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Chips and Dips Get a Healthy Makeover

Skip Chips and Slim Down Dips for Healthier Party Fare

-- By Stepfanie Romine, Staff Writer

What would life be like without parties? And what's a party without great snacks? Too often, food is an afterthought to the drinks at cocktail, Super Bowl and holiday parties. What's a healthy eater to do when her only choices are a cheese ball (100 calories, 7 grams fat per serving) and crackers or a bowl of thick and creamy onion dip (60 calories, 6 grams fat per serving) with greasy potato chips? Make over your party fare with these new "chip" ideas, and slimmed down dips, which are affordable and healthy, too!

Ditch the Chips
Dig into your dip with one of these more nutritious options instead:

  • Grilled chicken (or tofu) chunks
  • Broccoli or cauliflower, steamed or raw
  • Bite size chunks of crusty whole-grain bread
  • Small whole wheat pretzels (Yes, they do exist!)
  • Pita chips
  • Miniature whole wheat pita breads
  • Baby carrots
  • Bell peppers, sliced into strips or cut into triangles (Remove top and bottom, then core peppers. Slice down center so pepper lies flat, then cut into triangles.)
  • Endive leaves
  • Inner leaves from Romaine lettuce
Slim Down Your Dip
Start the party off right. Instead of rich, creamy and cheesy dips, try a lighter version of that favorite dip. And remember, one serving of dip is about 1 ounce or 2 Tablespoons—that's about the size of a pair of dice.

Spinach-Artichoke Dip I'm famous for my healthier version of this recipe, which contains just 66 calories per serving. Just like the kind you get in restaurants, it's creamy and full of cheese. However, I use light cream cheese and just enough parmesan to add flavor. I sauté onions and garlic to add extra flavor. Even if you serve this with tortilla chips (one of my favorite treats at parties), the dip is still far lighter than the restaurant versions, which can have up to 775 calories per oversized serving! <pagebreak>

Cheese Fondue Yes, even cheese fondue can be made healthier! It's a favorite party food of many, but this lighter version will let you indulge without guilt. It's just as creamy as the original, but its secret ingredients add fiber and flavor while cutting the fat. Even slimmed down, this is a "sometimes" food—one that's perfect for a party. Dust off your old fondue pot and cook up some cheesy goodness! (Oh, and one last tip: Swap beer for wine if that's what you have on hand. You can also use chicken broth. The liquid is just there to add flavor and keep the fondue moist.)

Roasted Red Pepper Dip Purée roasted red peppers with low-fat plain yogurt for a simply delicious dip. This recipe just 35 calories a serving, with 1 gram of fat!

Veggie Guacamole Serve smooth or chunky guacamole that's heavy on the veggies for only 75-80 calories per serving. By adding more vegetables to the dip, you're spreading out the fat and calories of the avocados, reducing the overall calorie count and boosting the nutrition profile.

More Dip Tips
  • Use light mayo, low-fat cream cheese and skim milk when making creamy dips.
  • Swap puréed white beans for half the mayo in creamy dips to boost calories and cut fat.
  • Serve dips with baked whole-grain crackers and vegetables.
  • Instead of using store-bought or your traditional homemade chip dip, use regular mayonnaise for half of the recipe, and replace the other half with reduced-fat sour cream. One cup of lower-fat sour cream will provide all the flavor and texture of mayonnaise but cut 1,300 calories and 150 grams of fat from the whole batch.
  • Try any one of these healthy dips, which have fewer than 50 calories a serving!
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