Who doesn't like spinach dip?? Isn't it just one of those universal comfort foods/yummy snacks? One of those foods you have to STAY AWAY FROM because it has enough fat and calories in a few bites to make your conscience scream in agony? NOT ANYMORE!!! You can have yummy, creamy spinach dip AND lose weight.
Guess what? Spinach is nutritious! If you add a few raw leaves to your salad, or use them in place of lettuce on your sandwiches and wraps, you will be doing a great thing for your body. It is packed with vitamins A, C, and E and very low in calories: 3.5 oz of raw spinach has only 20 calories and 460% of your recommended daily allowance of Vitamin K! It's loaded with folate and is a good source of iron and calcium. It even contains 2.9 grams of protein and 2.2 grams of fiber! What a powerhouse of nutrition! Next time you go shopping, buy yourself a bag of pre-washed baby spinach (in the salad aisle) and start using it raw in place of lettuce, or steamed lightly as a delicious side dish.
But my absolute favorite way to enjoy spinach is in SPINACH DIP! I have always loved the oniony, creamy smoothness with a crunch of water chestnuts. Mmmm. So I started playing with the recipe (on the back of the Knorr Dry Vegetable Soup Mix box) to reduce the fat and calories and maximize the taste. Here's the result:
1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1 c low fat sour cream (I use Daisy Light)
1/2 c low fat mayonnaise (Best Foods/Hellman's Reduced Fat Mayo: 20 cal/T)
1 envelope dry Knorr leek soup mix OR vegetable soup mix OR Lipton onion soup mix
1 (8 ounce) can water chestnuts, drained and chopped
3 green onions, chopped (optional.. I only use this with the vegetable soup mix)
Mix everything together and chill for an hour or two.
Tips: when you thaw and drain the frozen spinach, squeeze the heck out of it before adding the other ingredients. You want it as dry as possible. Also, I think the leek soup mix tastes best but you might want to season it up a little after you chill it. Maybe some black pepper. If you like a more onion-y dip use the Lipton onion soup mix... I love this as well. It is saltier. The vegetable soup mix is nice for a change, but I miss the oniony flavor so I add some onion powder, pepper, and maybe some chopped green onions. I have never made this with fat free sour cream or mayo, but you can try. I think it needs some fat for creaminess. The Best Foods/Hellman's Reduced Fat Mayo (green jar) has 20 calories per Tablespoon and tastes great. I have also made this recipe and doubled the spinach in it, and think it is great. It might be too much spinach for you, though, so try it this way and then add spinach if you want to.
I think the very best thing to eat this with is Triscuit Thin Crisps whole wheat crackers. They are so crisp and yummy and made from whole wheat. One serving has 130 calories and 3 grams of fiber!
A fantastic lunch for me is one serving of these crackers, a few celery sticks and carrot sticks, and a big bowl of spinach dip. It feels like a cheat but it isn't! The celery sticks taste great dipped in spinach dip. What a great way to get your veggies in! Now I am off to the grocery store for some spinach. Enjoy!
There was some concern from an anonymous reader about the fat and calorie content of this recipe, so here it is:
Using one package of spinach, Knorr Vegetable soup mix, Daisy Light sour cream (20 cal/T), and Best Foods Reduced Fat may (20 cal/T), the entire recipe of this dip has 735 calories and 36 grams of fat. If you use Lipton Onion soup mix, the calories increase to 775. If you use Knorr Leek soup mix, the recipe has 825 calories and 43.5 grams of fat.
That said, I have never been able to eat an ENTIRE recipe by myself, even when I was in binge mode. It is a LOT of food. Generally speaking, I might have 1/6 of the recipe for a hearty snack, or 1/3 the recipe for a meal. Let's take the middle ground and use the calories for Lipton onion soup.
Snack: 130 calories (dip) with 7 Thin Crisps crackers and some celery and carrot sticks = 200 calories. (150 without any crackers).
Meal: 258 calories (dip) with 14 Thin Crisps crackers and some celery and carrot sticks = 400 calories.
This works for me, because I am eating about 1400-1500 calories per day. Be sure and check your brand of sour cream and mayo for calories and fat. You can use fat-free versions if you like! Doubling the spinach, as I often do, gives even more volume of food, nutrition and fiber with a minimal increase in calories. Great way to get in your veggies and fiber for the day :)