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October 2003 Issue
Skinny Dipping
by Ronda L. Halpin
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Hot Spinach Dip

This dip is a low fat rendition of a popular dish offered as an appetizer at many restaurants. Instead of two or more cups of mild cheese, a mere four ounces of a strongly flavored cheese like parmesan are used. In addition, vegetables like spinach, onions and tomatoes bring flavor, texture and moisture to the party without any fat.
  • 4 oz. grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 (8 oz.) pkgs. low fat cream cheese
  • 1 (10 oz.) pkg. frozen chopped spinach -- thawed and thoroughly drained
  • 2 garlic cloves -- minced
  • 3/4 c. finely chopped red onions
  • 1/4 c. evaporated skim milk
  • 2 tomatoes -- finely chopped
  • 2 tsp. seasoned salt -- choose your favorite variety (I like Penzey's Fox Point blend)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

In a mixing bowl, beat the parmesan cheese and cream cheese until smooth. Add the spinach, garlic, onion, evaporated skim milk, tomatoes and salt. Mix well to combine.

Pour into a dish that's been sprayed with cooking spray and bake for 20-25 minutes or until the mixture is hot and bubbly. Serve with pita wedges, small bread rounds or a similar dipper.

  • Yields: about 3 cups
  • Preparation Time: 30 minutes

Of course, a great way to enjoy low or no fat dips is to look to those that are that way by design. Look for a wide variety of salsas and chutneys to keep on hand for easy entertaining or those late night munchies. These fruit and vegetable-based dips are great accompaniments to meals or with all kinds of dippers. Speaking of that, we should take a moment to consider ...

The Dippers

Rather than go on about which dippers are best for you or what to avoid, I'm simply going to provide you with a short list of some of my favorite dippers and the calories, fat and fiber that you can get from a 100g serving. I compiled this list using the USDA's National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference. While I'm just sharing a couple of pieces of information with you, I highly suggest playing around with it a bit. You can learn a lot about the food you eat, including things like:

  • the breakdown of protein, fat and carbohydrates in your food,
  • how much of 10 different minerals are present in your food,
  • how much of 16 different vitamins are present in your food,
  • a very complex breakdown of the types of fat in your food,
  • ... and much more.

Dipper Type (100g serving) Calories Total Fat (g) Fiber (g)
baby carrots 35 0.13 1.8
sweet red pepper 26 0.30 2.0
celery sticks 14 0.17 1.6
cucumber w/ peel 15 0.11 0.5
broccoli 34 0.37 2.6
cauliflower 25 0.10 2.5
hard whole wheat pretzels 362 2.60 7.7
baked tortilla chips 415 5.70 5.3
whole wheat pita wedges 266 2.60 7.4
oat bran bagel pieces 255 1.20 3.6
whole wheat bread rounds 246 4.20 6.9

With all of this information and a few great recipes on hand, I wish you the best of luck with your fall tailgate and game-day TV parties. And remember that no matter who you are cheering for, you're doing something good for you as well!

If there's a topic that you'd like to see covered in this column, let me know. You can always post comments in the discussion board using the forms provided in the articles or email me directly at .

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