6 Healthy Options to Bring to Holiday Work Parties

Everyone understands that the holiday season is full of treats and sweets that many people find hard to resist. Cookies and cakes are everywhere – holiday parties, church potlucks, family get-togethers – and offices and workplaces are especially known as Christmas calorie nesting grounds. Not only are coworkers always bringing in leftover treats, offices also hold parties and potlucks to treat their colleagues during the season, often resulting in work slacks fitting just a little too tight.

This year, if you don’t think you can resist the sweets but also don’t want to go up a pants size, consider bringing your own healthy option to the office holiday potluck. Just because your contribution is healthy doesn’t mean it has to be tasteless, and with one of these 6 highlighted recipes, you won’t even have to go home with any leftovers. Your waistline and your fellow health-conscious coworkers will thank you.

Quinoa salad

Source: iStock

1. Quinoa Salad with Black Beans and Mango

Starting off on the side dish front, our first highlighted recipe from Food.com actually comes from the cookbook, Veganomicon, known as a basic food bible for vegans. This dish, Quinoa with Black Beans and Mango, is perfect for your holiday lunch potluck because not only is it healthy and satiating (regardless of whether you’re a vegan), it’s also red and green. The salad takes only 30 minutes to prepare, is easily transportable, and can be sold warm or cold. Merry Christmas to you.

Ingredients:

  • 1 mango, peeled and diced small
  • 1 red pepper, seeded and diced as small as you can get it
  • 1 cup chopped scallion
  • 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa, cooled
  • 1½ cups black beans, drained and rinsed (a 15-ounce can)

Directions: Combine the mango, red pepper, scallions, and cilantro in a mixing bowl. Add the red wine vinegar, grapeseed oil, and salt and stir to combine. Add the quinoa and stir until everything is well incorporated. Fold in the black beans. Serve immediately or let it sit to let flavors marinate.

macaroni and cheese, casserole

Source: iStock

2. Spaghetti Squash Mac n’ Cheese

Spaghetti Squash Mac and Cheese is another savory dish you should consider serving your coworkers this year. Everyone likes mac and cheese, and this lightened-up version will (surprisingly) delight even the most mainstream of eaters. Spaghetti squash is full of vitamins, minerals, and fiber, and it’s low in calories, as highlighted by Livestrong, whose website verifies that one cup of the good stuff only yields 42 calories and 10 carbs. You really can’t top that, and when you top the squash with cheddar cheese and parmesan, you can’t even taste how healthy it is. Follow this recipe from Pop Sugar for Spaghetti Squash Mac and Cheese and get ready to have a lot of recipe requests on your hands. All of your colleagues will want to know the secret to eating mac and cheese but maintaining your waistline, too.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large spaghetti squash
  • Canola oil spray
  • 2 cups broccoli florets, steamed
  • 1 tablespoon ghee
  • 1 tablespoon whole-wheat flour
  • 1 cup low-fat milk
  • 1 cup reduced-fat cheddar cheese
  • ½ cup grated parmesan
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional garnish
  • 1 teaspoon grated parmesan, optional garnish

Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut spaghetti squash in half, and scoop out and discard seeds. Spray the center of both halves of squash with cooking spray, and place cut side up on a cookie sheet. Roast until tender when pierced with a knife, about 50 minutes. Remove squash from oven, and let cool. Once it’s safe to handle, scrape flesh into a large bowl. Add in steamed broccoli florets to bowl and set aside.

In a large saucepan, melt ghee on medium heat and whisk in whole wheat flour. Add milk and whisk quickly. Turn heat down to low, add both cheeses to saucepan, and stir until melted. Remove from heat. Pour cheese sauce over spaghetti squash and broccoli mixture, and toss until all the squash is covered. Dish into four portions.

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

3. Lightened-Up Deviled Eggs

A healthy spin on deviled eggs is next. This dish by Bobby Deen, via the Food Network, feeds a crowd and can be made well ahead of time. Everyone loves their deviled eggs, but not everyone wants to consume large amounts of mayo, so this recipe yields a finger food that is the best of both worlds. Subbing out some of the mayo for Greek yogurt, you’ll get a punch of protein with their deviled eggs, along with a punch of flavor. Instead of going right for the cookies, stir your coworkers to the healthy side with these deviled eggs instead.

Ingredients:

  • 12 large eggs
  • ¼ cup plain nonfat Greek-style yogurt
  • ¼ cup chopped pickles, such as Rick’s Picks Low Sodium Classic Sours
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • ¼ to ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ to ½ teaspoon paprika spice blend, such as Paula Deen’s
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika brine from pickled okra
  • 3 tablespoons sliced pickled okra

Directions: Place the eggs in a single layer in a saucepan with enough cold water to cover; bring to a boil over high heat. Immediately remove from the heat. Cover and let stand 15 minutes. Drain, and then run under cold running water.

Peel the eggs and halve lengthwise. Remove the yolks and add to a bowl. Add the yogurt, pickles, mayonnaise, mustard, cayenne, paprika spice blend, and brine, and mix thoroughly.

Spoon the mixture into the egg white halves. Place the eggs on a plate, garnish with the pickled okra, cover loosely with plastic wrap and chill until ready to serve.

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

4. Creamy Cabbage and Fennel Coleslaw

Coleslaw may seem like a summer bite, but the star ingredients in this dish from Better Homes & Gardens are actually in season now. Get your cabbage and fennel while they’re cheap at the farmer’s market and make this coleslaw for your work holiday gathering. It’s easy, crowd-pleasing, and can be served at warm temperature. Thanks to the creaminess of this dish, your coworkers won’t even know you’re serving up health food.

Ingredients:

  • ⅔ cup mayonnaise or salad dressing
  • ¼ cup buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups shredded green cabbage and/or red cabbage
  • 1 cup shredded carrots (2 medium)
  • 1 medium fennel bulb, cored and thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup chopped red onion
  • ¼ cup snipped fresh parsley
  • Salt
  • Ground black pepper

Directions: For dressing, in a large bowl stir together mayonnaise, buttermilk, vinegar, sugar, horseradish, and the ¼ teaspoon salt. Add cabbage, carrots, fennel, onion, and parsley. Toss to coat. Cover and chill for 2 to 24 hours before serving. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper. Stir before serving.

Vegetable tray, broccoli, dip

Source: iStock

5. Crudités with Buttermilk Peppercorn Dip

And you can’t go wrong with fresh veggies, so if you’re at a loss for what to bring to your potluck and don’t have a lot of time on your hands, go with crudités with this Buttermilk Peppercorn Dip from Martha Stewart. You’ll be surprised by how popular raw veggies can be, especially during the holiday season when everyone else is also in a perpetual sugar coma. The dip couldn’t be easier and the vehicles for it couldn’t be healthier.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon plus ½ teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces haricots verts, or wax beans
  • 16 ounces thin asparagus
  • 1 pound, 10 ounces celery
  • 1 small jicama (about 5 ounces)
  • 1 medium cucumber, peel on
  • 2 bunches scallions
  • 12 ounces carrots
  • 1 medium yellow squash (about 5 ounces)
  • 1 medium zucchini (about 6½ ounces)
  • 1 medium daikon (about 12 ounces)
  • 12 cherry tomatoes
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons nonfat buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon coarsely ground mixed peppercorns, (black, pink, green)
  • 2 teaspoons minced chives
  • ½ teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 large shallot, minced

Directions: Prepare a large bowl of ice water, and set aside. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and add 1 tablespoon salt. Trim beans, and place in the boiling water. Blanch until the color becomes bright green, 15 to 25 seconds. Use a slotted spoon to transfer beans to the ice bath to cool. When cool, remove them from the ice water, pat dry with a paper towel, and set aside. Trim woody ends from asparagus, and immerse in the boiling water. Blanch until bright green, about 30 seconds; transfer to the ice bath to cool. Remove them from the ice water, pat dry, and reserve.

Separate celery stalks, and wash thoroughly. Using a vegetable peeler, peel away any tough, stringy fibers from the outside of each stalk. Trim the bottoms and tops off each stalk, and set aside. Peel jicama, and cut into ¼-inch matchsticks, measuring 3 to 5 inches in length. Set aside. Wash cucumber very well, and cut in half (if using regular cucumbers); cut cucumber into spears, and set aside. Trim scallions to 9-inch lengths, and set aside. Wash and peel carrots, and cut lengthwise into strips measuring ¼ inch in diameter. Set aside.

Wash squash and zucchini very well, and cut into 1/16-inch-thick slices lengthwise, preferably on a mandoline. Peel daikon, and cut into 1/16-inch-thick slices lengthwise. Set aside all the slices, covered with a damp towel, until serving time. Wash and dry cherry tomatoes. Set aside.

To make dip, combine sour cream, buttermilk, pepper, chives, thyme, shallot, and remaining ½ teaspoon of salt in a medium bowl, and stir well to combine. Set aside. Place beans, asparagus, celery, jicama, cucumbers, and carrots in serving glasses. Roll up squash, zucchini, and daikon strips, and place on the serving platter with the other vegetables. Place tomatoes in a bowl or glass. Serve crudites with dip on the side.

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

6. Broccoli Bacon Salad

Last, but not least: Broccoli Bacon Salad highlighted by Delish.com. While broccoli might not be the biggest party food, bacon’s involved in this dish, too, and bacon makes everything better, even the green stuff. Your coworkers will see this green and red salad and come running. It’s seasonal looking and seasonal tasting – even cranberries play a role. Eat healthy at work so you can enjoy treats at out-of-office parties.

Ingredients:

  • 1 clove(s) garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup(s) low-fat mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup(s) reduced-fat sour cream
  • 2 teaspoon(s) cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon(s) sugar
  • 4 cup(s) finely chopped broccoli crowns
  • 1 can(s) (8-ounce) sliced water chestnuts, rinsed and chopped
  • 3 slice(s) cooked bacon, crumbled
  • 3 tablespoon(s) dried cranberries
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste

Directions: Whisk garlic, mayonnaise, sour cream, vinegar, and sugar in a large bowl. Add broccoli, water chestnuts, bacon, cranberries, and pepper; stir to coat with the dressing.

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