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New twists on classic dips

Laura Williams, M.S.Ed. is a personal trainer, freelance writer and entrepreneur who works with a wide variety of fitness clients. She's the founder of the popular website, - Girls Gone Sporty, and she's the host of the High Impact Blogg...

How to... Make delicious new dips

Learn how to jazz up your appetizer routine with these fabulous new twists on classic dips.

Gourmet dipsStep 1: Make it healthier

Some of the tastiest dips around aren't too kind on the waistline. Makeover your favorite classic dips by substituting healthier ingredients for less-healthy ones. For instance, Pamela Braun, recipe and relationship blogger at My Man's Belly, found a tasty way to turn a hot and cheesy artichoke dip into a guiltless treat by using white beans in place of cheese. While it may sound odd, she swears friends and family can't get enough!

White Bean Artichoke Dip

Ingredients:

  • 1 (14 ounce) can artichoke hearts
  • 1 (15.5 ounce) can Great Northern beans
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 6 pitted Kalamata olives
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Sea salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper

Directions:

  1. Place all ingredients in the bowl of your food processor, except salt and pepper.
  2. Puree all ingredients until only very small pieces of the artichoke are visible.
  3. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Top with a drizzle of olive oil and Kalamata olives.
  5. Serve with cut vegetables or crackers.

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Step 2: Switch out ingredients

Who says that queso has to be made with Velveeta cheese, or that bean dip has to be made with standard refried beans? Play around in the kitchen and substitute one primary ingredient for another. You may not always like the result, but you might just stumble upon a real winner, like the Black Bean Hummus Dip created by Kate DeVivo, the editor of Vegan 101: Master Vegan Cooking with 101 Great Recipes.

Black Bean Hummus Dip

Ingredients:

  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup reduced-sodium vegetable broth or water
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons tahini
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 to 2-1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • Salt and cayenne pepper, to taste
  • Pita chips or pita bread, cut into wedges

Directions:

  1. Process beans, broth, tahini, garlic, lemon juice and soy sauce in food processor until smooth.
  2. Season to taste with salt and cayenne pepper.
  3. Refrigerate one to two hours for flavors to blend.
  4. Serve with pita chips or bread.

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Step 3: Add something extra

Queso with sausage may seem like a standard dip today, but who was the genius who took something good and made it that much better just by adding sausage? Use this same line of thinking for all your classic dips -- just because something tastes good, doesn't mean it won't taste better with a little somethin'-somethin' added. One excellent idea from Rick Bayless, author of Fiesta at Rick's and chef of Chicago's Frontera and Topolobampo restaurants, was to add sundried tomatoes, crispy bacon bits and avocados from Mexico (available year-round) to make the perfect winter Sundried Tomato Guacamole:

Sundried Tomato Guacamole

Ingredients:

  • 3 medium-large ripe avocados from Mexico
  • 1/2 medium white onion, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
  • Fresh hot green chiles to taste (usually two serranos or one jalapeno), stemmed, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup soft sundried tomatoes, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces (patted dry on paper towels if oil-packed)
  • 2 to 3 slices of crisply cooked bacon
  • 1/4 cup (loosely packed) chopped fresh cilantro (thick bottom stems cut off), plus a little extra for garnish
  • Salt
  • 1 or 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • A little Mexican queso fresco or other fresh garnishing cheese, like feta or salted farmer's cheese, for garnish (optional)

Directions:

  1. Cut around each avocado, from stem to blossom end and back again, then twist the two halves apart. Dislodge the pit and scoop the avocado flesh into a bowl.
  2. Using an old-fashioned potato masher or a large fork or spoon, mash the avocados into a course puree.
  3. Scoop the onion into a small strainer and rinse under cold water.
  4. Shake off the excess water and mix into the avocado, along with the chiles, tomatoes, bacon and cilantro.
  5. Taste and season with salt and lime juice. The guacamole usually takes about one teaspoon salt, while lime juice is a matter of personal preference.
  6. Cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface of the guacamole, and refrigerate until you're ready to serve (for best results, this needs to be within a couple of hours).
  7. Scoop the guacamole into a serving dish, sprinkle with a little chopped cilandro and queso fresco (if you're using it), and you're ready to serve.

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For more info on this topic...For more household tips, check out:
Super Moms guide to cleaning & cooking for the family

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