Summer, complete with sunny skies and colorful and delicious fruits and vegetables, is the go-to season to host friends and family for a healthful gathering. Readily available seasonal foods take away the stress and sin of other seasonal parties, and you don’t even have to break a sweat slaving over a stove to make your party perfect. Celebrate your friendships, and toast summertime with an impressively easy and surprisingly nutritious party!
Much like designing any healthful meal, the same rules apply in designing a healthful party. Be sure your party menu includes proteins (skinless chicken breast, tenderloin, lentils, black beans, and tofu are great options), complex carbohydrates (brown rice, corn, and quinoa are versatile grains; Swiss chard, beet greens, and eggplant are nutrient-rich vegetables), and healthy fats (think walnuts, ground flaxseeds, and olive oil). Dish out whole, fresh fruits—served buffet style—with homemade dressings and dips on the side, or serve up a creative, healthful fruit dessert. More color on your serving table translates to more vitamins and nutrients. This combination not only makes your presentation visually appealing but is also packed with high-quality nutrients.
To start, make a marinade or rub for your protein dishes from a complementary blend of dried and fresh herbs and spices like cumin-chili-cilantro or dill-mustard-yogurt. No heavy sauces. Next, toss a simple salad of different-colored veggies, like thinly sliced summer squash and heirloom tomato over leafy greens. Whisk together a light dressing of freshly squeezed lemon juice, extra-virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper. For dessert, consider macerated fruit, like peaches and blueberries drizzled with honey and white balsamic vinegar. This entire combination of foods alone offers a beneficial dose of manganese and vitamin C (to support tissue health), vitamins K (bone density) and A (vision), dietary fiber (colon and cholesterol), iron (oxygen transportation to blood and muscle), and antioxidants (immune system).
When the party’s over, revel in the fact that, quite possibly for the first time for many of your guests, no foods were off limits. Not only will your guests enjoy great company, but they will also enjoy a treat for their body—a healthy party!
- Invite people you love. Create an environment where your guests focus on the food and you focus on your guests. Relax, have fun, and enjoy yourself.
- Accommodate the food limitations of your guests. Estimate the number of vegetarians and non-vegetarians attending your party. Serve ingredients separately to accommodate anyone with special diet requirements. Label each dish to limit guests asking, “What’s in this?”
- Encourage healthy eating. Pack leftover containers with food from the party to inspire guests to continue healthy eating habits after the party. Tuck a printout of your recipes in their take-home bags so they can try their hands at creating their own versions of your healthful dishes at home.