Spread those Veggies on Thick!

Veggies on veggies, veggies on toast
Veggies on crackers, I love you the most
Veggies on sandwiches, might make you smarter
Leave out the beans and you won’t be a …

Sorry, my inner 11 year old boy has been talking to my actual 11 year old boy a lot lately.  And I’m a nurse.  I like gross stuff.  But you’d probably like to hear a little more about the veggies and a little less about the bodily functions!  On to veggies.

Some people do not get all excited about a veggie tray, or tortilla chips, crackers or sandwiches unless they are slathered with something fattening, and/or dairy, and/or chemicalicious like mayonnaise, french onion dip, or ranch dressing.  Personally I love mayonnaise, but where I can happily and willingly substitute healthier and especially veggier items in my diet?  I’m in.  Mayonnaise and creamy dips have competition now!

Following are a couple of recipes to get more veggies and less sour cream, mayonnaise (or if you’re buying commercial spreads or dips – MSG, potassium sorbate and questionable milk products) onto your favorite vehicles for spreads and dips.

The first is an artichoke dip that is so easy you have to think twice before you bring it to a party.  If you bring it to a party, everyone will love it and ask you for the recipe and you will have to say:
I bought a jar (or can) of marinated artichoke hearts (after checking the label for unsavory ingredients);
I dumped it into my good blender (or food processor);
I turned it on until the stuff got creamy;
I scraped it into a pretty bowl and provided scooping devices.

Voila!  That is it.  It is delicious, nutritious (artichokes have fiber and vitamin C without fat or much sugar at all) and it really dresses up a sandwich.

Now, if you don’t like what you see on the marinated artichoke label or you have un-marinated in the pantry approaching their expiration date, you can jump from the above ‘Easiest’ version to the ‘Easy’ version.

Artichoke Dip:
Place 3 cups of drained artichoke hearts in the blender or food processor.
Add 1 Tbsp. olive oil
Add 1/2 tsp each of oregano & thyme (your option to include or sub basil or rosemary)
Add 1/4 – 1/2 tsp salt
Process until creamy.
Scrape it into a pretty bowl and provide a variety of scooping devices.

Also ridiculously easy with room for variation according to your taste.

The next spread was inspired by a cilantro-pesto spread described in delicious detail by my friends from ‘Our Spartan Kitchen.’  They had extra cilantro and I have these beautiful red mustard leaves that have a horse-radishy bite to them.

Mix in the Vita Mix blender (or other powerful blender)
2 cups de-stemmed mustard leaves
4Tbsp. olive oil
1 &1/2  cup cooked white beans – rinsed and drained (1 can)
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup raw cashews
1/2 tsp salt

With the bite of mustard, this one is really good on a sandwich.

Admittedly, this one takes longer to make, and you may not have mustard greens around – however, the basic idea (check out the cilantro-pesto spread as well) gives you the basis to veggify and/or herbify some bean mash into something healthy and delicious.  Take the beans, nuts and oil in the above recipe, add some other veggies and spices, adjust for consistency and you will have expanded the repertoire for healthy lunch and snacks.

I think next I’m going to experiment with beans and sweet potatoes, hmmmm…

Also check out this sweet pea hummus from Gena at Choosing Raw and let us know about any veggie spreads or dips that you like!