11 Ways to Lighten Up Party Food

Calories still count — even when you’re hosting a good-time celebration

Try These Healthy Party Foods

Try These Healthy Party Foods
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Opting for a healthier menu can be an excellent conversation starter, especially if you get creative and have fun with recipes. Lighter food keeps people on the dance floor, minimizes greasy napkins, and leaves everyone feeling better in the morning.

Baked Coconut Shrimp

Baked Coconut Shrimp
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For a healthy twist on a party favorite, try baking your shrimp instead of frying them. It cuts down on calories and greasy fingers. Use a combination of unsweetened coconut flakes, panko, and whole-wheat flour to make your crust more health-conscious.

Cauliflower Pizza

Cauliflower Pizza
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Ever hear of using grated cauliflower to make pizza crust? Well, today’s your lucky day! Cut back on carbs and grains by simply mixing 2 ½ cups grated cauliflower (microwaved until soft) with 1 lightly beaten egg and 2 tablespoons of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Press the dough onto a pizza pan, and voila! You’ve got a healthy crust to top as you’d like.

Cherry Tomato Towers

Cherry Tomato Towers
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Colorful and delicious, these healthy treats are sure to be winners. Cut different colored cherry tomatoes into thirds, trimming and discarding their ends (or saving them for stock, and stack in alternating colors. Combine a half cup of goat cheese, ¾ cup of light mayonnaise, minced garlic, and salt. Top towers with a dollop of aïoli and serve. 

Cracked Black Pepper Chips

Cracked Black Pepper Chips
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Instead of buying greasy fried potato chips, why not make your own for a fraction of the cost (and a fraction of the calories)? Simply slice russet potatoes into ⅛-inch rounds, toss in olive oil, salt, and pepper to taste, and bake at 450 degrees F until crisp. Your tummy and wallet will thank you.

Fruit Skewers with Honeyed Yogurt Dip

Fruit Skewers with Honeyed Yogurt Dip
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Up the aesthetic ante by skewering colorful fruit and placing it around a bowl of sweet, creamy dip that’s better for you than caramel. Simply mix 1 cup of plain yogurt with 1/4 cup of honey (feel free to add a dash of nutmeg, cinnamon, or cloves for a spicy surprise).

Healthy Hot Wings

Healthy Hot Wings
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Skip the frying pan and go straight for the oven when it comes to wings for a healthier version of this game day staple. A couple of bonuses: The drumettes actually tend to stay moister when baked, and post-snack finger-licking promises to be more flavorful sauce and less greasy run-off.

High-Protein Chocolate Chip Cookies

High-Protein Chocolate Chip Cookies
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If you’ve ever wondered if it’s possible to make a chocolate chip cookie healthy, we’ve got a delightful affirmative for you. Consider making cookie dough out of pureed beans. You can use chickpeas or white beans — it’s up to you. Add a little vanilla extract, agave nectar, and peanut butter to sweeten it all up, run it through a food processor, add dark chocolate chips, and bake. A fun party game to follow: see who notices they aren’t regular old cookies!

Jalapeño Popper Dip

Jalapeño Popper Dip
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This spicy kick in the pants won’t make them tighter. Combine Neufchâtel cheese — a lower fat alternative to cream cheese — Greek yogurt, and light mayonnaise to create a creamy dip, then add diced jalapeños to pack in the heat. A little sprinkle of panko bread crumbs on top adds some crunch to this dip that won’t leave you feeling weighed down on the dance floor.

Single-Serving 7 Layer Dip

Single-Serving 7 Layer Dip
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Keep guests from overindulging by creating single servings of spicy Mexican 7 layer dip. Use the same ingredients (consider swapping Greek yogurt for sour cream for a lighter option on the tangy layer), but layer in clear plastic cups instead of a casserole dish.

Spinach Dip

Spinach Dip
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Who doesn’t love a rich, creamy dip while standing around waiting for the grill master’s coals to be ready? Consider swapping out the mayo or cream cheese for Greek yogurt for a lighter version, though. Add a little lemon juice and olive oil to keep the dip smooth and waistline-friendly.

Sweet Potato Fries

Sweet Potato Fries
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Go the baked route for this crowd-pleaser, crispy, salty, and with much less fat,. Cut sweet potatoes into wedges, toss in olive oil and spices — instead of reaching for regular salt and black pepper, try cumin, chili powder, and garlic powder for a Southwestern kick — and bake at 425 degrees F until crisp.