September 9, 2008

Easy Spreads and Dips - Recipes Included

When I was growing up the dips that we used to make were always made with mayonnaise and sour cream. Since most people are looking for healthy alternatives I have had to come up with some options. I am a huge fan of spreads and dips and have come up with a few that are really healthy as well as really beautiful too!

Today I came up with a recipe that uses carrots and cashews! It’s delicious yet so healthy and you could eat it guilt-free. Remember, that even if you are eating something like nuts that are heavy in calories and natural fat you are not eating these calories in the other fatty ingredients you normally would be using and eating. In addition a cashew is full of vitamins and nutrients. The recipe for carrot cashew paté is a great dip for an afternoon snack with your children, using baby carrots and celery sticks as dippers.

I also am going to share my ultimate garlicky hummus recipe. I made this recipe up for a friend who didn’t want to spend the $5.00 at the health food store for a small container. The ingredients were still expensive, but in the end a much better deal because of the quantity and quality of the end result! If you want to get away from bread and fatty crackers there are fat-free crispy flatbreads available and even tortillas that you can use for these spreads.

The key to eating well is thinking outside the box and discovering alternatives that will satisfy the cravings and yet your taste buds are still enticed. You can make these spreads ahead of time for parties and they last up to a week or so in the refrigerator. You can make them look beautiful and get creative when you decorate them for even your family, I bet your kids will want to participate!

Eat well and make cooking an art, not just something you have to do. Make it fun and try something new and different! Thinking outside the box allows your creativity to flow and your imagination run wild.

Cashew Carrot Paté

3 med. carrots, peeled and chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
3 cloves garlic peeled
1 c. raw unsalted cashews (soaked for 1 hr. and drained)
1 tbls. soy sauce or tamari
2 tbls. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
sea salt, to taste

In a food processor blend the carrots, celery and garlic to a fine consistency.
Drain the water from the cashews. Add them to the processor with the vegetables and process along with the soy sauce or tamari, olive oil and sea salt. Stop periodically and scrape the sides with a rubber spatula. Continue to blend until creamy. Chill and serve.
For serving you can put the mixture into a medium glass bowl to use as a mold. Place a plate under bowl and carefully allow paté to sit in middle of plate. You can take a peeler and make a few carrot curls for decoration on top. Place a few whole cashews on top if you like or even a few chopped cashews for decoration. Serve with carrot or celery sticks or crackers and flatbreads.
NOTE: you can use soaked raw almonds (skins removed) or sunflower seeds instead of cashews. Cashews give a nice creamy consistency, especially raw ones.
Ultimate Garlicky Hummus

2 15 oz Cans Garbanzo Beans (2 2/3 cup cooked beans drained, reserve 3/4 c. bean liquid)
6 Garlic Cloves Peeled
3/4 c. Tahini (raw sesame paste)
3/4 c. Bean Liquid
1/2 c. Fresh Lemon Juice
3/4 c. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tbls. Sea Salt
Optional Herbs (parsley or basil)

Basil Leaves
Pine Nuts
Sundried Tomato Strips

In food processor blend garbanzo beans, garlic cloves and tahini until mixed. Slowly add reserved bean liquid and lemon juice until processed. Add olive oil in a slow drizzle. Keep blending until well blended and smooth. It takes about 10 min. Add 1 tbls. or more sea salt to taste. You can add dried or fresh basil and/or parsley. Blend mixture a little more until just mixed.

To serve you can decorate the top with a sprinkling of pine nuts, basil leaves and a few sundried tomato strips. Use your imagination.

This makes over 4 cups hummus. Refrigerate in covered containers, keeps about a week. Enjoy with flat bread or in wraps.

NOTE: If you need to adjust the lemon juice or garlic to taste with a little more water or bean liquid. If you are using fresh herbs only add a few basil leaves or parsley, you do not want the mixture to turn green.

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