Dip It Friday, Mar 5 2021 

Creamy onion dip and crunchy, salty potato chips. Back in the 70s, this appetizer was a party standard. Packages of Lipton powdered soup and sour cream were always on hand to whip up this yummy chip topper at any moment.

I’m a dipper. I love dipping veggies, pretzels, and chips of every kind. Most dips are high in fat, sodium, and calories, so I offset my cravings with healthier alternatives whenever possible. Today we have low-fat and low-calorie choices in our local grocery stores. Hummus in a variety of flavors, including chocolate; chunky and smooth salsas; guacamole, plain and with other fruits and vegetables; vegan “cheese” sauces; and dips made from vegetables such as cauliflower, are pre-made, ready to grab and go.

Most of these dips can easily be prepared at home with a few ingredients. Transform old favorites into healthier alternatives by substituting items, such as plain yogurt for sour cream. One cup of sour cream has 492 calories and 48.21 grams of fat and only 7.27 grams of protein as opposed to one cup of yogurt at 154 calories, 3.8 grams of fat and 12.86 grams of protein. Yogurt is also a better choice for those with lactose intolerance, and it is rich in calcium and vitamins B6 and B12.

Vegetables can make some of the tastiest dips. White Bean, Black Bean, Avocado and Edamame, Spicy Edamame, and Babaganoush dips may be your family’s newest favorites. Nuts also add an amazing twist to dips. My daughter, Erin, is a master at turning cashews into her children’s favorite “cheese” sauce. These recipes take a little more time, such as this one for Vegan Nacho Cheese, but it is so much lower in fat and cholesterol and contains more vitamins, so she isn’t concerned about how much her children want to use.

Here are a couple other recipes for you to try. I’d love to hear your suggestions.  

Avocado Hummus

2 garlic cloves
1 (15-ounce) can of garbanzo beans
1 lemon, zest and juice
2 tablespoon tahini
2 avocados
Salt
Olive Oil
Paprika

1. Place garlic cloves, garbanzo beans, lemon zest and juice from the lemon and tahini in a food processor. Blend until smooth. Salt to taste.

2. Add two avocados and blend just until smooth. Salt to taste once more. Transfer to a bowl. Top with a few tablespoons of olive oil and a sprinkle of paprika. Serve with pita chips, crackers, or vegetables.

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Cranberry Salsa

  • 1 (12 ounce) bag of cranberries, fresh or frozen
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 1 bunch green onions, cut into 3-inch lengths
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 3/cup white sugar
  • 1 pinch of salt

Combine cranberries, cilantro, green onions, jalapeno peppers, lime juice, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Chop to medium consistency refrigerate immediately, Serve at room temperature with tortilla chips or over cream cheese.

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Have you read my newest book, Inspired Caregiving or post on my other blog, “Pray It to Pieces?”

Spiralized Wednesday, Mar 30 2016 

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Stand too close to me, and you may get Spiralized. My new toy is a Mueller Spiral-Ultra 4-Blade Spiralizer. It was a bargain on Amazon at $28 for the 8 in 1 spiral slicer, pasta maker, juicer, and mandolin.

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The gadget sure has helped me add more vegetables to my diet. And dinner never has been easier! Cucumbers, zucchini, sweet potatoes, squash, white potatoes, and onions are transformed in minutes from whole vegetables to beautiful streams of deliciousness.

Baked, fried, or boiled, everything cooks quickly. Just add a little olive oil and seasoning or a sauce of choice.

Firm fruits and vegetables spiralize and slice best. And cooking needs a gentle touch. Boiling the “pasta” is really a brief parboiling or it turns to mush.

Some of my favorite spiralized dishes are:

  1. Baked thin spiralized sweet potatoes with a sprinkle of olive oil and coconut lime seasoning.
  2. Roasted sliced and seasoned potatoes
  3. Spiralized zucchini sauteed in a dash of olive oil with pine nuts, crushed garlic, fresh basil, salt, pepper, and a sprinkle of shredded Parmesan cheese.

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My only complaint about the Mueller Spiralizer is a lack of instructions with the product. After several nasty cuts from the very sharp blades, I found a good YouTube video on how to use it. I also have since purchased their cookbook which has instructions, guidelines, and some interesting recipes. The print is large enough to see without reading glasses but the few photos are only in black and white.

©2016, Mary K. Doyle

Powerful, Little Green Drink Friday, May 16 2014 

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My son, Joe, and daughter-in-law, Ellie, gave me their juicer. I’m not sure how diligent I’d be right now about using it, but they also gave me bags of washed, cut vegetables that need to be used before spoiling. The bags contain dark leafy greens, a hard fruit such as apple or pear, and carrots or beets. These bags show me what I need to continue juicing.

Using the juicer is easy. I just push in small bunches of the vegetable/fruit mix. The fiber goes out one end into the pulp container and the juice into a pitcher. The machine needs to be immediately cleaned which only takes a few minutes, and then the juice should be consumed while fresh. I like vegetables, prefer them over fruits, so the taste is fine.

The juice does not contain fiber, but the pulp may be added back into the juice or used in cooking, such as in muffin batters, soups, or pasta and rice dishes.

Joe and Ellie believe the high dose of nutrients from the juice benefits us in many ways, and studies confirm this. Raw fruits and vegetables offer 95% of the vitamins and enzymes our bodies need. The daily recommendation is to eat two whole fruits and three to four vegetables a day of differing colors. Juicing offers the opportunity to consume many pounds in only one 8-16 ounce glass. It’s unlikely anyone would eat that amount of food.

Juicing is shown to facilitate weight loss, increase energy, strengthen immunity and bones, and may even reduce the risk of heart disease and cancers. It’s a more natural method of acquiring nutrients than by taking a synthetic vitamin.

Doctor Oz has information on his site as to the benefits of beetroot juice. It says that the juice is one of the richest dietary sources of antioxidants and naturally occurring nitrates. The juice also may lower blood pressure. Either red or yellow beets may be used.

Although there are benefits in consuming the fiber, the pure juice of the beet delivers the maximum benefit in regards to blood pressure. It allows 100% of the phytonutrients to decrease pressure. One to two cups of beetroot juice a day is recommended.

A good juicing machine can be pricey, costing several hundreds of dollars. But Joe pointed out that the better juicers are less wasteful. They extract more of the juices. He feels it is an important point to consider when purchasing a machine. It also could save us thousands of dollars in health care.

©2014, Mary K. Doyle

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