Balanced party planning. Or I could call this post “How a Food-Loving, Practical Dietitian Plans a Party.”
Jeff and I are having friends over next weekend for dinner. I have created a fabulous Guinness and Irish-Inspired Menu.
I absolutely love entertaining. The funny thing about entertaining, though, is I love the pre-planning creative process just as much as the cooking, baking and socializing. Creativity is part of what keeps me vibrant, along with spending time with close friends.
Before hosting a party, dinner, brunch or lunch, I consider the following:
- How much time do I have PRIOR to the event for prep?
- Can anything be made in advance to save time the day of?
- What is the occasion? Celebration? Seasonal holiday? My friends and Jeff didn’t even realize it was St. Patrick’s Day weekend when we picked the date, but I never pass up a reason to have a themed party. I LOVE themed parties.
- What do my guests dislike? Yes, if my get-together is small, I ask in advance “what won’t you eat?” so I take that into consideration.
- Do I have ALL five nutrient-rich food groups represented?
Yep, there it is. That last point is the most important to me as a practical, food-loving dietitian. I want to feature good, delicious food, but I also want my guests to have balance, variety and all the nutrient-rich food groups: grains, vegetables, fruits, dairy and protein.
So here’s what I did for the Irish-inspired foods party.
I decided on a crock pot main entrée so I would have less work right before my friends arrive: Guinness Pulled Pork Sandwiches. Instead of pork shoulder or butt, I’m using pork loin since it’s leaner/less fat. This helps balance the Guinness Cheddar Cheese Pub Dip that has cream cheese and Irish Cheddar. And Guinness. Served with rye crisps, pretzels, baby carrots and celery sticks.
Okay, so that covers the Protein (pork), Dairy (cheeses) and Grains (buns for pulled pork). I’m getting white buns, like pretzel or potato, because they’re more Irish. Besides, only half your grains need to be “whole grain” daily.
Okay, so that leaves vegetables and fruits. Hmm. Since I can’t be sure my guests will take the carrots and celery with the Cheese Dip, I’m doing the ubiquitous Irish vegetables: potatoes. Yes, white potatoes are nutrient-rich, Oven-roasted red potatoes on a sheet pan in 425 degree oven, tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper before roasting are a snap.
Fruits. I love coleslaw on pulled pork, and adding raisins, dates, apples or pears is so tasty. So I’m doing a savoy and red cabbage slaw with green onions and sliced apples. Stone ground mustard, olive and vinegar dressing. Fruits – check. Lots more vegetables – check.
I really wanted to serve my Hot Reuben Dip, but it’s too fussy. I’d have to make it right when friends arrive, cook it, and keep it warm. The Cheese Guinness Dip can be made in a food processor the day before and refrigerated. So easy. But just in case you’d like to try my Hot Reuben Dip, here’s that recipe.
And one last requirement at my parties: Little chalkboard signs. I don’t want guests to constantly have to wonder/ask “What is this or what’s in this?” No guessing.
Would love to hear your favorite party planning tip! Cheers to a safe and fun St. Patrick’s Day.