Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Eat Your Veggies: Spinach Dip!

This entire plate is 200 Calories of pure, nutritious heaven!

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:

Spinach Dip

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!

****1/17 Edit****
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 :)


Hanlie said...

I also love baby spinach and often use it in salads. I must try a dip!

Heather said...

that sounds delicious! I am a fan of SA dip but you are rihgt, so often people assume its bad for you (and in many restaurants it is). but made with the right ingredients its not so bad!

justoofat said...

I often make a similar recipe, but I substitute the dry soup mixes for fresh herbs like chopped flat leaf parsley, chopped dill, chives, scallions, etc. I love the dry soup mixes but can't take the high salt content. That said... this looks like a winner. Yeah for spinach!

Fatty said...

Spinach aslo is good for people who are anemic - it has iron.

For the dip - you can toast whole wheat pitas in the oven (until they are crisp). I think they might even make reduced fat pitas.

Anonymous said...

Will you accept a gentle nudge from someone who appreciates your blog's normal sensible-ness?

Putting healthy vegetables like spinach into a dip is a good start but truly, it's still mayonnaise and sour cream dip.

Using the lower-fat versions cuts out 600 calories but still, the whole recipe racks up more than 1000 calories and 68 fat grams so depending on how big your bowl really is, it adds up to a big chunk of a day's calories.

All the best to you, truly. I read how excruciating painful physically and emotionally it is for you to be imprisoned. You so often inspire me.

Gentle nudge?

Lyn said...

Hi there anonymous! Thanks for the tip about the calories and fat. I clarified the nutrition information above. Perhaps your brands of sour cream and mayo are higher; check the label and do be careful to use something that is truly low fat.

With this recipe, rather than being just a sour cream and mayo dip, it is actually more like spinach with some mayo and sour cream as condiments. By cutting in half the usual amounts of sour cream and mayo used in this type of dip, and doubling the spinach, you get all the flavor with about 1/3- 1/4 of the calories.

It's like putting lowfat cheese on my swiss card or broccoli. If I did that all the time on side dishes, it would be a problem. But when I am eating a bowl of broccoli and cheese for lunch, the calories and fat are not bad as an overall meal. That's why I use a slice of bacon in my beet greens and some ham in my lima beans! Hope that clarifies a bit :)

Scale Junkie said...

This is fabulous spread on whole wheat pita or Flatout Wrap with smoked turkey and chopped tomatoes!

Anonymous said...

Hi Lyn,

Just came across your blog at random. I happen to be eating spinach dip right now! I eat mine with broccoli, cauliflower and baby carrots.

I changed my recipe too: I substitute fat free plain yogurt for sour cream. I use fresh baby spinach, which I roughly chop myself and add my own chopped onion and bean sprouts. Delish!

Ruthie said...

Sound delicious! Can't wait to try it!

Anonymous said...

I'm not a huge fan of spinich, but I love veggies and dip. I used to make the Onion dip with sour cream and then with low fat sour cream and even the fat free sour cream (it was okay, but I missed the creamy texture that the fat gives it). But I found something better to use. I don't know if it will work in your spinich dip, but for the onion dip, it works great: Plain yogurt. I get the fat free kind and mix it with the onion dip. It's a little thicker, but the plain yogurt takes on the oniony tast. So good.
Don't know if it will work with the spinich, but can't hurt to try, right? :-)

Anonymous said...

That spinach dip is to die for I loved it