Skinny Superbowl Sunday, the big temptation day arrives

super bowl XLIII logoJust when you think you’ve got a handle on those New Years resolutions

Just when you think you’ve got a handle on those New Years resolutions, the big temptation day arrives – Superbowl Sunday. Chicken wings, nachos, chili – the calories can add up quickly. This year, you can still enjoy tasty snacks while watching the game — without breaking the bank on your calorie budget. My favorite choice for such occasions is a scrumptious spread of dips – creamy,chunky, spicy, tangy – everybody loves ‘em. Hot-cold, spooned or dipped – the possibilities are endless. As a cook, it’s a slam dunk because there’s nothing easier to prepare for impromptu get-togethers. But my favorite part is that they can be made well ahead of time so I can enjoy my parties with my guests.

No, you won’t find me stirring up a zippy sour-cream based French onion dip or melting handfuls of gooey Cheddar over crispy fried chips — not in my kitchen. I am still a nutritionist, after all. There’s no doubt that high fat ingredients add flavor and texture to just about any thing. But as a chef first, I’ve learned how to make recipes sing without a boatload of fat grams. Instead of focusing on a rich sour cream or cheese base for a dip, I use vegetables or beans as my primary ingredient. An unctuous puree of eggplant or garbanzo beans is the perfect place to start. A spoonful of healthy fat such as olive oil or tahini is all that’s needed to add layers of texture and flavor to just the right melange of spices and seasonings.

The other thing I love about dipping is that it’s a great way to kick up your daily vegetable intake. A colorful array of crisp dippers can include crunchy sticks of Bell pepper, fennel, jicama or celery and baby carrots. Asparagus spears work well too but should be blanched first to soften them slightly.

And then you have the “other” dippers known as chips. When I first started cooking, there were no products such as fat free chips on the market. I made my own by cutting corn tortillas or whole grain pita bread into eights by triangles. I gave them a mist of olive oil and baked them slowly til they were crisp and lightly browned. I still do that in a pinch but it’s easy to find baked chips in the market now . They’re much lower in fat and calories than their traditional counterparts. Healthier versions of dippers are every bit as tasty.

Here’s what to look for in packaged versions:

  • fat-free: less than 0.5 grams (g) of fat per serving
  • low-fat: 3 g or less per serving (if the serving size is 30 g or less or 2 tablespoons or less, no more than 3 g of fat per 50 g of the food)
  • light: one-third fewer calories or half the fat of the “regular” versio · low-sodium: 140 milligrams (mg) or less per serving (if the serving size is 30 g or less or 2 tablespoons or less, no more than 140 mg of sodium per 50 g of the food)
  • lightly salted: at least 50 percent less sodium per serving than the “regular” version
  • reduced: when describing fat, sodium or calorie content, the food must have at least 25 percent less of these nutrients than the “regular” version

Here’s a healthy spin on an old-fashioned favorite, French Onion Dip. It takes a little time to simmer the onions, but the result is so worth waiting for. This tastes just like “the real thing” with a fraction of the calories and fat. Be sure to serve with baked chips.

French Onion Dip

Makes about 3 cups or twelve ¼-cup servings

Ingredients:

  • 2-¼ pounds yellow onions, peeled
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 4 ounces low fat cream cheese, room temperature
  • ½ cup plain nonfat Greek-style yogurt
  • Garnish: Italian parsley leaves

Instructions:

Cut the onions in half vertically, and then slice them horizontally into ⅛-inch thick half-rounds. Heat olive oil a large sauté pan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions and salt. Stir well and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes. Continue to simmer stirring regularly for about 20 to 30 minutes, scraping up any browned bits with a wooden spoon. The onions will be light to medium golden (not dark) browned and caramelized. Cool onions completely.

Place onions in bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times until onion are slightly chopped. Remove half of the onions and transfer them to a mixing bowl. Return the remaining onions to the food processor. Add the onion powder and process until completely pureed. Add the cream cheese, and yogurt and process just until smooth. Add to the chopped onion mixture . Stir well. Taste for seasonings. Chill completely. Transfer to serving bowl. Garnish with Italian parsley leaves. Serve with your favorite baked chips.

Nutrition Facts

Serving size : ¼ cup

Calories 80, Total Fat g 4, Sat Fat 1.5 g, Chol 5 mg, Sodium 230 mg, Total Carb 10g, Fiber 1 g, Sugars 4 g, Protein 3 g

© Cheryl Forberg 2016