Welcome to another installment of Kids Clean Up! Today we are tackling a Halloween holiday favorite… Cheese Dip! You know, the one made with the infamous Velveeta. It has been a part of Halloween tradition in my family for a very long time. Since “cleaning up” my food act a few years ago, Halloween is the one time of year that Velveeta has managed to get in my grocery cart.
This year I was ready to give it up – I just couldn’t buy it anymore, and worse share it with my kids and their friends. And then I ran into the Food Renegade’s recipe and nearly swooned. The only reason I didn’t swoon was due to having no faith it would actually taste good. Cheese dip made without the Velveeta? How’s that supposed to work? But it did…
What are we cleaning up? Classic Cheese Dip made by melting a Velveeta cheese chunk with salsa.
Ingredients: Milk, Whey, Skim Milk, Milk Protein Concentrate, Water, Milkfat, Whey Protein Concentrate, Sodium Phosphate, Modified Corn Starch, Salt, Calcium Phosphate, Dried Corn Syrup, Canola Oil, Maltodextrin, Lactic Acid, Sorbic Acid, Sodium Alginate, Sodium Citrate, Cheese Culture, Enzymes, Apocarotenal and Annatto.
Basically, Velveeta is a chemical cheese product that has been made in a lab. It’s a “cheese-like substance.” Kraft doesn’t share the process by which it is made, but it is clearly made by chemists in a laboratory. If you are looking for some science behind how they make it all melt-able, check out this article by Discover. Beyond the Frankenstein laboratory creep factor of Velveeta, I am also avoiding this product because it is made by Kraft, a company I don’t choose to support. Kraft Mac N Cheese (my daughter’s favorite restaurant kids menu choice) is made with several artificial food dyes ONLY WHEN MADE FOR CONSUMPTION IN THE USA. For example the version sold in the UK does not include artificial food dyes (the UK is phasing out allowing artificial dyes in food due to consumer pressure). Over 300,000 Americans have signed a petition asking for Kraft to stop using the artificial food dyes and give us the other version that tastes and looks the same, but they are not willing to do so. So I say BOOOOOO to Kraft. (Want to add your voice to the petition? Go here.)
Here’s the cleaned up version: Food Renegade’s Creamy Mexican Cheese Dip. I used organic cream, organic milk and organic cheddar cheese, plus egg yolk, arrowroot powder, diced tomatoes, a can of mild green chiles, salt and chipotle chili powder. All ingredients that I am happy to use in my kitchen! The process was completely do-able, and not very many steps, which I appreciated. (Especially since the Velveeta version is so easy.)
The result was a very smooth, silky cheese dip that tasted terrific. It actually tasted much stronger of cheddar cheese than the Velveeta version does, which was welcomed. Mine turned out a little thinner than Velveeta dip is, and I think when I do it again I will let the milk and cream warm with the thickener a little longer. I might also mix in a little of my favorite clean salsa to make it taste more like my family’s version, though I did enjoy the chipotle flavor. But enough about me…
My kids LOVED this stuff. I wondered if they would enjoy it because the color isn’t as bright as the Velveeta and the taste is a little more well-rounded and grown-up. Both of them can be very picky when it comes to foods like this, so I was happily surprised with their enthusiasm over this version.
It is very interesting to me how we often eat less of the cleaned up version of foods than we would of their processed version. This cheese dip was a great example. When the Velveeta version is out on the table, I can’t stop eating it. Each bite makes me want another bite as soon as I’m done. But with this cleaned up version, I had several bites and then felt fullish and done. The kids seemed to be the same way. Amazing what happens when you nourish your body with real food.
Before we go, let’s talk chips real fast. Ideally, we’d all be making our own corn chips using organic corn tortillas and a great fat (like coconut oil or tallow). Gracious Pantry has a baked chip recipe I like, here. That may be more than some of us can do right now. This is especially true for me when we are having other people over, that’s just more chips than I can pull off! My recommendation for buying chips is to go organic to avoid GMO corn and GMO vegetable oils. I am not a fan of processed vegetable oils, so purchased corn chips are a fun treat food, not an every day food for me.
I’m not the only one who grew up on Frankenstein cheese dip, am I? Is there anything that is always on your Halloween menu?