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EATING well

Dip layers on the nutrition

Snack dips are great at holidays and sports events. Be the health guru of your community with this combo of spinach, yogurt, avocado and tomato. Each ingredient brings its own weight in healthy nutrients to the party.

Spinach is packed with chlorophyll, folate, Vitamin C and beta-carotene, which boosts the immune system. Lutein and zeaxanthine serve as antioxidants to support retinal health and reduce the risk of cataracts.

Yogurt contributes probiotic compounds for improved digestion. Seasoning plain yogurt with cilantro, chili powder and oregano reduces the need for a sweetened yogurt.

Avocados are a great source of essential fatty acids, which help leptin (a hormone in your small intestine) control how much you eat. Healthy fats provide satiety so you aren't looking for food an hour or two after eating a high-carbohydrate meal.

Tomatoes, the base for salsa, have antioxidants that serve as scavengers in the blood to reduce harmful free radicals in addition to reducing tumor cell growth — especially in prostate cancer. Some studies have shown that the lycopene in tomatoes can lower blood pressure.

My friends call this their "Popeye Taco Special Dip" served with raw vegetables or whole-grain chips. It is an easy-to-fix, healthy snack everyone can enjoy.

Betty Wedman-St. Louis is a licensed nutritionist and environmental health specialist in Pinellas County who has written numerous books on health and nutrition. Visit her website at betty-wedman-stlouis.com.

Luscious Layer Dip

4 cups shredded spinach

8 ounces plain low-fat Greek yogurt

1 tablespoon finely minced fresh cilantro

½ to 1 teaspoon hot chili powder

½ teaspoon dried oregano leaves

16 ounces prepared guacamole

8 ounces chunky salsa

3 ¾ cup shredded Cheddar

2 fresh plum tomatoes, diced

2 scallions, minced

10 black olives, pitted and diced

Place spinach in a clear bowl or trifle dish. Stir together yogurt, cilantro, chili powder and oregano. Spoon over spinach. Use spatula to spread guacamole over yogurt layer. Spoon salsa over guacamole. Sprinkle on cheese. Top with tomatoes, scallions and olives. Serve with raw vegetables or whole-grain chips.

Makes 24 (½-cup) servings.

Nutrition information per serving (no chips): 42 calories, 2g protein, 4g carbohydrates, 3g fat, 153mg sodium.

Dip layers on the nutrition 11/27/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 27, 2013 5:20pm]

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