It’s picnic season, which means backyard BBQs, cocktail parties and lots of appetizers and dips. But what exactly are you serving? It may be called veggie dip, but is it really veggie-based? Below are some popular dips and a few tips to clean them up.

Spinach dip (made with mayonnaise, sour cream and Knorr’s vegetable soup mix). The spinach is a powerhouse, but sadly, it is drowning in fat and sodium from mayonnaise, sour cream and salty soup mix. You can lighten it up easily by subbing plain Greek, non-fat yogurt for sour cream and light mayonnaise for regular. Use just half a packet of Knorr’s soup mix to reduce the sodium content.

Artichoke dip– Artichokes provide awesome pre-biotics in your diet, which help feed healthy pro-biotic bacteria in the gut. Unfortunately, the dip is typically laden with cream cheese, mayonnaise and Parmesan cheese. Would you even realize a vegetable was in there? Lighten it up with Greek yogurt cream cheese (found at Kroger), light mayonnaise and 1/3 less cheese in the recipe. I doubt you’d notice a taste change.

Zucchini bread– most quick breads are fairly high in sugar and calories. Just because a vegetable has been shredded into the batter, does not make it health food. The same goes for carrot cake, which is one of the richest desserts on the planet!

Broccoli, Ramen Noodle Slaw– while this looks like it should be healthy, it really is not. Broccoli slaw is very nutritious and a good source of vitamin C and fiber. But when paired with Ramen noodles, butter, slivered almonds, canola oil and sugar, it should not be featured as health food. Ramen noodles are high in sodium and saturated fat (even without the seasoning packet). When you add the seasoning, the sodium content goes through the roof.

If you really want to keep things simple (and healthy), purchase some ready-made, yogurt based dips from Sabra or other brands. You won’t even miss that blob of mayonnaise.

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