Whether you prefer to tailgate during football season or stay within the comfy confines of your living room, fun food makes the game.

Dipping is a satisfying way to make your food last just a little bit longer.

But to taper mindless munching, try these healthy dip ideas at your next football party. With a few simple ingredients, you can bring the same old chips and dip to a whole new level.

Black Bean and Garlic dip

This simple recipe has an addictive quality that will keep you coming back for more. Because I cannot stop eating this dip, sliced cucumbers and baby carrots keep calories down, giving me the green light to eat freely.

Serves 8

Ingredients

1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed

1 garlic clove, minced

¼ cup water

1 tablespoon canola oil

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions

Blend ingredients in a blender or food processor, and serve with your favorite raw vegetables or corn chips.

Nutrition information (per ¼ cup): 70 calories, 2 grams fat, 288 mgs sodium, 186 mgs potassium, 10 grams carbs, 4 grams fiber, 1 gram sugar, 4 grams protein

Pumpkin Cream Cheese

Tis the season for pumpkin, and this rich and creamy dip makes a perfect, crowd-pleasing appetizer or dessert. Sliced apples or pears are a light touch that complement the dip and the season.

Serves 8

Ingredients:

1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree

1 cup low-fat cream cheese, softened

¼ cup powdered sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1⁄8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Directions:

Blend ingredients in a blender or food processor, and serve with whole-wheat graham crackers, sliced apples. Or use as a spread on whole-wheat toast or homemade zucchini bread.

Nutrition information (per ¼ cup): 98 calories, 5 grams fat, 112 mgs sodium, 76 mgs potassium, 11 grams carbs, 1 gram fiber, 7 grams sugar, 3 grams protein

Honey Mustard Dip

When you look at the ingredients and simplicity of this dip, it makes no sense to spend money on a store-bought version. This fresh, simple dip will spice up your next party or make it a staple when grilling chicken.

Serves 8

Ingredients:

1 cup plain nonfat yogurt

2 tablespoons mustard

2 tablespoons honey

Directions:

Mix and served with grilled chicken tenders, homemade chicken nuggets or shrimp or chicken kabobs.

Nutrition information (per 2 tablespoons): 24 calories, 0 grams fat, 43 mgs sodium, 4 grams carbs, 4 grams sugar, 2 grams protein

Vegetable Dip

If you have guests trying to watch what they eat, they will thank you for this light dip that is both satisfying and a little indulgent. Create a beautiful vegetable tray with three colors of pepper strips, sugar snap peas and long sticks of asparagus for a veggie tray that tastes as good as it looks.

Serves 8

Ingredients:

½ cup nonfat plain yogurt

½ cup reduced-fat mayonnaise or sour cream

1 tablespoon Mrs. Dash

Directions: Mix and serve with your favorite raw vegetables, or use this as a condiment in place of sour cream for a flavorful twist over the normal toppings on chili, tacos or quesadillas.

Nutrition information (per 2 tablespoons): 55 calories, 4 grams fat, 148 mgs sodium, 85 mgs potassium, 3 grams carbs, 2 grams sugar, 2 grams protein

Niki Kubiak is a sports-certified registered dietitian, competitive runner and owner of Niki Kubiak Sports Nutrition and Weight Loss. She blogs regularly for

livewellnebraska.com.

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