10 Dips That Will Reform Your Fussy Eaters

Chow on 02.24.12
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How to get kids to eat their veggies: This is one of the most common questions I get as a registered dietitian.  I have come across many ideas that work well like gardening with kids, cooking together, keeping healthy foods in plain sight, and repeat exposure. But one of my most tried and true methods to get kids to eat their veggies is simple - serve them alongside a dip! 

Kids love to dip foods.  In fact, adults do too.  The American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics just published an article confirming that kids eat more veggies when offered a dip.  I know my 2 1/2 year old, Lilia, enjoys dipping all kinds of foods (even her fingers).  Offering your kids fun, healthy, and creative dips can be a great way to boost nutrition.  (Warning: I do NOT consider ketchup to be a healthy dip!)

10 Healthy Dips for Kids

Serve these dips with a variety of fruits and vegetables instead of the usual crackers, bread, or chips.  Kids may initially use the veggies as vehicles for the dip, but eventually they will be chomping the veggies as well. 

  1. Hummus- Hummus is a family favorite at my house. My daughter could eat it all day long.  It is loaded with healthy fat, fiber, and protein. 
  2. Salsa- Fruit or veggie based salsa is great for dipping whole grain tortillas.  Add beans and corn for a zesty nutritional punch.
  3. Soup- This may seem like a strange idea for a dip but many pureed soups are filled with vegetables. 
  4. Yogurt Dip for Fruit- Low-fat yogurt (1/2 cup) counts as a calcium serving and is a perfect dip for fruits. Add a little honey to sweeten the yogurt and this becomes like a dessert.
  5. Guacamole- Rich avocados contain healthy fats and tomatoes and lime juice have vitamin C.  This treat doubles as a dip or a spread. 
  6. Ranch Dressing- Kids love ranch dressing. We make ours from a packet of dry ranch seasonings and low-fat Greek yogurt.  This version contains calcium and probiotics.
  7. Cheese- There are lots of different types of unhealthy cheese dips out there.  Here are a few healthy ones: Pumpkin Cream Cheese Dip loaded with vitamin A, Cottage Cheese Dip,  and iron-rich Creamy Spinach Dip.
  8. Peanut Butter- Mix peanut butter, honey, and yogurt for a tasty protein packed dip for fruit.
  9. Cucumber Dip- Also known as Tzatziki, this has yogurt, lemon, and dill.  It is full of flavor and great for dipping carrots, peppers, broccoli, and radish.
  10. Tomato Sauce- Delicious veggie based dip for bread, polenta sticks, or meatballs.

With dips served alongside veggies and fruits, you are bound to have empty plates. They are fun, easy, and nutritious. Pack them in lunches, serve them as snacks, and add them to plates at mealtime and I guarantee they will be a hit. But make sure to keep some napkins handy!

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