Like just about everyone else this time of year, I’m trying to eat better. One goal is to eat more veggies, but salads don’t appeal to me much in winter.
I can be lured into eating more raw veggies when there’s a dip to go with it.
But many creamy dips are full of fat and calories, so it defeats my purpose. Even reduced-fat sour cream is 90 calories per 1/4 cup, and 70 of those are fat. Likewise, Miracle Whip Light is 80 calories per two tablespoons, and half of it is fat.
For help, I turned to one of Devin Alexander’s cookbooks, “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Fattening” (Broadway Books, 2010).
I met Alexander at the Pillsbury Bake-Off when it was held in Hollywood in 2004. She spoke to a group of food writers about her career as a personal chef. She had developed a following among diet-conscious movie stars for her tasty but slimming cooking.
I was able to interview her after her speech, and we’ve kept in touch over the years as she’s shared her expertise on NBC’s “The Biggest Loser” and published several cookbooks, including “The Biggest Loser Family Cookbook,” (Rodale, 2008).
In her Fixed Up French Onion Dip recipe, the good old Lipton onion soup dip gets a super-simple makeover with Greek yogurt. The recipe couldn’t be easier — just mix 1-2 tablespoons of onion soup mix with a 6-ounce container of plain Greek yogurt.
I tried it, and I could ALMOST get past the tart flavor of the Greek yogurt, which seems a lot more appealing when it’s mixed with fruity flavors.
“Though it doesn’t taste exactly like full-fat sour cream, it does provide the same texture and a great (though different) flavor,” wrote Alexander in her recipe notes.
She used Fage brand Greek yogurt, and I used the generic Kroger brand. But I don’t think the brand would make a difference in the tartness.
I tried using fat-free sour cream, and it tasted a lot more like traditional onion dip to me. The chalky flavor notes that I dislike in fat-free sour cream and cream cheese were covered up by the salty, savory onion taste. Alexander wrote that she found the texture of fat-free sour cream to be “off,” but it didn’t seem too different to me.
Both of these options are fat-free; the major bonus of Greek yogurt is that a 1/4-cup serving contains 8 grams protein, compared to 2 grams in the fat-free sour cream version. Greek yogurt also offers more calcium. The Greek yogurt version is 60 calories and the fat-free sour cream is about 50 — but that could change with your choice of soup mix.
Alexander suggests looking for an all-natural or organic onion soup mix. The regular Lipton brand contains MSG and is high in sodium (610 milligrams per 1 tablespoon). But it is fat-free and just 20 calories per tablespoon.
So I’m offering two simple versions of one recipe. You choose. In my version, I added some snips of fresh parsley to jazz it up, and I think you could add a pinch or two of other favorite herbs, such as cilantro or basil, to taste. If you don’t have onion soup mix, use a combination of dried onions and a beef bouillon cube as a substitution.
Fixed-Up French Onion Dip
1 tablespoon onion soup mix, preferably an all-natural one
6-ounce container fat-free plain Greek yogurt
Add the onion soup mix directly to the container of yogurt. Stir well until thoroughly combined. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving, for best flavor, or up to two days. Makes 2 servings.
Nutrients per heaping 1/4-cup serving: 60 calories, 8 grams protein, 7 grams carbohydrates, a trace of fat, 0 grams saturated fat, 0 milligrams cholesterol, and 225 milligrams sodium.
— “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Fattening,” by Devin Alexander (Broadway Books, 2010)
Fat-Free French Onion Dip
2 tablespoons Lipton Onion Soup mix, or to taste (or 1 1/2 tablespoons dried chopped onions and 1 beef bouillon cube)
1 cup fat-free sour cream
1 teaspoon fresh chopped parsley, or other herbs, to taste
Mix the soup mix and sour cream together in a bowl. Refrigerate about 30 minutes to allow the flavors to combine and the onions to rehydrate. Serve with your favorite veggies. Makes about four servings.
Nutrients per 1/4-cup serving: About 50 calories, 0 grams fat, 2 grams protein, 350 milligrams sodium
Valerie Phillips blogs at www.chewandchat.blogspot.com.