Heart-to-Heart with Diane

Hello and Welcome! Isn't raising a family the greatest!? I know I've got the best job in the world, just being Mom! I love sharing things I've discovered that make being "Mom" better, easier or more fulfilling, and that is what this blog is all about. Welcome!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

What's Ranch Dressing?

Um. . . yum! We love our Ranch Dressing!

Hey, how fun! I got an email from a reader in Great Britian who is trying to make the Easy Cheese Ball that I recently blogged about, but doesn't know what ranch dressing is. It's a small world because of the internet, and I guess I didn't take into account that not everyone lives "out west" with me, where ranch dressing rules supreme!

Well, no worries dear-love. You can make your own!

Ranch dressing—American's favorite—has taken its place with "Mom, home and apple pie". Every restaurant serves it. Ranch dressing is hard to criticize since everybody loves it, especially kids.

But, grocery store ranch dressing has its serious drawbacks. Have you taken a look at the ingredients? Sugar and MSG are very high on the list! MSG has been linked to asthma, headaches, and heart irregularities, and is destructive to brain cells. Sugar makes you eat more than you need, and forms cavities and breaks down health in general.

Ah, do we have to give up our beloved ranch dressing?

No, no, no. Just make it yourself out of healthy ingredients! This recipe is so good that the kids didn't even see a difference. You won't miss the MSG or sugar, either. For complete enjoyment, fill an empty ranch dressing bottle with your new homemade version to keep the skeptical happy. Keeps in refrigerator for as long as buttermilk stays good, 3 weeks or more. But, believe me, they will eat it up long before that!

Healthy Ranch Dressing
Takes just 2 minutes to stir up!

In a bowl, whisk together:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tsp. dried parsley (or 2 tsp. fresh parsley, finely minced)
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. granulated garlic
optional: 1 teaspoon fresh dill weed, minced

For complete enjoyment, fill an empty ranch dressing bottle with your new homemade version. Keeps in refrigerator for as long as buttermilk stays good, 2 weeks or more.

If you are feeling extra ambitious, make the ingredients from which ranch dressing is made, and you'll really have a healthy version!

Homemade Mayonnaise
Very quick and easy, plus you can make it without all the long list of additives found in grocery store mayo.

1 egg
2 tablespoons lemon or orange juice (or vinegar)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup extra virgin olive oil

Works best if ingredients are at room temperature. Put the egg, 1 tablespoon of the juice and salt in the blender. Cover and blend on low speed. While blender is running, slowly pour in 1/2 cup of oil. Blend on high speed. Add remaining 1 tablespoon of juice and slowly pour in remaining oil while blender is running on high speed. The mayonnaise will amazingly and very suddenly thicken up. Makes 1 cup. Store in the refrigerator.

Home Cultured Buttermilk

Measure 1/2 cup of buttermilk into a quart canning jar. Fill jar with raw milk or grocery store (pasteurized milk) and cover. Let the jar stand on your counter at room temperature for at least 24 hours or until clabbered and thick. Store in the refrigerator after it has clabbered. To make more buttermilk, use1/2 cup of this buttermilk to start a new batch.

P.S. You can make this super easy by leaving approx. 1/2 cup of buttermilk in the bottom of the grocery store buttermilk carton or jug, and just refilling with milk. Shake well and proceed as above.

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  • At December 19, 2009 at 3:40 AM , Blogger AJ said...

    Thank you, thank you for this post w/Ranch dressing recipe! I found I'd left my computer on last night & here is your just-made-my-life-easier recipe for ranch dressing! I agree--the commercial type is nasty, considering what it's made of...even if my family & I did not need to stay away from gluten & casein. I can hardly wait to make this with a dairy-free version of the buttermilk (coconut/almond/rice/soy/combo) from whatever I happen to have in the fridge. We happen to be out of gf/cf dressing that is palatable to me, too! (I will not buy any until it is at the discount store; too expensive) Merry Christmas (& thanks for this present).

  • At December 19, 2009 at 9:04 AM , Blogger Debbie said...

    Thanks for the recipes. I'm an American living in England (over 4 years), and Ranch dressing is indeed very uncommon. Most people here use mayo for salad dressing, so salad dressings aren't a big thing anyway. For awhile we couldn't find Ranch dressing, and we had to buy buttermilk at a Polish food store the one time we needed it for a recipe. Now our local Asda does carry one brand of Ranch dressing and also buttermilk, but it's nice to have the healthier recipes to try. I'm planning to make your cheese ball for Christmas, and I can't wait!

  • At December 22, 2009 at 7:59 AM , Blogger Hannah said...

    My husband always makes buttermilk for his biscuits, cornbread, and pancakes using 1 TBSP. Lemon juice in the bottom of a liquid measuring cup, then filling it with milk to the 1 c. mark. If you need 2 cups buttermilk, add 2 TBSP. lemon juice to the bottom then fill with milk to the 2 c. mark! It makes GREAT buttermilk! Whole raw milk clabbers up really nicely!

  • At December 29, 2009 at 7:27 AM , Blogger AJ said...

    Tried the Ranch dressing recipe last night. A big hit!--even with our extra-selective sensory-challenged child! That is huge. (Of course he smelled it first.) I made 'buttermilk' with lemon juice in Rice Dream (now is gluten-free) mixed w/Kirkland soymilk (Costco); same amounts as Hannah, above, stated. Woohoo. I have previously not had so much as a carrot dipped in Ranch for years & years. Thank you.

  • At February 2, 2010 at 2:16 PM , Blogger JazzyMama said...

    Thanks for this - Ranch is the only dressing I can tolerate (I'm the picky eater in my family) and the one mix I found without MSG is more expensive.

    Question: What is the difference between clabbered and spoiled? I was taught they were the same thing.

  • At February 2, 2010 at 2:22 PM , Blogger Diane Hopkins said...

    Here's some definitions:

    Spoiled milk--grocery store milk that has gone rotten,(milk that has been pasteurized--killing all the bacteria that can ferment or clabber the milk). Throw it out.

    Clabbered milk--milk that has become thick and sour because of the work of fermentation of healthy bacteria. Good health food!


  • At February 25, 2010 at 8:48 PM , Blogger Tammy said...

    For the mayonnaise recipe, can you substitute canola oil for the olive oil? I read recently that the canola oil is just as "healthy" but less expensive than the olive oil.

  • At February 25, 2010 at 9:35 PM , Blogger Diane Hopkins said...

    Sure you can, but canola oil is not a healthy oil like olive oil is. Just do a google search for "dangers of canola oil". Spring for olive oil—its worth it! ;0)


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