Today I’m introducing a new contributor, my cousin Kelsey. I’ve added some information about her to the About page. Kelsey’s a talented cook who’s been writing about food related issues in school and for the Iowa State Daily. I’ve invited her to share some of her recipes and knowledge with my readers, so look for more content in the future. On an administrative note – I’ve added a Contact Me page to the tabs at the top of the page.

Here’s Kelsey’s first post.

My family has long been making artichoke dip for social gatherings. It’s a simple dip that pleases almost any crowd with its hot creamy, cheesy, garlic and artichoke goodness. To go with all its goodness though, it contains a significant amount of not so good fat.

This summer I had an internship with the Soy Foods Council. My job was to develop at least eight recipes using soy products. The first recipe that I chose to work on was inspired by my family’s artichoke dip; my aim was to make it healthier without impacting the sensory attributes. To accomplish this task, I substituted three-fourths of the mayonnaise with soft silken tofu. In addition to the tofu, I added roasted red pepper for a new flavor twist and extra minced garlic. I have found that tofu tends to dilute flavor so when using it as a substitute ingredient, increase the other ingredients in the recipe accordingly.

This new and improved version of my family’s artichoke dip not only has less fat and calories but also has the same creamy, cheesy, garlic and artichoke goodness with a hint of red pepper. So you may be wondering-how much did the fat and calories change? The original dip contains 240 calories and 24 grams of fat per ¼ cup serving. The revised artichoke dip has 150 calories and 11 grams of fat per ¼ cup serving. Needless to say, I was amazed by the significant change in the dips fat/ calorie content along with the lack of change in the dips flavor.

To serve this dip you can spread it atop crusty bread like pictured above or you can use it as a dip for vegetables like carrots and cucumbers. I have yet to try this idea but I think this dip would work great as a spread for a panini sandwich. Imagine grilled tender chicken breast, fresh spinach, thinly sliced tomatoes and a healthy slathering of the artichoke dip sandwiched between sourdough bread; my mouth is beginning to salivate. Anyways, I hope you try this dip and enjoy it as much as my family and I have.

Roasted Red Pepper Artichoke Dip

Ten servings (¼ cup each)

1 1/3 cups drained, chopped canned artichoke hearts (or one 13.75oz can)
½ cup chopped jarred roasted red pepper
¾ cup soft silken tofu
¼ cup mayonnaise
1 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1 cup shredded Italian blend cheese
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon minced garlic*
Salt to taste (start with a half teaspoon and add more or less to suit your taste)

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Chop the artichoke hearts and roasted red peppers and place in a medium sized mixing bowl.

Measure out tofu, mayonnaise, parmesan cheese, Italian blend cheese, garlic and salt, place in the mixing bowl with the artichoke hearts and roasted red pepper, and stir until incorporated.

Transfer artichoke mixture into an ungreased 8 by 8 baking dish or pie plate, place in oven, and bake for approximately forty minutes or until brown and bubbly.

*Editor’s note: That’s about 1-3 cloves of garlic depending on their size, minced.