Friday, April 1, 2011

Eating Tips and Tricks: Dip

Dip has been an invaluable resource for introducing new foods and raising an adventurous eater. I have read several articles and books telling me to go ahead and let them slather their food in ketchup or Ranch or whatever. Even if it's "too much" for anyone else. Same goes for sugar, chocolate powder, etc. Anything that gets them to put the food into their mouths. Instead of "No. I don't like broccoli!" you'll get someone who goes "Well... I liked it with all that dip last time..." They get used to the base flavor of the food (expect to introduce a new food 12-20 times before they'll start "liking" it plain.) And since they'll eat it slathered in ketchup, it's a given that it's a food that they eat, even if it's not one of their favorites.
Dipping toast in maple syrup
Plus (most) kids love to dip! It's something they can do themselves, and they often get to use their hands! The most common dips at our house are ketchup and Ranch dressing, but she's used peanut butter, maple syrup, over-easy eggs (we call them "dipping eggs!) soy sauce, melted cheese,  ice cream, yogurt... even frosting! And while broccoli dipped in pink frosting may be disgusting to your palate, if they'll eat it, who cares? And she was thrilled to get her "dessert" with dinner. She ate twice as much broccoli as she normally would!
And I've noticed that she now uses less dip than she used to, while increasing her overall food volume per meal.
And sometimes, she'll even eat her broccoli *gasp* plain! Because, in her mind, it's a food that she eats. And now that she's tasted it more than 20 times, it's a food that she somewhat likes. Letting them have a little food with their ketchup now doesn't mean that they'll always have to drown their food to make it palatable (unless you're a crap cook, like me.) And you can make healthier dip choices. Low fat, low sodium, low sugar options of ketchup, dressing, soy sauce, etc. (Many Asian restaurants even have low-sodium soy sauce available, if you ask. Or at home, try that or Bragg's Liquid Amino. Tastes like soy sauce, but less sodium than even the low-sodium versions!)

Since dips can be so yummy, we had to make a rule "Dips are not food. Dips are for food." At first we'd let her lick dip off and re-dip, as long as she eventually ate the food. But as she got older, we try and make her take at least a nibble with each dip.
It also is critical not to judge their choices. She'll dip her sweets in soy sauce, and her veggies in dessert. Just because *I* don't want to eat it doesn't mean it's terrible. And when she offers some to me, I just tell her that I'm full, or that I have my own food, thank you though. Or (in a friendly voice) I'll tell her that I don't like it the same way she does, but that not everyone likes all the same things, and that it's okay to be different.
Cabbage with Ranch (green butterfly muffin
cup) and ketchup (red YumBots muffin cup)
And really. Someone had to decide to try putting peanut butter and syrup on a pancake, peanut butter and raisins on celery, cheese on chili, mustard on pretzels, various dressings on sandwiches, etc. All kinds of weird combinations that are totally normal to us now. But probably freaky at the time!

Here is some nutritional information for some common brands of "dip" along with the "healthier" versions from those same brands. It's really not too terrible to give them several tablespoonfuls. And the nutrition in the foods they're eating these with can really make it all worthwhile! Plus some other snacks to compare.

Regular Heinz ketchup has (per tbsp): 20 calories, no fat, 160mg sodium, 5g carbs (4g sugar) and 2% daily values (DV) of Vitamins A and C. 
No-Salt-Added Heinz has only 5mg sodium, 6g carbs (4g sugar,) but no Vitamins A and C. 

Kraft Ranch Dressing has (per 2 tbsp): 120 calories (110 from fat,) 12g fat (2g saturated,) 370 mg sodium, 3g carbs (2g sugar) [Cut those numbers in half to compare, tbsp to tbsp, with the ketchup info.
Kraft Lite Ranch (per 32g/a little over 2tbsp): 80 calories (60 from fat,) 6g fat (1g saturated,) 440mg sodium, 7g carbs (2g sugar) [Cut those numbers in half to compare, tbsp to tbsp, with the ketchup info.

In comparison, table salt has 2,100mg of sodium per tsp. Recommended daily limit of sodium is 2,400mg (for people over age 9.) That's a LOT of ketchup!

Whole grain Goldfish Crackers (per 55 fishes): 140 calories, 5g fat (1g saturated,) 250mg sodium, 19g carbs (2g dietary fiber, 1g sugar,) 4g protein, 4%DV Calcium, 6%DV Iron (Regular Cheddar ones are almost the same, but have 1 g dietary fiber and only 2%DV Iron)

Honey Teddy Grahams (per 20g/16 pieces for kids under 4. HA!): 90 calories, 3g fat (1g saturated,) 95mg sodium, 15g carbs (1g fiber, 5-6g sugar,) 1g protein, 10%DV calcium, 15%DV Iron

V8 (per 8 fl oz): 50 calories, no fat, 420mg sodium, 470mg potassium, 10g carbs (2 fiber, 8 sugar,) 2g protein, 40%DV A, 120%DV C, 4%DV calcium, 4%DV Iron. [8 fl oz is approximately 16 tbsp] So maybe boil and condense V8 and use instead of ketchup!

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