(Photos: Jackie Newgent/LIVESTRONG.COM)
Friendly gatherings are often associated with scrumptious spreads and dips, many of which may be unfriendly for your hips. So whether you’re hosting or attending a casual party or game-day gathering, you’ll want to whip up one (or more!) of these better-for-you recipes. One of the benefits of dips and spreads is that they act as an ideal vehicle for getting some healthful foods, such as vegetables, fruits and whole grains. There are studies to back this up. For instance, a study among preschoolers published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that offering vegetables with reduced-fat dips containing familiar herbs and spices can increase flavor and ultimately promote the consumption of vegetables. Hey, if it works for kids, why not you? Try it out for yourself with these six great-tasting, good-for-you recipes. And make them a day in advance so they’re ready to go when the action starts!
Baba ghanoush is a Middle Eastern eggplant dip, but it’s nice to switch things up and make it with other vegetables. Instead of eggplant, this version is prepared with zucchini. To get the dip’s distinct smokiness, the zucchini is grilled and a pinch of smoked paprika is incorporated too. One of the other key players in this baba ghanoush is tahini, a sesame seed paste. It’s a surprising way to nudge your iron intake up a notch. The final preparation is easy; just pulse ingredients together in a food processor, creating a dip with lots of texture. Scoop up this dip with a whole-grain pita, pita chips or lentil chips – and enjoy the plant-centered goodness. CALORIES: 58. Get the recipe here.
One cornerstone of the Mediterranean diet is nuts, including pistachios. They’re a great-tasting, fun and convenient everyday healthful snack. A Harvard University study suggests a daily handful of pistachios may have a role in health and longevity. So serve in-shell pistachios for a smart snack often – and at your next gathering. Incorporate pistachios in recipes like this goat cheese ball too. You’ll mix goat cheese with part-skim ricotta to lighten it; then add apple-cider vinegar and black pepper to up the flavor. But the star of the show is the pistachios, which generously coat the ball. It’s delicious spread on fruit-nut bread or paired with seedless grapes or pear wedges. CALORIES: 108. Get the recipe here.
If you were to transform the mouthwatering tastes of a BLT sandwich into a spread, this would be the result! The base of this delightful spread is a velvety white-bean hummus, which has a lovely spring-green hue, thanks to fresh baby spinach. It acts as the “lettuce” of the BLT. It makes the spread a significant source of folate, which is important for its potential breast-cancer-preventive role. To create a dippier texture, green tea is the liquid of choice. The recipe is completed with fresh tomato and a just-right amount of crispy bacon that contains no added nitrates or nitrites. The spread pairs perfectly with whole-grain toast or crackers. Serve it bruschetta-style for a stylish flair. CALORIES: 94. Get the recipe here.
Buffalo wings seem relatively harmless to health since they’re so little – and they’re chicken. But the preparation makes them a health loser because they’re breaded, fried and tossed in a rich, buttery sauce. To lighten this dish, start with grilled organic chicken nuggets or grilled chicken skewers, then go “wild” by dunking them into this yogurt-based dip. Or have it with vegetables, such as roasted cauliflower florets or raw celery sticks. The dip includes a little blue cheese, which Buffalo wings are often paired with. Plus, it’s finished with hot sauce. Make it as “hot” as you like! CALORIES: 42. Get the recipe here.
Newly published research in the Journal of the American Heart Association finds that eating an avocado a day as part of a cholesterol-lowering, moderate-fat diet seems to help improve bad cholesterol levels in people who are overweight and obese. Hello, guacamole! There are many wonderful options beyond guacamole to tempt the palate using avocados too. One dip idea that’s incredibly easy is to whirl avocados in a food processor, creating a fluffy savory mousse. Here, the additions of garlic, lime juice, salt and cumin give it Caribbean appeal. Pair it with plantain or sweet potato chips, cherry tomatoes or grilled shrimp or chicken. This healthful recipe doubles as a mouthwatering sandwich spread too. CALORIES: 85. Get the recipe here.
Grapes are satisfying and tasty on their own as a snack. They’re also a nutritiously sweet mix-in to snacks, salads, sandwiches, sides, smoothies and, yes, guacamole. Interestingly, they contain the same heart-healthful compounds found in red wine, including resveratrol, which is found in the skins of grapes of all colors. Here the grapes are roasted for extra depth of flavor. Of course, the avocado in guacamole is notably healthful too, contributing nearly 20 vitamins and minerals. To further jazz up this recipe, coriander provides warm earthiness and nuts add crunch – both providing lovely balance to the grapes. Dunk into this guacamole with organic blue-corn tortilla chips or warm tortillas. Your palate will be intrigued. CALORIES: 83. Get the recipe here.
Click here and get four more healthy Super Bowl dips and spreads.
By Jackie Newgent, RDN, CDN