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Heart-Healthy Holiday Appetizers

holiday dinner tableWith all its parties and family dinners, the holiday season could well be named the season of the appetizer. The good news is that appetizers don't need to be calorie- or fat-laden to taste delicious.

Here are four recipes to tantalize your taste buds and still leave room for the main course.

Red and Green Bell Pepper Bites

This colorful dish is sure to add a festive touch to your holiday buffet table.
Serves 8

Ingredients

1 medium green bell pepper
1 medium red bell pepper
1/4 cup sliced almonds
4 oz. fat free or reduced fat cream cheese, softened
1 tsp. no-salt lemon pepper seasoning blend
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice

Cooking Instructions

Cut each bell pepper in half lengthwise; discard the stems, ribs and seeds. Cut each half into six pieces. Arrange the pieces with the skin side down on a decorative serving platter. Set aside.

In a medium skillet, dry-roast the almonds over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes or until golden brown, stirring occasionally. Transfer 1 tablespoon of the almonds to a small plate and reserve for garnishing. Process the remaining almonds in a food processor or blender for 15 to 20 seconds or until finely ground.

In a medium mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, lemon pepper seasoning blend and lemon juice with an electric mixer for 1 to 2 minutes or until creamy. Add the ground almonds and beat for 10 seconds or until combined.

Spoon the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a wide star or round tip. Or, snip the corner off of a re-sealable plastic bag (a plastic freezer bag works well) and spoon in the mixture. Pipe about 1 teaspoon of the mixture onto each bell pepper piece. Garnish with the sliced almonds.

Nutrition Analysis (per serving): 39 calories, 1.5 g total fat, 0.0 g saturated fat, 0.0 g trans fat, 0.5 g polyunsaturated fat, 1.0 g monounsaturated fat, 3 mg cholesterol, 71 mg sodium, 3 g carbohydrates, 1 g fiber, 2 g sugar, 3 g protein. Dietary Exchanges: 1/2 fat.

This recipe is reprinted with permission from The New American Heart Association Cookbook, 7th Edition, Copyright ©2006.

Cream Cheese Phyllo Bites with Pepper Jelly

Serves 5

Ingredients

Topping
1/4 cup all-fruit strawberry or apricot spread
2 tbsp minced red bell pepper
1 tsp grated peeled gingerroot or orange zest
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 or 2 dashes crushed red pepper flakes

Filling
1 and 1/2 oz. fat free cream cheese, softened
2 tbsp fat free sour cream
1/8 tsp salt

Shells
15 frozen mini phyllo shells, thawed

Cooking Instructions

In a small saucepan, stir together the fruit spread and bell pepper. Cook over medium heat for several seconds so the fruit spread slightly melts, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat. Let cool completely, about 15 minutes. Stir in the gingerroot, vinegar and red pepper flakes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the filling ingredients until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed.

To assemble, spoon about a 1/2 teaspoon of filling into each shell, gently spreading over the bottom. Top each with about 1 teaspoon fruit spread mixture, gently spreading over the filling. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed, up to 4 hours.

Nutrition Analysis (per serving): 102 calories, 3.0 g total fat, 0.0 g saturated fat, 0.0 g trans fat, 0.0 g polyunsaturated fat, 0.0 g monounsaturated fat, 3 mg cholesterol, 162 mg sodium, 16 g carbohydrates, 0 g fiber, 8 g sugar, 2 g protein. Dietary Exchanges: 1 carbohydrate, 1/2 fat.

Recipe courtesy of the American Heart Association

Cranberry Fruit Dip

Serve this dish with an array of fresh fruit - apple slices, orange sections, melon spears and pineapple chunks all make terrific companions for this dip. Serves 8

Ingredients

1/2 cup nonfat or low fat vanilla, lemon, or peach yogurt
1/2 cup whole-berry cranberry sauce
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground ginger

Cooking Instructions

In a medium bowl, stir together all ingredients. Serve with fruit. This dip can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Nutritional Analysis (per serving): 39 calories, 0.0 g total fat, 0.0 g saturated fat, 0.0 g trans fat 0.0 g polyunsaturated fat, 0.0 g monounsaturated fat, 0.0 g cholesterol, 14 mg sodium, 9 g carbohydrates, 0 g fiber, 7 g sugar, 1 g protein, 0 calcium, 0 potassium. Dietary Exchanges: 1/2 other carbohydrate.

This recipe is reprinted with permission from The New American Heart Association Cookbook, Seventh Edition, Copyright ©2001.

Pita Crisps

Serves 18

Ingredients

6-inch whole-wheat pita breads
1/4 cup very finely snipped fresh parsley
2 green onions (green and white parts), finely chopped
1 tsp olive oil
3/4 tsp dried basil, crumbled
1/2 tsp dried rosemary, crushed
1 medium garlic clove, minced
Olive oil spray
2 tbsp grated or shredded Parmesan cheese

Cooking Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Separate each pita bread into 2 layers. In a small bowl, stir together the parsley, green onions, olive oil, basil, rosemary, and garlic. Spread the mixture on the pitas.

Lightly spray the tops with olive oil spray. Sprinkle with the Parmesan. Cut each pita half into 6 wedges. Put the wedges on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 12 minutes or until crisp. Serve warm.

Nutrition Analysis (per serving): 33 calories, 0.5 g total fat, 0.0 g saturated fat, 0.0 g trans fat, 0.0 g polyunsaturated fat, 0.5 g monounsaturated fat, 1 mg cholesterol, 63 mg sodium, 6 mg carbohydrates, 1 g fiber, 0 sugar, 1 g protein. Dietary Exchanges: 1/2 starch.

This recipe is reprinted with permission from The New American Heart Association Cookbook, Seventh Edition, Copyright ©2004.

Above content provided by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. For advice about your medical care, consult your doctor.


Posted December 2011

Contact Information

Beth Israel Deaconess HealthCare
(Off-site Primary Care Practices)
1-877-406-3963

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