Dips & Spreads

Cranberry Sauce with Apples and Pears

Coconut Palm Sugar Cranberry Sauce

source: Kim Lutz

Oh how I love the side dishes of Thanksgiving. As soon as November comes around, I start fantasizing about glazed sweet potatoes, mushroom-y stuffing, and cranberry sauce.

Sure, Thanksgiving foods are notoriously heavy and rich and not-so-good for you. Does it need to be so?

Definitely not. Take cranberry sauce, for example. Traditional cranberry sauce is loaded with white sugar. This cranberry sauce, however, uses the better-for-you sweetener, coconut palm sugar, and mixes apples and pears in with those jewel-toned berries.

If that’s not enough reason to whip up some cranberry sauce a few weeks before the big holiday, how about looking at some of the nutrition benefits of cranberries. Cranberries are a great source of antioxidants, and loaded with fiber, Vitamin C and manganese.

Not only that, but if you mix a dollop of cranberry sauce in your morning oatmeal or vanilla yogurt, you have a breakfast that feels a little extra special!
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Dip Into Summer

When warm weather hits, it’s always picnic fare that epitomizes “simple summer food” to me.  True, I rarely go on actual picnics (don’t take it personally, bees and ants), but I do love the culinary offerings. Picnic foods are easy to make, keep well without refrigeration, and are usually great finger foods, too.

One of the best things to bring on a picnic is a large container of fresh cut, bite-sized veggies and some kind of dip. With celery sticks, baby carrots, pepper strips and even snap peas as your base, you can scoop up any number of creamy, spicy, chunky dips for a great snack.  Add some hearty bread or crackers, and call it a meal.

Or take along some type of bite-sized appetizer and allow each person to grab a nibble between swimming and volleyball games on the beach. Doesn’t that sound like the perfect way to spend a day outdoors this summer?

Here are some of my favorite dippers and spreads for dining al fresco.  With a few of these dishes on the menu, you’ll have the perfect picnic all ready to go.  Of course, they work well indoors, too!
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Quick and Easy Peach Chia Jam

The Farmer’s Market is overflowing with summer fruit. And that usually means that I purchase way more than I can eat in a week. With the gorgeous bounty before me, I seem to have very little self control! But I have found a quick and easy way to use leftover fruit. Chia Jam!

I first learned about chia jam through Om Nom Ally. She has lovely recipes for Chia Strawberry Jam and Blood Plum Jam. So when I couldn’t eat my way through this delicious bag of fresh Georgia peaches, I knew just what to do.

Make Chia Peach Jam! This jam is delicious spread on crackers, gluten-free bread, drizzled over a fruit salad, or swirled into your favorite smoothie.
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Roasted Beet “Hummus”

beet hummus 500

Hello, it’s me, the beet-lady. I’m beginning to feel like maybe I’m earning that name, seeing as how I’ve previously shared with you a ton of beet recipes and have declared my love for these gorgeous veggies.

Well, just in case you’re like me and can’t get enough, here’s one more to add to your list of “Beet Recipes to Make.”

Doesn’t everyone have one of those lists? No? Just me?

Well, maybe this dip will make you start one! The color alone is enticing enough, don’t you think? What I love in particular is that with the addition of the cumin, this dip is transformed from something really “earthy” (a characteristic many beet-haters call “tastes like dirt”) into a fresh, subtly sweet, slightly smoky dip. I couldn’t get enough of it, and particularly loved it on cucumber rounds. My only regret was that there wasn’t more of it. I might suggest you double the batch.
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