Let’s face it — there are some days that even whipping up a simple dip using only 2-3 ingredients is asking too much. On those days, I have a few favorite jars stuffed in the fridge that can help me in a pinch. They are all fine on their own as a small “dip” alongside a snack or meal, but I also have a few small kitchen hacks that amp the nutritional value or flavor when I do have a bit more time than just opening a jar but not quite enough time to dirty an extra bowl.
Basil, parsley, pine nuts, cheese, olive oil, garlic — all pureed into a smooth, bright green puree. I love that my daughter gobbles this up even when she’s on a green strike. Check labels and find a small jar that’s low in sodium (most are!) and doesn’t use preservatives. Or, if you have a local Italian deli, they often serve it by the 1/4 pound! The olive oil has lots of good fats and the flavor is always wonderful.
Goes well with: Italian style dishes, pasta, raw or steamed veggies, white fish, meatballs
Find a low-sodium, low-sugar salsa that is mild — you can always add chili powder or other spices to kick up the heat to something your toddler is comfortable with. The tomatoes are high in lycopene and vitamins, and interesting flavors like cilantro and garlic are introduced as well. If you happen to have left over cucumbers, I’ve been known to chop them very small and add them into salsa. It’s refreshing and adds even more fiber!
Goes well with: tilapia, shrimp, veggie quesadillas, egg, Mexican or Latin American style dishes
This is an overlooked item in the condiment aisle. Harissa is a North African garlicky chile sauce (though usually very mild). It’s red and bright and interesting. It is not only a wonderful marinade, it is good for a quick dipping sauce as well. Try putting a dollop on top of plain hummus for something really special.
Goes well with: fish, poultry, whole wheat pita bread, carrot sticks
Even the yellow mustard varieties have limited, natural ingredients and are typically low in sodium and sugar. Yellow mustard leaves a terrible stain (trust me!), and I personally prefer the flavor and texture of a spicier mustard like dijon or whole grain. If you feel fancy, add a small drizzle of honey and stir for a honey mustard dip. Or, fight off colds by sprinkling in some extra turmeric.
Goes well with: plain beef meatballs, roasted chicken, sausage and even (surprisingly) asparagus and salmon
I LOVE this mayo. It has no sugar, is low in sodium and uses avocado oil and cage-free eggs. It’s full of super healthy fats. A small dollop on it’s own usually satisfies any dipping emergency, though when I have time I love to squeeze a bit of fresh lemon juice to thin it out and brighten the flavor. It’s great to also just sprinkle on top a small amount of mild curry, turmeric, chopped herbs or garlic powder if you have any on hand.
Goes well with: whole grain toast, steamed vegetables, salmon, sliced tomatoes
Kefir is sort of like a thin yogurt and you can buy cow’s milk or goat’s milk. No need to thin it out, just pour and let dip! I suggest buying plain and then you can always add some cinnamon for something sweet or chopped garlic/herbs for something savory. This is a workhouse and provides complete proteins, amino acids, calcium, lots of B & B12 vitamins & Vitamin K. Plus, you can add it into smoothies, drink plain or use when cooking.
Goes well with: savory dishes like eggs, lamb or roasted vegetables and sweeter dishes like sliced fruit