During these long days of social distancing, it can be easy to lay on the booze and carb-filled foods when you show up to the shindig starving. Before a meal, it’s best to fill up on the foods that are highest in protein, fiber, and healthy fats. That’s what will stay in your stomach the longest and keep you satiated. Also, the crunchier the food, (and closest to raw whole food as possible) the better. “The act of chewing also releases messages to our bellies that we are filling up, so choosing things that are full of fiber or that are raw and take a while to process are a good choice to get your satiety cues to kick in,” says Stacia Helfand, RDN. These tasty low-carb appetizers will help you stay healthy no matter what.
Best Low-Carb Appetizers
1. Baked Chicken Meatballs with Tahini Dressing
Recipe from Edwina Clark, MS, RD, APD
These baked meatballs are a much healthier alternative to fried meatballs, and they’re made with lean ground chicken instead of beef. And because they’re drizzled with a tahini sauce instead of a thick salty or sugary sauce, they’re much cleaner and filled with protein and healthy fats.
Related: SUPERFOODS + HOW TO EAT THEM
2. Buffalo Cauliflower Bites
Recipe from Jessica Bippen, MS, RD of Nourished by Nutrition
No ZOOM call is complete without buffalo wings; it’s true. But what if you could ditch the fried chicken and replace it with much heartier roasted cauliflower? You’d have a much more fiber-filled appetizer. These florets are rolled in garbanzo bean flour and brushed with the buffalo sauce for the same crispiness and flavor kick. You can dip them in a vegan cashew ranch dressing for the real authentic flavor.
3. Candied Ginger Pistachios
Recipe from Kelly Jones, MS, RD, CSSD
Candied nuts don’t have to be filled with sugar--these festive pistachios are made with raw honey and pure maple syrup. The ginger adds a spicy hit and some added antioxidants to this gluten-free and vegan munchie option for your next party. Or, if you prefer other nuts, try maple-roasted pecans and walnuts with chia seeds to double up your healthy fat (and fiber) intake.
4. Sweet Potato Polenta Bites with Thyme-Marinated Mushrooms
Recipe from Kara Lydon, RD, LDN, RYT of The Foodie Dietitian
Your Thanksgiving apps are elevated thanks to these sweet potato polenta bites. The polenta is baked instead of fried and also is topped with a mushroom marinade for additional flavor. You’ll get a nice Vitamin A boost from the sweet potato as well.
Related: Sweet Potatoes: Food of the Week
5. Mini Quinoa Pizza Bites with Hummus and Crispy Chickpeas
Recipe from Alyssa Rimmer, CHN of Simply Quinoa
We all would eat pizza constantly if we could, but it often doesn’t contain much protein at all. These mini “crusts” are made with quinoa, so there’s protein there, plus hummus as the “sauce” and crispy roasted chickpeas for some additional crunch. For extra flavor and pizza-like taste, you can top them with fresh basil strips and red pepper flakes.
6. Lentil Feta Bruschetta
Recipe from EA Stewart, RDN of The Spicy RD
Traditional bruschetta doesn’t contain any protein and doesn’t contain that much fiber, either. This recipe contains 18 grams of protein per 1 cup serving, along with 8 grams of fiber. You simply combine fresh tomato bruschetta and feta cheese with steamed lentils for an easy and protein-packed app. Serve with veggies, whole grain toasts, or whole grain crackers.
7. Stuffed Medjool Dates
Recipe from Kristina LaRue, RD, CSSD of Love and Zest
You can whip up these festive, sweet and savory bites as an appetizer or a dessert. Whole dates are sweet without being sugary, and super rich when they’re stuffed with mascarpone cheese and topped with chopped pecans. While they taste like a treat, research proves that they’re also high in antioxidants and fiber. Plus, they only take a couple of minutes to prep (you de-pit the dates and fill them right up and voila’--they’re party-ready).