Kitchen Diva

Proper nutrition is crucial for kids’ ability to learn, fueling brain cells and giving your child necessary energy and nutrients. To know exactly what they’re eating, pack your child’s lunch and prepare healthy snacks for them.

By Angela Shelf Medearis

This is one of my dear friends’ first year as an elementary school teacher. Not only does she have to prepare a healthy school lunch and snacks for herself, she also must pack lunches and snacks that her kids will love. I’m sure that this is a common dilemma for working parents with school-aged children.

Proper nutrition is a key ingredient for school success because it fuels brain cells and gives your child the energy and nutrients needed for optimal learning.

The biggest struggle that most parents face is getting their children to eat more vegetables. A 2013 study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that adding herbs or spices to a reduced-fat dip increased a child’s willingness to eat veggies. The portion-controlled 3 1/2 tablespoon dips served to the kids had 50 calories, 4 grams of fat and 90 milligrams of sodium.

Preschool children ages 3 to 5 years told researchers from the Center for Childhood Obesity Research at Penn State University that they liked veggies more when paired with a favorite flavored dip compared with eating a veggie without a dip or with a plain dip.

Try these simple recipes for my athlete-friendly Protein-Packed Veggie Dip and my Herb and Spice Ranch Dip.

Protein-Packed Veggie Dip

This is the perfect dip for adults and children involved in sports and other athletic activities.

1 (16-ounce) container low-fat cottage cheese

2 tablespoons low-fat mayonnaise

3 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

1/4 cup finely chopped red onion

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

In a small bowl, combine cottage cheese, mayonnaise, parsley, onion, salt and pepper. Stir well, chill, and serve with cut up raw vegetables. Makes 2 1/2 cups.

Herb and Spice Ranch Dip

You can easily double or triple this recipe to use as a dip, salad dressing or as a sandwich spread.

3/4 cup low-fat mayonnaise

3/4 cup low-fat sour cream

1/4 teaspoon dried dill weed

1/2 teaspoon dried parsley

1/2 teaspoon dried chives

1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic or garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon granulated onion or onion powder

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

1-3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice or white vinegar, to taste

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Whisk to combine. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Stir well and serve with cut up raw vegetables. Makes 24 (1 tablespoon) servings, about 1 1/2 cups.

Angela Shelf Medearis has more on here website, www.divapro.com.

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