Jun 25, 2022 / by Jon Bellis / No Comments

“What can I eat as a dip?”. We may not get asked that question so often, but we certainly get asked what to eat. This is usually in response to our guidance on healthy eating which comes with our flagship weight loss programme at our studio in Northampton. Understanding what constitutes healthy is one thing. But turning that into actual meals is another. Many people will draw a blank at that point. In this series of posts we attempt to answer the question ‘what can I eat?’. In this instalment, we talk about dips.

To find out why this is a common question, take a look at the first of the series.

Read on to find out more about dips.


Picture the scene

Ah, summer, we love it don’t we? Summer holidays are in full swing, the weather is pretty decent and the days are long. It’s the perfect time of year for entertaining. Think all-day, relaxed, sociable, boozy barbecues in the garden with friends or family. There’s lots of delicious food on offer and it’s available any time you want it. Happy days!

If you’re entertaining you want your guests to have a good experience, don’t you? You chill the beers on ice, make a big bucket of Pimms, have a selection of wine on offer. You make some special tasty marinated dishes for going on the barbecue. There’s crusty bread, several salads, new potatoes and various other accompaniments to go with it. You lay on several puddings, a selection of cheeses and a big box of chocs. For the guests’ arrival you line up a selection of munchies with dips.

Everyone arrives hungry because they’ve been saving themselves. The munchies and dips go down a treat. They go quickly and are topped up. More munchies appear. The dips are renewed. Ooh, they go well with a beer or a glass of wine. Mmmm! These are delicious. Are there any more dips……?


The problem with dips

They are definitely moreish. All the more reason to be aware of the calorie content. I know, I know, party pooper. But honestly, if you arrive intending to be good, you’re getting off to a bad start calorie-wise if you fill your face with the munchies and dips.

The problem with most shop-bought dips is that they’re either mayonnaise, cream or oil-based. And they’re eaten with high calorie, high GI, often high-fat munchies.


Typical dip choices

Let’s look at a typical scenario. Search for ‘dips’ on the Tesco site and the first thing that comes up is ‘Tesco classic multipack dips’. Check out the ingredients and you’ll see the first on the list being either mayonnaise or cream in all four dips. The pack contains 1300 calories and 118g of fat.

Next, take a look to the right at ‘usually bought next’. You’ll see

  • Breadsticks – 414 calories, 7.9g fat per 100g. The best of a bad lot
  • Houmous – 230 calories, 16.6g fat per 100g. Another popular dip
  • Doritos – 492 calories, 25g fat per 100g
  • Tesco tortilla chips – 499 calories, 23.5g fat per 100g

Not a vegetable in sight on the ‘bought next’ list. If you follow some of these links, you’ll come across

  • Cheese twists – 507 calories, 26.4g fat per 100gLemony white bean dip
  • Sour cream and chive dip – 231 calories, 22g fat per 100g
  • Thai sweet chilli crisps – 494 calories, 24.7g fat

You get the gist? High fat, high calorie and, judging by the first item on the search and the ‘bought next’ list, fairly typical.


Better choices

Compare the above calorie breakdowns with typical crudités for dipping

  • Peppers – 31 calories, 0.2g fat per 100g
  • Cucumber – 15 calories, 0.1g fat per 100g
  • Carrot batons – 42 calories, 0.2g fat per 100g

But they’re boring, you say! Not when you’re dipping them, they create great flavour combinations – much more interesting than the beige crispy stuff above.

Not convinced? Consider this: evolution has designed us to like calorie-dense food. It was a good survival mechanism when food was scarce. It’s easy to get addicted to high calorie or instantly gratifying food and then find other foods boring. But you can undo that. You can retrain your taste buds to love fresh healthy food. You’ll then find that your typical beige crispy fodder tastes too fatty and rich. If you value your health, make the change!

So, that’s the stuff onto which you deposit your dips, but what about the actual dips? Ah, well that’s the subject of this article. Read on to get some great examples of tasty, healthy, low calorie dips.


Alternative ingredients

A lot of the commercial dips use oil, mayonnaise, cheese and other high-fat ingredients in order to create an indulgent, rich, creamy mouthfeel. But they contain a lot of it! You don’t necessarily need high-fat foods to create that texture. There are plenty of substitute ingredients.

You don’t even need to have that creamy texture either. Salsa, for example, makes a great dip, especially when you have an intense tomato flavour with some tangy and spicy ingredients.

There are so many recipes for healthy dips out there. You’ll find all sorts of ingredients. It almost looks like ‘anything goes’, as long as it tastes great and has the right texture to stick to whatever you are dipping in it.

So, invent your own! Hmmm, that’s easier said than done. Some inspiration would help. So, what can I eat as a dip, you ask? We’ve come up with a useful way of creating your own dip.


A formula for creating your own dips

Try thinking about your dip as having 3 components. Most dips are going to have all 3 components but there’s no strictness here. Use more than one ingredient to make up one of the components, or just leave one component out altogether. You choose.


Component 1: Texture base

The following low fat ingredients, either pureed or as they come, will create a thick, indulgent texture:

  • Low fat Greek yoghurt.
  • Low fat cottage cheese.
  • Lentils
  • Beans
  • Cooked aubergine.
  • Chickpeas
  • Cooked sweet potato.
  • Avocado – not low fat, but fine if you keep an eye on the other ingredients.
  • Olive oil – but in tsps. rather than tbsps!


Component 2: Veggie fillers

These ingredients, when pureed, will add healthy micronutrient, colour, taste and help create the right texture. Anything goes really, but try these:

  • Roasted red pepper
  • Tomatoes
  • Beetroot
  • Spinach
  • Rocket
  • Watercress
  • Peas
  • Onions and spring onions


Component 3: For taste

The following ingredients will add plenty of taste, heat or tanginess:

  • Lemon juice
  • Lime juice
  • Onion powder
  • White wine vinegar
  • Tahini
  • Garlic
  • Herbs
  • Spices
  • Chillies
  • Salt and pepper
  • Tabasco


Dip ideas

Before we present two of our favourite low-calorie dips, take a look at some of these ideas to get inspiration for your own creations. They pretty much all follow the formula above, but you might want to consider a little modification to replace tbsps. of oil with tsps. Oil aside, all the other ingredients should give you some great ideas.

  • Skinny cottage cheese dip
  • Simple mint pea dip
  • Lentil dip
  • Lemony white bean dip
  • Friendly ranch-style dip
  • Tsatsiki
  • Black bean dip
  • Spinach and kale dip

If that lot doesn’t give you inspiration then take a look here and here for lots of great ideas.

If you don’t want to make your own and you just want a recipe served up to you, then read on.


What can I eat as a dip? Healthy low calorie Baba Ghanoush!

Here’s one of our favourites. It’s really simple, really tasty and has a great texture. It goes well with some raw veggies – peppers, cucumber, carrot, radish. You choose your veggies, whatever takes your fancy.

It’ll take you 5 minutes to prepare and 25 minutes cooking time. Ok, so here goes:

You’ll need

  • 2 large aubergines
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 2 tbsp plain 0% fat Greek yoghurt
  • 1/4 tsp dried cumin (optional)
  • salt & pepper, to taste


Here’s how you make it

  • Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
  • Slice the aubergines in half lengthways and place the cut sides down on a baking sheet. Use a few squirts of cooking spray to stop them from sticking.
  • Roast them for 20-25 mins or until they are tender.
  • Remove them from the oven and set them aside to cool.
  • Once cooled, scoop out the flesh and place in a food processor or high-speed blender.
  • Put all the other ingredients in the blender and whizz it until smooth.

That’s it, done. It’ll be a little warm if you serve it immediately, or you can chill it. Either way, it’s delicious!


What can I eat as a dip? Minty yoghurt dip

Here’s another that is a favourite with anyone who likes to start an Indian meal with poppadoms. We’ve modified it a little to use Greek yoghurt so it’ll stick to your crudités.

It’s really simple. It’ll take you about 5 minutes to prepare and then at least 60 minutes – or however long you like  – to infuse.

Here’s the short list of ingredients

  • 250 ml fat free Greek yogurt
  • 2 tbsp no added sugar mint sauce
  • ¼ tsp calorie free sweetener such a Truvia
  • A handful of mint leaves roughly chopped

… and here’s how to rustle it up.

  • Mix all the ingredients together.
  • Refrigerate and let it infuse for an hour.

It couldn’t be simpler! Enjoy with crudites or skinny wholegrain crackers.


The wrap-up

So, if you’re asking yourself ‘what can I eat as a dip?’, you have some ideas now. Next time you are entertaining and you want to kick off the party with some dips, avoid the greasy commercial stuff. Instead, surprise and delight your guests with some healthy and tasty low-calorie dips served with some crunchy veggies. They’ll thank you for it!


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