No-Worries Party Dips: Lose the Fat, Not the Flavor

Nothing is quite as irresistible as chips and dips, especially 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 a fat fest. In fact, you can do your bit for everyone's heart—and hips—with these flavorful, colorful recipes from Elizabeth Somer, RD, coauthor of The Food & Mood Cookbook: Recipes for Eating Well and Feeling Your Best. (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, no one will ever guess.)

Guiltless Guacamole

8 servings, about 1/3 cup each

A half cup of regular guacamole has almost 200 calories, 86% 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. (To make your own, cut tortillas into eight wedges and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit 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 tablespoons fat-free mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon canned diced green chilies
  • 1/2 cup mild or medium salsa
  • 2 tablespoons 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, 2.3 g fat (0 g saturated fat)

Creamy Artichoke Dip

9 servings, about 1/4 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. (To make your own, split whole-wheat pitas in half and cut each half into eight wedges. Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit until crisp, about 8 minutes.)

  • 1 14-ounce 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 teaspoon 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.

1/4 cup serving: 58 calories, 0.5 g fat (0 g saturated fat)

5-Layer Mexican Dip

4 servings, about 3/4 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 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 8-ounce can fat-free refried beans
  • 1/2 cup fat-free sour cream
  • 1/2 cup grated reduced-fat cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions (use green tops only)

Spread refried beans in a 9-inch pie pan. Layer sour cream on top of the beans. In a small bowl, combine salsa, tomatoes, and cilantro. Spoon mixture over sour cream. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese and garnish with sliced green onion.

3/4 cup serving: 116 calories, 1.7 g fat (1 g 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.

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