Stir up your cooking with sauces and dips

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Sauces, dips and spreads are the perfect way to add more flavor and nutrition to otherwise bland dishes.
Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

If there were a culinary-themed Bop It game, it would go something like this: Dip it! Stir it! Swirl it! Spread it! Sauces and dips are not only fun to play and experiment with, but they also provide extra taste and nutrition to otherwise bland meals. 

Homemade hummus is an easy-to-make, protein-packed spread that comes together in minutes with the help of a blender. With a base of chickpeas and olive oil, hummus can take on plenty of flavor profiles, all while remaining a healthy snack option. Throw some avocado and jalapeño in the blender for a hummus full of healthy fats and capsaicin, which increases blood flow and metabolism. 

Tahini, or sesame butter, is also a sauce worth noting. It’s a high-calorie food, but it also boasts plenty of vitamins and minerals to help your body. The copper present in tahini aids in the regulation of several bodily functions, including maintaining heart health.

Tahini is frequently used in hummus recipes or drizzled over sweet smoothie bowls. To use tahini in more savory dishes, blend it with garlic, lemon juice and water to produce a thick, flavorful sauce. 

Garlic, a flavor booster in many sauces and dips, has health benefits of its own. Aside from being full of antioxidants, it also reduces blood pressure, cholesterol and inflammation. Garlic can be added to almost any savory spread to boost flavor. Buy it fresh at your local grocery store, and use whole cloves — either minced or smashed — in your recipes. 

For a sweeter spread perfect for morning toast rituals, try making a homemade fruit compote or jam. Soon-to-be-in-season berries and stone fruits make flavorful options. Simply cook down the fruit in a saucepan with lemon juice or other flavoring agents, such as vanilla bean or cinnamon, then jar and store in your fridge for continued enjoyment. It’s a great refined-sugar-free alternative to store-bought fruit spreads full of chemicals and preservatives. 

Chimichurri is an Argentine pesto typically comprised of parsley, nuts, vinegar, olive oil and garlic. Use it as a marinade or a garnish for cold and hot dishes. Although chimichurri can be made several different ways, it almost always has a parsley base. Parsley is an herb often added to the top of dishes before they are served, and you can also add it to any green juice you want to prepare. It’s low in calories but high in natural vitamins and minerals, such as potassium and vitamin K. Potassium helps control heart rates, while vitamin K is essential for bone health. 

Try adding carrot tops to your chimichurri. While they contain tiny traces of harmful nitrates and alkaloids, small servings of carrot tops are fine to ingest —  and they boost your intake of potassium and chlorophyll. Chlorophyll has anti-aging properties and also helps detoxify the body. 

And what to do with those carrots you got the tops from? Roast them, and then douse them in the chimichurri you just made.

Recipe

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  • Ingredients:
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  • – 3/4 cup fresh parsley
  • – 1/2 cup fresh carrot tops
  • – 3 cloves garlic
  • – 1/4 cup walnuts
  • – 1/4 cup almonds
  • – 1/2 – 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • – Salt, to taste
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  • Directions:
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  • – Place all ingredients in a food processor and process until mostly incorporated. If too thick, add more olive oil. Store in an airtight container, and keep in fridge until ready to serve.