Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Fruit Kebabs and Honey Yogurt Dip

Fruit is something that we could all eat a little more of. As much as I love fruit, I tend to think of it as a morning or early afternoon snack, not as something substantial. For serious snacking, I generally turn towards savory foods, like pita chips, crackers and hummus. Fruit can be filling though, and it is likely to satisfy both your hunger and your sweet tooth – something that a salty snack won’t quite do.
These fruit kebabs are really fun. I had a great time making them for myself, but they are the sort of thing that a kid would love to have or make. You need a variety of fruits and some wooden skewers. The best fruits are firmer ones, like melons, pineapple, apples and berries. Bananas are great, too, but don’t forget to toss the slices with a little bit of lemon or orange juice to prevent them from browning too quickly. Brown bananas were always a huge turn off to me when I was young, though they do not bother me in the least now. On these skewers, I also have slices of ripe mango.
If you cut your fruit just right, you will have enough exposed surface area to use a small cookie cutter to cut the fruit into shapes. The main goal of cutting up the fruit is to have each piece be no larger than bite-size, but having a little bit of fun with the cookie cutters is worth it (especially with kids), when you have the chance.
The yogurt dip is what makes this more than just fruit on a stick. A dip makes something seem more complete, even more special or satisfying. I used my favorite nonfat Fage Greek yogurt, which is thicker than most regular yogurts and clings to the fruit a bit better. I sweetened the plain, slightly tangy yogurt with vanilla, cinnamon, honey and orange zest. The orange zest is the key ingredient in bringing all the flavors together in the dip. The sweetness of the honey, along with the hint of citrus, enables the dip to pair perfectly with the rest of the fruits, highlighting their natural sweetness.
Feel free to change the amount of each flavor to your tastes, increasing the honey if you want your dip to be sweeter, but be sure to include everything.

Sweet Honeyed Yogurt Dip
1 cup plaint yogurt (I used nonfat)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1-2 tsp orange zest (1 orange)
3-4 tbsp honey

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Serve chilled with fresh fruit kebabs.
Dip can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator.
Makes about 1 cup.