Snacks and appetizers can be your best friends or worst enemies. The key is choosing foods that satisfy without unwanted calories.
September 13, 2013
1 of 17Photo: Oxmoor House
Lighten Up, Snacks & Apps!
We love to nibble, but so many favorite snacks are loaded with excess calories and fat. Our versions transformed those foes to friends, and they're so good that it's easy to turn down the old deep-fried, fat-packed, too-creamy snacks and appetizers we craved before.
First on the menu is a potluck staple: Deviled Eggs.
To keep these portable snacks from turning on their sides when serving, use a deviled egg tray. Especially in vogue during the 1940s and ’50s, when specialized serving dishes could be found in a variety of china patterns, deviled egg plates are still quite common today.
The plump little love children of battered fresh cheese and a deep fryer, fried cheese curds are a midwinter favorite of beer-and-cheese states from Iowa to Wisconsin. This recipe, which substitutes string cheese for the curds and baking for the frying, is a lighter variation.
Order this warm, creamy, and cheesy dish in most American chain restaurants and you could be looking at nearly a day’s worth of calories! Not so here; my version has fewer than 150 per serving. Assemble the dish up to two days ahead and bake just before serving. Serve with tortilla chips, pita chips, or sliced baguette.
4 of 17Photo: Jennifer Causey Styling: Heather Chadduck Hillegas
Grilled Stuffed Jalapeños
The rich and creamy combination of bacon, cream cheese, and cheddar nicely contrasts the muted spice of the grilled jalapeños in these poppers. You’ll never guess these are lightened up! That’s why this recipe—a healthy, fresh alternative to the popular breaded and fried snack—is one of our favorite appetizers to make.
Brooklyn Piggies, a food stand in Brooklyn, NY, serves up a version of this 1950s American cocktail appetizer that’s parallel to none. Light, flaky puff pastry encases quality sausage to create one of America's favorite indulgences. At home, substitute pizza dough for the puff pastry and turkey dogs for the sausage.
Guacamole was concocted by the Aztecs over 400 years ago. Since then it has become an American party-food favorite and restaurant menu staple. Tortilla chips are the natural accompaniment, but you can also serve it with veggies like jicama, bell peppers, and radishes.
Cheese balls were originally the tangy result of a collection of leftover cheeses. Modern riffs have since become more selective, adding high-quality cheeses, herbs, and even dried fruits to the mix. This recipe is a lighter interpretation of the retro-chic dish.
An increase in immigration from Southeast Asia over the past 20 years has made dishes like this more popular, especially in urban centers. The ingredients for this dish can be easily purchased at your local market. Lean pork, low-sodium soy sauce, and plenty of fresh vegetables make these a great low-carb, low-calorie snack at any time of the day.
Look for sweet chili sauce on the ethnic aisle at most supermarkets, or in Asian grocery stores. Dark sesame oil and lower-sodium soy sauce deliver tremendous flavor with less sodium and saturated fat.
This dish is a happy-hour favorite. Keep it lean by baking instead of frying the shrimp. Stand them upright on the baking sheet so they brown and cook evenly—and so you don’t have to worry about turning them.