With all the holiday gatherings on our calendars this time of year, we bet you’re getting just as bored as we are with the shrimp cocktail, cheese and cracker trays, and chips and dip. If you really want your snackables to shine the next time you offer to bring something, it’s time to think outside the box. Knowing this, we thought we would share a few ideas we came across at the Austin Daily Herald that we love because they can be totally customized to suit your family’s tastes or dietary preferences. Here’s a list of their suggestions, followed by how we plan on spinning them the next time we need a delicious and relatively healthy party nibble.

1. Fruit Salsa – Regular corn chips and salsa from a jar is SO tired. We love the idea of incorporating fruit into a salsa along with some spice from jalapenos or red pepper. Trying dicing up some mango, pineapple, or papaya for a spicy-sweet combo that will definitely surprise the palette. Pair your salsa with a more interesting chip; we love the flavors offered by the Food Should Taste Good Brand. Consider trying their sweet potato, lime, blue corn, or even chocolate varieties!

2. Dips – If we eat one more baby carrot dipped in ranch, we might scream. For a dip that is lighter and fresher, try using Greek yogurt or low-fat cream cheese as a base and adding lots of fresh vegetables and herbs for flavor. Some of our favorites include frozen and thawed spinach, diced cucumbers, carrots, bell peppers, dill, thyme, and basil. Don’t forget salt and pepper to enhance all of those fresh flavors! We like smearing this dip on chunks of pumpernickel bread; the soft bread is a great contrast to the creamy dip and crunchy veggies.

3. Wantons – These little wrappers don’t get nearly as much attention as they should; they are so easy versatile! All you have to do is place the wantons in cupcake or muffin tins, bake, and they’re ready to be filled. We’re considering stuffing them with turkey chili and melted cheese. Better yet, give tuna salad and shredded cheddar a shot and you’ve got mini tuna melts!

4. Drinks – In all seriousness, it’s not a party without beverages. But wine gets a little redundent if you’ve been drinking it since Thanksgiving. If you’re looking for something a little more fun and fruity, we adore Jenna from Eat, Live, Run’s Sparkling Blueberry Lemonade. She uses sparkling water, but for a more adult cocktail, feel free to substitute prosecco or champagne. Check out the recipe here:http://www.eatliverun.com/sparkling-blueberry-lemonade/.

To ensure maximum satisfaction with what you choose to make, be sure to try the recipe at home before the party so that you can adjust it. You don’t want a hundred holiday guests acting as guinea pigs! Whatever you decide, try to have fun and be creative; it will definitely pay off! For more recipe ideas and suggestions for healthy modifications to the recipes you already make, head on over to the ADA website at www.eatright.org. Got a new favorite recipe that was already a hit this holiday season? Tell us about it on Twitter or Facebook: @FamilyFoodLLC!

Source: http://www.austindailyherald.com/2011/12/10/five-ways-to-add-something-new-to-a-party/

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