Get your kids in the kitchen with these two healthy dips

Measuring chickpeas for homemade hummus.
Measuring chickpeas for homemade hummus.

On a recent afternoon at the Grand Rapids Downtown Market’s Simmer Camp, young foodies-in-training were learning just how delicious and easy, homemade dips can be.

“It just tasted different and better,” said Naomi Hamilton, 9, about the hummus and ranch dip she was testing out with her classmates.

Opening up kids’ eyes to what they can accomplish in the kitchen and how to prepare healthy food is just one goal of the camp. Making connections between nature, gardening, and how food gets to their dinner plates, is the broader mission, with different themes each week. A camp for teens is also offered.

“They see that food doesn’t come from a box,” said Shannon Sadoski, Downtown Market Education Manager.

During the dip preparation session in the market’s teaching kitchen, a variety of lessons were incorporated. Chef and educator, Linnea deRoche, subtly weaved in composting, math through measurement, kitchen clean up and safety, how to follow a recipe, and even food presentation.

Linnea deRoche instructing Simmer Campers.
Linnea deRoche instructing Simmer Campers.

The self-described urban farmer uses her entire backyard as a garden. She encourages parents to do whatever they can to prepare food with their kids.

“There’s just so much that you can do,” deRoche said.

Kids in her own neighborhood have been known to sneak into her garden to grab sweet peas. She said she doesn’t mind and is happy to educate children about how food grows.

“Many have no idea where their food comes from,” she said.

For kids at the camp, lifelong lessons are sinking in.

“It’s taught me which foods are good for me,” said Clara Galvez, 10.

Scholarships are available for the camp, which runs through August. Campers can sign up by the week.

Inspired to get your kids busy in the kitchen? Try these Simmer Camp recipes, which are kid-approved and tasty.

Homemade Hummus

  • 1 (15-oz.) can chickpeas (roughly 2 cups drained, cooked chickpeas)
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons tahini
  • 1 ½ tablespoons lemon juice (from ½ lemon), plus more to taste
  • 1 small clove of garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon finely ground black pepper


  1. Drain and rinse the chickpeas in a strainer.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender.
  3. Blend until smooth.
  4. Taste and adjust the seasonings, adding more lemon juice or olive oil to thin it out and make the hummus creamer if desired.
  5. Serve with pita wedges or chips and raw, sliced veggies. Hummus will keep for up to a week sealed in the refrigerator.

Greek Yogurt Ranch Dip

  • 1/3 cup Greek yogurt, plain
  • 3 tablespoons buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon garlic, smashed
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1/8 teaspoon dill
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Other herbs (optional): paprika, fresh oregano, savory


  1. Stir together Greek yogurt, parsley, chives, vinegar, garlic paste, and dill. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  2. Add buttermilk and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.


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  1. Very interesting. Nice that there is a camp like this one. The recipes look yummy, also, especially the Greek Yogurt Ranch Dip. I will add it to my recipes.

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