I don't know about you, but I'm a BIG DIPPER. Sure I can enjoy a piece of fruit in its naked, pure state. But, give me something creamy to dip it in, and I'm even happier. Trouble is, most creamy dips are high in calories and fat. Well, no more. Today's post is a fruit dip makeover.
A couple of years ago I wrote a post with recipes for three fruit dips that have a cream cheese base. They are delicious, and always a hit at a party. But, those are a splurge and not something that I can eat every day. These new dip recipes taste like a splurge, but are healthy enough to eat often. They're loaded with protein, calcium, and fiber. Yay! Yes, I've sweetened them a bit; but you can reduce or eliminate the sweetener if that suits your palette and dietary goals.
Greek yogurt and chia seeds save the day! I used Greek Yogurt as a base and thickened it with, believe it or not, CHIA SEEDS. If you're familiar with this blog, you know that I've been on a chia seed kick. They are wildly nutritious (read about their health benefits in my fridge oatmeal post), so I add them to a number of recipes. In addition to their nutrition, chia seeds absorb 10 times their volume in liquid. I used them to magically thicken the yogurt in these dips to help mimic the cream cheese in my tasty, but less healthy dips.
These dips are spreadable, too. You can dip fruit, pretzels, or graham crackers in them, but they're also delicious spread on bagels, toast, or muffins. These are WAY healthier than cream cheese bagel schmears.
Easy 5 minute prep! Every dip flavor starts with 1 cup of Greek yogurt and 1 tablespoon of ground chia seeds. Add those to a bowl along with the other flavor ingredients, stir them with a whisk or spoon until they're well combined. Cover and chill overnight. Done!
Why the overnight chill time? It gives the dip time for the flavors to meld and for the chias to soften and absorb liquid. Chill the dips a minimum of 6 hours for the best flavor and consistency.
Not all Greek yogurt is the same. I used several different brands of yogurt as I was creating these recipes and was surprised to taste a wide difference in tartness. We all have a different tolerance and preference for sweetness and tartness. That means that you may need to do some adjustments with the amount of sweetener you add to these dips. Do a taste test, and sweeten accordingly.
Sweetener substitutions. I used honey or maple syrup to sweeten these dips. Feel free to substitute whatever sweetener you prefer. Maple extract can be used along with a different sweetener, if you don't want to use maple syrup.
Milled (ground) chia seeds are used for better blending. You can use whole chia seeds, in these dips, if you prefer. They will plump up and soften as they absorb liquid, but there will be visible seeds in the dip. I chose to use ground chia seeds so they would blend into the dip better. My 6 dip flavors all have other ingredients that add specks of color and texture, so the ground chias are less obvious and blend right in. I bought a bag of ground chia seeds, but you can grind your own in a coffee grinder or blender.
Dip #1: Pumpkin Pie To the yogurt and chia seeds, add pureed pumpkin, maple syrup, pumpkin pie spice (purchase or make you own with my recipe), vanilla, chopped pecans (optional); garnish with a sprinkling of cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice.
Dip #2: Vanilla Bean (with cinnamon, if you like) To the yogurt and chia seeds, add vanilla bean paste or extract, and honey. I like to add some cinnamon to mine, but it can be omitted if you prefer a plain vanilla flavor.
What is vanilla bean paste? This is a vanilla syrup that contains vanilla beans. It's available at specialty cooking stores and in 2 bottles sets from Amazon. Still pricey, but not as much as the whole beans. This is what I use in this recipe, vanilla bean ice cream, and baked goods. It's an easy, less expensive alternative to the whole beans. I like having it on hand in my pantry.
Dip #3: Maple Walnut To the yogurt and chia seeds, add chopped walnuts and maple syrup. (I prefer the stronger flavor of grade B maple syrup, but any will do.)
Dip #4: Double Chocolate To the yogurt and chia seeds, add honey, vanilla, unsweetened cocoa powder, and mini chocolate chips (I used semi-sweet).
Dip #5: Peanut Butter To the yogurt and chia seeds, add PB2 or peanut butter, honey, and chopped peanuts (optional).
What is PB2? It's powdered peanut butter that is simply peanut butter with 85% of the fat removed. With all of the flavor and protein of regular peanut butter, PB2 is recommended as a great way to reduce calories in all of your favorite peanut butter recipes. It's available at some Whole Foods and health food stores, and on Amazon, click here.
Dip #6: Cranberry To the yogurt and chia seeds, add whole cranberry sauce (purchased or make your own; here's my recipe); ground cloves, almond extract, chopped pecans (optional), dried cranberries for optional garnish. The cranberry sauce is already sweetened, so no additional sweetener is needed.
Ready to serve! Make just one or all six. They're great on a breakfast, brunch, or dessert buffet. My guests always appreciate a healthy option.
NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION for 1/4 cup serving (using low fat yogurt, the lower sweetener amounts stated in recipes; and all optional ingredients):
Ready to grab for a healthy snack. I love having these in my fridge so it's easy to have a quick, tasty snack (and avoid the naughty stuff). This Vanilla Bean Yogurt Dip is a good go-to choice to please lots of palettes.
Spread it! You can spread any of these dips on bagels, toast, or muffins. This pumpernickel bagel tasted amazing schmeared with peanut butter yogurt dip.
Cover and store in the fridge. These will keep for several days. I like to store mine in these ramekins that come with covers. That way they're ready to serve in an attractive bowl.
A healthy snack on the go! Put a serving size of yogurt dip in a portable container to pack for a snack on the go. I pre-cut apple slices to have on hand, too. Check out my post about preventing apple slices from browning.
Are you a BIG DIPPER like me? I hope you like these.
Make it a Yummy day! Monica
Yogurt Chia Fruit Dips
Servings: 1-1/2+ cups
1 cup Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon milled (ground) chia seeds
See DIRECTIONS for additional ingredients listed with each dip flavor.
Stir dip ingredients together in a bowl until well combined, cover and chill overnight. Serve with sliced apples, orange sections, strawberries, or other fruit. Or, spread on bagels, toast, or muffins.
All versions use 1 cup Greek yogurt and 1 tablespoon ground (milled chia seeds) as a base. Here are the additional ingredients for creating six flavors:
VANILLA BEAN (& CINNAMON if desired): 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (may substitute vanilla extract); 1-2 tablespoons honey; 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (may omit if you prefer a plain vanilla flavor)
MAPLE WALNUT: 3-4 tablespoons maple syrup, 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
DOUBLE CHOCOLATE: 1 tablespoon cocoa powder, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla; 1-2 tablespoons honey; 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips, optional (save a few chips to sprinkle on top for garnish)
PEANUT BUTTER: 3 tablespoons PB2 powdered peanut butter (or regular peanut butter); 2 tablespoons honey; 1/4 cup chopped peanuts, optional (save some of them to sprinkle on top for garnish)
PUMPKIN PIE: 1/2 cup pureed pumpkin (unflavored); 1-1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice; 1 teaspoon vanilla; 2 or more tablespoons maple syrup; 1/4 cup chopped pecans, optional (save some of them to sprinkle on top for garnish)
CRANBERRY: 1/2 cup whole cranberry sauce; 1/8 teaspoon almond extract; pinch of cloves; 1/4 cup chopped pecans, optional (save some of them to sprinkle on top for garnish; or sprinkle top with dried cranberries)
NOTES ABOUT SWEETENERS: --Sweetener substitutions. Honey or maple syrup are used to sweeten these dips. Substitute whatever sweetener you prefer. Maple extract can be used along with a different sweetener, if you don't want to use maple syrup. --Adjust the amount of sweetener you add according to the tartness of the yogurt and your personal taste.
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