Better Spinach and Artichoke Dip
By: Molly Kimball
Posted on: December 15, 2014
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The holiday season can challenge the resolve of even the most wellness-minded among us. Between get-togethers with family, friends, and office parties, the next few weeks can be a whirlwind of spirited drinking and decadent eating.
Luckily, staying on track during the holidays doesn’t mean you have to miss out on all the festivities. The key is to have a plan, one that includes treating yourself to your favorite seasonal indulgences and savoring time with family and friends.
One of my favorite ways to stay on track is with satisfying, better-for-you takes on holiday classics -- like this delicious spinach and artichoke dip, made with creamy Greek yogurt in place of the mayonnaise and sour cream. Here are a few other strategies to help you navigate the holidays without feeling deprived:
Stay on schedule. This includes exercise as well as your usual eating schedule. Incorporate your daily workout whenever possible. Adapt it when necessary – make it an afternoon stroll with family, or tossing the football with nieces and nephews.
Plan ahead. Anticipate how you’ll handle certain situations. For example, if you know that you tend to consume waaay too many calories from cocktail party hors d’oeuvres, plan ahead to have a protein-rich low-calorie snack before heading out. Think veggies paired with low-fat Greek yogurt, a hard-boiled egg, or a snack-size cheese. Not only will it take the edge off of your hunger, the protein will keep you fuller longer than carbs alone.
Negotiate. Decide what’s really worth it to you, and pick your favorites to splurge on (within reason). If you love homemade cornbread dressing, skip the sweet potatoes and dinner rolls. If Thanksgiving’s not complete without your grandmother’s famous pecan pie, pass on the stuffings and fudge.
Make ingredient swaps that are worth it. Some holiday fare just can’t be (or shouldn’t be) altered, like the above- mentioned oh-so-worth-it splurges. But many recipes can be lightened up significantly, without anyone even noticing.
A cup of pureed beans, for example, can be used to replace one cup of flour plus two tablespoons of fat (just match the bean color to the finished product, like black beans for brownies, red beans for red velvet cake, white beans for cookies). Mashed avocado or plain low-fat Greek yogurt can be used in place of half the amount of butter in baked goods. Greek yogurt can also be used in place of half the amount of heavy cream called for in a recipe, or swapped out cup-for-cup for sour cream or mayonnaise in your favorite dips and casseroles.
Focus on what really matters. The holidays are about people, not just food and drink. Instead of obsessing over what we’re about to eat (or trying not to eat... or feeling guilty about eating), use the opportunity of holiday gatherings to tune in to what’s going on in the lives of your family and friends.
Ingredients½ cup onion, finely chopped, 3 (10-ounce) packs of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry, 1 (8-ounce) package reduced-fat cream cheese, 1 (8-ounce) carton fat-free plain Greek yogurt, ½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated, 1 (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts, ¼ teaspoon salt (optional), ¼ teaspoon black pepper, 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes,
Lightly coat a skillet with cooking spray. Cook and stir onion over medium heat until transparent (about 5 minutes). Add spinach. Cook until thoroughly heated (about 1-2 minutes). Reduce heat and add cream cheese. Stir until melted and smooth. Stir in Greek yogurt, Parmesan cheese, and artichokes. Remove from heat. Season with salt (optional), and black and red pepper. Serve warm as a side dish, or with fresh vegetables or Van’s Gluten-Free Crackers for dipping.