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Calorie Count Blog

A Balancing Act

By +Janice D'Agostino on Dec 16, 2011 10:00 AM in Recipes

Moderation. Small helpings. Sample a little bit of everything. These are the secrets of happiness and good health. – Julia Child

The red stoneware bowl immediately drew my eye as the host placed it in the center of the party table. Steam rose from the queso that was made by simply nuking chunks of “cheese product”, a few bits of tomato, and a likely insufficient quantity of chopped jalapenos. Surrounding the slightly chipped bowl was a vast quantity of taco chips cheerily transformed through the magic of food coloring to Christmas red and green.

I love queso, and eagerly anticipated having a few chips loaded to the dripping point at my friend’s party. The healthy member of Calorie Count part of me pursed her Swedish American lips in disapproval at my intent to consume, so willingly, products made of faux foods and asked - can you eat queso and mindfully stay within a reasonable calorie range?

The answer lies within the quote above from The Great Julia. If the party is not a prelude to a dinner, but will consist entirely of a variety of appetizers, all you have to do is sample and taste small servings from the offerings at hand, deliberately not filling up on any one. Oh, I could have filled my first plate with the chips and queso and likely gone back for more. Instead I put two well loaded with "cheese" chips on one side of the petite party plate, and then proceeded to fill the plate with six nuts, a couple pieces of cauliflower drizzled with dip, two whole grain crackers spread with a very interesting carrot concoction, and a some fresh chunks of pineapple.

Treating a plate of appetizers as if it were a nutritionally balanced dinner in miniature is a great way to eat at a party. You can even go back for a refill since you filled your plate so mindfully the first time. At the end of the party give yourself a caloric high five because, instead of moaning about what you can't eat, you enjoyed both the conversational fun and the food culture of the gathering in a moderate and mindful way. New recipes always help, try one of these at your next party!

Fuzzypainter’s Poor Man’s “Shrimp” Cocktail is a wonderful way to eat cauliflower!

Sheila’s Bird on a Wire is a fantastic warm appetizer. The recipe includes directions to make a wonderful dill dip.

With Crazypotato98’s Carrot Cocktail you can have a delicious fancy drink without the alcohol and without all the calories.

Crazypotato98 really knows her way around a carrot, her Curried Carrot Spread is simply outstanding.

Get a little filling protein while you nibble a whole what chip with a spoonful of Claire’s Hot Bean Dip.

Garlic Spinach Dip is a traditional cheesy dip that you can still enjoy because the low fat Neufchatel and spinach keep your calorie count in line and put a smile on your face. Try it on celery and whole wheat crackers.

Balance your appetizer plate with moderate servings of a variety of foods, eat slowly, talk more, and enjoy the party!

Your thoughts….

How do you handle the abundance of food choices when you go to or host a party? What is your favorite appetizer for a party? What sort of crudites do you enjoy the most when dipping into a lovely sauce? What's your favorite sauce? As the holiday party season is going on strong, share your favorite low calorie recipes with your friends at Calorie Count! If you would like to submit a recipe for the CC Palate, pm it to me hereThis article may be reprinted (including bio) with prior permission from the author.


Ooh, a new way to munch cauliflower, yum. Cauliflower dipped in a 3 to 1 mix of mustard & light mayo is one of my favorite go-to snacks. 

Oh, that curried carrot spread sounds fab!  Parties can be difficult, but I agree with your advice, have a little bit of those items that look really good. 

Good advice but I don't always have the willpower to follow it. I love chips & salsa and is an easy appetizer if I'm doing dinner for family, for parties I would bring veggies with a low cal dip. I find non-fat plain yogurt works with most dips. Very good with Fiesta Ranch mix. Also like shrimp with cocktail sauce (watch the calls in sauce as some are very high while others are pretty low.

I had success last night with an hors d'oeuvres I brought to a dinner.  I made fruit kabobs (I used grapes, halved, canned pineapple chunks, cheese nuggets, and strawberries.  I rolled them in coconut and pineapple juice from can.  I usually make them without coconut but it added a festive touch.  Easy and diet wise. 

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