Nothing is quite as irresistible as chips and dips, especially in party season, when they're as easy to throw together as they are hard to stop eating. No wonder Americans spend more than $6 billion a year on chips alone -- and no wonder we have trouble buttoning our jeans!
But there's no law that says a dip-feast has to be fat-fest. In fact, you can do your bit for everyone's heart -- and hips -- with these flavorful, colorful recipes from Elizabeth Somer, RD, author of The Food & Mood Cookbook: Recipes for Eating Well and Feeling Your Best">The Food & Mood Cookbook. (And if you're dealing with the kind of crowd that doesn't want to hear about healthy, no need to tell. These dips taste so rich and creamy they'll never guess.)
8 servings, about 1/3 cup each
A half cup of regular guacamole has almost 200 calories, 86 percent of them from fat. Add a handful of chips and you're eating the calorie equivalent of a Quarter Pounder. This recipe is total genius; it substitutes green peas for most of the avocado but tastes like the real thing. Serve with baked corn tortilla chips. (Cut tortillas into 8 wedges and bake at 350 degrees or until crisp, about 9 minutes.)
1 1/2 cups thawed green peas
1 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted, and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
2 tbsp. fat-free mayonnaise
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. chili powder
1 tbsp. canned diced green chilies
1 /2 cup mild or medium commercial salsa
2 tbsp. diced onion
1 medium tomato, diced
Salt to taste
2 cloves garlic, minced
Combine all ingredients except garlic in a food processor or blender and blend until thoroughly mixed but not quite smooth. Stir in garlic.
1/3 cup serving: 49 calories, 2.3g fat (0g saturated fat)
Creamy Artichoke Dip
9 servings, about ¼ cup each
This yummy, zero-fat dip tastes just like the full-fat version. Serve with raw vegetables, whole grain crackers, or baked pita wedges. (Split whole-wheat pitas in half and cut each half into 8 wedges. Bake at 400 degrees until crisp, about 8 minutes.)
1 14-oz. can water-packed artichoke hearts, drained, finely chopped, and pressed in strainer to remove excess liquid
3/4 cup fat-free cream cheese
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup fat-free mayonnaise
1/4 tsp. freshly-ground white pepper
Salt to taste
Mix all ingredients together in bowl. Put half of mixture in a blender, puree until smooth, and return to bowl with remaining mixture. Mix well to combine.
¼ cup serving: 58 calories, 0.5g fat (0g saturated fat)
5-Layer Mexican Dip
4 servings, about ¾ cup each
This famous party dip can be a calorie and fat fiesta, but not with this recipe. It cuts both in half without sacrificing the goodie factor. Serve with baked corn tortillas (see guacamole recipe) and crunchy raw veggies (sliced jicama "chips" are particularly good).
2/3 cup salsa
1/3 cup diced tomatoes
4 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
1 8-oz. can fat-free refried beans
1 /2 cup fat-free sour cream
1 /2 cup reduced-fat grated cheddar cheese
1/4 cup thinly sliced, green onions (use green tops only)
Mix salsa, tomatoes, and cilantro in a small bowl. Spread refried beans in a 9-inch pie pan. Layer sour cream on top of the beans. Combine salsa and tomatoes and spoon over sour cream. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese and garnish with sliced green onion.
Per serving: 116 calories, 1.7g fat (1g saturated fat)
What do you gain from all this kitchen wizardry besides culinary kudos? A lot: Avoiding saturated and trans fats can make your RealAge more than 4 years younger.