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Easy Dip Recipes

Dips are incredibly versatile, and if you use nutrient-rich beans or calcium-boosting yogurt or ricotta cheese as the base, you can make them part of a healthy snack or light meal.

Serve these with accompaniments that evoke an antipasto or mezze platter. We offer suggestions with each recipe, but other ideas include: pickled or marinated vegetable salads, an array of olives and cold meats, or lightly dressed salad greens. Zucchini rounds, cherry or grape tomatoes, or bell pepper strips are easy ways to add vegetables to your day, or heat up pita wedges, flatbreads, or tortillas.

Black Bean Dip

Healthy Living: Black Bean Dip RecipeMake this dip as spicy as you please by choosing a hotter salsa, or adding hot chili powder. It will keep for up to 5 days in the refrigerator, but if you plan to store it for more than a day or two, hold off on adding the scallions until you serve it. Their flavors become very pronounced by the third day.

Makes about 1½ cups, or 12 2-tablespoon servings

1 can (15½ ounces) black beans, drained and liquid reserved

½ cup medium or hot chunky salsa

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

2 or 3 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced

Chili powder, to taste (optional)

  1. Combine the beans, ¼ cup of the salsa, the lime juice, and about half of the scallions in a food processor or blender. Purée until smooth, scraping down the sides of the container if necessary. If the dip looks thicker than you prefer, add a little of the reserved bean liquid.
  2. Transfer to a serving bowl. Stir in the remaining salsa. Taste and add chili powder, if desired. Stir in the remaining scallions, or scatter them on top.

Serve with: warmed tortillas or bell pepper strips, or use it to fill burritos or quesadillas. It’s also tasty spooned into avocado halves.

Sun-Dried Tomato “Aioli”

Healthy Living: Sun-Dried Tomato “Aioli” RecipeAioli is a garlicky mayonnaise, and this dip qualifies in the loosest sense. Its creamy texture and bone-boosting calcium come from ricotta cheese and plain yogurt. You’ll also save considerably on calories from fat—even if you use full-fat dairy.

Makes about 1½ cups, or 12 2-tablespoon servings

1 cup ricotta cheese

½ cup plain whole-milk or Greek yogurt

10 oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes

1 small garlic clove, peeled

3 to 5 parsley leaves

  1. Combine the ricotta, yogurt, tomatoes, garlic, and parsley in a food processor. Purée until smooth, 2 to 3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl if necessary.
  2. Transfer to a serving bowl. Serve at once, or refrigerate for up to 2 days.

Serve with: thinly sliced Italian bread, crackers, or spread on zucchini rounds; thin any leftovers with olive oil and use as a salad dressing.

Herbed Cheese Spread

Looking for ways to sneak calcium into your diet? Look no further. Use any soft or creamy cheese—try fresh mozzarella, goat cheese, or ricotta—and vary the herbs.

Makes 1 cup, or 8 2-tablespoon servings

4 ounces feta cheese (cut into pieces if necessary)

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 to 4 basil leaves

Leaves from 1 sprig oregano

  1. Combine the cheese, oil, basil, and oregano in a food processor. Purée until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl if necessary.
  2. Transfer to a serving bowl. Serve immediately, or refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Serve with: This versatile recipe works as a dip for your favorite veggies and as a sandwich spread, or spoon it onto a baked potato for a more savory and lower-fat alternative to butter.

Tapenade

Although most recipes describe tapenade as a paste made of black olives, the word comes from tapeno, the Provençal word for caper. Niçoise olives are probably more authentic, but kalamata olives are often available pitted, which speeds preparation immensely. Olives and anchovies are quite salty; you’ll probably find the recipe doesn’t need additional salt.

Makes about 2/3 cup, or 6 2½-tablespoon servings

1/2 cup pitted kalamata or niçoise olives

2 to 3 anchovy fillets

1 tablespoon capers, rinsed

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

Juice of ½ lemon

1 small garlic clove, peeled

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  1. Combine the olives, anchovies, capers, mustard, lemon juice, and garlic in a food processor or blender. Purée until fairly smooth, 1 to 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the container if necessary.
  2. Transfer to a serving bowl. Taste and stir in pepper as necessary. Serve immediately, or refrigerate for up to a week.

Serve with: sliced baguette, or vegetables like zucchini rounds or endive leaves. Spoon leftovers over grilled chicken or fish, or rub between the skin and meat of chicken breast before roasting.