Spring has sprung! With the arrival of a new season, we are all dreaming of the warmer days to come. While backyard barbecues and trips to the beach are still a long way off, as we say goodbye to winter we are likely to be planning more get-togethers with friends and family. Whether that means Easter dinner, brunch or a cottage weekend, social gatherings inevitably involve food.
I love food. As a dietitian, I also know that one of the challenges associated with social gatherings is ensuring there are healthy, filling and satisfying food dishes that everyone will enjoy. This is a dilemma that often comes up during the holidays, but spring is another great time to revisit some tips to help you get the most out of your social events without compromising your health goals. Remember, keeping on track with healthy lifestyle goals doesn’t mean you have to resort to only eating vegetable sticks at every party!
Tip # 1: Eat nutritious and well-balanced meals before you go out. If you know you will be attending or hosting a social event in the evening, aim to eat healthy meals through the day, with half your plate made up of vegetables. This will ensure you are not ravenous by the time you get to the event, which will help keep you from overindulging when you land in front of an array of delicious-looking food.
Tip #2: Stay Hydrated, the right way. Social events may include alcoholic beverages, but it is important to drink water as well. Alcohol contributes calories to our diet and although a social drink won’t stop you from meeting your goals, these calories can add up more quickly than you may realize. Drink water throughout the event and choose water between alcoholic beverages.
Tip # 3: When you are hosting, you are in control. As you create a menu, choose healthier recipes and think about nutritious ingredient swaps that you can use to boost nutrition in a recipe, such as using Greek yogurt as a base for a chip dip, and serving it with higher fibre chips such as tortilla chips.
Tip #4: Eat your veggies too. Although you don’t have to eat just vegetables to stay on track, it is still important that you always include some on your plate. Vegetables help to fill you up with nutritious fibre – so don’t skip the veggie tray.
Tip #5: Bring a better-for-you dish and watch the portion size.
Bringing a healthy dish to share will mean you will always have something nutritious to munch on among the less healthy options. This simple and delicious Creamy Roasted Garlic and Greens Dip, which can be served with whole grain crackers or pita (or even vegetable sticks!) is a great option. A dish like this, which is packed with flavour, also makes it easier to keep portions modest because it is satisfying even in a small amount.
Creamy Roasted Garlic and Greens Dip
1 head garlic
1 tbsp (15 mL) PC Organics 100% Pure Sunflower Oil
½ tsp (2 mL) salt
2 cups (500 mL) frozen PC Organics Kale, Spinach and Collard Greens Chopped Leafy Greens
Half pkg (250g pkg) cream cheese (1/2 cup/125mL), cubed and softened
½ cup (125 mL) PC Organics 14% M.F. Sour Cream
1 tbsp (15 mL) fresh lemon juice
¼ tsp (1 mL) freshly ground black pepper
Pinch (0.5 mL) cayenne pepper
1. Preheat oven to 425°F (220°C). Trim top of garlic head to expose cloves. Arrange, cut side up, in centre of 10-inch (25 cm) square of foil; drizzle with oil and sprinkle with pinch salt. Fold foil over and seal edges to make packet. Place on baking sheet. Bake until tender and golden, about 45 minutes. Unwrap; let cool 15 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, pulse frozen greens in food processor until finely chopped. Scrape into fine-mesh strainer set over large bowl. Set aside.
3. Wipe out food processor. Squeeze garlic cloves into food processor. Add cream cheese, sour cream, lemon juice, black pepper, cayenne pepper and remaining salt; pulse just until smooth, stopping to scrape down bowl if necessary. Transfer to separate large bowl.
4. Press on greens with back of spoon to squeeze out liquid; discard liquid. Stir greens into cream cheese mixture until well combined.
Chef’s Tip: To soften cream cheese quickly, cut into cubes and arrange in a single layer on a plate. Let stand at room temperature until soft enough for your finger to make an indent in the cream cheese when gently pressed.
Makes about 1½ cups
Per serving (2 tbsp): 45 calories, fat 3 g (2 g of which is saturated), sodium 115 mg, carbohydrate 3 g, fibre 0 g, sugars 1 g, protein 1 g
Recipe source: pc.ca/insiders
Kerri Robichaud is a Registered Dietitian with Atlantic Superstore in Amherst.
Have a nutrition question? Want to book an appointment or shop with the dietitian? Book online at www.atlanticsuperstore/dietitians or contact me by phone at (506) 866-2115 or by email at email@example.com.