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Global Network

Party Food Makeovers

spinach dipWhether you’re expecting company or going to a holiday gathering, preparing a tantalizing dish is part of the fun. This year, add cancer-fighting ingredients to make your holiday plates healthy.

The heyday of cheese balls and pigs in blankets is over. But favorite hors d’oeuvres can be remade with a few healthier ingredients. Here are some marvelous makeover ideas for hot and cold party foods.

Zu-Rumaki – Instead of bacon, wrap ribbons of zucchini around cooked, shelled shrimp (or cooked chunks of chicken breast). Wash and trim the ends of a zucchini, cut in half and stand wide-ends down on a cutting board. Using a sharp knife, cut each half length-wise into very thin strips. Wrap a strip around each shrimp and secure with a toothpick. Serve with horseradish or tomato salsa for dipping.

Chicken Bites in Blankets – Trade the miniature franks and puff pastry for sautéed chicken breast cut into bite-sized pieces and sautéed in a little olive oil. Cut 8-inch whole-wheat or corn tortillas into 1-inch wide strips. Sprinkle chicken with hot sauce or lemon juice and wrap each piece in a tortilla strip. Secure each piece with a toothpick. Serve with mashed fresh avocado mixed with 2 teaspoons of tomato salsa.

Ricotta Canapés – Instead of full-fat cheese, stir a small container (16 oz.) of part-skim ricotta cheese with 2-3 teaspoons of Italian or other green herbs. Just before serving, spread on low-fat whole-grain crackers and top with a colorful, thin slice of bell pepper (red, yellow or orange), cucumber or radish.

Whole-Wheat Bruschetta – Slice a whole-wheat French baguette (long, thin loaf of bread) diagonally into 1-inch wide slices. Place slices on a baking sheet and toast for 3-4 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove from the oven and brush lightly with olive oil. In a small bowl, combine finely chopped and drained fresh tomato, a dash of garlic powder and 1 teaspoon of dried (or 1 Tablespoon of fresh) chopped basil. Spread 1 teaspoon of tomato topping on each toast slice and sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese.

Crab or Salmon Dip – Instead of melted cheese and mayonnaise, blend 1 cup of drained crab (or less expensive canned and drained wild salmon) with lemon juice, 1 tablespoon each of reduced-fat sour cream and low-fat (“light”) mayonnaise and a dash of paprika. Mix in 1/2 cup of finely chopped, water-packed and drained artichoke hearts. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Swedish Meatballs – Instead of ground beef, combine 1 cup of ground turkey (97 percent lean) with 1/3 cup of whole-wheat breadcrumbs, 1/3 of mashed pinto beans, plus 1 teaspoon of lemon juice and a dash each of parsley, poultry seasoning and freshly ground black pepper (add other favorite seasonings, such as cumin or chili powder, to taste). For a dipping sauce, skip the sugary red currant jelly and use 1 tablespoon each of coarse Dijon mustard and orange juice mixed with a teaspoon of low-fat mayonnaise.

Curried Spinach Dip

Basic Ingredients for Making Healthy Hors D’oeuvres

  • Whole-wheat baguette, crackers, tortillas, pita and/or bread crumbs
  • Variety of fresh raw vegetables (avocados, bell peppers, tomatoes, radishes, cucumbers, zucchini)
  • Canned-in-water artichoke hearts, pimentos
  • Fresh lemon
  • Low-fat plain Greek yogurt or reduced-fat sour cream
  • Part-skim ricotta cheese
  • Reduced-fat mayonnaise
  • Coarse Dijon mustard
  • Hot pepper sauce
  • Canned crab or salmon
  • Skinless, boneless chicken breast, ground turkey, shrimp
  • 1 (9-oz.) microwavable package of baby spinach leaves (uncooked) or 1 (10-oz.) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained and squeezed dry
  • 3/4 cup low-fat sour cream
  • 1/2 cup plain non-fat yogurt
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 2 tsp. curry powder, according to taste
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin, according to taste
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


In medium bowl, combine spinach, sour cream, yogurt and garlic thoroughly with fork. Stir in curry and cumin, combining well. (Or place in food processor and blend until spinach is puréed and mixture is smooth.) Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to container and cover tightly. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving. Bring dip to room temperature before serving.

Makes about 2 cups.

Per 2 tablespoons: 26 calories, 1 g total fat (less than 1 g saturated fat),
2 g carbohydrate, 1 g protein, less than 1 g dietary fiber, 24 mg sodium.

White Bean and Sun-Dried Tomato Dip

  • 1 jar (12 oz.) roasted red peppers, drained
  • 1 can (15 oz.) white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 10 oil-marinated sun-dried tomato halves, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3 Tbsp. low-fat mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp. dry oregano
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. chili powder or dash of cayenne pepper
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Using food processor or blender, process roasted peppers until smooth. Pat beans dry with paper towel and blend with peppers. Add tomatoes, garlic, mayonnaise, oregano, cumin and chili powder. Blend (or use fork to mash) into smooth purée. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Dip is best served at room temperature. Store for up to 3 days, tightly covered, in refrigerator. May be served cold or at room temperature.

Makes 20 servings.

Per tablespoon: 37 calories, 1 g. total fat (less than 1 g. saturated fat),
5 g. carbohydrate, 2 g. protein, 1 g. dietary fiber, 57 mg. sodium.

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Ann Wrenshall Worley

Ann Wrenshall Worley

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