Social dining doesn’t need to be off the menu when following a healthy eating plan.
Simply invite your friends over and play chef for the evening so you’re in control of what you eat, the ingredients used and how it’s cooked. Choose one of our delicious recipes, and plan and prepare well.
If you would rather eat out, then follow our guide on healthy restaurant options.
THE POWER OF PLANNING
Here are some simple tricks to help you stay on track whilst not letting your guests feel like they’ve come to some kind of health spa for dinner.
Allow your friends to serve themselves from a large platter. This way, everyone can have as much or as little as they like, according to their own appetites. Plus it looks generous and guests can go back for seconds if they fancy.
Finger foods are a great option for the healthy host, because you can have a lovely combination of the rich and not so rich that complement each other. Then you can go for the healthy stuff like vegetable batons and low-fat dips or chicken satay sticks, while other guests can tuck into mini sausage rolls or little pizzas.
GET CLEVER WITH RECIPES
Old fashioned dinners, such as a straight forward roast, are an easy option for you as the host to pick and choose the healthy bits. Also, casseroles and stews, Bolognese and Chilli Con Carne can be made with healthy recipes and be delicious with no one knowing the difference.
Taking out the cream doesn’t mean it all has to be brown rice and boiled vegetables, either. Dinner parties are an excellent way to experiment with traditional dishes, but in a balanced and healthier format. While rewriting the blueprint of a dish doesn’t always work, you can often replace the cream with low-fat yoghurt and the cheese plate with a seasonal fruit sorbet to create new healthy recipes.
The main thing is to be aware when planning a menu that the fat isn’t banking up. You can have one dish that is a little indulgent, but then balance that out with lighter side dishes and perhaps a large salad. A finely shredded cabbage salad with Asian-style dressing, is a good example.
Often, while it may seem like no fun to hold back on cream to drizzle over dessert, the guests will probably be relieved that they don’t have to loosen their belts on the drive home.
Just because it’s fancy and rich doesn’t mean it will be a great success. Often lemon juice squeezed over the vegetables just before serving is just as good as butter.
Some definite red flags to watch out for include sugary drinks, which can go down easily for the busy host, but quickly increase the calorie intake.
Also watch your alcohol intake, as alcohol is very high in calories.
Consider low-calorie beers or spritzers made with soda water and a splash of white wine. Sweet cider and bottles of alcopops are laden with sugar, so it’s best to avoid them altogether.
An alternative is to serve a jug of mineral water with a squeeze of lemon juice, or some pretty pomegranate seeds. Glasses of tonic water, filled to the brim with ice and slices of lime, are a satisfying alterative to the perennial dinner party classic gin and tonic.
THE TASTE TEST
There’s one hard-and-fast rule about eating while cooking… don’t.
You would think the food you eat to taste test amounts to nothing and makes no difference to your weight loss. Wrong.
Try adding every bite you have into your online diary, or put every bite you would have taken into a bowl and see how much it amounts to at the end.
This will shock you enough to make sure you don’t start eating until your guests do!
Watch how to make this Hairy Bikers’ fish with chorizo crust to wow your guests!