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Star-Bulletin Features

Wednesday, July 5, 2000

By Dean Sensui, Star-Buletin

Dips like this one, made of kabocha pumpkin, can be colorful
party dishes, but they're also portable -- take them along for
a snack or to work for eating at your desk.


Forget cream cheese and sour cream
-- lighten up those bowls of dip

By Betty Shimabukuro


A bowl of dip surrounded with chips and veggie sticks solves a lot of life's entertainment problems: table centerpiece (this is it), meal-not-ready-yet (eat this for now), utensils (don't need 'em).

Make dips part of every day, though, and you've solved some daily nutritional problems as well. There's something quick to eat in the refrigerator at snack time, for one. You can sneak vegetables into the kids (or yourself), for another.

The hot days of summer, with the corresponding increase in snacking, picnicking and outdoor entertaining, are a perfect time to rediscover dips.

This means going beyond onion soup mix poured into a tub of sour cream. Think outside the box. Or the tub.


The Vegetarian Society of Hawaii's July meeting focuses on dips, featuring cooking demonstrations and tastings:
Bullet Time: 7 p.m. July 12
Bullet Place: Ala Wai Golf Course clubhouse
Bullet Admission: Free
Bullet Call: 944-VEGI (8344)

First, resolve to lighten those dips by swearing off cream cheese and sour cream. Second, resolve to think of them as vegetable side dishes, not creamy, cheesy things that add calories to a potato chip.

Alyssa Moreau is a perfect guide in this process of rediscovery. She's a caterer, one of a handful on Oahu specializing in vegetarian and vegan foods. She and her partner, Sharon DuBois, are promoting the value of dips at a meeting of the Vegetarian Society of Hawaii next week.

Moreau suggests getting away from dairy products as the base of dips and turning to foods that provide more fiber and nutrition:

Bullet Vegetables: Consider pumpkin, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach ... anything that can be cooked and pureed. Your dips will go from beige and fattening to colorful and healthy. One of her favorites is a kabocha pumpkin dip flavored with almond butter and miso. She's also used fresh peas and asparagus to replace avocado (yes, a plant-based food, but unfortunately a fatty one) in guacamole.

Bullet Beans: White beans are especially versatile. "They can go in many different directions because they're such a mild flavor. They're a great source of protein, fiber and they're low in fat." Canellini beans are especially easy to use as they can be mashed right out of the can -- no blender or food processor needed. Bean dips are especially good with grilled foods.

Bullet Tofu: Do it right and you'll fool everyone. "A lot of people who don't even like tofu, they don't even know it's there." Moreau suggests silken tofu because it is so bland. Regular tofu, even the softest, even disguised with other tastes, "still pulls a little of that tofu flavor, and some people can't handle even that."

One last thing: Don't mess up all these positives by serving your dip with greasy chips. The usual crudites (fancy word for vegetable sticks) are a better choice. Or consider baked crackers, big pretzel sticks or chunks of pumpernickel or rye (more fiber than french).

But that's enough about that. What you probably want to know is how to do it, so on to the recipes:


Alyssa Moreau

2 cups kabocha squash, peeled, seeded and cubed
1/4 cup minced onion
1-2 cloves garlic, mashed
2 tablespoon almond butter (available at health-food stores, or use tahini or peanut butter)
2 tablespoons shiro miso (white, sweet miso)
1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste

Steam squash over boiling water until soft, 20 minutes. Mash.

Saute onion in garlic, blend with remaining ingredients.

Serve with toasted pita bread, red bell pepper strips, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, chunks of cucumber. Optional: Add pumpkin seeds for extra crunch. Makes about 3 cups

Approximate nutritional information, per 2 tablespoons: 20 calories, 1 g total fat, no saturated fat, no cholesterol, greater than 110 mg sodium.*


1 large head of broccoli, trimmed of tough outer leaves and cut in pieces
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Juice of half a medium lemon
1 teaspoon finely chopped shallots (or more to taste)
1 medium tomato, roughly diced

Microwave or steam broccoli with garlic until a knife pierces broccoli without resistance. Put into a blender or food processor with the garlic, coriander, cumin, lemon juice and shallots and blend until smooth. Add water if necessary. Add tomatoes and blend briefly so tomatoes are still chunky. Let sit about 10 minutes so flavors mingle. Serve as a dip or as a spread on fresh bread. May also be thinned to serve over hot veggies. Makes 4-5 cups.

Approximate nutritional information, per 2 tablespoons: 5 calories, no fat, no cholesterol, 5 mg sodium.*


"Weight Watchers Versatile Vegetarian," Macmillan USA, 1997

1 19-ounce can white beans, rinsed and drained
1/3 cup coarsely chopped basil
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
1 large garlic clove
1/2 teaspoon salt

Puree ingredients in a food processor. Let stand at room temperature, covered, 2-3 hours. Serves 4.

Approximate nutritional information, per serving: 193 calories, 5 g total fat, 1 g saturated fat, no cholesterol, 643 mg sodium.*


"Celebration of Wellness," by James Levin and Natalie Cederquist, 1992

1 cup silken tofu

Bullet Pesto:
1/3 cup pine nuts
1 tablespoon garlic, chopped
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
1/3 cup basil, chopped
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup tomato, chopped
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Combine pesto ingredients, except tomato, in food processor. Pulse-chop several times, scrape bowl and repeat.

Add tomatoes and pulse chop until just blended. Do not puree.

Combine 1/4 cup of mixture with tofu and puree well. May also be served over pasta or used to stuff mushroom caps or celery ribs.

Nutritional information unavailable.*

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