning, pan-fry in a large non-stick skillet with 1 tbsp olive oil until browned and cooked through. Pop them in the crockpot and cover with 1/3 cup honey, 1/4  cup each reduced sodium soy sauce and ketchup, 2 tbsp brown sugar, 1 tbsp rice vinegar, 1 tsp sesame oil, 2 cloves garlic, and sriracha sauce, to taste. Cook on low for 3 to 4 hours, then serve on toothpicks topped with a sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds and thinly sliced green onion.

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Spiced Nuts

The Health Benefits
A handful of walnuts is a smart cocktail party snack because nuts contain protein and good-for-you fats like omega-3s, as well as alpha-linolenic acid and the amino acid L-arginine, which are consistently linked to a reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. But that's not all walnuts can do: Though walnuts are high in fat and calories, research has shown that adding them to your diet on a regular basis can help lower bad LDL cholesterol by almost seven percent - without causing weight gain. Bring on that nutcracker!

Recipe
Share these Spiced Nuts with your guests. Preheat oven to 300°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a bowl, whisk 1 egg white with 1/2 tbsp water and 1/2 tsp vanilla until frothy. In another bowl, mix 3 cups walnuts with 1/4 cup each white sugar and brown sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon and 1/4 tsp of cloves, nutmeg and ginger. Toss the walnut mixture in the egg white mixture; transfer to the sugar mixture and toss until covered. Spread walnuts evenly on a baking sheet and sprinkle with 1 tsp fleur de sel. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, stirring at least once. Let cool before transferring to an airtight container. (They can be stored for up to 2 weeks.)

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Orange Olive Tapenade

The Health Benefits
It's no wonder that so many soaps and moisturizers contain olive - this little fruit does wonders for our skin. Olives and their derivative, olive oil, offer a solid dose of the fat-soluble antioxidant vitamin E, which plays a vital role in reducing inflammation and damage caused by free radicals to our skin.

Recipe
Your guests will devour this sweet and salty Orange Olive Tapenade. Begin by rinsing 11/2 cups green pitted olives (to remove some of the surface sodium); purée in a food processor with 1/4 cup orange juice, 1 tsp rinsed capers, 1 clove of garlic, the zest of 1 orange, 1/2 tsp fresh rosemary leaves, 2 to 3 tbsp each olive oil and chopped parsley and a pinch of red chili pepper, to taste. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days before serving with water crackers or spreading on whole-grain toast.

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Balsamic Beet Tartare in Endive Leaves

The Health Benefits
We know it as the refreshingly bitter bite in a winter salad, but did you know endive may actually help you eat fewer calories at the buffet? Two cups of the crunchy leaves pack an impressive three grams of fibre, which is consistently linked to greater satiety, fewer calories consumed and a lower BMI. In fact, one review of the literature indicated that, on average, adding an extra 14 grams of daily fibre for more than two days was associated with more than a pound of weight loss in less than a month. That's right: Eating more endive will actually help you eat less overall.

Recipe
Endive leaves are the perfect low-cal scooper for Balsamic Beet Tartare. Cook 1 lb scrubbed beets wrapped in foil and bake at 400°F until tender, about 11/2 hours. Peel and chop roughly before transferring to a food processor and pulsing until the beets reach a tartare-like consistency. Mix with 3 tbsp olive oil, 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, 1 tsp honey, 2 tbsp fresh minced tarragon, the zest of 1 orange and salt and pepper, to taste. Cut off the bottom of the endive head and peel off each individual leaf, arranging them on a pretty plate. Fill with 1 tbsp  beets, a small dollop of plain Greek yogurt (sweetened with honey, to taste) and some crushed pistachios.

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Pumpkin Hummus

The Health Benefits
We know that bright orange colour means it's chock full of vision-supporting vitamin A, but a helping of pumpkin can also help you balance out the effects of too many salty holiday snacks thanks to its high levels of potassium. Research suggests that increasing your potassium intake by the amount found in less than 3 cups of pumpkin can help reduce your risk of hypertension by 21 percent.

Recipe
Whip up a fibre- and protein-packed Pumpkin Hummus. In a food processor, purée 3 cloves minced garlic, 2 cans white beans, drained and rinsed, 1 (15-oz) can of pumpkin purée, 2 tbsp each tahini, lemon juice and olive oil, 1 tsp cumin, and 1/2 tsp each cinnamon, cayenne pepper and salt. Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Meanwhile, line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread with 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds topped with 1/8 tsp each of sweet paprika, cumin and salt. Toast for about 5 to 10 minutes, until slightly browned. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week. Serve the hummus sprinkled with pumpkin seeds and a bowl of baked pita chips and veggies for dipping.