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26 Mar

Eat This Today, Feel Better Tomorrow: Special Occasions

Let’s face it. While we may enjoy our day-to-day diet choices, thank you very much, it can seem a little daunting to plan a dinner party, anniversary dinner, cocktail hour, or other special occasion when not everyone shares those choices. Before you break out the French bread, cocktail crackers and buttered fingerling potatoes, here are a few easy alternatives that might satisfy the entire crowd, including you, the host/hostess. No more sitting out at your own party.

Lox on Cucumber

On slices of cucumber, spread a small bit of veggie whipped cream cheese and top with small piece of lox. (Whipped cream cheese: Use food processor to mince 1 red or orange bell pepper and few green onion stalks. Mix in processor with softened block of cream cheese.)

Antipasto Tray

The options are limitless. Include your favorite vegetables and assorted accompaniments. A few favorites: variety of olives, nitrate-free meats, pepperoncinis, cherry tomatoes, pickles, artichoke hearts.

Shrimp Cocktail

What guest can resist a classic? And what cook can pass up something so confoundingly easy? All you need is precooked shrimp and some good cocktail sauce. Fresh lemon juice works nicely as well.

Lamb Chops

Grill lamb chops for 4-5 minutes, and drizzle with mixture of olive oil, salt, pepper and crushed rosemary.

Vegetable Trio

Drizzle washed beets with olive oil, salt and pepper. Wrap in aluminum foil or tent with parchment paper. Roast in 425 degree oven for 45 minutes or until soft. Once cool, cut into strips or wedges and drizzle with white wine vinegar, salt and pepper. Blanch green beans and asparagus for 3 minutes, remove and submerge in ice water. Drain and set aside.

Serve green beans, asparagus and beets together on platter.

Cheese and Fruit Tray

Forget the crackers. Pairing fruits like berries, cherries, pears and apples (or whatever is in season) with a variety of artisanal cheeses is not only tastier but more elegant.

Inspired now? Be sure to check out past MDA recipes, and share your favorites.

citymama, Wendy Copley, sheilaz413, shell belle, *clarity*, desi.italy, roboppy, Jen Chan Flickr Photos (CC)

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  1. Hmmm … although almost all of those choices look yummy to me (I’m as much of a cheese freak as Wallace and Gromit, but I’ll pass on the lamb chops I think), if I were to serve most of the dishes to my rural midwestern family for a special occasion, I think they would all starve. But that is a family who thinks recipes have to start with a can of cream of X soup or velveeta “cheese” and a crockpot.

    Judy wrote on March 26th, 2008
  2. What time’s the party? Looks delish!

    Anna wrote on March 26th, 2008
  3. Judy, I would think the rural midwest would be happy with the lamb chops. I know my wife’s family (rural, union, Illinois & Missouri) would love the shrimp cocktail and would probably enjoy the vegetable trio. They even do things close enough to an antipasto tray that I don’t think they would blink twice at it. It is true, none of them would choose to make something that didn’t start with cream soup or cheese but most of these offerings wouldn’t shock them.

    Sean Carley wrote on March 27th, 2008
  4. It’s not just the rural midwest where people are unadventurous. I was talking to a vegetarian friend in Baltimore last night. He is lacto-ovo and eats some fish, but his lactose tolerance is low. I’ve been trying to encourage him to cut back somewhat on carbs to improve his health, which is quite bad. He is resistant, because he says, “There’d be nothing to eat but eggs!” (Turns out he’s trying to cut back on fish.) I said, “Well, I know a vegetarian trying to cut back on carbs would have less variety than an omnivore. But what about tofu, seitan, tempeh, and plain unsweetened yogurt?” (I knew from past conversations he can tolerate yogurt, though he always chooses the sugary ones.) His response was, basically, ick. Oh, well.

    Migraineur wrote on March 27th, 2008
  5. Oh, I know it’s largely just my family. Really, there is no way most of them would have touched the lamb chops (my dad would have tried anything though). And I guess they would eat the antipasto tray – we used to have something like that at holidays, but certainly not with “nitrate-free” meats.

    My mom, especially, is very food-phobic, and will NOT try anything new. It’s part of the reason I wasn’t too reluctant to move 1,000 miles away from my family – I didn’t want my sons learning their eating habits (like my aunt and uncle, who eat at McDonald’s literally EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.)

    Judy wrote on March 27th, 2008
  6. Don’t most cocktail sauces contain sugar or HFCS? Are there any good do-it-yourself no sugar recipes that still give you that zingy-sweet flavor?

    Moon wrote on March 28th, 2008
  7. I like Dana Carpender’s low carb cookbooks for lots of sauces/dressings. I haven’t bought a bottle of salad dressing in I don’t know how long. I usually make mayo weekly, so that is a base for many dressings/sauces. It’s also not hard to make catsup at home.

    Anna wrote on March 28th, 2008

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