Friday, May 28, 2010

A Healthier, Happier Hour

While Happy Hours and Cocktail Parties are indeed a great time, they’re usually far from healthy, making me far from happy. Not that I’m expecting a platter of fruit, water and nonfat everything, but it would be nice to have a little variety. These days, “Girls Night Out” consists of salty chips, fattening cupcakes, sugar-overdosed fruity cocktails (that taste more like cough medicine then an alcoholic beverage) and sliders, or our excuse to eat burgers “guilt free.” All of the sudden an innocent hour turns into an entire day’s worth of calories and a bloated upset stomach the next day.

I don’t know about you, but whenever I eat crappy, salty, high fat eats, I wake up the next day feeling absolutely terrible. A grumbling stomach, jeans that don’t fit, a few new pimples and baggy eyes make me anything but a happy girl. Take a deep breath and relax. This is a healthier happier guide for all of you healthy chicks out there who still like to have fun and party now and again. Hey, who doesn’t?

Host Girls' Night Out at Your Own Home: If the shindig takes place in your own home, you get to control what you serve. Choose a few healthy options that your guests can enjoy, and that you’ll eat as well. Why serve something that you wouldn’t even put in your mouth?

The other day, I had a skincare party at my house, and served up a plate of fresh veggies (red pepper, cucumber, carrots) and hummus, and another plate of reduced fat white cheddar, sharp yellow cheddar, and fresh red seedless grapes I had bought on sale! I then threw a few saltine-like crackers along the tray with cheese, and although I couldn’t eat them (boo gluten intolerance), I knew my guests would enjoy. I had a bottle of red wine in hand as well ‘cause not only is it good for your heart, but it’s such a nice accompaniment to any Girl’s Night. I was going to bring out some dark chocolate chunks later in the evening, but we never got around to it (too much chatting). Make sure to see below for more ideas to serve at your next party (or your friend’s)!

Once you plan out what you want to serve, tell your friends to bring a few apps or drinks as well. Then, if one of them ends up bringing a ginormous double chocolate, triple fat, extra sugar cake, you have a few healthier options to fall back on.

Dish Out Refreshing Cocktails: Now that it’s summer, no one wants to drink heavy and/or cream based drinks. That’s why Corona Light becomes so popular in the summer months; heavy drinks simply don’t do it for us. Make sure you offer some delicious, light drinks if you’re the one hosting the party yourself. And if it’s not at your home, bring supplies to make your drink of choice as a “housewarming gift.” A few of my favorites are a light white or blush wine like Zinfandel or Pinot mixed with plain, unflavored seltzer water. Rim the cup with a slice of strawberry for an extra kick! And just ‘cause it’s healthy (er) doesn’t mean it isn’t taste. Your friends will be begging you to be their bartender for the night in a matter of minutes once they get a taste for themselves.

Know When to Stop: If you’re feeling a buzz, then take advantage of it for a while, rather than going overboard and feeling crappy the next morning. Instead, take it slow and actually enjoy your yummy sips. After all, drinking is supposed to be a social activity anyway, right? Chat with your friends, sip slowly, and have fun. If you're feeling a little tipsy, put more ice in your drinks to water them down afterward or drink a glass of water after each drink so your still getting some hydration. If you’ve had one too many, chug a bottle of water before bed. Trust me; it may not seem that important but it works wonders for your morning hangover!

Learn to control yourself with the apps too! I know when I get a few drinks in me, all I want to do is munch on everything in site. But, think (or at least try to think) about the choices you make ahead of time. Do you really want that brownie? Are you really in the mood for another slice of pizza? If so, then go for it! Eat half or eat it slowly so you can actually enjoy it. If you’re eating because you’re bored, simply pop a piece of gum or go for the fruit instead!

Some Yummy, “Healthy Chick"-Approved Bites

• Fresh hummus served with chopped up veggies like red pepper, yellow pepper, cucumbers, tomatoes, celery and carrot sticks. Bring a bag of Stacy’s Pita Chips or make your own Pita Chip’s with my Brown Rice Pita Chip recipe for extra yummy dippers!
• Plain popcorn, sprinkled with cinnamon for a sweet kick or black pepper, Parmesan cheese and a pinch of salt for a more savory option!
• Stack toothpicks with grapes, melon and mozzarella or sharp cheddar cheese chunks for some mini fruit kabobs, which pair perfectly with a glass of wine!
• Buy fresh or frozen shrimp. Dethaw and serve with a low sugar, natural cocktail sauce. If you feel up to it, make your own cocktail sauce like this recipe from Eating Well!
• Mini sammies on whole-wheat pitas pockets or English muffins. Stack with turkey, cucumber, and a squirt of Dijon mustard or light mayo.
• Make mini Caprese bites by stacking a slice of fresh Buffalo mozzarella cheese with a thin tomato slice, and a tad of store-bought pesto!
• Fill mini paper cups (you know the ones we drank out of when we were little) with a scoop of cottage cheese, topped with slices of fresh pineapple or peaches. Sprinkle with cinnamon, and serve with a miniature spoon.
Food Should Taste Good chips-These all natural, low sodium chips are gluten, preservative and Trans fat free, and come in a variety of flavors from Jalapeno to Sweet Potato and Blue Corn. Serve in a bowl by themselves or in a tray with hummus, salsa or other light dips of your choice!
• Take advantage of the summer season, and serve a tray of sliced, fresh watermelon! Perfect thirst quencher and great for belly bloat too!
• Strawberries dipped in dark chocolate
• Grapes and apple slices served with a reduced fat cheese of choice!
• Slice a few pears up into thin slices. Then serve with a sweet/tart “dip” of Gorgonzola cheese, chopped walnuts, agave syrup or honey any cinnamon. Test as you go, as the recipe will change depending on how many you’re serving.
• Combine a container of Cool Whip Light with a packet of fat free vanilla pudding mix. Serve with various fresh fruits like strawberries, cantaloupe and melon!


Jim Purdy said...

"Fresh hummus served with chopped up veggies like red pepper, yellow pepper, cucumbers, tomatoes, celery and carrot sticks."

I'm not a regular hummus eater, but some people have been strongly recommending it to me. I guess I'll have to try it. Your version sounds both delicious and healthful. Thanks!

Rachel said...

Thanks Jim! It is absolutely delicious, and once you try you won't be able to stop eating it. I love Trader Joe's organic hummus, as well as the Sabra brand (Roasted Pine Nuts and Garlic is my favorite) which you can find at pretty much any grocery store. How did you hear about my website? Hope you enjoy reading!

Jim Purdy said...

How did I find your website?

Easy. I'm always searching Google for good blogs to follow, and your blog appeared in my search results.

I keep a blogroll of my favorite blogs, which I have somewhat presumptuously called The 50 Best Health Blogs.

So far, so good ... at least no bloggers have complained about being called one of "The 50 Best Health Blogs."

Rachel said...

Wow, that is very flattering to hear! Thanks so much for following and for your support. Keep reading for more great, fresh health tips!