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Delectable Dips

“What's in the dip?” Thanks to your way with spices, that’s what guests will be asking as they wonder why your dips are so delicious and distinctive. Here are some tips to help you whip up your very own version of the ultimate party food.

Healthy Homemade Dips

Homemade dips can be a lot healthier than store-bought dips, which are often high in fat, sodium and calories.

  • Make skinny dips by simply using non-fat or low-fat versions of cheese or mayonnaise.
  • Use high-nutrition bases for your dips--like beans (chickpeas, kidney, pinto, black or white beans all work well), spinach, avocado, tomato or soft tofu.
  • To enhance flavors, add a dash of tamari, lemon or lime instead of salt.
  • Try using yogurt instead of sour cream in your recipes. You can ease into the transition by replacing just half of the sour cream with yogurt to start.
  • Fill up on fiber. Use wholegrain breads and crackers, and avoid high-fat chips and snacks made with refined flours. Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth. Serve chilled. Makes about 1 1/2 cup.
  • Add finely chopped vegetables to your dips — like carrots, red, green and yellow peppers, celery, broccoli and whole peas. They add nutrition, color and flavor.
  • Serve dips with bite-sized pieces of raw vegetables — smaller pieces mean no double-dipping!
  • Instead of salt, season your dips with natural and organic spices and herbs from Frontier Natural Products Co-op, such as curry powder, garlic, thyme and oregano. For sweet dips, try cloves and cinnamon.

Tips & Tidbits for Dips

  • For party pizzazz, think of alternative bowls for your dip, like kale or cabbage leaves; a scooped-out sourdough; or hollowed bell peppers.
  • Make dips ahead of time to allow flavors to meld. Some are best served warm, others chilled. Serve dairy-based dips straight from the refrigerator.
  • For quick results, keep a good supply of Simply Organic spice blends handy, such as Curry, Garam Masala, Italian Seasoning, Taco Seasoning, and Pumpkin Pie Spice on hand.
  • Enliven classic fondue with a generous helping of spices--nutmeg and allspice with Gruyere, garlic and tarragon with Swiss.

What to Dip With?

An assortment of veggies is always fun, but be sure to vary the color. Why not offer kohlrabi or artichoke hearts alongside the classic carrots and cauliflower or papaya and kiwi with those apples? Vary your chip assortment, too. Offer something your guests may not have tried lately, like sweet potato, blue corn, or hot sesame chips. A variety of breads (including breadsticks, crackers and pretzels) and cheese cubes make for substantial dipping.

Make It Your Way

Start with any good base (sour cream, yogurt, cream cheese mayo, mashed beans or veggies, for example). Add a squirt or two of lemon juice, limejuice, or balsamic or wine vinegar, or, for a sweet dip, honey. Then make your dip unique with your own spice combos--savory, garlic and cumin in the bean dip; thyme, basil and chives for the seafood; and mint, cinnamon, and nutmeg for the fruit, for example. Add a few surprises, like sundried tomatoes or chili peppers.

Almond Hummus

Yes, chickpeas already have a nutty taste, but the addition of almonds gives this dip a deliciously different spin. Chips and breads are good dippers for hummus. And of course it makes a tasty sandwich spread.

Ingredients
1 cup cooked chickpeas
1/3 cup tahini (ground sesame seeds w/ olive oil)
1/4 cup ground almonds
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon garlic granules
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon parsley leaf flakes
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 dash tamari or soy sauce
salt to taste
coarse-grind black pepper to taste

Directions
Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth. Serve at room temperature or cool.

Chef Suggestions
For appetizers, you might make open-face hummus tea sandwiches topped with a halved cherry tomato.

Nutrition Facts
As prepared, each serving contains 110 calories, 9g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 40mg sodium, 7g total carbohydrates and 4g protein.

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