Healthy and savory chips and dip from The Oaks at Ojai

Kick off a healthier snack time for weekend football watching with this lean and innovative take on chips and dip from The Oaks at Ojai, located just south of Santa Barbara, California. Chef Christine Denney’s parmesan pita chips pack plenty of savory flavor, but with a fraction of the fat and salt of the store-bought variety. Still, Denney doesn’t bake these 30-calorie wonders to be eaten alone: “They’re an ideal vehicle for other nutrition,” she says.

For a satiating Superbowl Sunday, Denney recommends her spinach artichoke dip as a creamy, boldly flavored complement to the chips. Subbing low-fat cottage cheese for dense sour cream keeps this snack lean and full of protein, while fresh basil, garlic and onion lend winning taste.

“It’s very satisfying, and satisfaction is the key to healthy snacking,” Denney points out. Also satisfying is this snack’s simple preparation. “It’s just a matter of cutting up pitas and putting them in the oven,” says Denney, who also recommends baking large pitas whole and topping them with sautéed mushrooms, onions and bell peppers for a healthy halftime pizza snack. 

The extra point, post-snack? “You’re not going to feel horrible and ruin your dinner.” Score! —Carolyn Meers

Parmesan Pita Crisps

Makes about 50

6 mini whole wheat pitas
2 Tbs. parmesan cheese, grated

Cut pitas into quarters and split. Lay pitas close together on a cookie sheet, rough side up. Sprinkle cheese over pita and bake at 350°F for 10 minutes, or until brown and crisp.

Spinach Artichoke Dip

Makes about 2 cups

2/3 c. red onion, minced
2 tsp. minced garlic
1 ½ c. (12 oz.) nonfat cottage cheese
1/2 c. crumbled feta or parmesan cheese
2 Tbs. lowfat buttermilk (or lowfat milk mixed with one tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar)
1 c. chopped spinach leaves
1/2 c. canned artichoke hearts (packed in water)
2 Tbs. fresh basil
Minced sundried tomatoes or jalapeños (optional)

Process the first five ingredients in a food processor until smooth and creamy. Mix in the rest, processing to desired consistency.

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