Holiday Party Tip: Slim Down Your Dips

By , SparkPeople Blogger
What are the holidays without parties? And what's a party without great snacks? Too often, food is an afterthought at cocktail and holiday parties.

How many times have you gone to a party, only to find your only choices are a cheese ball and crackers and a bowl of greasy chips with thick and creamy onion dip.

Dips are easy and affordable party fare, and they can be healthy, too. As you're preparing for a Hanukkah, Christmas or New Year's Eve party, keep these tips in mind.

Did you know?
Serving size for dip=1 ounce/2 Tablespoons (about the size of a pair of dice)

A cheese ball has 100 calories and 7 g fat per serving.
French onion dip has 60 calories and 6 g fat per serving.

Start the night off right. Instead of rich, creamy and cheesy dips, put out a tray of raw vegetables, whole grain crackers and a lighter version of that favorite dip.

I'm famous for my spinach-artichoke dip. Just like the kind you get in restaurants, mine is creamy and full of cheese. However, I use light cream cheese and just enough parmesan to add flavor. I sauté onions and garlic to add extra flavor. Even if you serve this with tortilla chips (the combo is one of my favorite treats at parties), the dip is still far lighter than the restaurant versions, which can have up to 775 calories per oversized serving! Mine has 66 calories in two tablespoons.
Click here for the recipe. I just might make this on New Year's Eve.

Did you know that even cheese fondue could be made healthier? Yes, it's true.

My absolute favorite party food is cheese fondue, and this lighter version I created allows me to indulge without guilt. It's just as creamy as the original, but a secret ingredient or two add fiber and flavor while cutting the fat. Even slimmed down, this is a "sometimes" food--one that's perfect for New Year's Eve. Dust off your old fondue pot and cook up some cheesy goodness! Find the recipe here. (Oh, and one last tip: Swap beer for wine if that's what you have on hand. You can also use chicken broth. The liquid is just there to add flavor and keep the fondue moist.)

Dip tips:
  • Use light mayo, low-fat cream cheese and skim milk in creamy dips.
  • Swap puréed white beans for half the mayo to creamy dips to boost calories and cut fat.
  • Serve dips with baked whole-grain crackers and vegetables.
  • Try puréeing roasted red peppers with lowfat plain yogurt. It's just 35 calories a serving, with 1 gram of fat!
  • Serve smooth or chunky guacamole that's heavy on the veg. (They're 75-80 calories a serving!)
  • Instead of using store-bought or your traditional homemade chip dip, use regular mayonnaise for half of the recipe, and replace the other half with reduced fat sour cream. One cup of lower-fat sour cream will provide all the flavor and texture of mayonnaise but cut 1,300 calories and 150 grams of fat.
  • Try one of these dips, which have fewer than 50 calories a serving.

Ditch the chips and dip one of these instead:

  • Grilled chicken chunks
  • Steamed broccoli or cauliflower
  • Bite size chunks of crusty whole-grain bread
  • Small wheat pretzels
  • Pita chips
  • Bell peppers cut into triangles (Remove top and bottom, then core peppers. Slice down center so pepper lies flat, then cut into triangles.)
  • Endive leaves
  • Inner leaves from Romaine lettuce

What is your favorite dip? Do you have a foolproof party recipe?

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This came too late for me I live in Canada.
As a a related dish, but not a dip, I love to make my five cup fruit salad. People seem to really enjoy it as either a sweet salad or a 'lighter' dessert, so it serves as a multi tasker. I had been already reducing the calorie count by seeking pineapple chunks in juice, rather than syrup. I discovered that low fat sour cream works just as well as the standard sour cream. I still believe the fat free sour cream may NOT work because the phony - pretend fat may not blend into the creamy salad that I expect. I am curious as how using Splenda pine apple chucks or mandarin oranges segments work in the recipe. I am up for a trial run of this in the near future. Report
I usually reach the chilli & tomato sauces, few times for mayonaise or whatever that white substance that taste like mayonaise, lol. Report
check out Cheryl's Onion Dip recipe Report
Plain non-fat Greek yogurt is a great base for a dip. I love that stuff. Report
I love the dips made with blended cottage cheese. Something I have found popular with my dinner guests are old-fashioned gelatine salads. I use sugar-free gelatine: Orange with 2 tablespoons of vinegar and 2 cups of shreaded carrots. Lime with 2 tablespoons vinegar, 2 tablespoons minced onion and 3/4 cup each shreaded cabbage, celery, red bell pepper. Someone always says, "Wow! I haven't had this since I was kid!" and it all disappears. Report
i love to use an immersion blender to mix fat free cottage with fat free ricotta for dips. if you thin it with skim milk and add powder from hidden valley ranch packet it makes a fab salad dressing!!!!! also try mixing with
greek yogurt..
I try to stay away from sour cream dips or mayo-based ones. One of my signature dips to bring along on the holidays is "Cowboy Caviar"'s packed with chopped fresh veggies like tomatoes, cilantro, red onions, avocados, etc. and I substitute fat free Italian dressing (in moderation) and lots of lime juice. It's always a big hit! Report
My personal favorite is a modified hummus/chickpea puree. I add lots of garlic cloves, some onion, and some cilantro to boost flavor and then put in some chipotle pepper powder. The result tastes like a bean dip but has a fraction of the calories. Report
I make a taco dip. It is a container of FF sour cream, a packet of taco seasoning, and homemade salsa, and taco veggies. sc and taco seasoning mixed make the bottom layer, salsa is the middle, top is shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, onion, peppers, black beans. Serve with tortilla chips.
Yum-O! Report
My favorite dip that I make is my spinach dip. I make it with vegetable soup mix, yogurt, and a little sour cream. Report
Great Ideas, I try to avoid dips because I can never stop at the serving size. Now I can try these wonderful ideas. Report
LOVE the lowfat cottage cheese idea, the salmon- actually, ALL the seafood ideas, and the dijon mustard idea too! I haven't tried the Greek yogurt (Fage or Chiobani) but I do LOVE yogurt, so that's going on my list! I already have your spinach-artichoke dip in my cookbook, Stepfanie (thank you sooo much) and THANKS for the dip recipe page! I'm a HUGE fan of homemade salsa, but it's time to move on and broaden my horizons, and your creamy roasted red pepper dressing sounds like the PERFECT topping, so it's on its way to my cookbook too! LOVE your 'ditch the chips' list, but I'm sorry... I do not have any party recipe, YET!! Report
Has anyone else tried using nonfat Greek yogurt (brands like Fage and Chiobani) instead of sour cream in dips? It is chocked full of protein, is rich and creamy and tastes fantastic mixed with almost any dip that traditionally uses sour cream. It is much better than reduced fat or nonfat sour cream. Try it, you'll like it!! Report
fat free cream cheese & salsa OR fat free sour cream & taco mix. yummy Report
I buy the Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing packet and instead of the mayo and milk the instructions call for, I use one cup of fat-free sour cream and one cup of Low-Fat Buttermilk. It tastes just like the full-fat version! Report
Years and years ago, I made a dip with Cottage cheese. Used the LOW fat or Fat Free version. A serving with onion flakes, and chicken broth in the package.
Puree'd up in the blender, and wa-la, a yummy dip for veggies Report
My favorite: spread whipped low-fat cream cheese on a pretty plate, top with seafood sauce, then with cooked shrimp and/or crab. Serve with low fat crackers. Report
Sounds like YUMMMMM to me Report
I have been using nonfat plain yogurt instead of sour cream in dips, probably long before fat-free sour cream has been available. Mixed with some dijon mustard and herbs of choice, it makes a great cold sauce for poached salmon, or for roasted veggies in pita rounds. Have a great holiday! Report
Very timely, very healthy advice. Report
Dips are usually my downfall. However, I have taken to just eating the veggies rather than dipping them in the Ranch or whatever. I also like salsa - little guilt there. Report
Love this post. Hooray for these ideas. Report
I like to use equal parts low-fat or nonfat cottage cheese, sour cream and mayo as a base for dip. I use a blender or food processor to blend in whatever comes to mind: chopped spinach, onion, garlic (raw or roasted), shredded carrots, sharp smoky cheddar, smoked salmon, etc. Powered soup base works great for seasoning. Report
Great article. I like the idea of steamed broccoli. I usually just put out baby carrots, because, let's face it, how many people really eat celery or any other raw veggies, with the exception of red peppers. I think I'll mix it up this year and put out carrot sticks, red pepper triangles, and steamed broccoli - steamed enough to take the raw taste out, but not too much that it gets mushy.
Oh, if anyone is looking for a great yogurt to use in dips, I highly recommend Fage brand 2% Greek yogurt. It is absolutely delicious. The fat free (0%) is also good, but I prefer the 2%. Report
Any time a recipe calls for mayo or sour cream, I just use plain yogurt, either Greek or regular. It tastes fabulous. Report
I love making homemade hummus! I half the oil and use plain nonfat yogurt to give it some tangy zip. Delicious! Report
I love dips, a little too much!! Thanks so much for the slimmed-down recipes. Report
Wonderful suggestions. Thank you Report
Thanks for the suggestions on how to make dips low calorie. Report
We are having a big Christmas party and I will definitely use some of these ideas! Report
For years I bring stuff that I will eat and my own beverage. Sparkling water! Report
I saved the spin-art dip to my recipes, but that is definitely one of my triggers. I have a party to go to this weekend and I know mixing me with alcohol and yummy high fat food is a big mistake. I am going to try to stay out of the food area as much as possible and concentrate on people. Report
I love the black bean corn salsa that I found on sparkpeople recipes Report
My holiday party strategy is to wear something I've not been able to wear before or have not worn in a long time!!!
patty Report
I make two low fat dips. I mix a small carton of low fat or non fat cottage cheese with a small carton of low fat sour cream and season with garlic and onion powders. This can be made as low fat or no fat depending on which you choose. I was also thinking od using greek yogurt instead of sour cream to get extra protein. My husband uses garlic salt but sometimes it is too salty, so I use the powder or half and half. I also mix a jar of salsa and low fat shredded cheese. Report
Great ideas! We do a lot of appetizers at our family holiday gatherings, so these will come in handy. Thanks for the article, and thanks for the other good ideas, fellow Sparkers! Report
I love spinach dip & Tastefully Simple Garlic Garlic dip. I use low fat sour cream to make all my dips. The Garlic Garlic dip has 75 calories for 2 tbsp serving. Report
I always include baby carrots to dip - and my favorite dip is homemade tapenade - just take a bunch of black olives (jar or fresh, NOT canned!) and pulse in a food processor to take out the pits - remove pits, pulse to a chunky paste, add some garlic, and it's done! The flavor is intense, so a little goes a long way. Report
My favorite dips are onion dip and spinach artichoke dip.

I don't have a dip recipe myself because someone else always does the annual family Christmas get together. Unfortunately, no one in my family understands or even likes healthy food. Our holiday get togethers probably have the nutritional value of visiting McDonald's. Report
Mine is homemade salsa con queso. I also like a good spinach dip. Report
I think that I will try these so I can have some and maybe everyone else will like these better and we can all be healthier during the holidays. Report
I've been paring down calories and fat in recipes for years. My spinach dip is similar ... I drain the spinach and artichoke well and add about a1/4 cup lite mayo for creamier dip along with other ingredients ... I do omit the oregano. 77 calories for 2 tbsp serving. I also like to season whole wheat pitas(separated into 2) with butter spray, garlic and spices then cut into triangles and bake ... for a lower sodium chip for the dip. Report
I don't have any tips or recipes for dip - but I love the suggestions. & I can't wait to (share) use them. Report
I love dips but have shunned them while on my diet. This has great comments on "slimmed down" versions. Report
I like using pureed lowfat cottage cheese. Report
OH MY GOSH!!!! I am in LOW CARB Heaven!!!! I started a challenge that will start just after the New Year. But this is really going to help me even now. Thank You Thank You. Found tons of Low carb yummies!!! Report
I love non-fat Greek yogurt - check out Chobani Brand - it tastes exactly like sour cream - except no fat & ton's of protein - great to cook with, make sauces or dips, Have I mentioned that I love it? Report
I, too make salsa homemade for aprties and gatherings. I have to try this spinach/artichoke Dip it sounds absolutely , deliciously wicked. Report
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