A Dietician’s Guide To Healthy Entertaining

A Dietician’s Guide To Healthy Entertaining

Whether you’re hosting a Saturday afternoon BBQ or a Sunday brunch with your girlfriends, entertaining needn’t always be over-the-top indulgent or unhealthy. From savvy swaps for healthier canapés to why it’s always worth keeping your freezer well stocked, we asked Lydia Worsley and Robyn Henry – dieticians at The Parker Practice – to share their insights.


Get Organised

“Planning ahead really helps when it comes to healthier hosting. Start to have a look at recipes in advance that you think might work for the occasion – whether it’s a sit-down dinner or a picnic in your garden. You may even be able to do some preparation ahead of the event, whether it’s making your own burger patties the day before or peeling and chopping salads and vegetables a few hours before guests arrive.”

Prepare Some Nutritious Nibbles 

“If you are serving drinks before dinner, consider making your own nibbles, which will be far more nutritious than a bowl of crisps or nuts. Try cutting plain tortilla wraps into wedges and toast them under the grill until crunchy – serve with low-fat hummus, low-fat cream cheese or a homemade butterbean dip. A platter of colourful crudités also goes down well – think baby corn, sugar snap peas and sticks of crunchy celery. Homemade roasted chickpeas are also a great alternative to salty nuts – drain and dry before roasting for around 40 minutes on a low heat. Other savoury options include crackers and blinis, which you can serve with smoked salmon, mackerel or lean charcuterie such as bresaola or serrano ham.” 

Make Your Dishes As Colourful As Possible 

“Having a range of dishes on offer to suit both you and your guests is a failsafe formula. Plus, offering dishes such as salads and traybakes means people can serve themselves – ideal if you want to control your own portion. Try basing main courses on colourful vegetables and salad ingredients such as spinach, peppers, tomatoes, and broccoli, and then add a protein source – think lean meat, fish, seafood, eggs, cheese, pulses, Quorn or tofu. You may also like to offer a starchy carb-based dish such as bread, potatoes, rice, or pasta for hungrier guests. Don’t forget to add bursts of flavour like fresh garden herbs, spices, chilli, garlic and lemon juice. A couple of our favourite entertaining dishes at The Parker Practice include a salmon and ratatouille traybake and pesto chicken, which is great served with crispy kale.”

Be Creative With Protein

“Protein is vital for keeping you full and keeping blood sugar levels steady, but there are plenty of options if you’re catering for a veggie crowd. Some of our favourite nutritious meat-free ideas include a vegetable and bean chilli; a lentil and chickpea curry; Quorn bolognaise; tofu or prawn skewers; and egg and vegetable traybakes. Don’t forget that marinated halloumi or seafood can also be stars of the show in flavoursome summer salads with lots of grilled vegetables and spinach.”

Be Prepared For Last-Minute Guests

“Keep your cupboards stocked with the right ingredients and you’ll be able to create healthy dishes if surprise guests arrive. Store cupboard staples include beans, chickpeas, lentils and tinned fish (such as mackerel fillets in spring water) as well as crackers and oatcakes. Pulses are a great way to add protein to curries, casseroles, and soups, while oatcakes are the perfect base for a pre-dinner nibble – top with hummus, guacamole, or smoked salmon. Your freezer is also your friend. Frozen spinach and peas can be easily added to curries and soups, while frozen prawns can be added into a soup or as a base for a stir-fry. Or wrap frozen salmon fillets in foil parcels, drizzling with olive oil and lemon juice before baking in the oven while you prepare a simple salad and chat with your guests.”

Make A Healthier Cheeseboard

“Vegetable crudités, artichokes, sundried tomato, sliced figs and grapes are a great alternative to crackers and can help accentuate the different flavour profiles of the cheeses you are serving. If you do decide to serve crackers, just make sure they are wholegrain varieties. Also remember that one portion of cheese is equivalent to a small box of matches. Serve cheese in small chunks or slices so you can enjoy a variety of options to ‘build’ your matchbox.”

Navigate The Supermarket

“We’ve all been there – if you’re hosting last-minute or are on your way home from work, it can be stressful to pull everything together. Cooked grilled chicken, poached salmon, smoked mackerel and cooked king prawns are all fantastic and can be easily bought in most supermarkets – serve with a selection of salads. If you’re in M&S, look for their mozzarella and Santini tomato salad, or the Greek feta and olive salad, both of which work well as an accompaniment alongside lean protein. If you’re looking for a complete meal which you can plate up for your guests, try M&S’ Nourish Bowl, Waitrose’s adzuki and edamame bean salad or Sainsbury’s honey roast salmon and potato salad. If you are serving these to guests, serve in gorgeous serving dishes and bowls.”

Don’t Ban Puddings

“When it comes to desserts, offer a couple of choices, including a lighter option such as a fruit platter, a refreshing sorbet or frozen yoghurt, which is great served in pretty bowls and topped with summer fruits. If you are serving a fruit platter, slice fruits such as pineapple, melon, papaya, apple and kiwi fruit and scatter with berries. Serve with dollops of frozen yoghurt, natural yoghurt or low-fat ice cream. A drizzle of melted dark chocolate also adds a rich hit of cocoa and looks gorgeous. Chopped fruit can also be served in glass bowls layered with crunchy granola and yoghurt or ice cream for a special parfait-style dessert. If you fancy something warm, a fruit crumble made with an oat topping, or mini fruit-topped filo pastry tarts, also work well.”

Make A Healthy Mocktail

“Summer presents a wonderful opportunity to serve refreshing and delicious beverages, and just because you’re trying to be good doesn’t mean they need to be boring. Our Parker Practice citrus and mint fizz is a real favourite – combine two teaspoons of stevia dissolved in a little hot water with the juice of four lemons, four limes and finely sliced mint leaves. Store in an air-tight jar in the fridge or freeze in ice cube trays. To serve, top up with chilled sparkling water and serve with extra mint leaves. If you are short on time, simply popping a few sprigs of mint and a slice of lemon in sparkling water tastes great or try adding some sliced ginger with chopped peaches.”

Finally – Don’t Be Tempted To Skip A Meal

“If you are hosting, or know you will be having a bigger meal on a particular evening, try to avoid skipping lunch that day in a bid to save calories. When you skip a meal, or leave long gaps without food, you are more likely to experience a drop in your blood sugar levels, which will leave you feeling hungry, lethargic, and irritable, and may mean you end up eating even more than you had planned. Try to space your meals evenly throughout the day, basing your plate on a portion of lean protein, plenty of colourful, non-starchy vegetables and a small portion of wholegrain carbs to sustain your appetite throughout the day. You may wish to opt for slightly lower-energy snacks or main meals if you plan to have a larger meal later, but there’s no need to skip a meal.”


For more information visit TheParkerPractice.com and follow @TheParkerPractice on Instagram.


DISCLAIMER: Features published by SheerLuxe are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. Always seek the advice of your GP or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health-related programme.


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