Rebecca Lacey/Retna UK
Think Before You Nosh
When it comes to party hors d'oeuvres, it's hard to imagine that just a few bite-size morsels could really do some damage to your figure. Yet those oh-so-cute appetizers are packed with some not-so-nice calories and fat. Take a closer look at the top 10 small-yet-deceiving nibbles — you'll be amazed how quickly they can add up.
Spinach Artichoke Dip with Chips
Spinach and artichokes? No problem. Now for the caloric culprits: After you mix in cream cheese, sour cream, and sometimes even mayo, you end up with 220 calories and 22 grams of fat for a mere dollop (1/4 cup), says Rachel Beller, RD, founder of the Beller Nutritional Institute. Scoop your dip with just five fried tortilla chips and you're coming in at around 307 calories.
Vegetable Egg Rolls
Don't be fooled by the innocent-sounding name. Those vegetables filling the roll are sauteed in oil, tossed in a fatty sauce, and then deep-fried. "You're looking at 150 to 200 calories for just one small egg roll," warns Beller.
Depending on how it's cooked and what it could be soaked in, this is a classic example of taking something healthy and turning it into a calorie-packed nightmare. "With two small tuna tartare canapes weighing in at a heavy 384 calories and 12 grams of fat, you're better off steering clear of these completely," says Beller. For a healthier choice, take the tuna off the bread, which packs on unwanted calories.
Mini Potato Knish
These comforting, cute knishes are a popular appetizer among vegetarians. But one of these tiny turnovers has 100 calories and 8 grams of fat! That's 100 calories for just two bites of food.
Let's break this one down: A 6-inch quesadilla made with 2 flour tortillas, cheddar cheese, and veggies can actually add up to an astounding 586 calories and a disturbing 33 grams of fat! Eat just one quarter of the quesadilla, and that wedge will set you back 146 calories and 11 grams of fat, before you've even moved on to any other appetizers.
Pigs in a Blanket
They're small, they're fun, and they're also 70 calories and 5 grams of fat per piece. "The average person eats at least three. And the average person also already has a cocktail in hand before reaching for these, which means they're already at least 150 calories in the game; now they're over 350 calories," says Beller.
Soup can often have the smoke and mirrors of looking nutritious, but depending on what's in it the opposite is often true. Just one cup of clam chowder can have 163 calories, 5 grams of fat, and 1,144 milligrams of sodium. Opt for soups with a clear broth, like vegetable, for a better bet.
These spinach-filled bites of phyllo dough are a favorite at any party, but don't get too friendly: With one small triangle, you'll have consumed 80 calories and 4 grams of fat.
Yes, nuts are nutritious, but keep in mind that "good for you" does not always mean low-cal, especially if you throw portion control to the wind. "A small handful of Planters mixed nuts (1/4 cup) nets you a whopping 340 calories," says Beller. This pre-dinner snack also supplies a lot of salt and fat, which could lead to a bloated belly before you even sit down to dinner. Though they're a good food source to keep you feeling full until dinner, be mindful of how often you're snacking on them to play it safe.
It's the holidays, and the candy dish or chocolate box will inevitably be making its annual appearance. An occasional treat is perfectly fine, as long as you know when to walk away. A good rule of thumb is to have one piece of what you really want and then stop snacking. And don't forget to sip on water to nix dehydration, which you may be mistaking for hunger.
Originally published on FitnessMagazine.com, November 2011.