Creamy Smoked Salmon Dip

Smoked salmon is one of those foods that polarizes people. You either love it or hate it. I happen to fall into the former category. I love smoked salmon for its high omega 3 content, its smoky flavor, its chewy coolness, and the way it slices so clean with a sharp knife.

Is that not sooooo satisfying to watch?

My husband, on the other hand, falls into the “hate-with-the-heat-of-a-thousand-burning-suns,” “vomit-vomit-vomit” smoked salmon camp.

It’s ok. I get it. It’s an acquired taste–and even more so, and acquired texture. (Is that a thing, “acquired texture”? That’s going to be my new phrase for velour jumpsuits and those reversible sequin unicorn pillows my 7-year-old adores.) Anyway, it’s all right if the cold-and-clammy texture of raw fish doesn’t appeal to you. But I think there’s still hope for you to like smoked salmon in the form of this delicious Creamy Smoked Salmon Dip. 

Yea, verily. 

Although the signature taste of smoked salmon comes through in this appetizer, its usual fishy texture is nowhere to be found, pulverized into oblivion by your friendly food processor. What’s left, when blended with cream cheese, lemon juice, horseradish, fresh dill, chives, and a few other simple ingredients, is a creamy, herby dip that’s perfection on butter crackers, crudités, or as a spread on toast.

Since my husband and kids aren’t fans of smoked salmon in any form, I’ve been powering through an entire batch of this by myself this past week, and I am not mad about it. Now that we’re a couple of days into Lent, which means no meat on Fridays for me, I plan to make it again as a staple for a light lunch. But it would serve just as well in a brunch, a classy baby shower buffet, or as a pre-dinner appetizer. 

So how about you? Where do you stand in the Smoked Salmon Debate? And do you think this tasty dip could change your mind? Let me know in the comments!

Creamy Smoked Salmon Dip

A creamy, herb-y dip packed with brain-boosting omega 3s. It's perfect on butter crackers, crudités, or toast!
Prep Time15 mins
Total Time15 mins
Servings: 8 as an appetizer


  • 4 oz. smoked salmon
  • 8 oz. light cream cheese, softened
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh dill
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh chives
  • 2 tsp. cream-style horseradish
  • 1/4 c. mayonnaise
  • 1/4 c. 2% plain Greek yogurt


  • Pulse all ingredients in a food processor until well blended and consistency reaches your liking. Serve with crackers, fresh vegetables, or on toast or bagels. Store covered in the refrigerator.


Adapted from Valerie's Kitchen.

Naan-chos with Gazpacho Salsa

In a perfect world, every culture would have its own version of nachos. I can see it now: German nachos with a crispy potato base and sausage crumbles on top, Indian nachos with lentil crackers and chicken tikka masala… the list goes on. But since we don’t live in a perfect world, sometimes you have to take matters into your own hands, nacho-wise.

Since I’m such a fan of the Mediterranean diet, and that region doesn’t exactly have its own native nachos, I’ve been meaning to make something like these “naanchos” for ages, especially after coming across Rachael Ray’s version years ago. I’m so glad I did! These made the perfect light lunch for my day off yesterday.

With a naan flatbread base, hummus swirl, and gazpacho-flavored salsa, this twist on the usual nachos takes your tastebuds on a tour around the Mediterranean. The gazpacho salsa on top (a riff on my regular gazpacho), is a refreshing pico de gallo-style dip, with manly chunks of red pepper, tomato, and cucumber. Put together with chewy flatbread, cool hummus, and salty feta, I could also see this combo serving as a unique appetizer for entertaining or a nutrient-packed afternoon snack.

Like their namesake, these naancho nachos might just make you go…


Naan-chos with Gazpacho Salsa

Nachos with a healthy Mediterranean twist!
Course: Appetizer


  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 English cucumber, cut into chunks
  • 2 medium tomatoes, cut into chunks
  • 1/2 large red bell pepper, seeds removed and cut into chunks
  • 1/2 red onion, cut into chunks
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp. white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 8 mini naan flatbreads
  • 1 8 oz. container plain hummus
  • 2 oz. crumbled feta cheese


  • Make the gazpacho salsa: Place garlic cloves in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a chopping blade. Process for a few seconds until garlic is minced. Add the chunks of cucumber, tomatoes, red pepper, and red onion and process another few seconds until the mixture reaches a pico de gallo consistency.
  • Pour the mixture into a large bowl. Stir in olive oil, white wine vinegar, salt, and pepper. Set aside.
  • Toast the naan in a toaster/toaster oven. Spread with a layer of hummus, then slice into wedges.
  • Place wedges on a serving dish. Top with gazpacho salsa and sprinkle with crumbled feta. Serve immediately, and store any extra salsa tightly covered in the fridge.


A Love Letter to Food Original Recipe.

10 Healthy Appetizers for a Guilt-Free Super Bowl

Recently a package of coupons from my local grocery store arrived in the mail. In capital letters, the cover of the little mailer urged the reader to “GEAR UP FOR THE BIG GAME!”

“Huh,” I thought. “I wonder what big game they’re talking about.”

Can you tell I’m not a football fan?

Never have been. I couldn’t tell you who is playing whom at the Big Game February 4th, or which team won any Super Bowl…ever. Generally, our family treats Super Bowl Sunday as a bonus day to do any activity or visit any destination that would normally be busy. We once went on a 30-minute bike ride and saw a total of three cars on the road. I’m telling you, it’s like the Apocalypse, without the zombies and 20-foot-tall radioactive rabbits.

Every few years, though, we get invited to a Super Bowl party, so we decide we could pretend we’re regular Americans for an afternoon. Getting together with friends is unfailingly fun, and there’s always plenty of food. (As you probably can tell if you’re aware of the name of this blog, that’s *kind of* a big deal to me.)

But, man, for an event that glorifies athleticism, the average Super Bowl party is notorious for offering food that makes the health-conscious cringe. The usual fried finger foods and extra creamy dips make for a grease-fest that can derail positive eating habits that may have just begun in January.

What if we could up the health ante by showing up to the party with an appetizer that’s both delicious and actually good for us? This recipe roundup provides ten lighter appetizers to choose from, ensuring that at least one healthy option is part of the buffet on game day.

Go Team Whatever!

1. Mediterranean 7-Layer Dip

Let’s start right here on the blog with Mediterranean 7-Layer Dip: the healthy, flavorful answer to traditional layered dips. Serve with pita chips or veggies!

2. Baked Cheddar Broccoli Tots

Via Dinner, Then Dessert

When a picture of a broccoli dish actually makes your mouth water, it’s got to be good. Try these baked veggie-packed tots as an alternative to fried tater tots.

3. Skinny Mexican Pizza

Via Snixy Kitchen

Refried beans, veggies, and an avocado cream round out this skinny version of Mexican pizza. YUM!

4. Thai Peanut Salad Wonton Cups

Via The Busy Baker

What’s gorgeously colorful, full of Asian flavor, and even happens to be vegan? Thai Peanut Salad Wonton Cups! Psst…these might just be my top choice for the Super Bowl party we’re attending.

5. Dysfunctional Family Recipe Salsa

Another one from A Love Letter to Food! Isn’t the Super Bowl a special enough occasion to make your own salsa? Once you try this homemade kind, jarred salsa won’t hold a candle.

6. Fruit Salsa with Cinnamon Crisps

Via Spend With Pennies

And speaking of salsa, how about a sweet version? Fruit salsas provide a unique way to sneak in some extra nutrition on game day.

7. Tortellini Skewers with Olives, Tomatoes, and Cheese

Via Diethood

Mediterranean flavors for the win once again! These skewers of tortellini, tomatoes, olives, and mozzarella get drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar to finish.

8. Skinny Creamy Taquitos

Via Center Cut Cook

When you live in the Southwest, there is no way your Super Bowl party cannot feature Mexican food. Keep Mexican in the mix (just a little healthier) with these lightened up chicken taquitos.

9. Baked Buffalo Cauliflower “Wings”

Via Gimme Delicious

No, cauliflower does not actually have wings. But you might not be too worried about it when you sink your teeth into these bites of buffalo deliciousness.

10. Creamy Carrot Dip with Crudites

Via Robust Recipes

Hummus, you’re so 2009. This creamy carrot dip is the new spread on the block. Serve with crudités for double the veggie goodness.

So…which one looks best to you? Or what other healthy apps are on your list for game day? Tell me in the comments!

Cranberry Salsa

How often do you eat cranberries in their fresh, raw form? It seems to go without saying that sweetened dried cranberries have pretty well monopolized the Cranberry Market in recent years, edging out their plump, juicy originators by a long shot.  I’d wager few of us ever go around eating raw cranberries as our go-to fruit of choice. As a matter of fact, when my six-year-old daughter saw them in our fruit crisper the other day and asked to try one, I told her to do so at her own risk. Raw cranberries are so stinking tart, they’re almost inedible on their own.

Not surprisingly, it took about two seconds before she made a horrible face and spit it into the trash.

That’s why this Cranberry Salsa–which I had the fresh cranberries in the fridge for–is so special. It features raw cranberries combined with apple, jalapeño, red onion, and a couple of other fresh ingredients for an unexpected, interesting appetizer that’s sure to be a hit at holiday parties. (It was at mine last night! The bowl I served this in was practically licked clean.)

Being a nutritionist, I’m a bit self-conscious about the food I serve when I entertain. Maybe no one is thinking about it but me, but I feel like my title obligates me to make at least some fairly healthy options for my guests. Plus, the nutritionist in me likes to offer allergy-friendly options for friends and family in the “something-free” club. This salsa fit the bill for both, since it’s vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free–basically everything-free, since it’s made entirely with fresh fruits, sugar, and salt. Heck, it’s even RAW, if you’re into that, too.

Oh, and it’s easy. And make-ahead. And a balanced blend of sweetness and spice. And seasonal.

Can you tell I’m sold? Give this one a try for any upcoming Christmas parties and tell me how it goes!


Cranberry Salsa

This Cranberry Salsa is a festive, healthy, allergy-friendly holiday appetizer.
Prep Time15 mins
Total Time2 hrs 15 mins
Course: Appetizer, Side Dish, Snack
Servings: 8


  • 1/4 c. white sugar
  • 2 c. fresh raw cranberries
  • 1 Gala or Fuji apple, cut into chunks
  • 1/2 medium red onion, cut into chunks
  • 1 medium jalapeno, seeded and quartered
  • 1 Tbsp. orange zest
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh orange juice
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 tsp. salt (or more to taste)
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh cilantro


  • In the bowl of a food processor, process the sugar until very fine (to create superfine sugar). Pour into a serving bowl and set aside.
  • Place cranberries, apple, red onion, and jalapeño in the food processor and process until the mixture reaches a finely chopped pico de gallo-type consistency. Add to the bowl with the sugar and stir to combine.
  • Add orange zest and juice, lime juice, and salt and stir to combine. Cover and chill 2-24 hours. Stir in cilantro just before serving.


Adapted from Home is Where the Boat Is, who adapted it from Southern Living.

Pumpkin Hummus + Fall Tortilla Chips

I realize Halloween is over, but can you handle one more pumpkin recipe? I know I can, but then again, I could eat pumpkin pie every day whole year round. For others less out of their gourd for gourds, now that it’s November, pumpkin fatigue may have set in. Understandable. But I hope you’ll make an exception for this Pumpkin Hummus recipe, because not only is it easy, unique, and tasty, it’s also super fun to make with DIY fall-shaped tortilla chips.

Aren’t they cute?

When it comes to making hummus, the main thing that usually stands in my way is that I suffer from what I think of as Tahini Block. As in, I really, really don’t want to spend eleven bucks on a jar of ground sesame seeds  when all I’ll use is a couple of tablespoons at the most. Therefore, I generally refrain from homemade hummus unless I can use a tahini-free recipe. This one fits that description! Though tahini adds a signature flavor, as a general rule hummus is extremely adaptable. As long as it starts with beans and ends up with a nice consistency, I say you’re safe to call it authentic even if no tahini is involved.

Now let’s talk tortilla. DIY fall shaped tortilla chips, to be exact. Of course you could buy tortilla chips at the store–I mean, who really needs to make their own chips?–but once you’ve cut your own shapes with delightful fall-themed cookie cutters, there’s no going back. Pumpkin and leaf-shaped dippers add a whole extra layer of seasonal character alongside this pumpkin hummus.

So for your next play date, Thanksgiving potluck, or Tahini Avoiders Anonymous meeting, give this fun combination a try!

Pumpkin Hummus + Fall Tortilla Chips

A savory, tahini-free pumpkin hummus paired with fun DIY tortilla chips!
Prep Time10 mins
Total Time10 mins
Course: Appetizer
Servings: 6


For the hummus:

  • 1 large clove garlic
  • 1 c. pumpkin puree
  • 1 c. garbanzo beans, drained
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. cumin
  • 1/8 tsp. paprika
  • 1/8 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • pepitas, for garnish, if desired

For the tortilla chips:

  • 12-18 6-inch corn tortillas
  • olive oil cooking spray
  • your choice of herbs and spices for sprinkling (paprika, cumin, oregano, garlic powder, etc.)


To make the hummus:

  • Place garlic clove in the bowl of a food processor and run on low briefly to mince. Add all remaining ingredients and process until smooth. Serve garnished with pepitas, if desired.

To make the chips:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  • Using fall-themed cookie cutters, cut shapes out of tortillas. (You can either discard the remaining tortilla scraps or include them for other, funky-shaped chips.) Spray both sides of cutouts lightly with olive oil cooking spray, then sprinkle to taste with herbs and spices. (Or for sweet chips, try sprinkling with cinnamon and sugar.)
  • Place on prepared baking sheet and bake 7 minutes, then flip chips and bake another 7 minutes. Serve with pumpkin hummus.


A Love Letter to Food Original Recipe