Sheila Shupe Makes Onion Dip
Photos by Tammy Horton
I’ll tell it to you straight. The majority of food in my adolescence came from a plastic bag, cardboard box or drive-thru window. My health-conscious, home-ec teacher mother was pretty tuckered out raising her fourth and fifth child as a single mom, and like many of us these days, convenience became her priority in the food department. We would go to Costco and pick out mega packs of frozen microwave sandwiches, and I can still taste the chopped, frozen, preformed BBQ pork “riblet” on a white sesame bun. And even though the past 15 years in Sonoma County have been an educational, transformational food journey, I still crave a wavy potato chip in a creamy dip on a summer day.
The thing is, it’s really hard to completely revamp habits, especially around food, and sometimes it feels so intimidating, I just give up and order pizza. But I’ve come to believe we can make little swaps that add up to bigger changes over time. As a mom, I’ve found that ease and accessibility are the best ways to make good daily food choices. A habit our family has developed in the past few years (thanks to my husband), is to just cut up a pile of veggies every week and stuff them in a big Tupperware. A variety of fresh, raw vegetables is integral to a healthy diet, and if they are ready to go, we eat them more. I pop them into lunches and pull them out for an after-school snack, or if the salad fell off my dinner menu because of a busy night, I just throw those veggies right on the table.
The secret? Veggies disappear a lot quicker if they are slathered in a good dip.
So I bring you my favorite, easy, protein-rich, probiotic onion dip made with Greek yogurt. Equally good to dollop on a baked potato or a carrot stick, or even go back to your roots and get a potato chip right in there. Pretty much every culture that consumes dairy has a version of a yogurt sauce: tzatziki in Greece, herbed skyr in Iceland, raita in India. I offer today a very American version of that dip our moms made with onion soup packets. Yours just won’t have any corn syrup solids or disodium guanylate—one of 20 sneaky names for synthetic MSG, which blocks leptin, the hormone that makes you feel full. Which is why you truly can’t eat just one.
Now, some people give me grief for encouraging another condiment in our already sauce-saturated American diet, but I want to set the record straight. Not only do cauliflower (rich in vitamin K) and carrots (high in vitamin A) taste better with my onion dip, but they’re actually better for me. Vitamins A, D, E and K are fat-soluble vitamins, which means we absorb them better into our system when they are eaten with fats.
Culturing dairy also increases B vitamins, proteins, and Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA, an omega 6 fatty acid that has shown to reduce inflammation and other chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes and cancer). Not to mention the wonders of garlic and onion in the immune and antimicrobial department. So in solidarity with all the moms who grew up in the ’90s, I say: I dip, you dip, we dip!
As with all my recipes, this one is very versatile. I stick to dried herbs, but you could always use fresh. I use chives, but this would be excellent with dill, mint, parsley or basil. Or start super simple for those finicky eaters and add ingredients over time as they adjust to the taste. Another great tip is to scale up and make a jar of your favorite dried bulk spices, then throw a couple tablespoons into some yogurt whenever you need it. One thing’s for sure—the music of the ’90s may live forever, but the food doesn’t have to. We know better, so we do better. And with an easy 30 minutes a week, you can feel really good about not buying a packet, not opening a box, and not reaching for that drive-thru window.
2 cups Greek yogurt*
2 teaspoons granulated garlic
1 teaspoon granulated onion
2 teaspoons dried chopped onion
1 T dried chives, or 2 T fresh herbs of choice
½ teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 heaping teaspoon salt
Mix all ingredients by hand and let chill for at least 15 minutes in the fridge before serving.
Keep in the fridge for up to 10 days.
I have experimented with the now-popular skyr varieties, but I find I like the texture of Greek yogurt better. You could also use labneh for a thicker version of the dip, or even sour cream, but make sure it’s cultured if you want the probiotic benefits.