The Healthy Host
If you’ve read my post about staying social while staying on track, you will have read my tips about eating out. For those of us with young children, these nights out can be few and far between and social gatherings might happen more at home or round at a friend’s house. Writing my post on eating out got me thinking about how you can host a night in with friends and still stay on track. Years ago having friends over meant a crate of beer in the fridge and a selection of takeaway menus on the kitchen bench ready for their arrival. My goodness, planning a night in was easy, ha!
Ever since I joined Weight Watchers my mindset over the food that I eat or food choices that I make is very different so it wouldn’t really occur to me to order a takeaway if we were having people over. Instead I think about all of the lovely healthy recipes that I make that I could share with my friends and actually serve them something delicious while I manage to stay on track. In my experience, homemade curries go down a treat. If you’re not sure how spicy your guests like their food then try to aim for middle ground as not everybody is a chilli fiend like me! If friends are coming over in the evening then a slow cooker is your saviour. This means you can prep all of the ingredients, do your cooking on the hob and literally throw it in the slow cooker during the day and forget about it until later when your guests arrive, This works for curries, chilli, pasta sauces and even lasagne. Yep I said it, lasagne in the slow cooker, it’s amazing!
We also have a bread maker which rarely gets used to make bread but gets a lot of use to make pizza dough. By making your own dough you are in complete control of how much sugar or oil you add to the mix as well as how thin you can roll your bases. We have managed over the last couple of years to cut down on the sugar, salt and oil content of our dough and where we used to get two pizzas out of a mix, we now get four by rolling them that bit thinner and honestly, they’re just as delicious. You can mix your own low fat pizza sauce with tomato puree, a splash of ketchup and some spices such as garlic and chilli flakes then top with Mediterranean vegetables or chicken, fresh garlic and sweetcorn. For the fussy eaters, make a Margarita. Who doesn’t love a cheesy pizza? I use 60g of low fat cheese to finish each one and a sprinkling of oregano. Ten minutes in the oven and they’re ready! Slice them up on a big wooden chopping board and watch your guests tuck in with delight! This is another great option for preparing during the day so you aren’t full of busy while everyone else is socialising.
Accompaniments can be the downfall in your daily tracking as it doesn’t take much to rack up the points when you’re gorging on party nibbles. Let’s be honest, once a ‘family’ sized bag of crisps is tipped into a bowl it is so easy to munch your way through more than a single bags worth and I would never dream of opening a second bag so why is it OK to continue to stuff crisps in your mouth when they’re in a bowl? Totally psychological. Try pitta chips, flavoured popcorn or crunchy raw vegetable sticks instead. They’ll make the table of nibbles look so colourful and you can even make your own dipping sauce using extra light mayonnaise, garlic, oregano and a splash of milk, Whisk it with a fork in a small dish and you have yourself a delicious low fat dip.
Make a big salad bowl so you and your guests can bulk up your plates with a side salad or make a tray of roast vegetables. Again, this is going to brighten up the table. If you want to stick with cauliflower rice for your curry or chilli side dish then make a batch and cook some regular rice too. You might be surprised who wants to join you in trying the cauli rice! Poppadoms are a great accompaniment giving that big crunch without the calories.
Generally speaking we are not too bothered about desserts in our house so I’m pretty bad at getting them in when friends are over. However, from experience I know everyone is usually huffing and puffing about how full they are from the meal so maybe think about serving a nice coffee instead. We love the Nescafe Dolce Gusto Skinny Lattes. Of course, it’s rare that alcohol isn’t on the go too and I don’t really have any top tips on that topic other than, if you’re calorie counting then Gin & Tonic is your friend. A booze binge is of course going to mount the calories up so drink wisely and have soft drinks at hand too. A jug of water on the table is also likely to reduce your alcohol intake.
So go on, what’s stopping you? Invite your friends over for a night in and get cooking x