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5 healthy (and easy) party canapés

Party nibbles needn't be high-salt, high-fat diet-destroyers.

Here are five ideas using handy ingredients that don't come with New Year's resolutions attached. 

1. Roast beetroot houmous on pitta

Deep-purple houmous on triangles of lightly chargrilled wholemeal pitta. This canapé looks dramatic and is delightfully moreish. You make it by roasting beets in a foil parcel with oil, balsamic vinegar and herbs. Then blitz them with tinned chickpeas, lemon juice, tahini, ground cumin and olive oil.

The benefit: Beetroot is an infection-fighting powerhouse. They contain antioxidants, minerals and vitamins including folic acid which helps your body produce new cells.

2. Buckwheat blinis with salmon plus mustard and dill sauce

Blinis, smoked fish and sour cream are a canapé classic. Unfortunately, smoked salmon is high in salt. Unsmoked salmon makes a healthier alternative. Plus, it tastes great with sweet, spicy heat from a dollop of mustard and dill sauce. Remove the skin from precooked salmon. Gently ease a few flakes of fish onto each blini.

The benefit: Salmon is a source of omega-3. Omega-3 is important for a healthy brain, heart, joints and general wellbeing. Buckwheat is high in protein, fibre, and is gluten-free.

3. Spiced sweet potato wedges with tzatziki

Sweet potato cut into wedges (you don't need to peel them). Roast skin-side down in garlic, lemon zest and smoked paprika or your favourite herb and spice combo. Serve with a yoghurt, garlic, mint and cucumber tzatziki dip.

The benefit: Sweet potato is high in beta-carotene. This converts to vitamin A once you eat it and boosts the immune system. Garlic has the active ingredient allicin. Allicin has anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal properties.


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4. Chicory leaves with walnut and pumpkin seed pesto

Chicory leaves are to be peeled off the cone. Arrange on a big platter with a teaspoonful of the pesto on the white stem end of each leaf. The pesto of crushed walnut, basil and pumpkin seeds and reduced-fat cheese makes a good foil for the fresh-tasting leaves. Remember to make your pesto course, rather than runny so it sits nicely on the leaves and gives another texture.

The benefit: Seeds and nuts are packed with protein and fibre. Walnuts and pumpkin seeds are rich in ‘good’ fats and omega-3. This can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.

5. Guacamole with fennel-and-sesame-seed breadsticks

When it comes to chips and dips, guacamole scores the perfect 10. But if you've ever looked at the salt and saturated fat content of a sharing bag of tortilla chips, you'll understand why we're suggesting substituting them. Why not try breadsticks or vegetable crudités for bonus health points? Avocados are already high in fat, so avoid guacamole recipes that include olive oil. Use a ripe avocado that's easy to mash.

The benefit: Avocados are high in fat. However, it’s the good, monounsaturated kind. When eaten in place of saturated or trans fats, this improves the body’s cholesterol profile. They’re also a rich source of vitamin E, which is great for the skin and eyes.