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Healthy Appetizers

April 2, 2009 Written by JP    [Font too small?]

Let’s say you’re hosting a party and a few of your guests have special nutritional needs. Maybe they’re diabetic or trying to avoid refined carbohydrates and sugar. Or perhaps they suffer from celiac disease, which makes eating most grains out of the question. Today Iā€™d like to share a few of my favorite appetizers, which happen to be very low in sugar and gluten-free. But make no mistake, they’re loaded with robust flavors that’ll satisfy even the pickiest eaters.

Avoid Ingredients, Not Flavor

Finger foods are a fantastic way to start off a party. They’re also one of the easiest ways to provide variety in terms of your food selection. With the main course you’re unlikely to make two or more entrees. But it’s really not that difficult to prepare a few hot appetizers in addition to cold standbys such as fresh cut veggies with dip, assorted nuts, olives, salami and so on.

One of my favorite starters is something I call Jumpin’ Jalapenos. Here’s how I make them.

Jumpin' Jalapenos


  • jalapeno peppers
  • Italian sausage
  • shallots
  • sour cream
  • softened cream cheese (room temp)
  • mixed shredded cheeses of your choice

The first thing you need to do is wash, halve and scoop out the seeds and veins in the jalapeno peppers. A teaspoon works great as a scooper. Make sure to wash your hands well after doing this. The seeds contain the majority of the heat, which can be transferred by touch. So PLEASE wear gloves or wash your hands before you rub your eyes or touch any other sensitive body parts!

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the hollow peppers on a baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes, so that they soften a little but still have a nice crunch.

While the peppers are baking, saute the sausage on the stove top until it’s cooked through. Then dice up the shallots and place in a mixing bowl with the sour cream, cream cheese and about half of the shredded cheese.

Pull the peppers out of the oven and let cool. Add the cooked sausage to your cheese mixture and combine well. Now stuff the hollow pepper halves generously with the mixture, which should have the consistency of a thick oatmeal. Sprinkle with additional shredded cheese before placing in the oven. Turn your oven to broil for the last few minutes (keep a close eye on them!) for a deliciously crusty top.

Another favorite recipe is something we call Zizza. It’s basically pizza made with sliced zucchini as a crust. It’s a snap to make. Here’s how we do it:



  • zucchini
  • tomato sauce
  • shredded Italian cheese blend

Slice zucchini into large bite-sized pieces. Keep in mind that they’ll shrink somewhat during the cooking process. I usually make the slices about 3 inches long, 1 to 2 inches wide and about an 1/8 of an inch thick.

Put a generous amount of olive oil in a pan on low to medium heat. Once hot, add the zucchini slices. Season each side with sea salt, fresh cracked pepper, and even some red pepper flakes – if you like it spicy. Brown gently on both sides. This will help to kick up the flavor, improve the texture and mellow the raw zucchini taste. Remove the browned slices from the pan and drain on paper towels.

Place the zucchini slices on a sheet pan or in a baking dish. Add a small amount of tomato sauce to each slice. Then top the pieces with a generous heap of the shredded Italian cheese blend. A rustic look isn’t a bad thing here. This is homemade after all.

Put the zucchini under the broiler until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown. Try adding some of your own favorite toppings, such as natural pepperoni, mushrooms, olives, sausage, or onions … anything you’d normally put on a pizza.

In our house, we try our best to use organic and all-natural ingredients in all homemade recipes. It’s not always possible to find them, but I think it’s worth the effort and expense to use them whenever they’re available and reasonably priced.

If you give these recipes a try I hope you’ll enjoy them as much as we do. I’ve found that there’s a lot of satisfaction in learning how to make new recipes in which I can control what goes in. Delicious food is a wonderful thing, but delicious food that is also health promoting feels even better.

Be well!


Posted in Diet and Weight Loss, Food and Drink, Recipes

10 Comments & Updates to “Healthy Appetizers”

  1. Daniella Says:

    MMMMM…Those look yummy! I’ll have to try them!

  2. JP Says:

    They are yummy! I hope you’ll agree! šŸ™‚

    Be well!


  3. Donna Says:

    How in the world did I miss zizza? This is on my ‘to eat’ list!

  4. JP Says:


    I haven’t made this in awhile. Maybe this weekend. It really hits the spot when you’re craving pizza!

    Be well!


  5. Glenn Fernandes Says:

    Thanks for sharing the recipe. Zizza seems to be very tasty and healthy. I will surely make this starter when I have some guests at my place. Its an amazing dish.

  6. JP Says:

    Hope you enjoy it, Glenn.

    Be well!


  7. Lynne Says:

    I love the zizza idea! I will have to make this for my husband. He has done low carb for a while, and misses the pizza. I bet eggplant would be good for this, too.

    the peppers look fantastic, too. I love the spicy stuff.

  8. JP Says:

    I think the zizza or the pizza gondolas (linked below) just might hit the spot. I know they help quench my pizza cravings. šŸ™‚

    The poppers are very satisfying too. The heat of the peppers varies however. Recently we bought some organic jalapeno peppers from the farmer’s market and they were super, super hot! Since then, we’ve stuck to the variety we find at our local health food store – with a more manageable level of heat.

    If you guys try the recipes, I hope you enjoy them!

    Be well!


  9. anne h Says:

    Now I’m hungry!

  10. JP Says:

    An oldie but a goodie, Anne. We love them both. Right now it’s a bit too hot to make them. But cooler weather will be back soon enough and so too will our beloved Jumpin’ Jalapenos and Zizza. šŸ™‚

    Be well!


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