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Delectable Dips

Learn how to make your own healthful dips, and find some delicious dip recipes.

What's in the dip? Thanks to your way with spices, guests will wonder what makes your dips so delicious and distinctive. Here are a handful of specific recipes, as well as a few tips to help you whip up your very own version of the ultimate party food.

Make It Your Way

Start with any good base (sour cream, yogurt, cream cheese, mayo, mashed beans or veggies, for example). Add a squirt or two of lemon juice, lime juice, or balsamic or wine vinegar, or, for a sweet dip, honey. Then make your dip unique with your own spice combos — savory, garlic and cumin in the bean dip; thyme, basil and chives for the seafood; and mint, cinnamon, and nutmeg for the fruit, for example. Add a few surprises, like sundried tomatoes or chili peppers.

Eggplant Dip
Enjoy this dip with breadsticks or wheat crackers, or try it as a spread on sandwiches.

Coriander Fruit Dip
Serve with any fruit. Or plop a dollop of it over a serving-sized bowl of red and green grapes.

flatbreadSpicy Flatbread
These homemade wedges make dipping irresistible. You can make them well ahead of time and store, once cooled, in a covered container.

Creamy Crudite Dip
This mild dip partners well with assertive veggies and spicy breads (like flatbread wedges). For a dip with more kick, add a tablespoon of prepared horseradish.

Almond Hummus
Yes, chickpeas already have a nutty taste, but the addition of almonds gives this dip a deliciously different spin. Chips and breads are good dippers for hummus. And of course it makes a tasty sandwich spread. (For appetizers, you might make open-face hummus tea sandwiches topped with a halved cherry tomato.)

Healthy Homemade Dips

Homemade dips can be a lot healthier than their store-bought cousins, which are often high in fat, sodium and calories. Here are some tips for healthy, delicious dips:

· Make skinny dips simply by using non-fat or low-fat versions of cheese or mayonnaise.

garbanzo beans· Use high-nutrition bases for your dips — like beans (chickpeas, kidney, pinto, black or white beans all work well), spinach, avocado, tomato or soft tofu.

· To enhance flavors, add a dash of tamari, lemon or lime instead of salt.

· Try using yogurt instead of sour cream in your recipes. You can ease into the transition by replacing just half of the sour cream with yogurt to start.

· Add finely chopped vegetables to your dips — like carrots, red, green and yellow peppers, celery, broccoli and whole peas. They add nutrition, color and flavor.

· Serve dips with bite-sized pieces of raw vegetables. Smaller pieces mean no double-dipping.

· Instead of salt, season your dips with tasty spices and herbs such as curry powder, garlic, thyme and oregano. For sweet dips, try cloves and cinnamon.

Fresh Dips in Minutes

Simply Organic dipNo time to make your own homemade dips? Try Simply Organic Dip Mixes — they're fresh, flavorful and fast! Choose from nine delicious dips, including Ranch, Guacamole and Spicy Jalapeno Bac'Un.

Tips & Tidbits for Dips

· For party pizzazz, think of alternative bowls for your dip, like kale or cabbage leaves, a scooped-out sourdough, or hollowed bell peppers.

· Make dips ahead of time to allow flavors to meld. Some are best served warm, others chilled. Serve dairy-based dips straight from the refrigerator.

· For quick results, keep a good supply of spice blends, such as curry, Garam Masala, Italian Seasoning, Taco Seasoning, and Pumpkin Pie Spice on hand.

· Enliven classic fondue with a generous helping of spices — nutmeg and allspice with Gruyere, garlic and tarragon with Swiss.

What to Dip

An assortment of veggies is always fun, but be sure to vary the color. Why not offer kohlrabi or artichoke hearts alongside the classic carrots and cauliflower or papaya and kiwi with those apples? Vary your chip assortment, too. Offer something your guests may not have tried lately, like sweet potato, blue corn, or hot sesame chips. A variety of breads (including breadsticks, crackers and pretzels) and cheese cubes make for substantial dipping.

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