20 Healthy Holiday Appetizers + Why You Should Eat Them in a Certain Order

20 Healthy Holiday Appetizers + Why You Should Eat Them in a Certain Order  

I am a person who LIVES for food, and as much as I wish I could view food solely as fuel for my body, it’s just not me.  Unfortunately, carbs and cheese tend to be my two favorite foods as well...my mom actually nicknamed me the carbo queen when I was younger, and I think my dog lived until 16 because I fed her all of my vegetables under the table.

As you can imagine, appetizers can be a major problem...I mean charcuterie boards, cheesy dips, and pigs in a blanket, COME ON! So as I’ve started to eat healthier, it means that the healthier options still have to pack a major punch when it comes to flavor! I am all about balance, so I will most likely indulge a little, but I wanted to share some healthier apps with you guys and explain why you should reach for the veggie platter or shrimp cocktail first.

Some of you are probably thinking why the heck I am suggesting you prioritize the order in which you eat appetizers, so let’s start there.

According to a study from the American Diabetes Association, eating veggies and protein before eating carbs can help control blood sugar, which in turn helps you maintain your weight.

The researchers took 11 people with type 2 diabetes and had them fast for 12 hours overnight before consuming a 628 calorie meal with protein, carbs, and fat. In the first trial they ate the carbs first, and in the second trial they ate the same meal but starting with veggies, protein, and then carbs. After each meal, the researchers measured their blood sugar 30, 60, and 120 minutes later. When the participants ate the veggies and protein first, their levels were 29% lower at 30 min, 37 percent lower after 60 min, and 17 percent lower after 120 min compared to the carb first levels.

This means that eating veggies and protein first decreased the insulin spike that carbs usually cause. With lower insulin levels, the carbs have less of a chance of being stored as body fat.

Researchers from Canada and Australia have also reported that drinking protein shakes, particularly those including whey, an hour before buffet-style meals significantly reduces hunger and reduces the amount of food eaten.1,2 This is because whey protein has been found to raise levels of the hunger-blunting hormones cholecystokinin (CCK) and glucagon-like peptide-1 (GPL-1) higher than other types of protein.3

The Canadian researchers further found that when the subjects drank 20-40 grams of whey protein before consuming unlimited amounts of pizza, their blood glucose and insulin levels were significantly lower than when they didn't drink the whey protein shake.4

Now on to the good stuff :)

1.  These super cute veggie trays - not sure why veggies look way more appetizing in the shape of a wreath and ornament, but it works for me

2. Shrimp Cocktail Platter from Joyful Healthful Eats. Some of these appetizers may be swayed towards my personal preferences, but I just have something against cold, unseasoned shrimp. If you’re like me then mix it up with this take on the classic shrimp cocktail

3. Proscuitto wrapped asparagus - Proscuitto + asparagus Yes please :) - ok quick side note, proscuitto isn’t really THAT healthy for you, but it tastes damn good and it’s better then a lot of options out there. I usually take 2-3 spears per piece of proscuitto.

4.  Fancy Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese Cucumber Bites from Baker by Nature

5. Tuna and Avocado Cucumber Sushi- Tuna doesn’t scream Christmas, but these two tartares are pretty festive with red and green. A family friend brought a tuna tartare dip to christmas one time and I was very hesitant, but its the perfect app to add some lightness to the rest of the heavier food. It also dissapeared in no time...oops

6. Red and Green Ahi Poke Dip- This is actually a recipe for a poke bowl, but sub out the extra add-ons and bring in some cucumber or wonton crisps and you have an awesome tuna poke dip

7. Caprese Boat Skewers from Terri’s Table

8.  Whole30 approved Asian Turkey Meatballs from Chef Savvy

9. Itty bitty Zucchini Pizza Bites- from The Comfort of Cooking


10. Hey Bacon's Paleo right? These Bacon Brussel Sprout Skewers from Delish might not be the healthiest depending on your dietary preferences, but they look delectable

11. Chili Lime Shrimp Cups  - more of a summer food, but if it tastes good, you can really pull anything off

Recipe and photo  I  Inspired Taste

Recipe and photo  I  Inspired Taste

12. Cheese and Herb Stuffed Mini Bell Peppers from Savoring Time in the Kitchen

13. Stuffed mini portobellos from The Cozy Apron

15. Sweet Potato Rounds With Herbed Ricotta and Walnuts from The Roasted Root - not all carbs are the enemy :)  

17. Onion dip made with greek yogurt - This is one of my personal favorite appetizers and one that can even make you friends...not kidding. I am usually always a fan of home cooked versions, but I still haven’t tasted an onion dip as good as the one made with ¾ of a pack of Lipton onion soup and 0% Fage greek yogurt. It packs a huge amount of sodium and has a couple of processed ingredients, so I'll add a homemade version as well, but if you’re short on time and looking for a healthier version of a classic, try this out. You need what my aunt calls a vessel for this dip, so if you want to be healthier with that you can replace the ruffles with different veggies here are two homemade version from The Kitchn and The Daring Gourmet.

19. Roasted Tomato Bruschetta with Whipped Goat Cheese from Joyful Health Eats - because bread and cheese had to make its appearance somewhere on here

20.  And just because I love crostinis so much, here a ton of yummy options from Delish



  1. Anderson, G. H., Tecimer, S. N., Shah, D., & Zafar, T. A. (2004). Protein source, quantity, and time of consumption determine the effect of proteins on short-term food intake in young men. The Journal of Nutrition, 134(11), 3011-3015.

  2. Bowen, J., Noakes, M., & Clifton, P. M. (2006). Appetite regulatory hormone responses to various dietary proteins differ by body mass index status despite similar reductions in ad libitum energy intake. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 91(8), 2913-2919.

  3. Hall, W. L., Millward, D. J., Long, S. J., & Morgan, L. M. (2003). Casein and whey exert different effects on plasma amino acid profiles, gastrointestinal hormone secretion and appetite. British Journal of Nutrition, 89(02), 239-248.

  4. Akhavan, T., Luhovyy, B. L., Brown, P. H., Cho, C. E., & Anderson, G. H. (2010). Effect of premeal consumption of whey protein and its hydrolysate on food intake and postmeal glycemia and insulin responses in young adults. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 91(4), 966-975.

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