Appetizers may call to mind greasy fried food, but they can also be a healthy start to a meal. Serve finger food for appetizers to keep things casual and cut down on dirty dishes. Appetizers are kid-friendly and more convenient for adults than trying to maneuver a fork and knife while standing and socializing.
Grilled Fruit Kabobs
Thread chunks of pineapple, peaches, pears, apricots, plums and other seasonal fruits onto skewers. Grill the skewers on a medium-hot grill until the fruit is hot, turning them over often. Brush the fruit with honey near the end of cooking and serve them warm. Prepare the fruit in uniform chunks so that all of the fruit cooks as evenly as possible. Cut the fruit as close to serving time as possible.
Make fresh summer rolls for a healthy, refreshing alternative to the fried variety of spring rolls or egg rolls. Julienne a variety of vegetables, such as carrots, cabbage, eggplant and leeks. Add some bean sprouts and blanch all the vegetables in salted water. Add cilantro, ginger, chili flakes and other seasonings and roll the mixture in rice paper spring roll wrappers, after soaking the rice paper in water for 30 seconds to a minute. Serve them with a variety of dipping sauces, such as chili sauce, peanut sauce and soy sauce. Make them up to six hours ahead of time and refrigerate, but bring them back to room temperature to serve.
Put together a plate with pita triangles, olives, carrot and celery sticks, cucumber and other chopped vegetables, and serve them with a bowl of hummus for dipping. Purchase or make a variety of hummus flavors; try garlic or roasted red pepper. Crumble feta cheese onto the plate and garnish with parsley or cilantro.
Grilled Veggie Quesadillas
Grill chopped zucchini, peppers, onion, eggplant and other vegetables of your choice until tender. Add the grilled veggies to cream cheese or shredded cheese and season to taste -- try cumin, cilantro or garlic, or sprinkle on a ranch dressing mix. Spread the filling between two tortillas and grill it until the tortillas start to brown and the filling is hot. A minute or two is all it takes. Cut the quesadilla into finger-food wedges.
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