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Eating green for this St. Patrick’s Day

Published: Thursday, March 13, 2014 11:14 a.m. CDT

St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner. When my kids were young, it was fun to turn ordinary foods green. With a little food coloring, we ate green pancakes for breakfast and green macaroni and cheese for supper. Now that my kids are grown, the green food coloring will stay in the cabinet. But that doesn’t mean I won’t bring a plate of green goodies to my St. Patrick’s Day party, I’ll just let nature handle the green part. Here are some tips to eat green on St. Patrick’s Day — the way nature intended.

Green Vegetables on a Veggie Tray with Green Dip. Arrange a combination of celery, broccoli, green pepper strips, cucumbers, fresh zucchini and green onions on a vegetable platter. Serve with spinach dip. To keep the dip on the healthy side, use low fat cream cheese and reduced fat sour cream in your recipes.

Green Fruit Kabobs with Lime Dip. Alternate green grapes with thick-cut slices of kiwi, and granny smith apples that have been cut in chunks, on to skewers. Dip the apples in lemon juice to prevent browning. Serve with lime flavored yogurt.

Green Pinwheel Appetizers. Instead of the flour tortillas usually used in this popular appetizer, use spinach wraps that you can purchase in most grocery stores. Spread spinach dip over the wraps and roll up tightly. Wrap each with plastic wrap, twisting the ends. Refrigerate for several hours. Unwrap the plastic wrap, and cut into ¾-inch slices.

Pesto Bruchetta. Pesto is a naturally green spread made of minced basil, pine nuts, and healthy olive oil. Spread store bought pesto on top of toasted French bread slices for a delicious appetizer.

Pistachios. Fill a snack bowl with these colorful, naturally green nuts instead of candy. In addition to offering fiber, Vitamin E and healthy fats, pistachios are one of the lowest calorie nuts.

Guacamole. This delicious dip is always a hit. The main ingredient in this classic is avocado which is also rich in Vitamin E, fiber, and healthy fats. As nutritious as guacamole is, the calories still add up. Try dipping green vegetables in your guacamole and don’t overdo the chips.

This St. Patrick’s Day, go for the naturally green, and find a wealth of nutrition at the end of the rainbow.

Spinach Dip

1 pkg (8 oz.) low fat cream cheese, softened

1 pkg (10 oz.) frozen chopped spinach, thawed, and well drained

1 can (8 oz.) water chestnuts

1 cup chopped green pepper (or red pepper if you prefer)

1 cup reduced fat sour cream

1 envelope Ranch Salad Dressing mix

Mix cream cheese with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Add remaining ingredients, mixing until blended. Serve with assorted vegetables.

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