DETROIT -- Is it possible to set out great snacks and trim back fat and calories?
According to a recent survey by the National Restaurant Association, 42 percent of Americans say they want healthful foods on their party tables.
Do you love chicken wings? Bake them. "But keep in mind -- they are still the fattiest part of the chicken," says Bethany Thayer, a wellness manager at Henry Ford Health System and spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Or try Boneless Buffalo Chicken Wings made with leaner chicken tenders.
For dips, Thayer advises using low-fat or fat-free cream cheese, mayonnaise and sour cream. Also, try plain nonfat Greek yogurt. Its custardy texture and tangy flavor make a good match for dips.
Thayer also recommends keeping in mind the U.S. Department of Agriculture's My Plate guidelines.
"Offer half of your choices as fruits and vegetables, making some healthy dips to go with them," Thayer says.
And if you plan on pizza, load it up with vegetables, she says.
Joe Nader, executive chef for Levy Restaurants at Ford Field, knows people are still doing the New Year's diet in February. He likes meatballs because "you can eat just one, or three or four." But his Chicken Verde Meatballs are made with ground chicken instead of beef or pork. And even though the recipe calls for cheese and heavy cream, both are used sparingly.
"You're getting a meatball that's more fun and leaner and healthier," Nader says. "And it's something you can do ahead of time and they hold well."
Chicken Verde Meatballs
Makes 32 meatballs. Prep time: 35 minutes (plus chilling time). Total time: 1 hour. You can make these meatballs smaller than 1 ounce if you choose. Look for Cotija cheese in the specialty cheese section of grocery stores. Cotija is a crumbly, salty cheese similar to feta. Adapted from Joe Nader, executive chef at Levy Restaurants, Ford Field, Detroit.
1 large egg
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
6 whole-corn tortillas (6-inch size)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, peeled, diced small
1 large poblano pepper, diced
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon dried oregano (Mexican, if desired)
1 1/2 pounds ground chicken breast
1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves
1/2 cup grated Cotija cheese
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
1 to 2 tablespoons canola oil
Salsa Verde (recipe below)
COMBINE in a blender or food processor fitted with the steel blade the egg, cream and tortillas and purée till smooth.
HEAT olive oil in a medium-size sauté pan. Add the onion, poblano pepper, cumin and oregano; sauté until soft. Let cool.
PLACE in a large bowl, the ground chicken, cilantro, cheese, salt, pepper, tortilla mixture and onion mixture. Mix well, but do not overmix. Refrigerate for 30 to 40 minutes to let flavors come together.
(If desired, take a small amount and form into a patty to sample. Sear in a sauté pan till fully cooked and taste to ensure that seasonings are correct.)
SCOOP 1-ounce (or smaller) portions using a small ice cream or cookie scoop to give yourself a consistent measure. Once you have scooped out all of the mixture, roll the balls in your hands to make them uniform in shape.
HEAT oven to 350°.
HEAT 1 tablespoon canola oil in a large skillet. Working in batches and adding more canola oil as necessary, place the meatballs in pan and sear them on all sides to get a nice brown crust. Once all meatballs are seared, place them in a baking dish and finish in the oven for about 10 minutes or until cooked through. Add Salsa Verde Sauce to meatballs and let simmer on low heat on the stove for 30 minutes.
Nutrition information: Per 1 chicken meatball (about 1 1/4 ounces): 51 calories (42 percent from fat), 3 grams fat (1 grams saturated fat), 3 grams carbohydrates, 5 grams protein, 229 milligrams sodium, 24 milligrams cholesterol, 1 gram fiber.
Makes 2 1/2 cups. Prep time: 15 minutes. Total time: 45 minutes. Adapted from Joe Nader, executive chef at Levy Restaurants, Ford Field, Detroit.
2 cans (26 ounces each) whole tomatillos, drained
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
1 serrano chili, stemmed, seeded, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, peeled, chopped
1 to 2 tablespoons sugar
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce with 1 tablespoon of the sauce, chopped
1 cup water
Juice of 1 fresh lime
1 to 2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream (optional)
3 green onions, washed, ends removed, minced
PLACE in a food processor the tomatillos without the liquid from the can and pulse to coarsely chop. Set aside.
HEAT the olive oil in a large saucepan over high heat. Add onion and serrano pepper and cook until soft.
ADD the garlic and until just beginning to brown. Once the garlic is browned, add the sugar, chipotle with sauce, water, lime juice and salt. Reduce heat to medium and let simmer about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.