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Is there really anything better than guacamole? It's a test to one's self-restraint to not eat the whole bowl of dip in one sitting. This mouth-watering avocado-based dip is a healthy snack when eaten in moderation.

Occasionally called by its nickname, "guac," it's made by mashing avocados with salt and adding traditional ingredients, such as tomatoes, garlic, onion and lime juice. It's the avocados that can cause the calorie count to soar, but that doesn't mean they aren't healthy for you. Avocados contain monounsaturated fats, which can improve blood cholesterol levels, and they are packed with folate, vitamins E, C and B6, potassium and fiber. One-half cup of guacamole contains about 180 calories and 16 grams of fat. Of course, you have to add on the calories of the tortilla chips that you're likely scooping it with! But as long as that ½ cup of guac doesn't stretch much further, it's a delicious and nutritious snack to eat. The recipe below uses beans to stretch the yield further and add protein and additional fiber.

Besides tortilla chips, consider other dipping companions. Red pepper strips and radishes are two of my favorites. Guacamole can serve as a spread on sandwiches, instead of mayonnaise. Try it on toast in the morning with sliced hard-boiled egg. Use it as a spread on bruschetta. Top a baked potato with fresh guac instead of sour cream, or serve it with fish in place of tartar sauce.

Use ripe avocados when making guacamole. An avocado is ripe when it gives just slightly when squeezed. Refrigerate guacamole and use within 2 to 3 days. That is if it even lasts that long!

White Bean Guacamole (Printable PDF)

2 ripe avocados

1 (15 oz.) can white beans, drained and rinsed

2 to 3 large garlic cloves, peeled

4 Tablespoons lime juice, fresh or bottled

3 Roma tomatoes, chopped

⅓ cup red onion, chopped

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

½ cup cilantro, chopped (optional)

Cut avocado in half and remove pit. Peel avocado and cut in chunks. Put beans, all but about ¼ of the avocado, garlic, and lime juice in a food processor. Cover and process for one minute or until smooth. Spoon into medium bowl. Fold in remaining chunks of avocado, tomatoes, onion, salt, pepper, and cilantro. Serve with chips or spread on wraps or sandwiches.

Yield: 8 servings

Nutrition Facts (per serving): 140 calories, 8 grams fat, 220 milligrams sodium, 16 grams carbohydrate, 5 grams fiber, 5 grams protein

Source: North Dakota State University Extension Service