Waist-friendly holiday dips and spreads

Healthy snack of hummus dip with pita bread slices and vegetables

Healthy snack of hummus dip with pita bread slices and vegetables

If you don’t want to gain weight this holiday season be wary of party dips and spreads because even a little can be deceptively high in calories. Case in point: ½ cup of spinach and artichoke dip packs around 210 calories and 6 grams of fat!  Fortunately, it’s easy to make your own dips and spreads that are creamy, delicious and waist-friendly.  Here’s how:


Hummus is delicious, nutritious and versatile – great for spreading and dunking. Most hummus dips are made from chickpeas, which are a good source of protein and fiber (6g and 5g respectively per ½ cup serving). The problem is, most recipes call for olive oil and tahini (sesame paste) - ingredients that are high in fat and calories.

Tanya’s tip: Try my recipe for F-Factor Garlic and Herb Hummus, which goes easy on olive oil and uses flavorful spices in place of tahini. One serving has 6 grams of belly-filling fiber and only 2 grams of fat.


This Italian staple bursts with the flavors of basil, pine nuts and olive oil, but beware because surprisingly little contains a lot of fat.  Just one tablespoon contains 80 calories, 8 grams of fat, and little, to no fiber. Instead of going for the fat-laden version, make your own lighter recipe.

Tanya’s tip: My secret for lightening up pesto is to use less oil and to go with pistachios instead of pine nuts, which contain a whopping 23 grams of fat in just ½ a cup!  Pistachios have only 12g of fat and they contain 5g of healthy fiber per ½ cup serving. Check out my delicious recipe for Fresh Basil Pesto from my book The Miracle Carb Diet

Egg Salad

Egg salad is a buffet classic, but not always the healthiest option if your recipe uses whole egg yolks and mayonnaise.  One single tablespoon of mayonnaise has 90 calories and 10 grams of fat! The good news is you can cut much of the fat simply by ditching the yolks and swapping mayo for creamy, tangy plain Greek yogurt.

Tanya’s tip:  My recipe for F-Factor Egg White Salad cuts the fat by almost half without sacrificing taste or creaminess. By adding chopped spinach my take on egg salad is heartier and more nutritious with 2g of fiber per cup, as well as folic acid, Vitamin K, A, E and C. Did I mention how gorgeous this looks in a serving bowl?   

Creamy Dips

Whether your favorite dip is nacho, chili, cheese, sour cream, spinach-artichoke, or French onion, chances are the creaminess you adore comes from a high-fat ingredient, such as mayo, sour cream or cream cheese.  But creamy doesn’t have to be mean fat; to lighten your dip use a low-fat ingredient that has a rich, thick texture.

Tanya’s tip: Greek yogurt or non-fat dairy products offer the velvety smoothness you want while cutting the fat by as much as half. And your skinnier dip can give you three times more protein than sour cream!   Try this recipe for F-Factor Greek Onion Dip and you’ll see what I mean.

Hot Sauce

Go ahead and kick up the heat.  Add hot sauce to just about anything because it’s a condiment that’s fat and calorie free. Hot sauce is made with chili peppers, which contain capsaicin, a compound that makes food caliente and has anti-inflammatory properties that may help relieve headaches, arthritis, sinus and digestive issues.  

Tanya’s tip: Add hot sauce to your favorite dip, marinade, or spread to get all the spicy benefits if provides.  Another plus: The heat from hot sauce forces you to eat more slowly, allowing time for the stomach to signal the brain when it is full. So spicy food is great for dieting because we’re generally satisfied eating less of it. 

Have a happy, healthy holidays!

For more recipes, plus great tips, delicious meal plans, and proven ways to lose weight and look great, be sure to check out my books:  The Miracle Carb Diet: Make Calories and Fat Disappear – with fiber (Hyperion), and The F-Factor Diet (Putnam).

Tanya Zuckerbrot MS, RD, is a registered dietitian in private practice in New York City and the author of two bestselling books:   Follow Tanya on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, and visit her website For nutrition news you can use, product tips, restaurant reviews and delicious recipes sign up for Tanya’s weekly newsletter!