Healthy Vegetable Dips & Spreads

By:    Published: January 31, 2012

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One of the worst things you can do to a vegetable is drench it with fatty dips or spreads with high calorie and sodium content. A serving of Ranch dressing, only two tablespoons in size, can have up to 18 grams of fat and 70 calories. Yikes! If you're looking for dips or spreads for your next serving of vegetables, you should try some of these healthier choices:

Guacamole

Avocados are a unique fruits that are filled with vitamins and nutrients like: vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin B6, vitamin B9 and potassium. That's a whole lot of nutrition from just one little fruit. And one of the best things about avocados is they make great dips! Guacamole is one of the most common dips around and is made almost entirely from avocados. Consider using it as a dip for your next vegetable tray instead of sour cream. If you want to avoid a processed, store-bought salsa, try this quick and easy recipe for homemade guacamole:

  • 2 large avocados, peeled with the pit removed
  • 1 small tomato, diced
  • 2 teaspoons of chopped onions
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 teaspoons of lime juice

Blend the avocados on a medium setting leaving it with a chunky texture. Add it with the rest of the ingredients in a bowl, mix it and serve.

Greek Yogurt

Good vegetable dips and spreads should have a lot of flavor and texture, which makes Greek yogurt a great substitute for ranch dressing, butter or cheese. Greek yogurt has the same health benefits of regular yogurt like calcium and probiotics from the "live and active cultures," but with more protein. If you plan on using Greek yogurt as a dip for your next vegetable platter, make sure you buy the low-fat or non-fat version to maximize the health benefits.

Red Wine Vinaigrette

Here is a recipe for red wine vinaigrette that you might like to try as a vegetable dip:

  • ½ cup red wine vinegar
  • 1.5 teaspoons of light mayonnaise or Dijon mustard (as a healthy substitute)
  • 2 tablespoons of minced shallots
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 cup of olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon of ground black pepper

Whisk these ingredients in a bowl and try it out as a dipping sauce for your next vegetable tray.

Hummus

Hummus is commonly used for dips and spreads made from cooked chickpeas that have been mashed, mixed with garlic, salt, lemon juice, olive oil and tahini, a type of sesame paste. Chickpeas are healthy because they do not have any cholesterol or saturated fats, plus they are rich in protein. This makes hummus a very popular food, spread and dip for vegetarians. Hummus is also healthy for its omega 3 fatty acid content and contains a wide variety of nutrients like iron, vitamin B6, manganese and amino acids.

Salsa

It may seem a little odd dipping a vegetable in more vegetables, but mixed salsas really do make great vegetable dips. Aside from the diced onions, tomatoes, tomato paste and cilantro, consider adding more zest to your salsa with oranges and pineapples. With salsas, the ingredients are endless, so think about healthy items you can add to your new vegetable dip. Here is a quick salsa recipe for you to try made mostly from fruits:

  • ½ cup of honey
  • 1 cup of dried apricots, chopped
  • 3 peeled oranges, diced
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • ½ cup of cilantro
  • 1 jalapeno, chopped with the seeds removed
  • 2 tablespoons of lime juice

Mix the contents in a bowl and serve as a dip for your next vegetable tray.

Nut Butters

Here's a healthy snack tip: Try adding peanut butter and raisins to your next celery stick. You'll be surprised how the sweet and savory taste of the peanut butter goes so well with the crunchiness of the celery, with the slightly tangy and fruity undertones from the raisins. Not only is this a great spread for your celery, it has the added nutrients from the peanut butter and raisins like vitamin C and protein. Other nut butters you should consider are almond, sunflower seed and cashew.

More Healthy Vegetable Dips and Spreads

Here is a list of healthy vegetable spreads you might want to consider to give your vegetables a little more flavor:

  • Corn relish
  • Dijon mustard
  • Tuna salad
  • Hot sauce
  • Black bean dip
  • Italian dressing
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