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Choosing wisely can transform decadent meals into healthy ones

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Posted: Wednesday, November 4, 2009 4:00 am | Updated: 12:49 pm, Wed Dec 26, 2012.

Keeping your holiday buffet healthy doesn’t doom you to celery stalks and carrot sticks. There are plenty of options that are indulgent without leaving your guests feeling buffet-grazing remorse.

Shrimp are always popular and a healthy choice (unless you wrap them in bacon, of course). They are inexpensive, come ready to serve, and are low in both fat and calories.

Healthy dips such as hummus are great, but even sinful choices like a creamy blue cheese dip can be made better by avoiding the chips and serving them with veggie sticks.

Fresh fruit is also filling and appealing, especially when you pair it with a little bit of something that’s rich or salty (or both). The classics are generous wedges of melon wrapped in prosciutto and slices of fresh pear topped with a sliver of stilton cheese.

If you’re looking for something sweet you can offer dark chocolate strawberries or dried fruits dipped in dark chocolate.

Another option is to consider small portions of a favorite entree. For instance, a slice of lean, pepper-crusted beef tenderloin served with a dab of horseradish sauce or a drizzle of au jus is both tasteful and satisfying.

If you don’t have a lot of seating and want to spare your guests from needing a knife, cut the meat into bite-sized pieces ahead of time.

This pork tenderloin with roasted red grapes and thyme will add an elegant touch to your buffet. Slices of pork tenderloin are small and usually tender enough to cut with the side of a fork.

The dish can be served hot or warm from a chaffing dish. If you prepare it ahead of time be sure not to overcook the pork or it will dry out when reheated.

PORK TENDERLOIN WITH ROASTED RED GRAPES AND THYME

Start to finish: 1 1/2 hours (20 minutes active)

Servings: 16

4 cups red seedless grapes

3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme or 1 tablespoon dried

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 pork tenderloins, about 1 pound each, trimmed of fat

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons chopped shallots

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 cup chicken broth

1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch

2 teaspoons cool water

Place racks in middle and lower third of oven. Heat the oven to 400 F.

On a rimmed baking sheet, spread out the grapes. Roast on the lower shelf, stirring occasionally, until the grapes start to shrivel, about 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the thyme, mustard, salt and pepper. Fold under the narrow ends of both tenderloins and secure with a toothpick. Rub the spice and mustard paste over the outside of both tenderloins.

In a large ovenproof skillet, heat the oil over medium-high. Add the tenderloins and cook, turning occasionally, until well browned on all sides, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Reduce the oven to 325 F and transfer the skillet with the tenderloins to the middle shelf of the oven. Roast the tenderloins and grapes until a meat thermometer inserted at the thickest part of the tenderloins registers 155 F and the grapes are very soft, 35 to 45 minutes. Transfer the tenderloins to a serving platter, cover loosely with foil and set aside.

Return the skillet to the stovetop over medium (be careful of the hot handle). Add the shallots and saute until lightly browned, about 3 minutes.

Add wine and simmer, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan, until reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Add the chicken broth, return the sauce to a simmer and cook for 4 minutes longer.

In a small bowl, combine cornstarch with the water, whisk into the sauce and cook until thickened. Stir in the roasted grapes and season the sauce with salt and pepper.

Serve the tenderloins sliced crosswise and topped with the roasted grape sauce.

Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 115 calories; 26 calories from fat; 3 g fat (1 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 37 mg cholesterol; 8 g carbohydrate; 12 g protein; 1 g fiber; 170 mg sodium.

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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