‘Tis the Season Part 2: The Best Defense is a Good Offense?

Part 1 addressed how to eat well at parties in which you can’t control what is offered at the party—more often than not, this is the case if the party to be attended is one you have very short notice for. In casual conversation, you’re invited to a party that begins in two hours. You’re free, so you go. That kind of thing. This round, the situation keeps the ball in your court. Your health is YOUR responsibility—why leave it in someone else’s hands? You have to experience the consequences of your decisions.
Many of the parties this winter are planned well in advance, and are potluck-style. Everyone brings a dish to pass. Most of the time, you will be able to gauge if anyone else is bringing food that is healthy and helps you keep your nutrition on track and plan accordingly. But, regardless of what anyone else is bringing, you have the opportunity to not only give yourself a healthy option, and other party attendees as well! The best offense is a good defense, but in this instance, the best defense is a good offense!
I will encourage you to, if at all possible, contact the party host and inquire as to what he/she/they are planning to serve. If the list does not sound promising, do not be afraid to ask if you can bring a healthy alternative to contribute. For a party in which a sit-down meal is offered, there is typically a protein served. The easiest and most logical option as a healthy alternative is to bring a spinach salad. You can go as simple as just spinach, or get as decorated as you would like, adding feta or a nut cheese, avocado, cucumbers, grape tomatoes, etc. based upon the meat being served.
If the party centers more around refreshments, the easiest option is to bring a vegetable tray and offer salsa as an alternative. If you have a healthy appetizer or dip recipe that you enjoy, make that and bring it with you! You may be surprised how many people appreciate a healthy alternative.
It’s only November 11th, and I have already experienced this dilemma! Being one who does not typically prepare food for other people, it has been a long time since anyone has tasted any of my “creations”—making anything to bring to a party typically brings me close to going into overwhelming anxiety and has, on occasion, actually caused me to decline an invitation to a party.  I recently attended my church’s young adult group which was having a “Dip Contest”—knowing my body does not respond well to dairy, and being well-aware of the fact that many dips involve cheese or cream cheese, I decided to be proactive and make a fresh salsa, with celery to crunch on and dip into it instead of chips. Even after making the salsa, without cilantro at the time because I had forgotten to add it to my cart while at the store, I was battling anxiety and still unsure as to whether or not I should even bother going, as I was concerned about what people would think when I showed up with homemade salsa and celery. I knew that it would pale in comparison to the fancy taco, spinach artichoke, jalapeño, and fruit dips and doubted anyone would even bother with it. That was probably my most reassuring thought, because if no one tried it, they couldn’t hate it and know that I’m not the best chef, and that I don’t do frilly cooking often. Everyone was very gracious and didn’t make a big deal about this—not something I am used to, but was very thankful for. My second reassuring thought was that the time together was not about food or dips—that was just something ELSE that was happening that night.

The holidays are about more than food—they are about thankfulness, joy, peace, redemption, hope, and new beginnings. These are the intangible qualities that give life spark and depth.  Keep that in perspective.

(Sidenote) I had an absolutely wonderful time with everyone. I always enjoy being with new friends and have some of the most encouraging and deep conversations with them. It was much-needed—and to think I was almost so foolish as to skip out because of my ridiculous fears and insecurity!
The salsa has had a chance to “marinate” for 2 days, and I decided that was what I wanted in some capacity this evening for dinner. I set some celery in a bowl, put a few spoonfuls of salsa into the center, then decided I needed some protein, so I cooked some lean turkey breast and added cumin, black pepper, and garlic powder. I ran out of celery before I ran out of salsa and turkey, but both with the celery and on its own, the fresh salsa and turkey was delicious. 🙂 Filling, healthy, and tasted great. Can’t ask for much more.

My salsa creation. This is a creative stretch for me…I have to start somewhere. 🙂

Here is my salsa recipe:
3 Medium Tomatoes—Diced
1 Medium or Large Bell Pepper—Diced
1 Onion—Diced
7 Garlic Cloves—Diced
1 Jalapeño Pepper—Diced
1 Handful Cilantro—Diced
3T Apple Cider Vinegar
3T Lemon Juice
Salt and Pepper—as much as you feel would be beneficial



  1. Sarah-this is great advice as I am already invited to a couple of parties-salsa instead of dip(dairy) is great! I slso think that drinks can be toned down to non-alcoholic-or choose water if one does not drink-thank you-holiday time ican be challenging for people striving for healthy lifestyles.

  2. oh and I am definitely going to try your salsa “dip” thanks for sharing the recipe

    1. You’re welcome! It’s great, even after a few days!! 🙂

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