How to throw a healthy dinner party for fussy friends
You’ve carefully scored the pork fat, rubbed it six times with oil and salt and popped it in the oven to roast slowly for the next three hours. A carefully constructed chocolate mousse is setting in the fridge.
“Oh… I’m a vegetarian now,” says one guest as they arrive. “No sugar or carbs for me,” says another.
In theory, throwing a dinner party is the perfect spring activity. But creating a menu that pleases all of your health-conscious friends can be a nightmare. It’s not, however, impossible. You just need a few tricks up your sleeve.
No dinner party is complete without a little bit of alcohol. There’s no reason the 80/20 rule, which has become popular amongst the wellness crowd, can’t be applied to a healthy dinner party. With a well selected food menu, the whole 20 per cent can be allocated towards booze. Genius right?
To keep the drinks somewhat within theme, pair your spirits with kombucha, instead of traditional soft drink. It contains “beneficial bacteria” or “living cultures”, which are said to be naturally detoxifying and good for your gut. There’s nothing better than detoxifying while you toxify and the inherent contradiction will make for great dinner party debate.
You can brew your own kombucha, otherwise there are plenty of places to buy the pre-made stuff in a variety of flavours. If you really want to impress your guests, go the extra mile with this cocktail recipe from Ballsy.
Lavender and lime Kombuchatini
30ml Get Your Lime On Wild Kombucha by Ballsy
2 dashes of lavender syrup (see below)
Lavender ice to garnish (see below)
Lavender ice: (prepare the night before)
24 Lavender springs
Get Your Lime On Wild Kombucha by Ballsy (enough for 2 ice trays/24 ice cubes)
1 cup water
½ cup organic sugar
1 tablespoon of dried organic lavender
- To make the lavender syrup, bring water to boil in a medium saucepan. Add sugar and lavender and stir occasionally. When bubbles appear, reduce heat to a simmer for 2 to 3 minutes. Strain through fine mesh and let cool.
- To make the lavender ice, fill ice cube trays with Get Your Lime On Wild Kombucha and add a lavender sprig to each cube.
- Prepare the cocktails as guests start to arrive. Add regular ice and vermouth into a cocktail shaker and stir until ice is coated. Discard of the remaining vermouth by straining the ice. Add the gin, lavender syrup and kombucha to the ice and stir for 30 seconds. Strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish with the lavender ice.
Mains: the ultimate healthy spread
So you’re not stuck in the kitchen frantically pulling together a three-course meal, Zoe Bingley-Pullin has compiled a menu of vegetarian share plates, most of which can be prepared well before guests arrive. This not only leaves more time for banter and cocktails, the “self-serve” vibe means no one will feel embarrassed if they can’t eat certain things due to dietary requirements.
Sunflower seed, zucchini and chickpea hummus
1 cup zucchini, washed, grated, squeeze out excess liquid
1 cup cooked chickpeas
1 cup sunflower seeds, toasted
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp lemon zest
1 garlic clove, roughly crushed
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp cumin, ground
1 tbsp coriander, ground
1 tbsp good quality salt
To serve: vegetables sticks (carrot, cherry tomato, celery, cucumber) and/or multigrain crackers
- Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend till smooth. Serve with the vegetable sticks and crackers on a platter.
Bocconcini and Sicilian olive skewers
2 tsp fennel seeds
2 tsp orange zest
3 tbsp. fresh orange juice
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
200g bocconcini cheese
24 large wooden skewers
24 fresh mint leaves
24 pitted Sicilian olives, halved
1/4 large telegraph cucumber, seeded and cut into 2 cm chunks
2 tablespoons olive oil
Pinch of salt
- In a mixing bowl combine fennel seeds, orange zest, juice, and pepper. Gently stir in the cheese and marinate for 1 hour at room temperature
- To assemble: Place mint, olives, cucumber chunk, and cheese on each stick.
- Drizzle with olive oil.
Sweet potato fritters with avocado salsa
3 cups sweet potato, grated
4 shallots, chopped
4 large eggs
1/2 cup wholemeal self-raising flour
Salt and pepper
Olive oil for pan
2 avocado, skin and seed removed, mashed
10 cherry tomatoes, chopped finely
1 lemon, juiced
4 crushed garlic cloves
2 bunch basil, finely chopped
Salt and pepper
- In a large bowl mix together the sweet potato, shallots, eggs, flour, salt and pepper.
- Heat a large frying pan to a medium temperature and add a little olive oil. Drop large spoonfuls of the sweet potato mixture and cook until golden brown on each side. Remove and drain on absorbent paper.
- In a medium bowl add the avocado, diced tomato, garlic, lemon juice, basil, salt and pepper.
- Serve the cooked cakes with the salad either on top or on the side.
Zucchini flowers stuffed with cashew butter and salsa
8 zucchini flowers
2 cup raw cashews, soaked in water overnight
1/2 cup filtered water
2 tbsp yeast flakes
2 tbsp lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup chopped Sicilian olives
1/2 cup chopped cashew nuts
2 tbsp chopped parsley
2 punnet cherry tomatoes, diced finely
2 tbsp olive oil
- Cashew Butter: place all ingredients into a food processer and blend until creamy and well combined, add extra water until desired consistency is reached, set aside
- Salsa: combine all ingredients in a bowl and set aside
- Take spoonful’s of the cashew butter mixture and stuff into zucchini flowers, push mixture right to the base of the flower to get more in. Repeat until all flowers are stuffed.
- On a low heat, heat some olive oil in a pan, place the filled zucchini flowers gently on the pan, season and cover with a lid. Turn every couple of minutes until lightly brown and cooked.
Serve with the fresh tomato, olive and cashew salsa.
Raw sweet potato and kale salad
2 cups sweet potato, grated
1 cup raw kale, finely chopped
1 Lebanese cucumber, finely diced
1 bunch coriander, washed and finely chopped
1 cup dried currants
1 cup walnuts, chopped
4 tbsp olive oil
6 tsp curry powder
2 tsp fresh ginger, finely grated
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp tamari
- Place the sweet potato in a bowl with the, kale, cucumber, coriander, currants and walnuts.
- In another bowl, combine the dressing ingredients and whisk together.
- Pour the dressing over the salad, toss well and serve.
Vegan zucchini pasta with creamy avocado cucumber pesto
4 large zucchini
2 punnet cherry tomatoes, halved
2 jalapeños, thinly sliced and seeds removed (optional)
1 bunch of rocket
1 cup pea shoots (optional)
Zest of a lemon
Avocado Cucumber Pesto:
2 medium avocados
1 cucumber, peeled and sliced thick
1 cup basil leaves
1/2 cup roasted cashews or almonds
1 lemon, juiced
4 garlic cloves
1/2 tsp sea salt
Ground pepper to taste
- Prepare your zucchini noodles julienne style or spiralled.
- For the pesto, place all ingredients into a food processor/blender and process until creamy. Taste for flavour adding anything extra you might like.
- Toss zucchini pasta with avocado-cucumber pesto and a handful of rocket.
- Serve with tomatoes, peas shoots, jalapeños, lemon zest, lemon wedges and fresh cracked pepper.
Moroccan roasted carrots
500g carrots, washed and thickly sliced diagonally
3 tbsp olive oil
½ tbsp cumin, ground
½ tbsp coriander, ground
½ tbsp pomegranate molasses (or honey)
Salt and pepper
½ cup chopped fresh coriander leaves
100g feta or goat cheese, crumbled
¼ cup almonds, chopped
- Pre-heat oven to 180°C.
- Place carrots in a baking dish, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle cumin, coriander, cinnamon over and toss well.
- Roast for about 30 minutes or until tender and golden in colour. Before taking out of oven, drizzle over pomegranate molasses, season and toss well.
- Take out of oven, place on serving dish, top with crumbled feta/goat cheese, coriander leaves and flaked almonds.
Grilled halloumi, snow pea and green bean salad
- 120g halloumi cheese, cut into thin slices
- 100g of green beans, trimmed
- 100g of snow beans, trimmed
- 40g of cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 cup of rocket
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Sea salt and pepper to taste
- Blanch green beans and snow peas in boiling water over medium heat until just tender. Then set aside.
- Preheat the grill to a high heat and grill until golden on both sides.
- In a bowl combine all the ingredients and season to taste.
Raw individual tiramisus
Ingredients (Makes 8)
1 1/2 cup hazelnuts
1 1/2 cup walnuts
2/3 cup almond meal
1 cup Medjool dates
4 tbsp virgin coconut oil melted
2 cup raw cashew nuts (soaked for 6 hours)
1 cup almond milk
1/2 cup maple syrup
4 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup espresso coffee
12 dates, seeds removed (soaked for at least 6 hours)
4 tbsp raw cacao powder
- In a food processor blend all of the base ingredients to form a rough dough. Place ½ of the mix into eight lined medium sized ramekins, spread evenly and press down to compact. Place in the fridge and set remainder of dough to one side at room temperature.
- In the food processor add the cashews, almond milk, maple syrup and vanilla blend until it’s smooth. Pour half of the vanilla cream in a bowl and set aside.
- To make the coffee cream keep the other half of the vanilla cream in the blender and add the coffee, dates, cacao powder, and blend again to combine all the ingredients.
- To assemble the individual tiramisus, add a layer of coffee cream on top of the base, followed by a layer of vanilla cream and repeat that twice. The top layer should be of vanilla cream.
- Refrigerate for 2 hours to set.
In case your guests over-indulge on all the healthy vegetarian fare, we asked naturopath Lisa Guy if she has any tricks up her sleeve to help with food comas. She recommended a peppermint tea because it “has a calming effect on stomach muscles helping to ease wind and bloating”.
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