Few foods are healthier than raw vegetable sticks, so serve them with tempting low-fat dips for a starter. Or, for a light lunch, this recipe serves four. You can also offer fruit and wholemeal pita bread for dipping.
1 cup firmly packed fresh basil leaves
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tablespoon pine nuts
250 g natural low-fat yoghurt
pepper to taste
FRESH HERB DIP
170 g reduced-fat ricotta or cream cheese
1 spring onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
1 tablespoon finely snipped chives
1 teaspoon tarragon vinegar
ITALIAN-STYLE TOMATO DIP
50 g sundried tomatoes (not oil-packed)
80 g reduced-fat cottage cheese
80 g natural low-fat yoghurt
1/2 cup firmly packed fresh basil leaves
pepper to taste
450 g mixed vegetable crudités, such as: baby carrotszucchini sticksbaby corn (blanched in boiling water for 1 minute)green beans (blanched for 1 minute)capsicum stripsbroccoli florets
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To make the pesto-yoghurt dip, use a blender or food processor to puree the basil, garlic and pine nuts to a paste. Work in the yoghurt a spoonful at a time, until thoroughly combined. Add pepper to season. Transfer to a bowl, cover and chill until required.
To make the fresh herb dip, stir all the ingredients together in a bowl until well blended. Cover tightly and chill until required.
For the Italian-style tomato dip, place the sundried tomatoes in a heatproof bowl and pour over boiling water to cover them. Leave to soak for about 30 minutes or until the tomatoes are plump and tender. Drain the tomatoes well, then pat them dry and finely chop them.
Puree the cottage cheese with the yoghurt in a food processor or blender. Alternatively, press the cheese through a sieve and stir in the yoghurt. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the tomatoes. Cover and chill until required.
Just before serving the Italian-style tomato dip, finely shred the basil and stir in with pepper.
Serve the bowls of dip on a large platter with the vegetable crudités arranged around them.
Dairy products such as yoghurt and cottage cheese are valuable sources of calcium.