Thursday, December 16, 2010

Holiday Dinner Planning 2010 - Healthier Appetizers/Dip

Today's subject - the meal before the meal.  This can be one of the biggest pitfalls of any person trying to be healthy, not just now, but all year round.  You go to any event and the appetizers can be a calorie bomb.  I have decided to combine the concept of dip with appetizer.  I pulled together two healthier, but hearty, options that will compliment the always necessary crudités (veggie plate).

I will skip the elementary - fat free sour cream with Lipton Soup mix - because you know those tricks.  These two appetizers/dips are currently both popular and trendy AND they are healthier because they have veggies and fiber.

Kate’s Healthier Spinach-Artichoke Dip - Yes, it's really my reworking. :)

1 (14 oz.) can of artichoke hearts in water
1 (10 oz.) pkg. frozen chopped spinach
6 oz. - low-fat or fat free sour cream, your preference
½ cup - shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided
½ cup – 2% mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons non-fat Greek style yogurt
1/8 teaspoon each: salt, freshly ground black pepper and fresh ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon of crushed red peppers (if you want it spicier)


Heat oven to 400°F.

Drain and finely chop the artichoke hearts and place them in a medium bowl. Add spinach, sour cream, yogurt, the mozzarella and spices – mix well.  Add half of the Parmigiano-Reggiano (we use this cheese because it’s really flavorful). 

Now taste – this is where you add more spices to your preference.  When you are happy, spread the mix into a 9-inch pie plate. Sprinkle remaining cheese over the top and bake 20 minutes or until heated through.

Serve warm or at room temperature with carrots, endive leaves and pretzels for dipping.

Makes about 3 cups dip.

Our other dip is a lower fat version of hummus.  I hesitated on trying this one forever, with my roomie constantly saying, "Hummus is Yummus!"  I finally tried it and she's right, although I prefer it warm.  When it's warm I LOVE it.  The benefits are the fiber in the beans and as it was pointed out the other night on "Bones" - the B6, which helps with morning sickness among other ailments. It's from's Middle Eastern Foods section.   It's traditionally served with warm pita wedges, but it's great with veggies, keeping your calories down.  

There you are, your shield for the hoards who will be chomping at the bit to get dinner underway.  And a healthier nosh for you to stave of the mega-hungries so you don't over indulge during the main event.

Tomorrow:  A health break - how I improved my outlook during the ever stressful holidays and it might help you too. 

Yours in Health,

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