With Valentine’s Day fast approaching we knew our students would be vying for a sweet chocolatey surprise. But really, cooking class is no fun if we know what to expect and we love to throw our little chefs for a loop here at Allergic to Salad. (And reality, as any educator — or parent — knows, loading one kid with sugar does not a productive classroom make. So forget about 16 kids full of sugar.)

For this Valentine’s Day we took a step towards a sweet, red vegetable. My favorite.


Beets are my favorite for a few reasons. Possibly the most boring, but most surprising to many, is because you can eat the whole thing — leaves, stem and all. I tell this to my students and they are less impressed. In the kid cooking trenches why do I love beets? For the gross factor. Because what child doesn’t love the gross factor? (Okay, maybe one or two in every class.) What’s so gross about beets? It’s what happens when we eat too many. Many of us know this, right? Eat too many beets and we… well, we pee pink. This is gross and awesome and a reason to eat beets for kids. Next time you have beets on the table tell the child in front of you it they eat a lot they’ll have a surprise on the potty later. See if it doesn’t work to get them chomping.

For our Valentine cooking class we cooked up some red beets and whipped up this awesome dip to enjoy with some heart shaped homemade pretzels. On the home front we love this dip beyond Valentine’s Day. We use it as a dip, sandwich spread, or smear it over beef. We love its nutty texture (with no nuts involved!) and we love its garlic-lemon zip. Give it a try.

And if the beet dip doesn’t win them over… The pretzels will.

Serves 6
1 cup warm water
1 packet active dry yeast (or 2t instant yeast)
1 tablespoon cane sugar
1-1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup white flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
coarse sea salt, for sprinkling
1/4 cup baking soda

1) Pre-heat oven to 425F. Boil 2 cups of water with the 1/4 cup baking soda. Once dissolved, set aside.
2) Dissolve yeast and sugar in water. Sprinkle a little of the flour over the mixture and set aside until yeast is bubbly and blooms, about 5 minutes. Add flours and salt and mix until too hard to mix with a spoon then knead until well incorporated.
3) Form into a ball, place in oiled bowl, cover and let rise until double, 30-45 minutes.
4) Punch down dough. Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces. Cover extra to prevent drying.
5) Roll into logs then shape into hearts/pretzels/etc. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover and let rise in warm place for 10-15 minutes.
6) Brush the pretzels generously with the baking soda mixture then sprinkle with coarse sea salt.
7) Bake 8-10 minutes, until golden.

Beet Dip:
1 pound beets, peeled and cut into ½” pieces
1 large or 2 small garlic cloves, minced
1 lemon, juiced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons tahini
1 teaspoon sea salt
toasted Pepitas, for garnish

1) Boil the beets until very tender.
2) Mash the beets. Add garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, tahini and salt. (Alternatively, combine all ingredients and use a hand-held blender until smooth.)
3) Garnish with pepitas.

Book a Class or Party

An on-site dinner party is an awesome way to spend time together with family and friends. Enjoy a fun evening while showing off your inner chef skills.

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