Chunky Caramel-Apple Pumpkin Spice Dip and the Health Benefits of Cloves

This is for all of my friends who asked for this Chunky Caramel-Apple Pumpkin Spice Dip recipe after I posted on Facebook last night. I made one mistake on my Facebook post though – this dip doesn’t have 80 calories a serving, it only has 52 calories a serving! This pumpkin apple spice dip is the BEST dip I’ve ever made. It’s so good that it doesn’t even need to be eaten as a dip, you can just eat it by the spoonful, which I have to admit, I did.

We had friends over last night while we watched the Steelers playoff game and I made this amazing dip as an appetizer. I liked it so much, that when my husband brought out the Apple Brown Betty pie that he bought from Fresh Market, I opted for a spoonful of this dip instead.

Did I mention that not only does this dip taste amazing, but it is chockfull of good-for-you ingredients, including apples, pumpkin, cinnamon and cloves? All for only has 52 calories a serving. I have to give Hungry Girl credit for this amazing recipe. If you haven’t heard of Hungry Girl, go to www.hungry-girl.com and sign up for her newsletter – she has the most amazing healthy versions of typically calorie-laden foods.

I want to share the recipe with you, but first I wanted to talk a little about the health benefits of cloves. Cloves made the top 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth list for their medicinal properties. Cloves are the unopened pink flower buds of the evergreen clove tree. They resemble little nails and their name is actually derived from the Latin word clavus, which means nail. Cloves have been consumed in Asia for more than 2,000 years. Back in 200 BC Chinese men would keep cloves in their mouths to keep their breath fresh when courting women. In Asian medicine cloves are thought to be among the spices that promote energy circulation and increase in metabolic rate.

Cloves are best known for their antiseptic and anesthetic properties. The next time you have a toothache try putting a little dab of clove oil on your gums. The pain dissipates almost immediately and clove oil works better than any over-the-counter product I’ve found. You will also notice clove oil in some over-the-counter sore throat sprays and mouth washes.

Cloves contain significant amounts of an active component called eugenol, which is known to help kill bacteria and viruses. Eugenol is also an anti-inflammatory and contains a variety of flavonoids, kaempferol and rhamnetin, which also contribute to cloves’ anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Cloves are also an excellent source of manganese, fiber, vitamin C and omega-3 fatty acids.

So when you eat this dip you’ll know that you are not only getting the amazing antioxidant power of apples, the potassium and fiber punch from pumpkin, blood sugar stabilizing cinnamon, but also the metabolic boost of cloves. All of that in a Super bowl party snack? Try out this recipe and please post back on this blog and let me know what you think. I can’t wait to hear if you love it as much as I do!

Chunky Caramel-Apple Pumpkin Spice Dip (recipe from Hungry Girl 200 under 200 cookbook)

Ingredients

  • One 8-ounce container fat-free cool whip
  • One 15-ounce can pumpkin
  • 1 small box sugar-free fat-free instant vanilla pudding
  • 2 cups chopped apples
  • 1 tablespoon Splenda
  • 2 teaspoons fat-free caramel dip
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon cloves

Instructions

  1. Place apples in bowl with ¼ cup water. Microwave for 2 minutes. When cool enough to handle, drain water.
  2. Place ½ cup cold water in small saucepan. Add Splenda, cornstarch, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ½ teaspoon vanilla, and mix thoroughly.
  3. Bring saucepan to medium-high heat, and then add caramel dip. Continue cooking, stirring constantly, until mixture is thick, hot and bubbly, about 5 minutes. Then add apples and stir until mixed. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
  4. Meanwhile, mix cinnamon and cloves and remaining vanilla extract into the fat-free cool whip.
  5. In a large bowl, combine sugar-free, fat-free vanilla pudding with the pumpkin and stir well. Fold in the cool whip until completely blended. Refrigerate.
  6. Once the caramel apples are cold, stir them into the pumpkin mixture.
  7. Serve with sliced apples or cinnamon rice cakes.

Day 28: So Cheesy

To this day I truly believe that I started the phrase “That’s cheesy.” I remember telling my sister that she was cheesy because she would “cheese” her toes, which in my eleven-year-old mind meant that she was wiggling her toes too close to me and her feet looked like american cheese slices (sorry Michelle!)

Speaking of American Cheese slices, that is the type of cheese that did NOT make the 150 of the Healthiest Foods on Earth list. Neither did Cheetos, Cheez-Its, Cheese Nips nor Spray cheese in a can (darn it!) Those “cheese foods” are the ones’ that my son wishes I would allow him to bring in his school lunch, instead of part-skim cheese sticks, but he is out of luck.

I was actually surprised to see cheese make the list of top 150 Healthy Foods, but it turns out so was Dr. Bowden. Cheese is such a broad category that it encompasses many unhealthy choices (think Velveeta) and many healthy choices (think Goat’s cheese.) Just like many other categories, the nutritional content of the cheese depends upon the source. Sheep and goat’s milk cheese are less likely to be factory farmed, therefore contains less drugs and antibiotics (see my free-range chicken post for more info.)

Most types of cheese have nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, zinc, selenium and folate. Natural cheese also has all four fat-soluble vitamins: A, E, K, and D. Most cheese also has CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), which is a cancer-fighting, fat-reducing fat. French cheese tends to be higher in CLA because French dairies are more likely to raise their cows on pasture. Just as I blogged about in my grass-fed beef post, the food that our food eats is extremely important.

One of my favorite types of cheese is ricotta. I can still remember my first calzone, at the age of ten, when my family traveled to New York. We got calzones at little family owned Italian restaurant and it was the best calzone I’ve ever had. It was filled with ricotta cheese, with a little bit of mozzarella. I’ve tried to recreate that taste at home to no avail. I am going to go back to New York someday, just to have that calzone.

One cup of ricotta cheese has 14 grams of protein, 257 mg calcium and 139 mg omega-3 fatty acid. This is great because I definitely try to have 40% of my calories from protein each day.

This weekend was Superbowl weekend, so I decided to try out a new recipe for our guests, Pizza Dip. The recipe is super simple, containing only three ingredients: tomato sauce, ricotta cheese and fresh diced mozzarella.  Put the tomato sauce in an oven-proof skillet and drop dollops of ricotta cheese on top. Heat the mixture on the stove until warmed through. Top with fresh mozzarella cheese, diced into small pieces. Heat in a 350 degree oven until bubbly (about 20 minutes.)

Wow. It was delicious. Not the top diet food, but everything is OK in moderation.

What is your favorite cheese?