Alternatives to the Cheese Ball

Cheese ball and crackers

Cheese balls. I dread them. If there is a cheese ball at a party, that is where I will find my children.

It’s not that I hate cheese balls. I don’t. I love them, but it’s a solid wad of cheese, and that is just not the way to keep me healthy and happy.

So, if you are looking for quick, easy party foods that do not include the requisite holiday cheese ball, here are just a few of my ideas for crowd pleasing appetizers that are relatively low calorie and high nutrition.


We have access to so much great, fresh Mexican food at local markets, that homemade guacamole is a staple in our house. If you are looking for foods that play on green and red themes, think avocado. Any kind of avocado dip is easy to make and fairly easy to eat while standing up and chatting. Plus, kids love it. Ours usually includes lime juice, pico de gallo or drained salsa, and a little salt and cayenne pepper. We mash by hand rather than in a food processor so the dip is chunky.

Baba Ganoush

You could go with bean dip or hummus, but those are fairly high calorie. When you might be dip dip dipping for a while, a dip made out of vegetables will give you fewer calories per dip. We like to make our own baba ganoush. It’s easy to roast eggplant, peel, then buzz it in the food processor with garlic, lemon juice, tahini, olive, and a little salt and pepper. I like it warm, but it still tastes great cool, so it works at the beginning of the party as well as toward the end—though, in my house, there is no way baba ganoush would last until the end of a party.

Smoked Salmon

Things on Crackers are easy party food for adults and for children. If I let myself indulge in cheese, I really like smoked gouda. To avoid the cheese and keep the smoke, how about smoked salmon as a tasty, non-cheese alternative. Especially if the fish is local to you and you have a fish market that offers sustainably harvested and processed salmon, this can be a special treat for a special party.

I love cheese balls. I admit I had some yesterday, but this is just not a food I can eat a lot of before I’m very sorry. If you are careful with the food you choose to serve or eat at holiday parties, you can avoid that eater’s remorse that so often follows the cheese ball.

Image © Stephaniefrey |

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