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Christmas Party Food Tips!

Party season is upon us! Your office, your club, your church, your family, your friends – just about everyone you know will be having one sort of party or another. And you know full well that along with good cheer, those parties will be purveying carbs, from cookies and candy canes to chips and canapes – not to mention hot cider and egg nog. You need a plan!

Certain parties are simply hopeless, and therefore best avoided – the Christmas Cookie Exchange, for instance. I can only advise you to wish the hostess well, and invite her to a less carb-centric function.

But most parties can be navigated successfully. How? Here are a few tips:

* If yours is a circle where people pitch in for parties, participate! Wings, deviled eggs, stuffed mushrooms, shrimp with homemade cocktail sauce – there are plenty of super-low-carb foods that will not make your friends think, “Oh. Diet food.”

* Re that cocktail sauce: Spike no-sugar-added ketchup – Heinz makes a good one – with horseradish and lemon juice to taste. Easy. But read the label on that horseradish, too. Sugar sneaks in everywhere.

* Most parties include a relish tray. Cucumbers, celery, cauliflower, broccoli, and green peppers are your friends. The ubiquitous ranch dip is usually low carb, unless it’s the fat-free stuff.

* Cheese is also a party favorite, and it’s satisfying. Have a cube or two.

* Pecans, walnuts, and macadamias are okay, unless they have added sugar. They’re easy to over-eat, though, so watch yourself.

* If pizza is on the menu, try this: Grab a slice of thin crust with plenty of sausage or pepperoni on it. Eat the toppings, discard the crust. The toppings are the good part; the crust is just an edible napkin.

* If the party in question is at your house, and you feel the need to provide chips or other “snack foods” (don’t get me started), buy whichever version you like least. For example, I don’t care about pretzels, while potato chips are my kryptonite. Accordingly, I should serve pretzels.

* See my article about alcohol to help with your libation selection, but beware: A couple of drinks can make you throw your dietary caution to the winds. Know thyself.

* After you greet your friends, scope out the food for low carb options. Make a plate, then walk away from the table. Don’t hang out by the food. Check out the ornaments on the tree. Ask people if they’ve seen the latest movie yet, or if they’ve finished their shopping, or if they got anything cool as a gift, or what their favorite tradition is. Start some caroling, or better yet, dancing. Making merry involves far more than food!

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