Healthy Recipes - Snacks & Dressings

Creamy-Dreamy Hot Chocolate

Mug of hot chocolate
(vegan, gluten-free, refined sugar-free) 
By Christina Archer, MS, RD

Level of Difficulty: Easy

Seasonal hot drinks are expensive and loaded with added sugar and calories. Avoid the added sugars this holiday season by making your own. The caramel-like flavor of Bhari dates complement the richness of cacao and the almond butter adds creaminess. Dates area an ideal sweetener since they have a low glycemic index, meaning do not raise blood sugar as rapidly as cane sugar. You’ll also obtain fiber, magnesium and potassium. 


2 cups plain, unsweetened almond milk*
2 tablespoons unsweetened almond butter 
5 Bahri dates, pits removed** 
¼ cup unsweetened cacao or cocoa powder
¼ tsp vanilla extract 
¼ tsp ground cinnamon (optional)
Pinch of salt (optional)   


1. To a blender add non-dairy milk, dates, almond butter, cacao powder, salt and cinnamon (if using). Blend until completely smooth.
2. Pour blended ingredients into a medium-sized sauce pot. Heat on medium-low until warm. Note: if you do not have a high powder blender, use a fine mesh strainer to strain the mixture before heating.
3. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract. 
4. Divide the hot chocolate between two mugs and sip slowly to savor the flavors!   

*For even more creaminess use unsweetened oat milk. 
**Barhi dates are preferable due to their creamy texture and flavor and can be found at the Santa Barbara Farmer’s Market; however, Medjool dates may be used instead. Soften them in 1/2 cup hot water for 5 minutes, then discard water before using in Step 1. 

Pumpkin Seed Hummus

Pumpkin HummusLevel of Difficulty: Easy


2 cups pumpkin seeds, toasted
2 large garlic cloves
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
½ cup rice vinegar
¾ cup olive oil
¼ cup hot water, or more if necessary

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Raw sliced vegetables for dipping:
Belgian endives
Fennel bulbs


1. Put the pumpkin seeds and garlic in the bowl of a food processor or in a blender and pulse until uniformly ground, scraping down the sides as necessary. The mixture will be rough and sandy looking.

2. Add the mustard and vinegar and pulse to combine. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in the oil, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Drizzle in the hot water, processing until it is the consistency of thick hummus. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to a small serving bowl.  

3. Serve with a variety of sliced vegetables for dipping

Adapted from Saladish, by Ilene Rosen

Dynamite Date Balls


Prep Time: 10 min
Level of Difficulty: Easy


½ cup raw walnut halves or pieces
10-12 dates, pitted, preferably medjool type
¼ cup flax meal (or wheat germ or combination)
2 tablsp. almond butter, cashew butter, peanut butter or soy-nut butter
¼ cup finely chopped unsweetened coconut or finely chopped walnuts


Pulse the walnuts in a food processor until finely chopped. Add the dates, flax meal or wheat germ and almond butter, cashew butter, peanut butter or soy-nut butter until the mixture forms a ball.
Divide the mixture into 16 pieces and roll them between your hands to shape into small balls.
Place the coconut in a small bowl and roll each date ball in coconut or more walnuts.

Nutrition at a Glance (per serving)

Calories: 70
Total fat: 5g
Saturated fat: 1½g
Carbohydrates: 5g
Dietary fiber: 1½g 
Protein: 1g
½ fruit, 1 fat

Flax seeds are a very good source of omega-3 fatty acids. Other concentrated vegetarian sources include walnuts, canola and soy. Flax seed also contains a unique fiber that helps modulate blood glucose levels, lowers LDL cholesterol, aides in elimination of waste and may help reduce risk of breast cancer.
Omega-3 fatty acids are called essential fats because they cannot be manufactured by the body but must be obtained from food sources. They are digested, absorbed and metabolized into special substances called prostaglandins, which are involved in many life processes including regulating blood lipids and blood pressure, stabilizing emotional health and enhancing the immune system.
Flax seeds must be ground in order for the body to absorb the omega-3 fatty acids. A simple coffee grinder works very well, but you can also purchase ground flax seed or flax meal in natural food stores or in the health food sections of supermarkets. Whole flax seeds are protected from spoilage, but once it is ground, they are very perishable; store them in the refrigerator for up to one month, or in the freezer for longer periods. Ground flax has a pleasant nutty flavor. It can be used like wheat germ and sprinkled on yogurt and cottage cheese or added to salads and soups. You can also use it as a substitute for part of the flour and fat in baked goods. The fat from the ground flax will help to keep baked goods moist. Whole flax seeds add crunch to recipes, but be careful not to eat too many because the seeds, which are high in fiber, can be a powerful stimulant to the bowels.
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Kale and Parsley Green Sauce

Dressing with parsley and kale 


  • 2 small cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/8 cup slivered almonds
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh red jalapeno pepper, seeds removed (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup packed kale leaves
  • 1/2 cup packed parsley leaves
  • 1/8 cup lukewarm water
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, extra virgin


  1. Place all ingredients in a small food processor and blend until mostly smooth. 
  2. Without a food processor:  Whisk the minced garlic,  jalapeno pepper, salt, water, red wine vinegar and olive oil until emulsified (mixed together in suspension).  Mince the almonds, kale and parsley leaves with a knife and stir into the sauce until well combined.

Offered by Ridley-Tree Cancer Center Oncology Dietitian Nutritionists

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Easy Garlicky Salad Dressing

Garlic Dressing - Healthy Recipe


1 cup extra virgin olive oil
½ cup balsamic vinegar
1 tsp salt
1 ½ tsp pepper
7-10 cloves of garlic, minced


Mix all ingredients in a jar and shake.  

Garlic is a useful way to bring out the flavors of other healthy foods, like vegetables. Enjoy this dressing over your favorite cooked vegetables or salad!

Garlic has been found to reduce cholesterol and blood pressure, improve circulation and immune function, and lower overall cancer risk. Based on population studies, the National Cancer Institute concludes that eating both raw and cooked garlic might help reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.  Not bad for something that tastes so good.  

  • Garlic. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. November 30, 2016.
  • High Cholesterol and Complementary Health Practices: What the Science Says. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. 2010.
  • Cholesterol-Lowering Supplements May Be Helpful. Mayo Clinic. October 3, 2015.
  • Garlic and Cancer Prevention. National Cancer Institute. January 22, 2008.
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Balsamic Berries


Prep Time: 10 min
Level of Difficulty: Easy
Makes 4 servings

This is a very simple recipe that deserves repeating. During strawberry season, use fresh berries. The recipe will work with frozen berries, although the texture will be different.
This recipe uses slightly more balsamic vinegar than other similar recipes to produce additional marinade, which can be used to make a delightful salad dressing.


3 cups sliced fresh strawberries (about 3 baskets or 3 pints)
3 tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Splenda, or equivalent amount of your favorite sugar substitute
Optional but highly recommended:
Sprinkling of freshly ground black pepper
1 or 2 fresh mint leaves, chopped chiffonade-style (see our Easy Tip below)


In a bowl, combine berries with the balsamic vinegar and Splenda. Toss gently. Cover and leave at room temperature for 30 minutes or refrigerate for one or two hours. Stir occasionally, if possible.

Serving Suggestions

  • Spoon berries into elegant parfait glasses or dessert bowls. Layer berries with cottage cheese, plain yogurt or a mixture of both for a more filling dessert or light breakfast. Top with slivered almonds.
  • You can make a delicious salad by tossing the berries along with all of the marinade with a salad mix of chopped spinach, arugula, red onions and sliced mushrooms.
  • Save the leftover marinade and use as a tasty salad dressing.

Easy Tip:
An easy way to chop leafy herbs or greens is to use the chiffonade method, which produces neat and decorative narrow strips. Neatly stack two or more leaves on top of one another, then roll them up tightly like a cigar. Starting at the very tip of your herbal “cigar,” make thin slices along the roll with a sharp chef’s knife, or use scissors to cut the roll into several narrow strips.

Nutrition at a Glance (per serving)

Calories: 45
Total fat: 0g
Saturated fat:0g
Carbohydrate: 10g
Dietary fiber: 3g
Protein: 1g

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Breakfast Popovers with Parmesan


Prep Time: 10 min.
Cook Time: 30 min. (Total time will vary with appliance and setting.)
Level of Difficulty: Easy


½ cup liquid egg substitute
1¼ cups whole grain flour
1 cup + 2 tablespoons fat-free milk
1 tablespoon butter, melted
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese


Preheat the oven to 375°F. Coat 8 custard cups or popover-pan cups with cooking spray. Whisk the egg substitute in a medium bowl. Add the flour, milk and butter, and whisk until the ingredients are combined. Stir in the cheese. Evenly divide the batter among the prepared cups. Place the cups on a large baking sheet.Bake for 30 minutes, or until the popovers are puffed and golden. Remove the popovers from the cups and serve hot.

For variety, you can use other cheeses, such as freshly grated Romano or Asiago cheese, in place of the Parmesan.

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Cheesy Artichoke Dip


Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 30 min (Total time will vary with appliance and setting.)
Level of Difficulty: Easy
Makes about 2½ cups, or 10 servings


½ cup artichoke hearts (canned or frozen without oil)
1 cup low-fat cottage cheese
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
3—4 tablespoons grated parmesan or Romano cheese
1 teaspoon prepared mustard
A few drops of hot sauce, to taste
¼–½ cup diced pimentos or roasted red peppers


In a blender or food processor, purée the cottage cheese; add mayonnaise, parmesan or Romano cheese and mustard and blend. Add artichokes and purée. Mix in the pimentos. Place in a microwave-safe bowl, cover with plastic wrap and heat for 2 minutes. Remove cover carefully. Stir and heat for another 1 or 2 minutes until cheese is bubbly. Add hot sauce, additional cheese and salt as needed.
The dip can be baked in a 325° oven for about 30 minutes. Serve the dip with raw vegetables such as bell peppers and cucumbers, or with crackers, pita chips or tortilla strips. Or make a wrap with a whole grain tortilla, some of the dip, shredded lettuce and assorted vegetables.

Add minced green onion or chives. Add shredded crab or chopped baby clams.

Nutrition at a Glance (per ¼ cup serving)

Calories: 70
Total fat 3g
Saturated fat 0g
Total Carbohydrate 4g
Protein 4g

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The Berry Best Smoothieberrysmoothie

Prep Time: 5 min
Level of Difficulty: Easy
Makes two servings
Serving size: approximately 1 cup


½ cup low-fat or low-carbohydrate milk, soymilk or rice milk
6 ounces silken tofu (½ package) or 6 ounces plain low-fat yogurt, or a combination
1 cup frozen blueberries (do not thaw)
½ small (6") banana
½ teaspoon almond extract
1 tablespoon flax meal
½ teaspoon Splenda or preferred sugar substitute
Optional: protein powder


Place all ingredients in a blender, cover and blend until smooth and creamy.

There are many things to consider when choosing a protein powder, such as:

  • Amount of protein: Read labels carefully; the serving size may be in tablespoons or in scoopfuls (scoops are provided in the containers).
  • Type of protein: Whey protein (derived from milk) is well tolerated by many people and has an added benefit of enhancing the immune system. Soy protein is beneficial for heart health and the kidneys and for women going through menopause. It may also help prevent breast and prostrate cancer. However, if you have a history of breast cancer, your physician might discourage the use of soy-based foods or protein powders. Milk and egg protein powders are also available.
  • Taste: Some powders use all-natural flavorings like pure vanilla for better flavor.
  • Texture: You'll want a powder that mixes easily.
  • Amount of lactose: It's important to check this if you are sensitive to this milk sugar.
  • Type of sweetener: A fruit smoothie usually needs only the "isolated" (pure) protein powder, since the fruit will sweeten it; or, you can add a sweetener to your taste. You can also purchase protein powders that contain sugar, fructose or honey or that contain artificial sweeteners such as Splenda (sucralose) or Equal (aspartame). Some also contain stevia, a natural plant-based sweetener, which is calorie- and carbohydrate-free.
  • Price: Comparing prices can be tricky, since the quantities and portion sizes vary.

Nutrition at a Glance (per serving)

Calories: 140
Total fat: 5g
Saturated fat: 1g
Total carbohydrate: 19g
Dietary fiber: 4g
Protein: 9g