A Cool, Refreshing Dip In The Lake And… A Cool, Refreshing Dip In My Stomach!

I went swimming with JJ for the first time. It. Was. Awesome!

My parents and I were invited to our cousins Karen and John’s house. The live less than 20 minutes away, in a home on the shore of Cass Lake. They also have a boat, which they use to enjoy that lake, so we all went out on it. And by “all,” I mean five humans and two dogs – JJ, and their black lab Jackson.

There’s a big area of Cass Lake that’s essentially a giant sandbar – only about three feet deep. Boaters congregate there, because it’s a great place for swimming. Jackson, being a water-loving Labrador retriever, loves to swim and explores the area and fetches balls thrown 30 feet from the boat. JJ is a less experienced swimmer, but chasing Jackson was a big motivator for him.

JJ chased Jackson everywhere!

Get him, JJ!

I’ve only seen JJ swim for very short periods – a matter of seconds – during playdates with another doggie friend, so I loved that he ended up swimming with us for 15 or 20 minutes. He needed some coaxing to make the jump from the boat to the water, but I think it helped that I was already in the water, because he often just wants to be wherever I am. Once he was in the water, he seemed very comfortable and happy!

My mom and I contributed an appetizer and salad to the dinner after we came back from our swim and boat ride, so she handled the salad and I handled the appetizer. We enjoyed the appetizer at the very end of the boat excursion, and continued to munch on it at the house before we sat down to dinner. It’s super easy and very healthy –  but, I must admit, it’s not vegan or vegetarian friendly… unless you leave out one key ingredient!

Here’s my recipe for Cannellini Sausage Dip!

Let’s start with the sausage. You need six turkey sausage patties – or 1/2 pound of turkey sausage, if you’re using bulk sausage. Cook it up in a skillet with 2 tablespoons olive oil.

Once it’s cooked through, transfer the sausages to a plate, and keep the olive oil in the skillet. We’re going to use that, too!

Next, pull out your food processor, and add the following ingredients:

  • Two 15.5-ounce cans of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained. (These are also called white kidney beans, and you could also use great Northern beans, which are also white but slightly smaller.)
  • 4 of the turkey sausages you just cooked, roughly chopped
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon sriracha (or your favorite hot sauce – or leave this out if you’d like!)
  • 1 big handful of fresh parsley, roughly chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Lastly, add in the olive oil from the skillet, and four additional tablespoons – that’s six tablespoons of olive oil total.

Pulse it in the food processor until it’s blended and creamy. It will have roughly the same consistency as hummus, so you may need to add an extra tablespoon of olive oil if you want it creamier.

And that’s it! The dip is done! Transfer it to a serving bowl – in my case, I transferred it to a Tupperware, since we were taking it with us.  Then, chop up the remaining two cooked turkey sausages, and sprinkle the pieces on top as a garnish, along with a little bit more chopped fresh parsleyVoila, that’s it!

Dig in! I prepared lots of veggies to dip in it: carrots, celery, cucumber slices, and red bell pepper pieces. We also brought along a bag of pita chips for dipping, too.

It’s smooth and flavorful, with the sausage adding savory elements, and the garlic and sriracha punching it up ever so slightly. White beans make for an excellent base, so you can tweak this any number of ways: toss in some sun-dried tomatoes, or capers, or roasted red peppers, or a little jalapeño – whatever you have around!

Lastly – while swimming is an excellent form of exercise, my swim with JJ was not my workout for the day. JJ and I went on a 58-minute, 2.7-mile walk earlier that morning. This was one day after the huge Inclinator race I did in Grand Rapids, and I was so sore that walking was all I could muster!

Keep it up, David!

Check out more healthy recipes on my well-named RECIPES page!

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