Cooling Off with Dips

Three Easy Veggie Dips!

With the recent heat wave, everybody is thinking about keeping cool. I’ve hardly had an appetite and my family doesn’t seem inclined to eat, either. I finally dug through my cookbook to find something refreshing and appealing. I ended up with three great veggie dips and a boatload of vegetables!

When preparing a veggie tray, work with the freshest vegetables you can find at your farmer’s market and produce section. Pick items that are in season for the best flavor. You’ll also want to pick a variety of veggies – the more colorful your tray, the more appealing it will be. Once you’re home, make sure you wash the produce well to clean off any residue they may have accumulated.

Cut celery and carrots into three-inch sticks. Baby carrots work just fine they way they are. Chop broccoli and cauliflower into 1-inch bits. Slice cucumbers, zucchini and squash in half-inch slices or carrot stick sized pieces. Cherry or grape tomatoes don’t really need to be sliced, although you might cut them in half if you like. Slice peppers into slivers or half-inch chunks. Green onions should have the ends snipped off. Snow peas and edamame will need their strings pulled. Radishes can be cut in half.

Arranging the veggies on the tray doesn’t need to take all day or an artistic flair, just a little attention. The most attractive and appealing trays have a variety of colors. Alternate the colors by placing cool (green/white) between warm (red/yellow/orange) vegetables.

If you are planning to serve several dips, it’s a good idea to mix up the flavors: spicy, sweet, creamy. The three I’ve included are one of each.

Pineapple Salsa

1 jar (14 ounces) salsa
1 can (10 ounces) crushed pineapple

Drain the pineapple completely. You may want to place a second bowl on top of the pineapple in the strainer to press out as much juice as possible. Mix the ingredients. Chill 30 minutes and serve.

Approximate Nutritional Information: Servings Per Recipe: 8 servings, Amount Per Serving: Calories: 47, Total Fat: 0g, Cholesterol: 0mg, Sodium: 389mg, Total Carbs: 12g, Dietary Fiber: 2g, Protein: 1g

Italian Sour Cream Dip

1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons Italian spice mix
1 tablespoon minced onion

Mix all ingredients together. Chill 30 minutes and serve.

Approximate Nutritional Information: Servings Per Recipe: 8, Amount Per Serving: Calories: 158, Fat: 17g, Cholesterol: 15mg, Sodium: 96mg, Total Carbs: 1g, Dietary Fiber: 0g, Protein: 1g.

Black Bean Salsa

1 can (10 ounces) black beans
1 can (10 ounces) whole kernel corn
1 can (8 ounces) diced tomatoes with chiles

Mix all ingredients together. Chill for 30 minutes. Serve.

Approximate Nutritional Information: Servings Per Recipe: 8, Amount Per Serving: Calories: 101, Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 0mg, Sodium: 674mg, Total Carbs: 21g, Dietary Fiber: 5g, Protein: 5g.

Once you have all your dips prepared and your veggie tray assembled, place them on the table in easy reach. Provide your guests with small plates to collect their snacks on, and watch the goodies disappear!

These dips work well with crackers, chips, pretzels, meats and cheeses, too. The nice thing about snacking is you can eat a bite now and then as you’re inclined and not feel over full and heavy when temperatures are near 100 and humidity is through the roof.