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Healthy ideas for en­ter­tain­ing

S pring her­alds the start of the party sea­son but that doesn’t mean an in­vi­ta­tion to over-in­dulge in un­healthy food and ex­cess al­co­hol. Nu­murkah Dis­trict Health Ser­vice di­eti­cian Louisa Li said, with some care­ful plan­ning, healthy and de­li­cious op­tions could be in­cluded on the menu. Louisa said fes­tive sea­son so­cial and fam­ily gath­er­ings were im­por­tant oc­ca­sions and con­trib­uted to an in­di­vid­ual’s sense of well­be­ing, but con­sis­tent overeat­ing of foods high in fat, salt and sugar could even­tu­ally im­pact on our health. “It is easy to over-con­sume dis­cre­tionary food dur­ing the fes­tive sea­son but of­fer­ing healthy and de­li­cious food for th­ese spe­cial oc­ca­sions is not as dif­fi­cult as peo­ple think,” Louisa said. “It re­ally is all about por­tion size and bal­ance and en­sur­ing those healthy op­tions are served in an at­trac­tive and ap­peal­ing way.” In­gre­di­ent sub­sti­tu­tion was one way of in­cor­po­rat­ing healthy op­tions; Louisa said re­plac­ing bis­cuits tra­di­tion­ally high in sugar and fat with rice crack­ers, healthy dry bis­cuits, cel­ery and car­rot sticks and of­fer­ing veg­etable­based dips such as hum­mus, beet­root, spinach and cap­sicum or salsa in­stead of cream-laden dips, were good starts on share plat­ters. Other foods that could be in­cluded on plat­ters were sea­sonal fresh fruit, dried fruit, olives, low­fat cheese and raw nuts in­stead of salted nuts. Louisa said skew­ered cherry toma­toes, basil leaves and low-fat moz­zarella balls were easy and nu­tri­tious fin­ger foods and smoked salmon and av­o­cado were de­li­cious spreads for rice crack­ers. It is also im­por­tant, when en­ter­tain­ing, to en­sure you have enough healthy food for your guests if they are drink­ing al­co­hol and to have non-al­co­holic al­ter­na­tives avail­able. “Wa­ter is the best op­tion; it can be served in tall glasses with ice, slices of lemon or lime and mint leaves and is fresh and ap­peal­ing,” Louisa said. “Diet soft drink or cor­dial and fruit juices with no added sugar could also be of­fered to en­cour­age guests to drink non-al­co­holic drinks in be­tween their al­co­holic drinks.”

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