Saturday, July 24, 2010

Introducing Simple Foods: Garlic Labneh and Three Cheese Dip

I'm not much of a cook and when I do enter the kitchen it's because something has caught my fancy and I am suddenly dying to try it. I won't tell you that all this changed when my daughter was born, however, I learnt to be a lot more creative in the kitchen.

The munchkin has weird eating habits, for a baby/toddler/child. She'll eat any diary product (is addicted to milk, any type), loves all fruit and veggies. The problem with her are carbs. She hates white carbs. The only form of carbohydarets she'll eat are hi-fibre ones - weetabix (with/without milk), mutli-grain cereal mixes, granary bread, wheat noodles - with pasta being the only exception. Though recently she has accepted rice and white bread, I still have a tough time getting her to eat a satisfactory (for me) helping of carbs everyday. So, to help her along a little bit, I started experimenting with simple stuff that she seems to love.

A couple of weeks back I was chatting with one of my friends, who also has a picky eater, when I realized that maybe what I've learn't along the way will help other mom's in a similar position. So here's the first of my simple food posts.

The munchkin loves dips of any kind and this gave me an idea. When she's doing her raw foods or high-fibre thing, why don't I give her a dip that rounds of the meal with protein and fat. So, here are two dips that I serve her and the suggested accompaniments.

Since I grew up on Lebanese food, this is my baby friendly version of labneh.


Serves: 2 hungry toddlers

  • 2 cups plain/greek yoghurt
  • 1 clove of garlic - finely chopped
  • A tsp of lemon juice (optional) or gated lemon rind - we like some tartness around here
  • A pinch of sweet paprika powder (optional) - my nephew likes this addition
  • 5 - 10 de-seeded black olives or stuffed green olives
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil 
  1. Hand the yoghurt in a muslin cloth, till most of the whey drips out. This should take between 45 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the initial consistency of the yoghurt.
  2. Once the thickened yoghurt is ready, gently mix in the finely chopped garlic and paprika powder.
  3. Just before serving, add the lemon juice/rind to the mixture and stir.
  4. Decorate the mixture with the olives, top with the olive oil and serve.
Serving suggestion
  • Serve as a dip for sticks of fresh carrot and cucumber, and wedges of firm fresh tomatoes.

This second dip is a twist on the traditional crackers and cheese combination.

Serves: 3 - 4 toddlers, depending on how much they scoop up or spread all over themselves.

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 4 slices of sandwich cheese - tear into bits
  • 1 cup grated cheese - Gouda, Cheddar (any mildly mature cheese) - can also be chopped into little bits
  • 2 tbsp Parmesan
  • 2 cups milk - adjust according to preferred dip consistency
  • 1 tbsp oregano/Italian seasoning
  • Red chilly flakes (for adults or older kids)
  1. Melt the butter in a saucepan on low heat.
  2. Add the milk to the melted butter and keep stirring occasionally.
  3. When the milk is boiling well, add the bits of cheese slice. 
  4. Once the cheese slices have melted, add the grated cheese.
  5. After all the cheese has completely melted take of the stove, mix in the oregano and chilly flakes. Set aside till warm (safe for little fingers).
  6. Garnish with the the Parmesan, top with some more seasoning (if required) and serve.
Serving Suggestion
  • Serve as a dip with Crackers - we prefer crispy wheat or rye.
  • Serve on top of slices of toasted baguette or plain toasted bread cut into quarters (a good use for slightly old dried out bread) and decorated with cherry tomato halves.
  • Serve with garlic bread. 
Let me know how you adapt these recipes to suit your little ones. I'm always on the look out for foodie innovation.


  1. Hhmm... not sure my picky eater would eat labneh, but I may give that 3 cheese dip a try!

    HI from SITS!

  2. Mmm. Sounds just like what my children would like.

  3. ooh, yum that sounds soooo good!!!
    Hey you know what, I've been trying to visit your blog lately but for some reason when I click on your name it says that the blogger profile is not available. The only way I was actually able to get here was through blogfrog.
    Anyway, thank you for all your comments.

  4. love lebanese food...i ate a whole bunch of that during the first trimester! the second dip is new for D..can't wait to try it! i've already tried a dip similar to the first but she likes it plain, go figure! =)

  5. oh, that sounds like a great summer lunch!

    DOn't be so desperate, it's good that she doesn't want to eat processed carbs! Whole grains are much more nutritious, so she will get much more fiber and B vitamins with less of it, and the real stuff, not the stuff they add to "enriched" foods (translation: foods that have been stripped of any nutrition, to which they add small amounts of synthetic vitamins to be able to sell any at all)

    fruits, veggies and whole grains are all the carbs one needs. Cracked oats, brown rice, quinoa, whole grain pasta... those are good choices, your tot is a smart girl!

  6. Crystal @ I have to make my profile public. Thanks for the reminder.

    Brainwave @ We mummies have to try anything and everything. Desperate measures.

    Elisa @ You have set my mind at rest. Thanks.


I love hearing from all of you....thanks for letting me know what you think