Today’s Recipe: Bento Veggies with Triple Yogurt Dips
What’s so special about a veggie tray? Well, this isn’t any old veggie tray, it’s tailor-made with inspiration from Japan to make eating veggies fun for anyone, guaranteed! The one I made is very simple and doesn’t include all the dips, but you’ll be amazed to see how customizable this recipe is.
First of all, what does bento mean?
It’s a type of boxed lunch eaten in Japan, and mothers are known to often spend hours every morning trying to make their children’s lunches as cute and colorful as possible with a variety of fruits and veggies. Here are a few examples. I didn’t make any of these, of course, just found them online. 😉
The instructions for this recipe are very simple, though I’ll include my favorite healthy dip recipes a little later on. Just take at least three varieties of veggie or fruit, preferably of different colors, and serve them together. Optionally, cut them into cute shapes, put them in an interesting container like the round bowl in the top picture, or garnish them with your favorite spices and herbs.
Be creative! I love cutting yellow bell peppers into star shapes. Make a space-themed lunch with star peppers, tomato planets, and grapes for comets with shredded carrots for their tails. This recipe can be anything from a simple adult snack to a game for kids.
As fun as it is to eat cute, colorful veggies, we all know that dips are what make them great. Here are my three favorite healthy dip recipes. All use plain yogurt as a base.
Tzatziki, which is pictured on the veggie tray above, is a Greek cucumber dip. It’s a healthier alternative to creamy dressings like ranch.
– 1/4 cup plain yogurt, Greek yogurt if possible
– 1 clove garlic, minced
– 1/4 cup or less diced cucumber
– 1/4 tsp olive oil
Just mix all the ingredients and you’ll have the perfect serving for one or two people.
This dip is great for fruit. You could just use your favorite store-bought flavored yogurt, but this version comes without added sugar or artificial flavors and colors.
– 1/4 cup plain yogurt
– 1 or 2 drops vanilla or almond extract
– 2 tbsp any fruit, chopped
Stir them together, or blend in a food processor if you want the dip to take on the color of your fruit. Frozen fruit works great in this dip.
Black Bean Dip
– 2 tbsp plain yogurt
– 1/4 cup black beans, cooked
– 1/4 cup salsa
– Fresh cilantro, chopped (optional)
Smash the black beans with a fork or blend them until smooth. Mix in the salsa and yogurt. You can use a fruit salsa with mango or pineapple for a different flavor. Garnish with cilantro.
—> Health-friendly Tips
– Use fat-free yogurt in all three dips if desired.
– To make your veggie box a very healthy meal, add cheese cut into cubes or other shapes and rolled slices of deli turkey. Or take more inspiration from Japan and add rice or pasta and hard-boiled eggs.
—> Kid-friendly Tips
– Including a variety of veggies ensures that they’ll at least eat some. If they don’t like one, they can eat the others.
– Use your kids’ favorite colors when you make the box. Is one of your kids a little princess who loves to eat berries with pink strawberry dip? Do you have a sports fan who would love to have a snack dressed up with his or her team’s colors?
—> Budget-friendly Tips
– Use fruits and veggies that are in season to save money.
– Don’t have any containers to pack the dip in? You can make a condiment packet out of tightly wrapped aluminum foil, or plop a spoonful of dip into a muffin pan liner and seal it with a rubber band. Aren’t broke college students creative? 🙂