3 Easy and Nutritious Dip Recipes Your Toddler Will Love

What toddler doesn’t love dip?? Here are three nutritious dip recipes that are easy to whip up for your little one at a moment’s notice.

Title graphic for 3 Easy and Nutritious Dip Recipes Your Toddler Will Love.

If there’s one thing I can count on to get my toddler excited about eating, it’s offering her something delicious (and yes, messy) to dip her food into. I mean, what toddler doesn’t immediately spot (and demand) the bottle of ketchup on the table whenever you go out to eat? Or beg for the side of ranch dressing that comes with your salad?

Why not capitalize on it by making some of your own delicious dips that are not only tasty, but loaded with nutrients?

The three nutritious dip recipes I’m sharing with you today are just that. They’re all super easy to make, and don’t require any crazy ingredients.

If you’re struggling to get your toddler to eat certain things, dipping can be a great way to up the novelty and get him or her into the adventurous spirit. That’s why, for each dip recipe, I’ve also included ideas for “dippers”.

Finally, I encourage you to get your toddler into the kitchen to make these dips with you. The steps are all fairly simple, and while you always want to be careful around hot stoves and knives, getting your toddler involved will make them all the more excited to eat something when it’s served at a meal.

And for more toddler cooking inspiration, head on over to my Toddler Food board on Pinterest 🙂

Let’s get cooking!

Black Bean Dip

A jar of black bean dip with a spoon alongside it.

Hummus is a popular standby, but as far as bean dips go, why not mix it up by using alternate types of beans? This Black Bean Dip has some Mexican flair with cumin and fresh lime juice, and comes together quickly in the food processor with no cooking required.

Some great “dipper” ideas for Black Bean Dip include:

  • Jicama
  • Tortillas
  • Pita bread
  • Tortilla chips (if your toddler can eat them without choking)
  • Carrots
  • Zucchini
  • Radish
  • Chicken strips
  • Shrimp
Black Bean Dip
Prep Time
10 mins
Total Time
10 mins
 

Forget hummus, this black bean dip is going to be your new favorite condiment. With hints of cumin and lime, it's the perfect accompaniment to any sort of Mexican food.

Course: Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: black beans, condiment, dip, healthy, Mexican, toddler
Servings: 4 toddlers
Calories: 178 kcal
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
Instructions
  1. Add all ingredients to a food processor and process until smooth.

  2. Keep refrigerated or freeze for future use.

Tzatziki

A dish of homemade tzatziki with a spoon sitting next to it.

 

This popular Greek condiment is the perfect way to introduce some new flavors into your toddler’s diet. Fresh dill, grated cucumber and garlic are all adventurous, but become a bit more approachable when mixed into yogurt, which most toddlers are pretty familiar with.

Some great “dipper” ideas for Tzatziki include:

  • Pita bread
  • Pita chips (if your child can eat them without choking)
  • Zucchini
  • Cucumber
  • Tortillas
  • Pretzels (watch for choking)
  • Grilled chicken
  • Thinly sliced beef or lamb
  • Gyro
  • Crackers
Tzatziki
Prep Time
15 mins
Total Time
15 mins
 

Fresh dill, grated cucumber and garlic are all adventurous, but become a bit more approachable when mixed into yogurt, which most toddlers are pretty familiar with.

Course: Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Keyword: condiment, dip, healthy, Mediterranean, toddler, tzatziki, yogurt
Servings: 4 toddlers
Calories: 35 kcal
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 Persian cucumber, grated and water squeezed out with a paper towel
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
Instructions
  1. Whisk together ingredients in a small mixing bowl until combined.

  2. Keep refrigerated or freeze for future use.

Marinara

A jar of homemade marinara sauce with a spoon next to it.

It’s not just for pasta! Marinara is also great for dipping. It’s also loaded with nutrients from tomatoes, and you can even easily sneak in some other veggies if you’re feeling adventurous. An added bonus? Marinara freezes well, so make a big batch on the weekend and freeze it up in ice cube trays or small food storage containers for quick and easy defrosting at a moment’s notice!

Great “dippers” for Marinara include:

  • Garlic bread
  • Breadsticks
  • Cheesy bread
  • Zucchini
  • Carrots
  • Pizza
  • Chicken strips
  • Sliders
  • Sausage
  • Roasted broccoli
  • Roasted cauliflower
Marinara
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
20 mins
 

It’s not just for pasta! Marinara is also great for dipping and loaded with nutrients.

Course: Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: condiment, dip, freezer-friendly, healthy, hot sauce, Italian, pasta, toddler, tomatoes
Servings: 10 toddlers
Calories: 26 kcal
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup onion, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
Instructions
  1. Bring all ingredients to a gentle simmer in a saucepan on the stove.

  2. Transfer to a blender and puree until smooth.

  3. Keep refrigerated or freeze for future use.

And that’s not it! I have a ton more nutritious dip inspiration here on the blog. Be sure to check out my recipes for hummus, guacamole, and peanut sauce the next time you’re looking for inspiration.

I’d love to hear if you have any nutritious dip standby’s you like to serve your little one. Let me know in the comments below!

Hazelnut Pesto Caprese Couscous

Let’s all celebrate Labor Day by NOT laboring.

Hazelnut Pesto Caprese Couscous | CaliGirl Cooking (www.caligirlcooking.com)

You heard me right. These days, especially in America, it feels like everyone is running the crazy race of life non-stop. Staying at the office late, continuing to check (and respond to) emails into the wee hours of the night, working on the weekends, not taking vacation days. Who are we? Why can’t we take after, say, the French, where four weeks of vacation a year are the norm and people in the workforce go out for two hour lunches every day?

This hectic white-collar life is partly what spurred me to turn this blog into a business, to branch out on my own and become self-employed. I was tired of being expected to stay at the office for eight hours a day, even if I’d finished all of my work. I was tired of having to work holidays and weekends (hello, hospitality life) and not having a say in when or where I worked. I’ve never been the type to “slack off,” and often found my efficiency at getting things done working to my disadvantage. I was sitting at work, twiddling my thumbs and thinking of all of the other things I could be doing (non-work related) that needed to get done. Being the Type A go-getter that I am, I wanted to be in control of my own destiny. So that’s just what I did.

Hazelnut Pesto Caprese Couscous | CaliGirl Cooking (www.caligirlcooking.com)

Now that I’m working for myself, I’m focusing on not getting sucked into the all-too-easy habit of spending every waking hour working on furthering my business. As an entrepreneur, I’m becoming all too familiar with the feeling that I need to prove myself, that I can’t “slack off” or get out of the house for a day to do something I love because then it wouldn’t look like I was trying hard enough. There’s a lot to live up to when you branch out on your own, and that places a big weight on your shoulders.

But you know what? I’ve realized that is not how I should frame my new self-employed work structure, After all, as my good friend Tara reminded me, this is what we’ve worked so hard to AVOID by becoming our own bosses. We shouldn’t feel guilty about shutting down our computers at 3pm on a Tuesday, or not doing ANY work over the weekend, because that’s what we set out to avoid after all.

So I took my own advice to heart and busted my butt last week to get everything queued up and ready to go for the blog over the weekend, so I could kick back, spend some time with the hubs (whose finally feeling better, thank goodness!) and just plain ENJOY a three-day weekend. I can’t remember the last time I did that! And you know what, it was glorious. And I don’t regret a thing.

Hazelnut Pesto Caprese Couscous | CaliGirl Cooking (www.caligirlcooking.com)

Okay, wow, I guess we should finally talk about the whole reason we’re here today, this Hazelnut Pesto Caprese Couscous! What started that little rant up there was the fact that I wanted to get across to you just how easy this recipe is. You will not have to “labor” at all to make it, unless you count running your food processor or boiling a pot of water as “laboring.”

I’ve mentioned it before when I shared this Herbed Grain Salad with Broccoli Rabe and White Beans, but I am totally digging grain salads these days. I love the plethora of fresh fruits, herbs and vegetables that go into them and the juxtaposition of some hearty, filling whole grains.

I know I’m not the only one experiencing a love affair with end-of-summer produce, and all of the fresh tomatoes and basil have been calling my name. I was dying to figure out more ways to use them! And so this Hazelnut Pesto Caprese Couscous appeared.

Hazelnut Pesto Caprese Couscous | CaliGirl Cooking (www.caligirlcooking.com)

Tell me, how do you feel about couscous? I have to admit, I’m a little picky. I used to not dig the typical light, fluffy couscous too much, but I’ve come around a bit on that one (it all goes along with how deliciously it’s prepared!) Nevertheless, when given the choice, I’ll opt for a heartier version, like bigger, thicker Israeli couscous. This tends to fill me up a bit more, plus it’s a little closer to pasta which we all know goes perfectly with basil and tomatoes.

So, we’ve got our Israeli couscous ready to go and now we need to caprese it up (yes, I just turned that into a verb.) I originally wanted to use fresh burrata for the cheese, but sadly our local store was fresh out of the stuff, so I had to settle for ciliegine (the little balls of mozzarella.) I then picked up a few perfectly ripe heirloom tomatoes and a big bunch of fresh basil from the Farmer’s Market.

I decided that, since we had a heavier grain base for this Hazelnut Pesto Caprese Couscous, it might be best to turn the basil into a pesto as opposed to just tossing it into the salad itself. Boy, was I right? The dressing is the perfect way to balance out all of the flavors in this dish and ensure you get all of the tastiness in every single bite.

Oh, and if you’re wondering why I went with hazelnut instead of the typical pine nut, there are two reasons: (1) Pine nuts are ridiculously expensive (whyyyyyyy?) and (2) I just so happened to have some hazelnuts in the pantry that needed to be used up. Feel free to use whatever nuts you have on hand for this recipe. Walnuts, pecans or almonds would all be fantastic as well.

And did I mention that our Hazelnut Pesto Caprese Couscous is super easy to make? No laboring here. Simply boil up some water to cook the couscous, throw all of the pesto ingredients in a food processor (or blender) and mix all of the ingredients together in a big bowl. Does it get much easier than that?

Hazelnut Pesto Caprese Couscous | CaliGirl Cooking (www.caligirlcooking.com)

Now, I’ve certainly rambled on enough in this post and you most definitely need to get outside and start enjoying this holiday Monday (so do I), so without further ado, here’s the recipe!

Hazelnut Pesto Caprese Couscous
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
25 mins
 
A fun, healthy take on the classic caprese salad featuring Israeli couscous, peak season heirloom tomatoes and delicious hazelnut pesto.
Ingredients
For the pesto:
  • 2 cups fresh basil
  • ¼ cup hazelnuts toasted
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Juice of ½ of a large lemon
  • ¾ cup olive oil
  • Salt & pepper to taste
All other ingredients:
  • 2 cups cooked Israeli couscous cook according to package directions
  • 5 medium heirloom tomatoes cut into thin wedges
  • 8 ounces ciliegine mozzarella
  • Salt to taste
Instructions
  1. Place all pesto ingredients except olive oil in a food processor or blender. Pulse until mixture begins to come together, then stream in the olive oil while the processor or blender is running. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. In a large bowl, combine couscous, tomatoes and mozzarella. Stir in pesto and season with salt if needed. Enjoy or refrigerate until ready to eat!

 

Hazelnut Pesto Caprese Couscous | CaliGirlCooking.com

I’ll take the whole bowl please!!