Quick and Easy Appetizers and Salads for Holiday Guests

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Appetizers and salads are a quick and easy way to add healthy vegetables to holiday meals. Many holiday tables are laden with starches like bread, potatoes, and stuffing but light on the vegetables. Healthy appetizers and salads are a great alternative.

Greet guests with appetizers

With a little practice, you can knock off any of these appetizers in a relatively short amount of time:

  • Hummus Dip: Whirl in a blender until smooth a 16-ounce can of drained chickpeas, 1 clove garlic, 1/4 cup sesame seeds, the juice and grated peel of 1 lemon, 1/2 cup water, and salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Serve on triangles of toasted pita or with assorted raw vegetables.

    [Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/Elena Elisseeva]
    Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/Elena Elisseeva
  • Sun-Dried Tomato Spread: Whirl sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, and onions in a food processor or blender with enough oil to moisten into a coarse spread. Season with white pepper and serve on Melba toast rounds.

  • Sweet Mustard Chicken Kebobs: Thread thin strips of boneless chicken and cherry tomatoes on skewers (if skewers are wooden, soak them first for 30 minutes in water). Grill or broil about 2 minutes a side or until done, brushing at the last minute with store-bought honey mustard. Serve hot.

Don't forget the salads!

Salads are often overlooked in the meal-planning process, but they set the tone for the entire meal, so don’t forget to think about what kind of salad you want to serve. A basic mixed green salad goes well with any dish, but you can quickly create one of your own salads from these simple combinations:

  • Tomato, Red Onion, and Basil Salad: Slice ripe, red tomatoes 1/4-inch thick and layer on a platter with diced red onion and 4 or 5 large chopped fresh basil leaves. Drizzle with oil and vinegar and season with salt and pepper.

  • Red and Green Pepper Rice Salad: Combine about 3 cups cooked white rice with 1 cup cooked green peas and 2 cups seeded, cored, and chopped red, green, or yellow peppers (or any combination of colors). Toss with enough herb-vinaigrette dressing to moisten the ingredients sufficiently, add salt and pepper to taste, and chill before serving.

  • Cherry Tomato and Feta Cheese Salad: Toss 1 pint cherry tomatoes, rinsed and sliced in half, with 4 ounces crumbled feta cheese and 1/2 cup sliced, pitted black olives. Season with vinaigrette dressing to taste.


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