I love New Year’s Eve, I really do……BUT I kinda feel like it is a bit overrated and we tend to set kind of unrealistic expectations as to how wonderful the night should be. Don’t get me wrong, though, I love the idea of spending the evening with great friends and kissing the one you love at the stroke of midnight (or for us old folks at some point after midnight when you wake up and realize that it’s the New Year), but there is always so much pressure to find the perfect outfit, get reservations at the perfect restaurant (which will undoubtedly raise their prices by a perfect 30% and do everything they can to get you in and out just to turn the table over for the perfect next group), then move onto the perfect bar to get the perfect glass of champagne (which will likely be some cheap super-sweet Asti Spumante), and then get the perfect cab ride home (which sadly you will wait a VERY long time for since every other perfect New Year’s Eve lovin’ person in town will be trying to do as well)……Okay, okay, so I guess I am just a bitter old lady who can’t seem to fall back into a carefree lifestyle for just one night, but nonetheless, I still think a quiet night with friends (and kids) sounds PERFECTLY heavenly and that is exactly what we are going to do this year!!!!! WOO HOO!!!
While a lot of people are winding down the last week of the year, I am busier than a one-armed paper hanger as my dad likes to say trying to get our year-end wrapped up at work, so I don’t really have time to cook a big meal or contribute some wonderful gourmet side dish, so I have to keep it simple and easy for our New Year’s Eve get-togethers. The one good thing about working all week while others continue the festive food fest is that I am a little too busy punching numbers on my keyboard to put mass quantities of sugary sweets in mouth, so I am kind of in my healthier New Year’s mindset a week early. So my goal is to not only keep my contribution to the evening’s spread simple and easy, but a little healthier as well. I did my grocery shopping early this morning after my workout, which always seems to clear my head, so I was able to stroll the aisles with a little more creative edge than normal. When I’m at the store and have a dish I need to make with no real plan at that point, I try to think of what I have at home and what cool new ingredient I can use. I had quite a bit of leftover ricotta cheese from our Christmas Eve Lasagna that I needed to use, which was luckily also part-skim, so it fit the criteria for my elusive NYE appetizer. Goat cheese is always on my grocery list, so after spotting ripe Fuyu persimmons and these adorable mini toasts, I had pretty much all the components for my appetizer. Ringing in at 190 calories for 7 crostinis, this is the PERFECT appetizer for our PERFECT evening at home with friends for New Year’s Eve because it is quick, easy and healthy AND pretty darn tasty!!! PERFECTO!!!
- 1 package Saint-Louis Imported Mini Toasts
- 4 oz goat cheese
- 4 oz Frigo Part-Skim Ricotta Cheese
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1 Fuyu Persimmon, sliced into thin wedges
- Aged Balsamic Vinegar (for drizzle)
- Fresh thyme leaves, to garnish
- In a bowl, combine goat cheese, ricotta cheese, lemon zest and salt.
- Place a small amount (about 1/2 teaspoon) of cheese mixture on each mini toast. Top with persimmon slice. Drizzle a small amount of aged balsamic over toasts with cheese. Garnish with fresh thyme leaves.
These little guys are perfect for a small-bite appetizer. They are already crisp, so there is no need to toast them before topping them with the cheese mixture.
- The fruit is low in calories (provides 70 calories/100g) and fats but is rich source of dietary fiber.
- Persimmons contain health benefiting phyto-nutrients flavonoid poly-phenolic anti-oxidants likecatechins and gallocatechins as well as important anti-tumor compound betulinic acid. Catechins are known to have anti-infective, anti-inflammatory and anti-hemorrhagic (prevents bleeding from small blood vessels) properties.
- Fresh persimmons contain anti-oxidant compounds like vitamin-A, beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein, zea-xanthin and cryptoxanthin. Together, these compounds functions as protective scavengers against oxygen-derived free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) that play a role in aging and various disease processes.
- Zea-xanthin, an important dietary carotenoid, selectively absorbed into the retinal macula lutea in the eyes where it is thought to provide antioxidant and protective light-filtering functions; thus, helps prevent “Age-related macular related macular disease”(ARMD) in the elderly.
- They are also a very good source of vitamin-C, another powerful antioxidant (especially native Chinese and American persimmons; provide 80% of DRI). Regular consumption of foods rich in vitamin C helps the body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful, pro-inflammatory free radicals.
- The fruit is good in many valuable B-complex vitamins such as folic acid, pyridoxine (vitamin B-6), thiamin…etc. These vitamins act as co-factors for numerous metabolic enzymatic functions in the body.
- Fresh Persimmon fruits also contain healthy amounts of minerals like potassium, manganese (15% of DRI), copper (12% of DRI), and phosphorus. Manganese is a co-factor for the enzyme, superoxide dismutase, which is a very powerful free radical scavenger. Copper is a co-factor for many vital enzymes, including cytochrome c-oxidase and superoxide dismutase (other minerals function as cofactors for this enzyme are manganese, and zinc). Copper is also required for the production of red blood cells.