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Start the New Year Right…and Light

Let’s face it…after all the holiday dinners for family, work, and friends over the past couple of weeks, one more big sit-down meal just doesn’t appeal. It’s time to Nosh! Mingle!

Between my research and my perennial “test kitchen,” I’ve found more than a few ideas for tasty New Year’s Eve appetizers. I’ve made these dishes—or similar—before, and while I don’t write down recipes, these are all easy enough to conjure up using your imagination and a light touch.

Start with a traditional shrimp cocktail. Or maybe a shrimp ceviche salad with chilled, crisp cucumber, avocado, red onion and Roma tomato slices, tossed together with drizzled lime juice.

Chips and dip are a must. Try:

  • Black bean dip (toss black beans, chopped onion, fresh cilantro, a clove of garlic, hot peppers, lime juice with chili powder, and cumin in a food processor)
  • Guacamole (avocados, lime juice, cilantro, salt and, if you want, chopped tomatoes, red onion)
  • Red pepper hummus (buy this one—I make it and it’s easy, but you must have sesame tahini, which can be pricey)
  • Salsa, salsa, salsa! (basically tomatoes, peppers, onion, jalapeno to taste, cilantro, cumin, lime and salt and pepper) which is great for you, tasty and very low-calorie with few carbs.

Now about the chips; use sliced veggies—like carrots and celery—instead. And if you really can’t get away from serving actual chips, go for oven-baked varieties.

A filling, meaty—though meatless—appetizer is a veggie-stuffed mushroom. Easy enough; it’s just the doing: combine olive-oil sautéed garlic and shallots with your favorite fresh herbs, a grain like couscous or quinoa—or use crushed nuts—diced peppers, and chopped leafy greens (spinach or kale). Then spoon it into mushroom caps and bake, usually around 25 minutes at 400 degrees. The potential varieties are endless.

All of these are fairly uncomplicated and not big time-suckers. And there are limitless other recipes online—like here at LiveStrong—so make them at home: fresher, cheaper, and likely tastier.

The National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) has an awesome free, downloadable cookbook with low-calorie, low-carb, heart-healthy whole food recipes. The Mediterranean Kabobs would be great for New Year’s Eve. Or the Baja-Style Salmon Tacos. And the Chicken Quesadillas with Red and Green Salsa sound yum.

Happy (light) New Year!

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Written by Ellyn Santiago

Ellyn Santiago

An award-wining investigative journalist for more 30 years, one of the things I never really wrote about was health, wellness, and fitness. Ironically, I've been overweight my whole life so I know diets. Intimately. And, having been a​n editor and writer for a​ fitness magazine ​recently, I learned a thing or 10. Now, I'm committed to exploring the many weight loss options out there to try to help folks make good choices.

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