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7 Healthy Alternatives To Ranch For People Who Love To Dip Things

Whether you’re at a football tailgate, a holiday party, or simply standing in front of your refrigerator, few things are more fun to eat than dip. Something about dipping, scooping, and dunking food is just so satisfying.

Dips have a pretty bad rep, though—and that’s because they’re often loaded with calories and not-so-healthy ingredients like refined oils and added sodium. A quarter cup of your average ranch dressing clocks in around 260 calories and 27 grams of fat—yikes!

Fortunately, though, fun, flavorful, and nutritious dips are easier to make than you think. Here are seven nutritionist-approved dips so you can get to dunking, guilt-free.

photo: Bonnie Taub-Dix, R.D.N.

1. Guac-Humm-Mole

Can’t decide whether to have guac or hummus? Now you don’t have to! This simple recipe jazzes up any store-bought hummus with a few fresh ingredients.

½ cup plain hummus
2 avocados, mashed
¼ cup Greek yogurt
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp onion, chopped
2 Tbsp parsley or cilantro
1 lime, juiced
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp white pepper
3 plum tomatoes, chopped

Add everything except the tomatoes to the food processor. Combine until creamy, and then add three chopped plum tomatoes. Pulse a few times and voila!

Related: 5 Protein Myths—Debunked

The hummus provides some fiber and protein, the Greek yogurt adds a boost of protein and creaminess, and the avocados offer heart-healthy fats. Serve your guac-humm-mole with a bunch of veggies or baked chips.

Our Dipper Pick: Beanitos Sea Salt Restaurant Style White Bean Chips, made with whole beans and whole-grain rice

photo: Judith Scharman Draughon, M.S., R.D.N., L.D.

 2. New Holiday Fit Dip

This creamy cashew-based dip from Judith “Judes” Scharman Draughon, M.S., R.D.N., L.D., author of Lean Body, Smart Life, is creamy, delicious, and versatile. All you need is a blender and a handful of super-simple ingredients.

1 cup raw cashews
1/3 cup water
3 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp garlic
1-2 Tbsp fresh dill, thyme, basil OR 1-2 tsp dried seasonings
½ tsp sea salt and pepper
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp white balsamic vinegar

Soak the cashews in water for 15 minutes, and then combine in the blender with the other ingredients. Blend until creamy and stash in the fridge. Scharman Draughon serves this heart-healthy, vegan dip with fresh veggies or pita bread.

Our Dipper Pick: Mary’s Gone Crackers Organic Super Seed Crackers, made with seven types of whole grains and seeds

photo: Catherine Brown, R.D., L.D., C.D.E.

3. Almond Butter Lime Dip

This yummy, Asian-inspired dip is low in fat and full of flavor—and unlike many similar sauces, it’s no issue for those with peanut allergies.

¾ cup coconut milk
2 Tbsp ginger, minced
2 Tbsp garlic, minced
1 small red chili pepper, finely chopped
½ cup almond butter
2 limes, juiced and zested
2 Tbsp maple syrup
2 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
1 Tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped

Whisk all ingredients in a bowl or blend together until well combined. Chef and culinary nutritionist Catherine Brown, C.D.M., C.F.P.P., loves serving this dip with veggie sticks or grilled potato skewers, or drizzling it over sticky rice balls.

Our Dipper Pick: Food Should Taste Good Sweet Potato Tortilla Chips, which balance beautifully with this flavor-packed dip

photo: Sarah Schlichter, M.P.H., R.D.N.

4. Lemon Tahini Lentil Dip

This hearty dip from Sarah Schlichter, M.P.H., R.D.N., is unique because it’s satisfying and nutritious enough to be eaten all on its own—though it’s plenty delicious as a dip.

1 cup green lentils
3 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic
¼ cup tahini
2 Tbsp lemon juice
¼ tsp black pepper
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp cumin
¼ tsp curry
1 sprig rosemary
1 large tomato, diced
2 cups kale, or other green

While cooking the lentils, heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat and add garlic. Once fragrant, add the rest of the ingredients and cook for a few minutes over medium-low heat. From here, spoon it up straight, serve it over greens or quinoa, or scoop it up with whole-grain chips.

Just a quarter cup of lentils provide about 20 percent of your daily iron needs, half of your daily fiber needs, and a solid 13 grams of protein, says Schlichter.

Our Dipper Pick: Way Better Snacks Sweet Chili Whole-Grain Corn Tortilla Chips, made with sprouted whole grains and seeds and natural seasonings

5. Best Ever Four-Layer Veggie Dip

A healthier take on your usual seven-layer dip, this four-layer dip offers a variety of flavors and textures without sending you into calorie overload.

2 cans black beans, drained
2 chipotle peppers, canned in adobo sauce
3 limes, juiced
1 1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
2 tsp cumin
4 avocados, mashed
½ cup Greek yogurt
3 Roma tomatoes, chopped
1 hothouse cucumber, chopped
½ cup red onion, chopped
1 green or red bell pepper, chopped
1-3 jalapeños, seeded and chopped

Combine beans, chipotle peppers, juice from two limes, half a cup cilantro, and cumin to the food processor. Blend until smooth and spread into a casserole dish. Then, mix together mashed avocados, remaining lime juice and half a cup cilantro. Spread on top of the beans. Then, spread Greek yogurt on top of the avocado layer. Finally, mix together chopped tomatoes, cucumber, onion, bell pepper, jalapeño, and cilantro, and spread on top of the yogurt. Serve cold with tortilla chips, cucumber or zucchini slices, or carrot sticks.

You’ll scoop up fiber and protein from the beans, extra protein and calcium from the yogurt, healthy fats from the avocado, and plenty of crunchy produce from the top layer, says Jennifer Bowers, Ph.D., R.D. Plus, you can tailor the heat level by adding more or less chipotles or jalapeños.

Our Dipper Pick: Frontera Lime & Sea Salt Tortilla Chips, the artisan-quality version of your favorite lime-y tortilla chips

photo: Judy Barbe, R.D.

6. Roasted Red Pepper Dip

This tangy and fun Middle Eastern-inspired dip from Judy Barbe, R.D., author of Your 6-Week Guide to LiveBest: Simple Solutions for Fresh Food & Well-Being is chock-full of the good stuff. It’s truly a powerhouse: Red peppers provide antioxidants (vitamin A and vitamin C), walnuts provide protein, fiber, potassium, and omega-3 fats, and the spices offer their own antioxidant power.

7-8 oz roasted red peppers (drained if jarred)
2/3 cup walnuts, toasted
1/3 cup fresh bread crumbs
2 Tbsp pomegranate molasses
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 clove garlic
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp red chili flakes
½ tsp kosher salt
2 Tbsp + ½ tsp olive oil, divided

Toast walnuts on a baking sheet for 10 to 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients except the half teaspoon of olive oil in the food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Pour into a bowl and drizzle the remaining olive oil on top. Barbe likes serving this dip with cucumber or jicama slices, or whole-grain crackers. You can also spread it on sandwiches and burgers, or toss it into cooked pasta.

Our Dipper Pick: Simple Mills Rosemary & Sea Salt Almond Flour Crackers, which pack an extra punch of nutrition from healthy fats

photo: Bethany Frazier, M.S., R.D., L.D.N.

7. Healthy Queso Dip

You’ll never know this cheesy, creamy dip is a lot lower-calorie—and a lot more nutrition-packed—than your average queso. This nacho-worth queso from Bethany Frazier, M.S., R.D., L.D.N., contains a secret, health-boosting ingredient: pumpkin.

1 ½ cups low-sodium broth
1 15 oz can pumpkin
¼ cup flour
2 tsp cumin
½ tsp dried chipotle powder
1 can diced tomatoes with green chilies
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

In a medium post, whisk together all ingredients except the cheese and tomatoes over medium heat. Bring to a boil and stir until thick, then stir in cheese and tomatoes. Frazier likes to dunk broccoli, carrots, or tortilla chips in this lightened-up classic.

Our Dipper Pick: Protes Zesty Nacho Protein Chips, which level-up the dip’s cheesy flavor and protein power

Bonnie Taub-Dix, R.D.N., C.D.N., is an award-winning author, spokesperson, speaker, consultant, and owner of BTD Nutrition Consultants, LLC. She has been featured on TV, radio, and print, as well as in digital media, including Everyday HealthBetter Homes & GardensWomen’s Health, and U.S. News & World Report. She is a recipient of The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Media Excellence Award and author of Read It Before You Eat It: Taking You From Label To Table.

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