Last May the husband and I decided that we really should do something about becoming a bit healthier. He was pretty good on the exercise front, but we both needed to lose some weight. So I signed up for Lean & Learn, a health and fitness programme designed around balance. Balance is very important to me, because if I’m to make any kind of lasting change around what I eat and how much I exercise, then it has to include wine, Kettle Chips, and chocolate. Those things are not negotiable.
I’ll write more about Lean & Learn another time, but one of the things it made me do was look at the snacks that accompanied our weekend wine habit. When I added up the calories and examined the nutritional value, I was pretty shocked. So I looked at what I could substitute some of our unhealthy choices with. One of the things I did was to swap some of my Kettle Chips for crudités, but I still needed some healthy dips. I started buying the tiny tubs of Philadelphia Light, but found it was a bit boring. So I bought a bigger tub to make a dip with. And so my cream cheese tzatziki was born. I didn’t set out to make a tzatziki equivalent, but my Greek-Australian husband’s influence obviously goes deeper than I like to admit!
I now use Philadelphia Greek cream cheese, because it’s lower in fat and higher in protein, and it also tastes a bit creamier. When I first made the dip I didn’t put grated cucumber in it, and even now, if I’m feeling lazy, I sometimes just serve it on the side as a crudité.
Anyway, if you fancy making the dip, here’s the recipe. NB: if you’re planning to kiss anyone after eating this dip, make sure they have some too….
One tub of Philidelphia Greek cream cheese or low-fat cream cheese equivalent
Garlic – the number of cloves will be down to your personal taste. I recommend starting with one and then adding more until you get to your own, personal garlic tolerance level. Mine is quite high so I usually use around three or four cloves.
Extra Virgin olive oil
1/4 cucumber if you’re going to grate it, 1/2 if you’re going to use it as a crudite.
Salt and pepper
1. Deseed and grate the cucumber. You want to get as much of the water out as possible, so my mother-in-law suggests putting the grated cucumber in the fridge for a few hours to allow the excess water to drain off. Sometimes I forget to do it ahead of time, but whatever time you can give it will still help a bit. When you are ready, squeeze the cucumber and add it to a mixing bowl. (As I say, if I can’t be arsed to do all this, I just cut up half a cucumber into matchsticks and serve them with the dip. It’s practically the same thing.)
2. Add the tub of cream cheese and a slug of olive oil to the bowl.
3. Grate the garlic, or use a garlic press, and add it to the bowl.
4. Add a generous pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper. The salt is very important as it brings out the flavour of the garlic. One time I forgot to add the salt and kept adding more garlic. Then I remembered the salt and the amount of garlic just about blew even my garlic-loving head off.
5. Add some dill.
6. Mix everything together and then taste it. Add more garlic and dill if necessary until you like how it tastes.
7. Decant the dip into a pretty bowl or ramekin. Here’s a picture of some I made last week. Enjoy!