double dipping.

 DSC01504 Sometimes I’m just in the mood for a light dinner, especially when it’s hot out (which it is).  A light dinner…just some appetizers and a great salad…but even though I love appetizers, sometimes they’re the most unhealthy part of a meal.  

Well, as far as appetizers go, hummus and tzatziki are pretty good options.  Garbanzo beans in one, yogurt in the other, what can be so bad about that?  Well, even these healthier options can still be pretty caloric and fattening.  Whole-fat yogurt is usually the culprit in tzatziki, while in hummus, the problem is a bit more severe: tahini paste.  It’s pretty easy to substitute non-fat yogurt for whole-fat, but what’s a good tahini substitute?  Turns out, there really isn’t one.  Tahini is a sauce/paste made of sesame seeds – it adds a lot of fat and calories, but as far as nutritional value goes, well, it doesn’t really add anything.  Nothing quite replicates the nutty and creamy flavor that tahini brings to good, home-made hummus.  But, I discovered (after some trial and error) that adding just a teaspoon of tahini will suffice if it’s coupled with 2 tablespoons of non-fat yogurt and another teaspoon of olive oil.  I don’t think this hummus lacked any flavor or creaminess – and with some tzatziki, whole wheat pita and a greek salad, this is a complete, very healthy dinner that definitely won’t weigh you down!

Hummus (serves 4)

1 15oz. can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

1 clove garlic, chopped

1 tsp. tahini paste

2 tbsp. non-fat plain yogurt (I like thick Greek yogurt)

1 tsp. olive oil

1/2 tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. black pepper

1/2 tsp. paprika

juice of half a lemon

water if/as needed

parsley/mint for garnish

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Place all ingredients (except for garnish) in the food processor and process until smooth.  Depending on your preference, adjust the thickness with a bit of water (I barely add a teaspoon because I like the hummus a little thicker).  If necessary, adjust seasoning with salt/pepper to taste, garnish with fresh herbs and serve.

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Tzatziki (Greek cucumber-yogurt dip) (serves 4)

2 cups nonfat plain Greek yogurt (If you can’t find non-fat Greek yogurt, you can buy regular non-fat yogurt, set it over a very fine strainer lined with a paper towel, and let it sit in the fridge for a few hours to allow some of the water to drain out – this will help keep the dip thick and creamy)

1 cup cucumber, peeled and coarsely grated (I use Israeli cucumbers so that I don’t need to seed them)

1 clove garlic, grated

1/2 tsp. salt 

pepper to taste

1 tsp. lemon juice

1 tbsp. fresh dill, chopped

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Place the grated cucumbers in a strainer over a bowl, add 1/2 tsp. of salt to the cucumbers and place in the fridge for at least 1 hour.  (This will draw some of the water out of the cucumbers – the longer the cucumbers sit, the more water will drain out, and the creamier the dip will be!)  

Remove the cucumbers and squeeze out as much water as possible.  Add the cucumbers to the yogurt, and mix in remaining ingredients.  Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve.  

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