The holidays have crept up on us again. If you find yourself at the front door, nervously welcoming in neighbors or in-laws you (obviously) didn’t invite, we’ve got your back. While we can’t help you navigate the awkward chats about politics or the fake smile when you unwrap (yet another) grandma-chic nightgown, we can help you keep everyone happy and well fed.
Here’s a list of our dietitian-approved, better-for-you holiday appetizers and party foods that you can buy at the store for those days when you really don’t have the bandwidth (or foresight) to cook.
Need something for your vegan sister that your father-in-law will also like? We got you. We love this plant-based pizza from Daiya that is dairy-, gluten-, and soy-free. The spinach and mushroom variety feels sophisticated enough for the holidays, but there are also all the classic pizza flavors, sans dairy or meat, to help satisfy your cravings for classic comfort food. (Pack of 8 for $80; amazon.com)
Most of us don’t have time to wait for avocados to ripen to guacamole consistency on a good day, nevermind when guests drop by unannounced. We love keeping Wholly Guacamole on hand for unexpected party snacking because it’s made with hand-scooped Haas avocados, real ingredients, and no preservatives. Serve it up with baked tortilla chips and a pack of pre-cut veggies for a vegan and gluten-free dip everyone will enjoy.($19 for 3; amazon.com)
While we love a good mixed-nut bowl, for a bigger protein bang we’re totally going to be hovering over a bowl of these roasted broad beans from Bada Bean Bada Boom. With 7 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber, and only 100 calories per serving, these gluten-free, vegan, and nut-free snacks are as addictive as they are nutritious.($15 for 4; amazon.com)
Party apps in my childhood house always involved sweet and sour meatballs, so I had to include my favorites on this list. For days I don’t have time to roll and bake them myself, I love these all-natural chicken meatballs from Al Fresco. Gluten-free, pork-free, and with 50-percent less fat than traditional balls, these babies are available fresh, pre-cooked and refrigerated, or pre-cooked and frozen (all of which make getting food on the table a total breeze).(prices vary; use the store locator for buying options)
Want to upgrade your cheese platter without depleting your wallet? Get fancy by putting out this new blue cheese-infused mustard. With just 10 calories per serving and a mouthful of massive flavor, it’s a lightened up (and cheaper) alternative to a traditional cheese platter.($3; Trader Joe’s stores)
At just 10 calories a piece (yes, really!), you can pop these puffs until you drop (just kidding, please don’t pass out from eating). But seriously, with 4 grams of fiber per serving and a simple ingredient list of potatoes, kale, and spices, these will legit become your new party pal.($60 for 6; amazon.com)
Can I get an amen for apps that can be made in the microwave?! These crowd-pleasing poppers are made with real mozzarella cheese, packing a hearty 7 grams of protein per serving. Throw them on the table with a jar of low-sugar marinara sauce for a simple, family-friendly party snack.($8; amazon.com)
Parties need chips, and these lightly dehydrated crispy snacks are made with veggies, flaxseeds, and spices, and are only 70 calories per serving. And even though they are fully vegan and gluten-free, they legit taste like cheese, so… nuff said!($40 for 6; amazon.com)
Like meatballs but with meat-free ingredients, these little poppers are perfect for your plant-based friends. Keep them stashed in the freezer for a party emergency, then throw them straight in the oven for 20 minutes until warmed through.($4; amazon.com)
Dim sum is always good eats, and these easy-to-prepare frozen dumplings are an entertaining staple around here. With just 240 calories per serving along with an impressive 10 grams of protein, these little babies are the perfect nosh for unexpected guests.($7; feel-good-foods.com or use store locator)
Hummus for dessert? What the wha? We love this vegan, gluten-free chocolaty spread that helps us get our holiday-mint fix with just 60 calories per tablespoon. Plop down a container with some store-bought sliced fruit and simple cookies for an easy snackable dessert your guests will fight over.($prices vary; use the store locator for buying options)
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