Slim down your favorite dips this holiday season!
By Stepfanie Romine, editor of SparkRecipes.com
What are the holidays without parties? And what's a party without great snacks? Too often, food is an afterthought at cocktail and holiday parties.
How many times have you gone to a party, only to find your only choices are a cheese ball and crackers and a bowl of greasy chips with thick and creamy onion dip.
Dips are easy and affordable party fare, and they can be healthy, too. As you're preparing for a Hanukkah, Christmas or New Year's Eve party, keep these tips in mind.
Did you know?
Serving size for dip=1 ounce/2 Tablespoons (about the size of a pair of dice)
A cheese ball has 100 calories and 7 g fat per serving.
French onion dip has 60 calories and 6 g fat per serving.
Start the night off right. Instead of rich, creamy and cheesy dips, put out a tray of raw vegetables, whole grain crackers and a lighter version of that favorite dip.
I'm famous for my spinach-artichoke dip. Just like the kind you get in restaurants, mine is creamy and full of cheese. However, I use light cream cheese and just enough parmesan to add flavor. I sauté onions and garlic to add extra flavor. Even if you serve this with tortilla chips (the combo is one of my favorite treats at parties), the dip is still far lighter than the restaurant versions, which can have up to 775 calories per oversize serving! Mine has 66 calories in two tablespoons.
Click here for the recipe. I just might make this on New Year's Eve.
Did you know that even cheese fondue could be made healthier? Yes, it's true.
My absolute favorite party food is cheese fondue, and this lighter version I created allows me to indulge without guilt. It's just as creamy as the original, but a secret ingredient or two add fiber and flavor while cutting the fat. Even slimmed down, this is a "sometimes" food--one that's perfect for New Year's Eve. Dust off your old fondue pot and cook up some cheesy goodness! Find the recipe for lighter cheese fondue here. (Oh, and one last tip: Swap beer for wine if that's what you have on hand. You can also use chicken broth. The liquid is just there to add flavor and keep the fondue moist.)
- Use light mayo, low-fat cream cheese and skim milk in creamy dips.
- Swap puréed white beans for half the mayo to creamy dips to boost calories and cut fat.
- Serve dips with baked whole-grain crackers and vegetables.
- Try puréeing roasted red peppers with lowfat plain yogurt. It's just 35 calories a serving, with 1 gram of fat!
- Serve smooth or chunky guacamole that's heavy on the veg. (They're 75-80 calories a serving!)
- Instead of using store-bought or your traditional homemade chip dip, use regular mayonnaise for half of the recipe, and replace the other half with reduced fat sour cream. One cup of lower-fat sour cream will provide all the flavor and texture of mayonnaise but cut 1,300 calories and 150 grams of fat.
- Try one of these dips, which have fewer than 50 calories a serving.
Ditch the chips and dip one of these instead:
- Grilled chicken chunks
- Steamed broccoli or cauliflower
- Bite size chunks of crusty whole-grain bread
- Small wheat pretzels
- Pita chips
- Bell peppers cut into triangles (Remove top and bottom, then core peppers. Slice down center so pepper lies flat, then cut into triangles.)
- Endive leaves
- Inner leaves from Romaine lettuce
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SparkRecipes.com editor Stepfanie Romine is a certified yoga teacher and co-author of "The SparkPeople Cookbook: Love Your Food, Lose the Weight." A vegetarian and runner, she has lived and cooked on three continents.
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