6 Classic Appetizers — and How to Healthify Them

They taste indulgent while treating your health.

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Appetizers are the perfect party food, but if you want some healthier options, it can feel like you’re stuck serving carrot and celery sticks. Luckily, this isn’t the case: You can serve classic appetizers that taste indulgent, but also treat your health.

With a few clever tweaks, you can healthify the apps that your party guests are already familiar with, whether you’re celebrating New Year’s Eve or your dog’s 3rd birthday.

1. Give spinach artichoke dip the hummus treatment

This famous and beloved dip may have veggies, but that doesn’t mean it’s healthy. It’s packed with high-fat dairy like cream cheese, sour cream, and/or mozzarella. Foods high in saturated fat can harm cardiovascular health and fuel inflammation in the body.

Instead, you can use hummus as the base of this dip. It lowers the saturated fat *and* ups the fiber count. Find out how to make spinach artichoke hummus dip here.

2. Make popcorn shrimp in the air fryer or oven

Shrimp is a lean protein, but breading and frying adds extra fat and calories. Of course, you could skip the breading altogether and saute, roast, grill, or boil shrimp instead; however, if you’re looking for that crispy, crusty exterior, an air fryer or oven can get it done (without the grease). Learn more ways to use an air fryer here.

3. Try this heart-healthy swap for meatball sliders

Instead of meatballs made from beef or sausage, try making lentil meatballs. Lentils are much lower in saturated fat, as well as significantly higher in fiber. Plus, sausage and red meat have been classified as carcinogenic and probably carcinogenic, respectively, according to the World Health Organization. This means there is evidence that they can increase the risk of cancer.

Once paired with your favorite marinara sauce, these flavorful lentil meatballs will make the perfect healthified slider. Find out how to make lentil meatballs here.

4. Provide other options to dip into guac

Guacamole is already a delicious way to get heart-healthy fats, and it's unnecessary to "healthify" the guac itself. (Find out how to make homemade guacamole here.)

You’ve probably heard about those viral recipes for “low-fat guac” that mix in pureed green peas, but if that’s understandably not your style, think about your chips instead. Include crispy sliced veggies like radishes, jicama, endives, or bell pepper slices for dipping—so people have the option to avoid the bloating from salty tortilla chips.

5. Stuff mushrooms with a savory white bean mixture (instead of cheese)

Many stuffed mushroom recipes use high-fat cheese, but you can make a creamy and savory filling using a garlicky, herbed white bean puree. PsstHere are more unconventional ways to eat more beans.

6. Make pulled pork sliders with jackfruit

Yes, jackfruit is technically a “fruit,” but young and unripe jackfruit works perfectly in savory recipes. It has been used as a meat alternative in Sri Lanka for centuries, and it’s just recently been embraced in the United States. (Learn more about what jackfruit is and how to eat it here.)

Because jackfruit “shreds,” it makes a great pulled pork or pulled chicken replacement. Once paired with your favorite BBQ sauce, jackfruit makes a pulled “pork” slider that’s lower in calories and saturated fat.

Need more tips on healthy party food?