We all want our kids to eat vegetables. If you're concerned about the limited variety of your child's vegetable intake you're not alone. I'd say it's a concern we hear the most from parents. The best way to get your kids to eat their veggies is to eat them yourself and keep offering them with patience, not pressure. And, sometimes, a little dip goes a long way to entice them to try a new vegetable or a familiar one that they're 'learning' to like.
Yes...it's OK to amplify the flavour of vegetables to encourage kids to eat them. The concern is when your little one eats more dip than vegetable especially if your child's overall intake is limited and the dip has no nutrition.
After hearing time and again from parents who are worried about the loads of ketchup or mayonnaise their child consumes to take one bite of a vegetable, I set out to develop a dip that is tasty, fairly easy to make and provides at least a little bit of goodness. I opted for a 'ranch' flavoured dip because that seems to be a favourite with many kids.
I made four different dips. All of them had the same flavours added: lemon (or vinegar), dill, garlic, mustard, parsley, pepper. The 'base' for each dip was slightly different:
Dip 1: yogurt
Dip 2: yogurt and tofu
Dip 3: yogurt, tofu, and sour cream
Dip 4: yogurt, tofu, and mayonnaise
I did a taste test with a total of 15 people...a few kids under 12 yrs old, some teens (14- 17 yrs) and some adults (I didn't ask their ages!). Dip 3 and 4 were the top two favourites but, Dip 4 was the hands down winner: Every single taste tester chose Dip 4 as their favourite.
Here's the recipe:
125 ml (1/2 cup) plain thick yogurt (Greek or my new favourite, Icelandic style)
125 ml (1/2 cup) silken tofu
60 ml(1/4 cup) mayonnaise
5 ml (1 tsp) cider vinegar
10 ml (2 tsp) each chopped garlic, dill, parsley
2 ml (1/4 tsp) dry mustard
Pinch of pepper
Blend the yogurt, tofu and mayonnaise until smooth (I used an immersion blender). Add the rest of the ingredients and mix. For the most flavour, let it sit (in the fridge) for 24 hrs before using it.
- After it sits for 24 hrs, give it another taste and add more flavour if you think it needs it
- Use dry dill and parsley and garlic powder if you don't have fresh, but taste as you go to get the flavour you like
- If you don't have lemon juice or cider vinegar, use any other kind of vinegar
- Silken tofu has lots of liquid. Reduce it by straining it in a fine strainer lined with a coffee filter, paper towel or cheesecloth
- When the dip sits, some water will collect on top (similar to tubs of plain yogurt). Simply drain off the liquid or mix it back into the dip.
Serve it as a dip with a few veggies in a packed lunch to get your kids to eat some veggies during the school day. One taste tester said they'd also use it on a sandwich instead of mayo. Another suggested to add some 'heat' with chopped jalapeno pepper or chili paste.
Nutritionally speaking, is the dip worth the effort? Well, 15 ml (1 tbsp) of dip is not a nutritional powerhouse. However, each tablespoon provides a bit of protein and calcium and trace bits of other minerals that aren't in a store bought dip (or mayonnaise or ketchup). So, kids do get a little bit of goodness from this homemade dip without lots of additives, preservatives, fillers and sodium.
Try it with your kids and send your ideas for making it even better.