Nancy Waldeck is a Healthy Chef Partyologist who helps people make food that tastes so good it doesn’t even taste healthy! (And she often pairs fun wine with it too.) A cancer survivor and thriver, she shares the message of better-for-you food with learners at cancer centers, cooking schools, businesses and on Atlanta and Company (NBC 11) twice a month.
We’ve asked Nancy to share a few tips and secrets on how to throw a successful, stress-free holiday party. Cheers!
Pete’s Living Greens: As a chef and entertainment expert who has organized large events and parties, what is some advice you can give to someone who is hosting a holiday party this season? How do you stay organized?
Nancy Waldeck: Plan, Plan, Plan. By planning ahead you can enjoy your own party! Planning ahead allows you to carefully choose what you are going to make. My goal is always to make food that tastes great, looks beautiful and makes people happy by being a little better-for-you too!
Begin the party planning by choosing 3 to 4 appetizers that can be made ahead of time, and served at room temperature. For instance, a tapenade/hummus and fresh bite-sized veggie board, dates stuffed with blue cheese and wrapped with prosciutto, lettuce wraps filled with not-your-average chicken salad, roasted nuts, jerk skewers, jumbo shrimp with Asian Remoulade. If you’re having lots of folks you can always add in a cheese board, (almost everyone loves cheese!) and fill it with not only cheese, but fresh and dried fruit, too.
PLG: You’re also a wine expert. What are your go-to wines when hosting your own holiday gathering?
NW: I specialize in serving wines under $20, so they are perfect for sharing!
Always a sparkling – refreshing and festive. I choose Cava, delicious, crisp and made in the same method as champagne — only from Spain. I hand people a glass as they walk in the door. A fizzy way to get the party started!
White – Unoaked Chardonnay from California is my go-to. If I have a little more adventurous crowd, I’ll stock up on Albarino or Torrontes, from Spain and Argentina, respectively. Both are crisp, aromatic, and super food friendly.
Rose – Fruity and pretty pink wine is not just for summer, or sissies! Rose is a great pairing with appetizers that are salty, cheesy or savory. If you choose one from Provence, you’re almost always guaranteed to pick a winner. You’ll be surprised how many people will select it from a lineup.
Red – Cotes du Rhone is a easy to drink, easy to love red wine from France. Made from a variety of grapes, but mostly Grenache and Syrah, you’ll be hard pressed to come up with a bigger crowd favorite. Spans the gap from lighter to heavier reds.
PLG: Which recipe are you most excited to make this holiday season?
NW: I’m going to make a trio of beautiful hummus (recipe below). Bold Orange Pumpkin, Bright Red Beet and Vivid Green Watercress hummus, all using the same basic white bean recipe. I’m going to serve it up with lots of fresh veggies, lettuce wraps and homemade nut crackers.
PLG: For a host who is trying to serve healthy yet tasty options at their upcoming gathering, what would you suggest?
NW: Think color! Make it pretty. Incorporate fruits and veggies along with your cheese and meat heavy appetizers. Instead of serving lots of breads, crackers or chips include romaine lettuce as a scooper. Use nutrition super stars like arugula in pesto and tapenade. It will add lots of flavor and bright color to your food.
White Bean Hummus (with Beets, Pumpkin or Living Watercress )
- 2 Garlic Cloves
- 2 Cans Cannellini (white kidney beans) drained and well rinsed
- ¼ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Sea Salt and Freshly Cracked Black Pepper to taste
- 1 Tsp Cumin
- 1 Tsp Turmeric
- 1 TB Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice
- ¼ Tsp Cayenne Pepper, optional
- Chopped Herbs or Pumpkin Seeds or Goat Cheese for Garnish
- Step One
- Place the garlic cloves in the processor and finely chop. Add the beans, ¼ Cup Oil, ½ Cup Beets, Pumpkin or Watercress, salt, pepper, cumin, turmeric, lemon juice and cayenne to the food processor and process until smooth. (You may need a little more oil to make it the consistency that you like.)
- Step Two
- Taste for seasoning and adjust with additional salt and pepper if desired. Garnish with your selected garnish and a drizzle of olive oil if you desire. Serve the hummus with lettuce wraps, fresh veggies, pita chips or breads.
- *Add ½ Cup Chopped Beets, Canned Pumpkin or Watercress when processing the hummus to make it colorful – and taste great!
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