It’s that time of the year again, time for the office or PTA holiday pot luck, so it’s also time for a list of healthy foods for pot luck lunches and dinners. They’re low in calories, but high in nutritional content… and they’re tasty too! If you have a pot luck coming up, keep reading! Here are my picks for healthy foods for pot luck meals.
1. Fruit Skewers
No matter what season your pot luck is in, there are plenty of fresh fruits in season to make colorful, sweet fruit skewers. Get creative — use star fruits, a melon baller, mini cookie cutters, and a variety of fruits to make a colorful batch of skewers. This is one of my healthy foods for pot luck because it’s something of a sweet treat, so it’ll be popular, and it’s colorful, too!
Five or six types of fresh fruit, peeled and cut
Mint sprigs for garnish
Get creative with the peeling and slicing of your fruit, then load them onto the bamboo skewers. Peaches, melons, grapes, and berries make excellent skewer fruits; avoid apples and bananas.
2. Vegetarian Chili
I love chili, and I’ve never met anyone who didn’t, especially at a pot luck. This one’s good, too, because it’s vegetarian-friendly, and low-fat, and high in protein. Wow!
2 cans diced tomatoes with green chilis and onions
1 can of tomato soup
2 cans of pinto beans, rinsed
1 can of dark red kidney beans, rinsed
Chili powder or flakes to taste
Mix everything together in a large crock-pot, and set on low. Stir every couple of hours, and cook for at least four. Garnish with low-fat cheese or oyster crackers. I love this chili because it’s easy, and because it’s even better on the second day!
3. Black Bean Lettuce Wraps
At only 170 calories each, and with no cooking required, these little wraps are diet-friendly, perfect for any pot luck, especially lunch!
1 cup canned no-salt-added black beans, rinsed and drained
½ cup frozen whole-kernel corn, thawed
1 small Italian plum (Roma) tomato, diced
½ small avocado, diced
2 tablespoons snipped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
½ teaspoon chili powder
8 Bibb lettuce leaves
½ cup shredded low-fat Monterey Jack cheese
½ cup salsa (lowest sodium available)
In a small bowl, stir together the beans, corn, tomato, avocado, cilantro, lemon juice, and chili powder.
Spoon two heaping spoonfuls of the bean mixture into the center of each lettuce cup. Top with the Monterey Jack and salsa. Roll the lettuce to enclose the filling, tucking the ends in. Secure each roll with a toothpick.
4. Hummus and Pita
Could a pot luck dish be any simpler than this? You can buy a low-cal, low-fat hummus from the deli, or make your own. Add carrots, cucumber slices, pita chips or warm, soft pita bread to scoop the hummus, and your dish is complete!
1 large can of chickpeas
2 tablespoons tahini
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 -3 cloves garlic (crushed)
½ cup roasted red pepper
1 ½ teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
½ teaspoon cayenne
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
Drain and rinse chick peas/garbanzos, reserving liquid. In small bowl, combine cumin, coriander, cayenne (use less if you don't want it to be spicy), and salt, mixing thoroughly. Put garbanzo beans/chick peas in bowl of food processor with chopping blade, and sprinkle the spice mixture over the top evenly. Add the tahini, lemon juice, garlic, and roasted red peppers, and blend until well mixed. Add the fresh ground pepper. Once the hummus gets smooth, add some of the reserved liquid from the chick peas/garbanzos while it is being processed, until it reaches the desired consistency.
5. Penne with Veggies
If your pot luck will be at dinner-time, then this is the perfect healthy dish to bring! Who doesn’t love pasta? It’s a wonderful way to work in a serving of veggies, too! One large serving contains about 400 calories, but a lot of those are from fiber and from protein.
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 medium carrots, halved lengthwise and sliced ¼ inch thick
4 ounces morels, halved if large, or cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
8 ounces asparagus (8-10 stalks), trimmed and sliced diagonally ¼ inch thick, tips reserved separately
1 cup peas, fresh or frozen (thawed)
1 cup fava beans or lima beans, fresh or frozen (thawed)
4 scallions, white part only, thinly sliced
¾ teaspoon Maldon or other flaky sea salt
¼ teaspoon coarsely ground pepper, or more to taste
3 tablespoons kosher salt
1 pound penne pasta, preferably whole-wheat
1/3 cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil
1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint
½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Heat ¼ cup oil in a large pot over medium-high heat until hot. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until barely golden, about 30 seconds. Add carrots, reduce heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to soften, 3 to 4 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to soften, 2 to 3 minutes. Add sliced asparagus stalks and cook for 2 minutes, then add the asparagus tips, peas, beans and scallions. Season with sea salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until all the vegetables are just tender, about 2 minutes more. Remove from the heat. Meanwhile, bring 6 quarts of water to a boil in another large pot. Add kosher salt and pasta; cook until just tender, 10 to 12 minutes (or according to package directions). Drain, reserving ½ cup of the cooking water. Add the pasta and ¼ cup of the reserved cooking water to the vegetables, stirring and tossing over medium heat to mix well. Cover, reduce heat to low, and allow to steam together for 2 minutes. Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and a splash or two more of the reserved cooking water if necessary to loosen the sauce. Stir in the parsley, basil and mint. Serve with Parmigiano.
6. Greek Veggie Salad
I always get compliments when I bring this colorful salad to a pot luck… and no one believes me when I tell them one cup of the salad contains less than 70 calories!
2 cups chopped tomatoes
1 cup chopped cucumber
½ cup chopped yellow, red, or green sweet pepper
¼ cup chopped red onion
1 ½ teaspoons snipped fresh thyme or ½ teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
1 teaspoon snipped fresh oregano or ¼ teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar or regular balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
Leaf lettuce (optional)
½ cup crumbled reduced-fat feta cheese (2 ounces)
In a large bowl combine tomatoes, cucumber, sweet pepper, red onion, thyme, and oregano. For dressing, in a small bowl whisk together balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Pour dressing over vegetable mixture. Toss gently to coat. If desired, line a serving bowl with lettuce; spoon in vegetable mixture. Sprinkle with feta cheese to garnish.
7. Curried Squash Muffins
Want something truly easy to prepare for a pot luck, but something that seems like it took a lot of work? Try these healthy little muffins… they’re so rich and savory!
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup white whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon curry powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
½ cup butter, softened
½ cup packed brown sugar
1 cup mashed roasted butternut squash or 1 cup frozen cooked winter squash, thawed
¼ cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup vanilla soy milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line sixteen 2 1/2-inch muffin cups with paper bake cups; set aside. In a medium bowl combine all-purpose flour, white whole wheat flour, baking powder, cinnamon, curry powder, salt, and cayenne pepper (if using); set aside. In a large bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add brown sugar; beat until combined. Add squash, ginger, egg, and vanilla; beat until combined. Alternately add the flour mixture and soy milk to squash mixture, beating on low speed after each addition just until combined. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling each about two-thirds full. Bake about 20 minutes or until muffin tops spring back when lightly touched. Cool in muffin cups on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Remove from muffin cups. Serve warm and soft… yum!
With so many tasty, healthy foods for pot luck lunches and dinners, the question is which to prepare, and which to wow with later! I love the muffins, and the fruit skewers, but which of these is your favorite? Or is there another healthy pot luck meal you always bring? Do tell! I’d love to hear your recipes!