By Lisa Tsakos
Co-Author of Unjunk Your Junk Food
Hollywood is poised to honor its finest in film in the biggest celebration of the year, the 84th Annual Academy Awards. Why not celebrate the Oscars by hosting your own party? While elegance is a priority, you can serve up healthy hors d’oeuvres and drinks that are both decadent and good for you.
Dark chocolate is a winner at any party. Pick up several dark chocolate bars with 70 percent or more cocoa, break them into pieces, and serve on doilies. Doilies always look glamorous and can be purchased at your local dollar store. For added flare (and nutrients), include some bars with dried nuts or lemon zest.
Movies and popcorn go hand in hand. Make-ahead caramel popcorn that’s fit for the stars is easy to prepare. In a saucepan, melt coconut oil and stir in Sucanat (unrefined sugar). Mix well and drizzle over freshly popped corn. The syrup will caramelize on the popcorn as it cools. Another option: Toss warm popcorn with some extra-virgin olive oil and freshly grated Parmesan cheese. For an international flare, dust popcorn with a mixture of cayenne pepper and crushed coriander.
Serve whole-grain bagel chips, plain tortilla chips, and a crudité platter with a decadent dip made by mixing Greek yogurt with caramelized onions or shallots and fresh herbs. You can also make simple hummus, or if you’re short on time, buy prepared dips such as Simply Organic Ranch Dip, organic salsa, and guacamole.
All-natural ice cream served in a martini glass and topped with fresh fruit is not only fit for the stars but is so stunning that it will likely win Best Picture. We nominate GaGa’s SherBetter Raspberry. A perfect topper is a miniature gingersnap cookie, such as Pamela’s Ginger Mini Snapz, or for something more fun, Surf Sweets Gummy Bears.
Bake chocolate cupcakes designed to look like tuxedos made with an all-natural chocolate cake mix and Cherrybrook Kitchen’s Vanilla Frosting.
All the cheek-kissing at the Academy Awards calls for breath mints to be on hand. Avoid artificial sweeteners, flavors, and colors with Yummy Earth Organic Wild Peppermint Candy Drops, St. Claire’s Organics Mints, or VerMints All-Natural Breath Mints.
Add glam to your party with your own designer cocktails. Start with a tablespoon of pomegranate seeds in champagne glasses topped with sparkling water and juice (try lychee or pineapple juice, or pear nectar) and fresh mint leaves. You’ll feel like a movie star drinking Santa Cruz Lemon Lime Sparkling Beverage or Izze Esque Sparkling Lime Juice.
Turn black picture frames or shadow boxes into stylish serving trays. Display black-and-white photos of your favorite stars, this year’s Oscar nominees, or stills from nominated or classic movies.
We also give these Oscar-worthy snack suggestions two thumbs up:
—Black licorice (try Panda All Natural Soft Licorice)
—Snyder’s of Hanover Mini Pretzels
—Calbee Snack Salad Snapea Crisps (baked)
—Seapoint Farms Dry-Roasted Edamame
Oscar-Winning Kale Chips Recipe: Wash and dry a bunch of kale, then trim the stems and tear into bite-size pieces. Massage with a tablespoon of olive oil and a teaspoon of sea salt. Line a cookie sheet, and bake the kale at a low temperature (375 degrees Fahrenheit) until chips are crispy (but not burnt). You’ll have the crunchy, salty satisfaction of a potato chip—and you can polish it off without any guilt.
Want more info on healthy eating? Unjunk Your Junk Food can help you navigate your way through the snack aisle, pointing out better quality products that taste just like their unhealthier, albeit more popular alternatives, while simultaneously schooling you about the dangers of artificial additives.