Taste experience that doesn’t result in a new pant size experience

I am a sucker for dips. Nothing satisfies me more than something creamy and piquant spread on something texturally satisfying. A truly fundamental exercise in Cooking 101, dips and spreads teach us the value of combining simply prepared and minimally processed ingredients into exciting new taste experiences. Unfortunately, I’ve also learned over the years that when the go-to dip starts with cream cheese or sour cream, the new taste experience can result in a new pant size experience as well.

Expert Chef: Garlic-Lime Black Bean Avocado Spread

Hummus is a delicious and nutritious dip, but its ubiquity has made it a tad boring for me lately. So looking to my pantry and finding a few cans of black beans kicking around, I naturally started toying with a recipe for a Mexican-style dip: something creamy, crunchy, tangy, and most of all, healthy. The end result is a dip that is very guacamole-like. I guarantee if you like a good lime-y guac, you’ll love this. My goal with this recipe was to create something that I would feel proud to eat for a meal, and frankly, used as a quesadilla filling or as a stuffing for peppers in a raw vegan dish, I think it works. The more I toyed around with this spread, the more ideas I had for its use.

The key to this recipe is the balance of the flavor components within it. Carrots and bell pepper add vitamins and a sweetness that offsets the slightly bitter taste of the black beans. Avocado adds a creamy mouth-feel. The lime juice compensates for the lower sodium content, tricking your brain into thinking the dip is saltier than it is. The green onion, tomatoes, and cilantro brighten the dull (but creamy and super-nutritious) nature of the black beans. The secret ingredient in this recipe, believe it or not, is one measly teaspoon of honey, which brings everything together perfectly. You may try to convince yourself you don’t need to bother with it, but try it before and after, and you’ll be a believer, too!

Garlic-Lime Black Bean & Avocado Spread

Print this recipe | Get the full nutrition facts

Enjoy this spread as a dip with veggie strips and baked chips. Stir in extra veggies to make it a more robust meal: good candidates include jalapenos, corn, and black beans. Layer it in a wrap with grilled chicken, lettuce, and tomatoes for an easy lunch. If you like a little heat, serve it with a splash of hot sauce.

Servings: 12 (79 g )

Prep Time: 10 min.

Cook Time: 40 min.


  • 1 (19 oz.) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 small carrot, diced
  • 1 avocado, peeled and diced
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • ⅓ cup lime juice
  • 1 cup tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • ½ cup bell pepper, diced
  • ¼ cup chopped green onions
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • ¼ tsp. sea salt
  • Pepper to taste


  1. Place beans, carrots, avocado, garlic, and lime juice in a food processor and pulse until smooth.
  2. Combine the pureed mixture and remaining ingredients in a medium bowl stirring until well blended. Let sit for 30 minutes to let flavors meld.

Guiding Stars Expert Chef Erin Dow balances three food worlds. As a mother of three young children, she’s fighting the battle every parent faces: how to keep her kids interested in the foods that keep them healthy. As the chef and owner of her catering company Eatswell Farm, she utilizes original recipes and techniques–focused on enhancing the enjoyment of locally-sourced ingredients–to best interpret the client’s vision. And as Consulting Executive Chef for Falmouth-based Professional Catering Services, a business specializing in production and backstage catering for concerts, she develops and executes menus that accommodate the strict nutritional requirements of the music industry elite. Erin and her family raise their own chicken for meat and eggs, have dabbled in pastured Narragansett turkeys, and have a very weedy but very large and productive garden.