Monday, March 8, 2010

Healthier Spinach Queso

I love Spinach Queso.  You have probably ordered a  dip like this at a restaurant.  It's normally served with tortilla chips and is loaded with flavor and salt.  The combination of cheese, peppers, tomatoes and spinach are not only tasty, but visually appealing as well. 

The problem I have found with this type of appetizer (in addition to the calories) is the huge amount of salt consumed with the tortilla chips and the cheeses in the dip.  "Various organizations, including the National Academy of Sciences' Institute of Medicine, have published recommendations on daily sodium limits. Most recommend not exceeding the range of 1,500 and 2,400 milligrams (mg) a day for healthy adults. Keep in mind that the lower your sodium, the more beneficial effect on blood pressure." (www.mayoclinic.com)  I don't have high blood pressure, but there are many who do.  There are many products available at the grocery store that are "reduced sodium" and I believe that lower salt diets must be healthier for us. 

I decided to concoct a recipe for Spinach Queso using low or no-salt items I had in my kitchen.  I did not add any salt to the ingredients and relied on the flavors of the individual components.  The entire recipe has less than 500 mg of sodium and it serves 4-6 people.  (I calculated the sodium content by reading the nutrition labels on the products.) That's a very small percentage of the recommended allowance.  Enjoy this appetizer without feeling the overload of salt.  Now, if I could just figure out a healthier Margarita....

Spinach Queso and Tortilla Toasts (Low Sodium Style)

½ cup chopped green onions
2 cups julienned and chopped fresh spinach leaves
6 ounces Neufchatel Cheese (lower fat cream cheese)
2 ounces Velveeta Cheese (or 3 prepackaged slices)
3 Tablespoons skim milk
1 cup diced salt free canned tomatoes, drained*
2 or 3 chopped jalapeno peppers*
4 flour tortillas, 8 inch size

1. Spray an iron skillet with Pam. Saute the green onions and spinach leaves over a medium heat until both are wilted.
2. Add all other ingredients (except the tortillas) and heat over low heat until cheeses are melted. Keep warm until serving time. If the dip is too thick, add more skim milk and stir well.
3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
4. Cut each tortilla into 8 wedges. (stack them up and use a pizza cutter)
5. Place the tortilla wedges in a single layer on a large cookie sheet.
6. Bake for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and turn wedges over. Bake another 5 minutes. When cooled, these will be crispy.

*substitute drained Rotel tomatoes if you are not worried about your salt content.  You can eliminate the chopped jalapenos if you use Rotel.

3 comments:

  1. Yummy! I LOVE spinach dip! (If only I could eat cheese....)

    BTW - if you're interested, my old Weight Watchers leader (from when I used to go there) told us how to make a 2 point margarita:

    You take a packet of the lemon/lime Crystal Light and mix it with half the amount of water it says to on the package. Mix it with 1 shot of tequila per drink and serve over ice. (You can even blend it with ice in the blender.) Add a squirt of fresh lemon juice and/or orange juice.
    I never tried it, but people said it was good.

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  2. thanks for this! A WW margarita. Can't get any better. Love Crystal Light, too!

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