Now that we're into the fourth steamy week of August, I can honestly say I'm ready for autumn. But I don't want to bid summer goodbye without giving it a good send-off. That's why I'm psyched to have a Labor Day bash next weekend. It's a great opportunity to get all of the grilling, pool partying and lawn game playing out of my system before the onset of soup-and-sweater season.
But, while grilling burgers and dogs is pretty much mandatory, there's a whole range of options for snacks. Here's where I keep it simple, to maximize my Frisbee time: instead of fussing over apps, I'm just going to whip up a few simple chips & dips. And while some people would just buy a jar at the supermarket and crack it open, making your own dips couldn't be easier! That way you know what's going into them, can guarantee they'll taste great and can even make them better for you (without sacrificing flavor).
Here are some delicious crowd-pleasing dips to try, plus a recipe for a tasty, zingy one you can whip up in minutes--your guests will love it!
Roasted Corn Cheese Dip: Inspired by queso fundido--melted Mexican cheese dip--this corn and warm Cheddar cheese dip is great with toasted baguette.
French Onion Dip: In our homemade version of French onion dip, we simmer chopped onions in broth and use reduced-fat sour cream and yogurt for the familiar rich and creamy flavor. All told, our version has 12 grams less fat and nearly 50 percent less sodium per serving than the original.
Spinach Dip: Try this light spinach dip made healthier with reduced-fat cream cheese, nonfat yogurt and low-fat cottage cheese instead of full-fat cheese, mayonnaise and sour cream. It will save you a whopping 84 calories and 10 grams of fat per serving when compared to traditional versions. Serve it with pita chips and crunchy vegetables or spread it on a sandwich.
Roasted Garlic Guacamole: Chef Rick Bayless shared this recipe from his book Fiesta at Rick's with us and we love it! "I like to welcome guests with this guacamole bar," he says. "I start off with a basic guacamole made with roasted garlic and set out bowls of toppings so everyone can customize each bite."
Chile Con Queso: Our healthier version of chile con queso will have ooey-gooey-cheese lovers celebrating. Now you can enjoy this Tex-Mex dip without all the fat and calories. We replaced some of the cheese with a low-fat white sauce and used sharp Cheddar plus a splash of beer to boost the flavor. Our version cuts the calories in half and reduces total fat and saturated fat by nearly 60 percent.
Feta & Herb Dip (pictured above): Lots of freshly chopped herbs add zing to our white bean dip. Serve with assorted vegetables, such as baby carrots, bell pepper strips, radishes, snow peas, broccoli and cauliflower florets.
Active time: 30 minutes | Total: 30 minutes | To make ahead: Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.
1 15-ounce can white beans, rinsed
3/4 cup nonfat plain yogurt
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
Place beans, yogurt, feta, lemon juice, garlic salt and pepper in a food processor and puree until smooth. Add herbs; puree until incorporated. Chill until ready to serve with vegetables.
Makes 8 servings, 1/4 cup each.
Per serving: 32 calories; 12 g fat (1 g sat, 0 g mono); 4 mg cholesterol; 5 g carbohydrate; 2 g protein; 1 g fiber; 167 mg sodium; 77 mg potassium.
If you could only have one dip at your next party, what would it be?
By Matthew Thompson
Matthew Thompson is the associate food editor for EatingWell Magazine.
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