Guest blogger Laura Cipullo, RD, CDE and Mom, has 5 tips for summer entertaining – for fun and healthy parties!
1. Buy less and make less.
In order to save money, eliminate food waste and most importantly, prevent your guests from overeating, serve less food. The average host tends to prepare double the amount of food needed when having guests over. To discourage mindless overeating, calculate 5oz of protein per guest. No need to serve steak, chicken and burgers. Just choose one protein—preferably fish. (Your guests are probably getting red meat at every other summer party they go to anyway.)
2. Pace and portion with a menu.
Let your guests know what to expect in terms of what is being served and when. This will help them to pace and portion their food choices. You can get creative and cute by printing out homemade menus or having the kids make them. Include the appetizers (perhaps blanched vegetable crudités with bean dip), the entrée (like fish kebabs with ears of corn and a wheat berry salad) and of course, a yummy dessert. If you are short on time, use an easel or blackboard to write the menu on for guests to see.
3. Get creative with kebabs.
Kebabs are a fun way to get your guests to eat healthfully. Every bite offers a mix of protein, like shrimp, and some type of produce. Use your imagination by pairing sweet fruits, such as pineapples and strawberries, with peppers or onions. Finish the kebab with a balsamic vinaigrette glaze, and grill up some delicious finger-licking bites that are sure to make your guests smile. Of course, make sure your dressing is made using olive oil or canola oil for heart health. Don’t forget to get your little chefs involved too! Assign children the task of putting the fruit on the kebabs.
4. Plan a fun activity.
Parties should not focus on food! Instead, start a new tradition, and center the festivities on family and friends. To stress this point, be sure to plan a fun activity in between dinner and dessert. Ideas include kids versus adults charades, touch football or even bingo. The goal is to have everyone talking about how much fun they had at your party, not just what they ate.
5. Pick and serve your favorite dessert.
I love dessert—especially chocolate. So of course, I would never skip this much-anticipated portion of the meal. Rather than a tray of sweets, choose one dessert that you and your children can have fun making together, whether a frozen key lime pie to beat the heat or flourless chocolate cake topped with fresh cream and berries. Make sure there is enough for each guest to enjoy one decent size serving, and that’s it. There is no need to serve a fruit salad, cookies, ice cream and a homemade dessert!
Research shows that the bigger the portion we are given, the more food we eat. So, do your family and your guests a favor and follow these 5 tips at your next summer soiree. Enjoy!
Pineapple Shrimp Kebabs
Prep Time: 10 min
Marinating Grill: 10 min
Makes 4 servings
1/4 cup each of reduced-sodium soy sauce, balsamic vinegar and honey
1 garlic clove, minced
1 pound uncooked medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 large red pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 can (8 ounces) pineapple, chunks, drained or fresh
1. In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, honey and garlic. After mixing, set aside 1/3 cup.
2. On eight metal or soaked wooden skewers, thread the shrimp, red pepper and pineapple.
3. Place kebabs in a large Ziploc plastic bag; pour remaining marinade over kebabs. Cover and chill for 1 hour. Cover and chill reserved marinade.
4. Drain and discard marinade.
5. Using long-handled tongs, moisten a paper towel with cooking oil and lightly coat the grill rack. Grill, uncovered, over medium heat or broil 4 inches from the heat for 5-8 minutes or until shrimp turn opaque white; turning and basting frequently with reserved marinade.
(Nutrition Facts: 2 kabobs equals 168 calories, 2 g fat (sat. fat), 138 mg cholesterol, 443 mg sodium, 19 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 19 g protein.)