The holidays are fast approaching and that means get-togethers, parties, celebrations and potlucks. If looking your best and achieving those fitness goals are on your wish list, then try these yummy healthier alternatives at your next soirée to keep you on track!

Holiday Goat Cheese Balls

The holiday season is known for over-the-top cheesiness… literally. For this appetizer, you will need goat cheese, cream cheese, crushed pistachios, fresh chopped dill, pomegranate seeds, fresh chives (or any other toppings of your choice) and pretzel sticks. Place the goat cheese and cream cheese in your food processor until the cheeses are mixed well. Then place the mixture in the fridge to cool for about 20 to 25 minutes. After cooling period, remove the blended cheese from fridge and start rolling into balls (as small or big as you would like depending on the party size). When finished, place on parchment paper and stick it back in the fridge to solidify for 30 minutes. Once hardened, roll each ball into one of the toppings listed above. Stick the pretzel into the decorated balls for easy handling, and you’re ready to serve. With this assortment, guests won’t be able to have just one! Optional: pair with some lightly seasoned crackers.

Stuffed Mushrooms

Stockings aren’t the only thing that can be stuffed during the holidays! This yummy stuffed mushroom appetizer will ensure all the guests receive a healthy dose of vitamins and nutrients. For this recipe you will need 24 mushrooms. Start off by lightly rinsing the mushrooms. (Pro tip: do not soak the mushrooms as they will retain water and become soggy.) Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350˚F. Next, remove the stems of the mushrooms and cut those stems up. Prepare a skillet with oil over medium to low heat, and then add 1 cup of diced sweet onion, ½ cup of sun-dried tomatoes and mushroom stems. Sauté until combination is tender, then continue to sauté for another minute while adding in 2 cloves of minced garlic and 4 cups of baby spinach until just wilted.

Turn the heat off and throw in 2/3 of a cup of whole wheat bread crumbs, 6 ounces of fat-free feta cheese and a few tablespoons of parmesan cheese (or yeast). Continue to stir until mixed well. Lastly, stuff the mushrooms with mixture, place on a non-stick pan, sprinkle remaining parmesan on top and place in the oven until cheese is fully melted. Take out of the oven, and let your appetizer cool for 5 to 10 minutes. Optional: Stick a decorative toothpick in each mushroom for easy handling.

Olive Penguins

These cute little guys are simple to make and guaranteed to be a hit at your next gathering! All you need is large black olives, tooth picks, baby carrots and mozzarella balls (or cream cheese). Start by cutting the baby carrots into thin round pieces, then cut out 2 larger triangles for the feet and 1 smaller triangle for the beak. Slice the large olive and stuff a piece of cheese inside. Take the stuffed olive and place onto the carrot feet, and then stack another olive on top of the body. To secure, use a toothpick and make sure all body parts are aligned. Lastly, insert the beak into the small black olive as the finishing touch.

Dried Apricots with Cheese and Nuts

This quick and tasty appetizer will have the guests going nuts for more! Start off by choosing your cheese and nuts. The great thing about this appetizer is you can customize which nuts and cheese to use and even do a variety! For this recipe, we like pairing gorgonzola and almonds on our apricot halves. The amount used will be based on your party size, so portion out accordingly. In your food processor, throw in the gorgonzola and some pepper until fully processed. Optional: Toast your almonds in a frying pan for about 2 to 3 minutes. Next, take your cheese mixture and evenly distribute it on the halves of apricot. Place an almond on top of the gorgonzola and slightly press down until in place. Lastly, top it off with your favorite garnish (we chose rosemary) and you are ready to serve. This recipe is quick but SO yummy. Enjoy!

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