Following a low fat diet does not mean sacrificing taste. Dips and spreads are often laden with fat, but using ingredients rich in flavor rather than rich in calories transforms dips from an occasional splurge to an everyday staple.
Better than Butters
Eliminating spreads that are high in saturated or trans fats can have a hugely positive effect on overall health. In addition to the dangers of consuming trans fats, which include a greater risk for developing heart disease and some cancers, one tablespoon of butter, margarine or mayonnaise contains a whopping 100 calories. It is easy to see how conventional spreads can spell diet sabotage.
Low fat dips make an excellent replacement for butter, margarine, mayonnaise or even peanut butter in sandwiches and wraps. Perfect seasonings, coupled with the satisfying texture of pureed beans, guarantee that fat and calories will not be missed.
Tools of the Trade
Making low fat dips and spreads at home is easy, with just a few simple tools required.
Canned beans come in many shapes, sizes and textures. Experiment to the find the perfect marriage of bean and seasoning. Some common canned beans that work great in dips include:
- Chickpeas or Garbanzo Beans
- Brown or Green Lentils
- White Beans
- Black Eyed Peas
- Black Beans
- Kidney Beans
- Navy Beans
- lemon and lime juice (fresh is best, but bottled works)
- soy sauce, Tamari or Braggs
- tomato paste
- apple cider vinegar
- rice wine vinegar
- curry paste (such as Pataks Tandoori)
- low fat salad dressings
Spices and Seasonings
A fully stocked spice rack is a boon to any chef. As with anything, fresh is usually better, but dried herbs and spices do come in handy during the winter months. Keep these basic spices and seasonings on hand for quick and tasty dips:
- ground coriander seed
- garam masala
- curry powder (such as Madras)
- garlic powder
- onion powder
- cayenne pepper
- dried chili flakes
- Italian seasoning
- sea salt
A food processor works best for this kind of work, but it is not a necessity. Manual food mills or even blenders will also do the trick. For more rustic dips and spreads, mash the beans with a fork or potato masher and then simply stir in other ingredients.
Easy Fat Free Hummus
This recipe contains all the components needed to create a plethora of fat free spreads to suit any palate. Just remember: beans + liquid + seasoning + puree = healthful and delicious dips and spreads.
- 1 540 ml (19 fl oz) can Lentils, drained (reserve 2 tbs liquid)
- 2 tbs soy sauce
- 2 tbs lemon juice
- 2 tbs liquid from beans
- 1 tsp coriander
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/4 cup fresh Cilantro (optional)
- Combine first six ingredients in the bowl of food processor or jar of blender. Stir gently to incorporate spices with liquid.
- Puree until smooth. Add cilantro, if using, and pulse until coarsely chopped and combined.
- Refrigerate for at least one hour to allow flavors to meld. Enjoy!
Hummus can be stored in an airtight container and refrigerated for up to five days.