What are you preparing for New Year’s Eve this year? Most of us will be celebrating at home instead of dining at fancy restaurants or mingling at crowded house parties. The good news - being at home with a smaller family group gives you an opportunity to plan your own healthy menu.
Start with some hunger-squelching, family-pleasing dips. They are a convenient and delicious way to consume a wide variety of anti-inflammatory vegetables, spices, and healthy fats. Although we love the convenience of purchased dips like packaged hummus, many brands contain unnecessary levels of fat and preservatives. Making dips yourself allows you to control the flavor and quality – and it’s easy!
The best dips begin with a creamy base made from foods such as beans, lentils, avocados, edamame, and roasted vegetables (eggplant, carrots, squash, zucchini, peppers, cauliflower) that are blended with oil or another liquid. Add flavor boosters such as tahini, garlic, hot sauce, nut butters, nuts and seeds, lemon or lime juice and zest to add dimension. Finish by seasoning with fresh and dried herbs, spices, salt and pepper and your dip is complete.
Here are some of our favorite combinations with healthy ideas for crudités:
Ingredient and flavor combinations
Chickpea hummus (and other beans): The classic chickpea base is very versatile and can be made with any bean. Add tahini, garlic, lemon, and cumin to chickpeas for a traditional version. Variations include, but are not limited to, roasted red pepper, lemon kale, Moroccan carrot, roasted zucchini, kalamata olive, spicy sriracha, and creamy pesto. Try this crowd-pleasing version for Lemon Dill Hummus.
Avocado, AKA guacamole! We love the healthy fats in avocado, but the calories can be intimidating. Cut the amount of avocado in half by adding defrosted edamame beans. You will decrease the calories and increase the protein. Win, win. Add some greens to keep your dip bright and fresh. Our Kale and Avocado Guacamole is a family favorite.
Roasted vegetables: Baba ganoush is the ultimate example here – a combination of roasted eggplant, tahini, lemon, and garlic. Other roasted vegetables that work well in dips are butternut squash, cauliflower, zucchini, carrots, and peppers. Roasting them allows you to process vegetables until creamy. Try this nutrient-dense and super flavorful Roasted Red Pepper Walnut Dip.
- Carrot chips or sticks: Purchase prepared crinkle cut carrot chips or slice carrots on an angle. Baby carrots work, too.
- Cucumber chips: Slice cucumbers on an angle to maximize surface area for scooping.
- Broccoli or cauliflower: Lightly steam these vegetables to bring out their sweetness. You want them to still have the firmness necessary to dip.
- Green beans: Remove stems, rinse, and dip. If you prefer, you can lightly steam these as well.
- Endive: This nutrient-dense vegetable is the ultimate chip – perfect shape, size, and sturdiness.
- Peppers: Red, yellow, and orange peppers provide a variety of phytonutrients and are milder than green peppers.
- Celery sticks: Firm and crisp, celery is a go-to crudité.
- Snap peas: These can be consumed raw or lightly steamed.
- Cherry tomatoes: We love using grape tomatoes on our crudités platters, but dipping them can be tricky. Using toothpicks can help keep your fingers free of dip.
Debbie Bessen, MS, RD, CSO, is a registered dietitian specializing in oncology, food sensitivities, gastrointestinal health, and weight control.
If you have any questions, or would like to make an appointment with a registered dietitian for a telemedicine nutrition counseling appointment with Holy Name’s outpatient nutrition center, call 201-227-6040.