Dig In to Summer Dips and Spreads


If you’ve decided to chill out this summer, you’re going to love my fast fun ways to serve up some serious summer snacks while keeping your kitchen cool. I’m talking about delicious dips and spreads!Actually, not just great for snacking, a good dip or spread can make a healthy, refreshing addition to just about any meal. But a lot of typical dips and spreads are too high in fat and sodium and too low on good nutrition, not to mention all the chemical additives, preservatives and MSG that might be added. We can do so much better than a packet of flavored dry powdery stuff sprinkled over cream cheese or sour cream surrounded by something that resembles a chip but is really a 10% potato-fluff thingy that comes in a box with an ingredient list so long you fall asleep just reading it! Yuck…I can feel my stomach churning as I type.Boosting your health with a delicious, all-natural dip or spread is really very simple. Serve it alongside antioxidant-packed and fiber-rich cooling fruits and veggies for a complete healthy summertime menu. Here’s how to get started.

For a basic simple hummus:Puree two cups of garbanzo beans (about one 15-ounce can, drained and rinsed) with a couple of tablespoons of sesame tahini and ¼ cup of water. Add a clove or two of fresh garlic and few tablespoons of lemon juice; season as desired with salt, pepper, herbs, chili peppers, etc. Thin it, if desired, with a bit more water.For a basic simple bean dip:Puree one 15-ounce can (drained and rinsed) of black, pinto or white beans with salsa or vegetable broth or water – just enough to blend; add lime or lemon juice and seasonings such as salt, pepper, pepper sauce, cumin, coriander and any fresh herbs desired. Another idea is to start with a can of vegetarian bean dip and add salsa, chopped onions, tomatoes, bell peppers, etc.Here are some more ideas:

  • Make hummus and add sliced green onions and red, green and yellow peppers. The garbanzo version of hummus is above, and you can experiment with other beans like in this Black Bean Hummus opens in a new tab.

  • Make bean dips and stir in grated carrots and minced fresh radish. Try this recipe for Black Bean Dip with Corn and Basil opens in a new tab. Remember to spruce it up with added veggies.

  • Try this recipe for Chipotle Chili Bean Dip opens in a new tab. Add chopped green onions, grated zucchini and chopped green and orange bell peppers.

  • Love guacamole? Make up your favorite recipe and try these extensions: delicious edamame or black beans, fresh or frozen green peas, diced fresh veggies such as summer squash, grated carrots and chopped celery. Be sure to add plenty of fresh tomatoes and remember to “up” the seasonings: cayenne, onion, garlic, lime, jalapeno, cilantro, etc. Here’s our recipe for Edamame Guacamole opens in a new tab.

  • Make a non-dairy dip from tofu and stir in some chopped celery, purple onion and bell peppers along with fresh chives and basil. Here’s a Creamy Cherry Dip opens in a new tab made with tofu and an Onion Dip opens in a new tab made with tofu as well.

  • Make dairy dips using organic low fat sour cream, cream cheese, cottage or ricotta cheese or Greek-style yogurt. Stir in plenty of fresh chopped seasonal fruit such as berries, peaches, nectarines, figs and plums. Or, to keep it savory, go with fresh basil, oregano, chives, garlic, parsley and onion. Here is an example of Tzatziki Yogurt and Cucumber Dip opens in a new tab.

  • I love the combination of cottage cheese with herbs. Try my personal favorite: organic cottage cheese with chives, parsley, minced garlic, a touch of sea salt, some diced walnuts and a drizzle of good quality olive or flaxseed oil.

The 7-Layer Solution:Who doesn’t love a good 7-Layer Dip? Oh, but so much fat and calories! Here’s a healthy makeover:

  1. Drained and rinsed black beans

  2. Vegetarian fat-free refried black or pinto beans

  3. Low-fat or no-fat yummy Greek yogurt

  4. Guacamole made with plenty of freshly chopped veggies

  5. Salsa fresco or pico de gallo

  6. A light sprinkling of cheese

  7. A light sprinkling of chopped black olives

The 8-Layer Solution:Turn to our amazing Eight-Layer Mediterranean Dip opens in a new tab featuring hummus, spinach, roasted red peppers, artichoke hearts and feta cheese – I promise you’ll make it over and over again.A good dip or spread demands the best accompaniment; i.e. quality “scoopers.” Here’s my list:

  • Whole grain pita bread cut into triangles and toasted

  • Cut up carrots, celery, zucchini, yellow squash or colorful bell peppers

  • Lightly steamed broccoli or cauliflower

  • Radishes and jicama, marinated artichokes and cherry tomatoes

  • Tiny, adorable endive “boats”

  • String cheese or mozzarella cheese sticks

  • Sautéed “crispy” tempeh sticks (brown tempeh and cut into “sticks”)

  • Sliced marinated tofu

  • Pineapple chunks or grapes (be sure to set out the toothpicks)

  • Just about any fresh sliced fruit or sections of citrus fruit

  • Whole grain crackers or pretzels (think spelt, whole wheat and brown rice)

  • All natural corn or potato chips (keep these to a minimum and, no trans-fats please! Give the baked corn chips a try)

  • Raw or lightly steamed green beans

Got a delectable dip or a summery spread you love? Let me know!

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