Guest blogger Sheri Iodice is a registered dietitian and wellness coach for everydayhealth.com and lives in the Berkshire Hills of Western Massachusetts, USA
“Certainly, travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.”
Miriam Beard (1901 – 1983) US writer Realism in Romantic Japan 1930.
There is something irresistible about the look on a weary traveler’s face when hearing the words “home-cooked meal.” It must be the nurturer in me that enjoys offering a comfortable and healthier alternative to the usual formulaic restaurant meal.
If you are so inclined to invite an Ifabber to your home to share a meal, here are some tips for putting together a healthy dinner party menu
• Set the style and mood of the party that is comfortable to you.
• Keep the menu simple – an appetizer, soup OR salad with an entrée and side dish followed by dessert is plenty.
• Select homemade, fresh and local ingredients, as available.
• You can include richer and indulgent dishes but keep the portions and intake of calories moderate.
• Share a seasonal or local specialty item, including a bit of its history if you know some.
• Ask your guest ahead of time about any food preferences or allergies.
• Prepare as many items as possible ahead of time so that your attention is not divided once the party has started.
• Don’t push alcoholic drinks and offer non-caloric alternatives.
Here is my dream early summertime dinner menu as an example:
Fresh vegetables with a local cheese
Homemade pasta with pesto sauce and romaine lettuce with lemon vinaigrette
Local berries with vanilla whipped cream
To highlight some local foods and my favorite flavors, I’ll start my food shopping at the farmer’s market where I can find a nice piece of local cheese to nibble on as an appetizer while we are making the pasta.
I am comfortable with involving my guests with some of the food preparation and I know from previous parties they like to watch the process of making pasta. I’ll use some whole wheat flour in the dough to add dietary fiber and make the texture a bit heartier.
At the farmer’s market, I’ll look for local springtime garlic scapes, early basil, and parsley to put in the pesto. The pesto sauce I can make ahead reserving the cheese – which tastes best when it is stirred in right before serving. This is where knowing ahead about nut allergies is helpful so you can alter the pesto recipe to omit the nuts.
Since it is summer, the local berries will make a fresh and tasty dessert with little work. I can slice them ahead and then use my mismatched wine glasses as interesting dessert dishes. With berries, adding a drizzle of heart healthy dark chocolate won’t add many calories. Just before serving, I can’t resist local cream whipped with some vanilla extract to dollop on top of the berries. This tops off the meal with a true homemade touch.
Thanks to everydayhealth.com for our guest post.