This year, spend your holiday party relaxed and enjoying your company! A little advanced planning and effort will have your guests amazed at how easy you make it all look.

These three quick, make-ahead spreads can easily serve double duty: For one version, pair some good, high quality breads with the spreads on a platter. Arrange sliced deli meat and cheese, leafy greens or sprouts, sliced tomato and onion, or your other favorite sandwich toppers for a fabulous and “gourmet” build-your-own-sandwich buffet!

On the other hand, these spreads are equally as delicious arranged on a pretty platter surrounded by a variety of crackers, high quality cheeses, and dried fruit.

No matter how you decide to serve these easy appetizers, you and guests can enjoy the party effortlessly – while still enjoying some delicious and unique starters!

SUN-DRIED TOMATO SPREAD

tomatopesto
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes

1 whole roasted red pepper, (drained if from a jar)

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1 small shallot

1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons water

1 tablespoon olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Puree all ingredients in a food processor until smooth and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours (or until well chilled).

Makes 1 cup ( 16 servings). Per serving (1 tablespoon): 36 calories, 3 g total fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 2 g carbohydrates, 1 g fiber, 0 g added sugar, 1 g protein, 80 mg sodium, 0 mg cholesterol.

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CRANBERRY ORANGE SPREAD

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4 ounces fat free cream cheese

1/2 cup canned whole cranberry sauce

2 tablespoons finely diced onion

2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

Zest from one large orange

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

1 – 2 teaspoons horseradish

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir well with a spoon to combine. Refrigerate for 2 – 3 hours (or until well chilled).

Makes 1 1/2 cups (24 servings) Per serving (1 tablespoon): 39 calories, 2 g total fat, 0.5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 2 g carbohydrates, 1 g fiber, 0 g added sugar, 1.5 g protein, 41 mg sodium, 2 mg cholesterol

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ALMOND CILANTRO SPREAD

green-olive-pesto

1 cup almonds

1/4 cup low-fat mayonnaise

3 tablespoons fat free or low-fat sour cream

2 large garlic cloves

1 medium jalapeno, diced (seeds and membrane removed)

1 cup fresh cilantro

Zest of one medium lime

Juice from 2 limes (about 2 tablespoons)

salt and pepper to taste

Puree all ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth and refrigerate for 2 – 3 hours (or until well chilled).

Makes 2 cups (32 servings) Per serving (1 tablespoon): 34 calories, 2 g total fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 1 g carbohydrate, 1 g Fiber, 0 g added sugar, 1 g protein, 70 mg sodium, 0.5 mg cholesterol

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