While cream cheese may be a quick base for many dips, there are many substitutes that are just as tasty with less fat. Here are recipes to consider.
Cream cheese makes a nice base for all kinds of dips, whether hot and spicy, packed with herbs, or flavored with other cheeses. Once cream cheese is softened, liquid or dry ingredients can easily be incorporated into the mix. It is a neutral backdrop for many different spice combinations. But it can also be fattening if indulged too much. A 1-oz portion of regular cream cheese contains about 30% daily value of saturated fat and 30mg of cholesterol, which equal 10% daily value of it.
Cream Cheese Substitutes Lower in Fat
There are great substitutes in place of cream cheese for quick dip recipes. Neufchatel cheese, low fat plain yogurt and low fat cottage cheese are all good substitutes for full fat cream cheese. Neufchatel cheese is the easiest to substitute, and can be used cup for cup without changing the flavor or texture of the finished product compared to original cream cheese. Cottage cheese can be pureed, and plain yogurt can be strained to remove excess liquid. Plain yogurt is great for both sweet and spicy dips as it has a natural tang to it.
All of the alternatives are lower in cholesterol and fat than regular cream cheese. A 1-oz. portion of Neufchatel cheese contains 6g fat and 20mg cholesterol. Cottage cheese and plain yogurt (both low fat versions) have the least amounts of fat and cholesterol, and the serving size changes as well. A 1/2-cup portion of plain yogurt has about 1.25g fat and 7.5mg cholesterol. A 1/2-cup portion of cottage cheese has about 1.5g fat and 5mg cholesterol. Part skim ricotta can also be used. A 1/4-cup portion of part skim ricotta cheese has 4.5g fat with 30mg cholesterol.
Nonfat and fat free versions of all of the above will obviously be lower in fat, but may produce a different consistency in the final product, so adjust for flavorings, and reduce or add liquid as necessary. It is also good to remember what a serving size is when preparing and consuming creamy dips for any holiday or special event.
Use Baked Pita Instead of Chips and Crackers
Instead of high-fat chips and specialty crackers, serve any dip with toasted pita bread triangles. Take pita bread and cut in half, then into wedges. Separate each wedge of the pita bread into halves. Spread in an even layer on a baking sheet.
They may be sprayed with a thin coat of cooking spray, if desired, or kept plain. Bake for about 10 minutes at 350 degrees until lightly browned and crisp, turning one time. Cool to room temperature and serve alongside dips.
Neufchatel Cheese Dip Recipes
Here are some two dip recipes to try, both using Neufchatel cheese. For advance preparation, prepare the dips a day ahead and store in the refrigerator in a tightly sealed container until serving time.
Greek Black Olive and Mustard Dip
Add cayenne pepper for a bit of heat if desired.
- 8-oz package Neufchatel cheese, softened
- 2 Tbsp low fat mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup pitted Greek black olives, chopped
- 2 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
- 2 tsp coarse ground mustard (variety containing whole mustard seed)
- 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 tsp paprika
Place the softened Neufchatel in a mixing bowl and cream with a wooden spoon. Stir in low fat mayonnaise until smooth. Add in the chopped olives, parsley, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon and paprika.
Fresh Herbs and Capers Dip
Use any combination of fresh herbs as desired.
- 8-oz. Package Neufchatel cheese, softened
- 1 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 Tbsp fresh tarragon, chopped
- 1 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped
- 1 Tbsp small capers, drained and chopped
- 1 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
Place the softened Neufchatel in a mixing bowl and cream with a wooden spoon. Add in the parsley, tarragon, basil, capers and lemon juice.