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Christian Living

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Food and Fellowship: Healthy Party Food That Makes the Difference

PARTIES ARE FOR FELLOWSHIP

Fellowship with the body of Christ is vitally important for encouragement and building one another up (Hebrews 10:24-25), ministering to the needs of others (Galatians 6:2), rejoicing with those who rejoice (Romans 12:15), and practicing hospitality (Romans 12:13).

Parties to celebrate special events, accomplishments, and holidays are the perfect opportunities for exercising these roles among Christians. For many of us, food and fellowship is a perfect marriage, but for some people, invitations to events that center around food triggers apprehension and anxiety.

TRADITIONAL PARTY FOOD AS STUMBLING BLOCKS

There is no doubt that food allergies and intolerances are on the rise, forcing many to restrict ingredients that are commonly found in party foods. Other people are simply choosing to eat more healthfully as a means of curtailing health problems, managing weight, or for physical fitness. Ultimately, healthful eating should be a priority for all Christians since our bodies are temples of God, purchased at a high price, and used to display the glory of God. So perhaps, healthier party food options should become a welcome guest at every opportunity for fellowship.

 UNHEALTHY TRADITIONS

So, what exactly makes traditional party food unhealthy? First, most traditional party foods sport large amounts of sugar. Cookies, brownies, cakes, muffins, and ice cream all scream sugar! And let’s not forget that soda has become the staple beverage for party-goers. It is almost impossible not to load the body with this ingredient that is the villain in so many of our weight challenges, and chronic health conditions.

Second, many of the sweet treats and salty snacks attract our attention and taste buds because of the chemical additives including artificial flavorings, colorings, preservatives, and compounds that perfect the texture and palatability of foods. Science is showing us that many food manufactures deceptively tailor their recipes to include a chemical makeup that triggers certain brain chemicals and hormones that keep us coming back for more. Food addictions and cravings are not just matters of self-control, but are also the product of food chemistry.

Finally, most party foods include large amounts of unhealthy fats. Fat itself, should be part of a healthy diet, but the highly processed types of fats found in most party foods can wreak havoc on our health.

Hydrogenated oils and highly refined vegetable oils can increase inflammation and damaging free radicals in our body. These oils are often found in spreads, shortenings, and even the traditional vegetable oil found in most household pantries.

HEALTHY PARTY OPTIONS

By now, you are probably wondering what healthy food options should be offered at our get-togethers. Perhaps, one of the best options for ensuring everyone (regardless of their dietary choices) can comfortably participate is to offer a large platter of fresh vegetables and a fresh fruit dish. Hummus or guacamole is a great accompaniment to any veggie tray. Vegetable salads can also be a relief to those seeking healthier options, but it is best to leave off the dressing and provide a variety of dressing options, including plain olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Rather than party mints and candy, offer small bowls of dry-roasted or raw nuts such as almonds, cashews, pistachios, and walnuts. Freshly popped popcorn with salt (no caramel coating or artificial butter flavoring) can be another welcomed treat.

If you aware of any dietary restrictions, be sure to include some options such as gluten-free crackers and homemade treats that do not require the most common food allergens: gluten, dairy, soy, and corn.

The nature of the party can often determine the cuisine, but nearly any common party dish can be recreated with healthier ingredients.

Use whole grains when possible, unrefined coconut oil in place of butter or shortening, and honey or stevia to sweeten treats.

And finally, be sure to let your health-conscious guests know that there are some food options by making a small disclaimer on your invitation. This may make the difference between an acceptance or a refusal. If you make a homemade treat or dish, supplying a notecard with the ingredients is appreciated by those attempting to avoid specific ingredients.

At your next party, try this recipe for healthier, black bean brownies. Not only are these allergy-friendly, but they offer an array of health benefits (including extra fiber) for everyone. No one will guess they’re made from black beans!


FUDGY CHOCOLATE BROWNIES

Makes 12 brownies

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 ½ cups of sugar-free dark chocolate chips (ie. Lily’s Premium Baking Chips)
  • 1 (15.5oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • ¼ cup raw cacao powder
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon organic, instant coffee (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon powdered stevia (ie. Stevita)

PREPARATION INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a strong blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
  3. Line an 8×8 glass baking dish with parchment paper.
  4. Pour batter into glass baking dish and spread with a spatula.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes or until firm.
  6. Cool before cutting into squares.

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From Faith & Fitness Magazine April/May 2018. Reprinted with permission. Copyright © Faith & Fitness Magazine and Lifestyle Media Group. Faith & Fitness Magazine is a lifestyle resource to build physical and spiritual strength. It helps readers make connections between the Christian faith and the fitness lifestyle. To contact the publisher of Faith & Fitness Magazine, Brad Bloom, for reprint permission, e-mail [email protected].

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