Kid-Friendly Changes: Mayo and RANCH (Yes! Healthy Ranch!)

This is the second in a series of posts about some changes to help you incorporate more healthful eating into your life – without a mutiny from your kids!

Mmmmm! You can't beat fresh, crispy Romaine with ranch dressing!

Are there any more beloved condiments than mayonnaise and ranch salad dressing? I don’t know a parent who hasn’t at one point used ranch to coax a child into eating a suspicious vegetable. I’m including mayo and ranch in one post because once you have delicious, healthy mayo – delicious, healthy ranch is a breeze!

Please remember that recipes like these that contain raw eggs highlight the need for local eggs from true free-range chickens. Chickens packed into squalor and fed unnatural diets (including All Vegetarian diets – chickens are omnivores!) simply cannot be healthy! Click here for a great place to start sourcing healthy eggs.

MAYONNAISE – Part One

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, one of the things I aim to do is provide you with great resources. We don’t always have to reinvent the wheel. And so, rather than come up with my own take on mayonnaise, I’ll point you to the two great recipes that I use.

The first is from Sarah, the Healthy Home Economist, and can be found here.

She recommends sunflower oil, which I have used. I have also successfully used sesame oil and safflower oil. (You might be wondering whether these oils are healthy, given that they are high in Omega-6 fatty acids. The short answer is this: it depends. The typical American diet is inordinately high in Omega-6s. But we do need Omega-6s in our diet, in addition to Omega-3 and Omega-9 fatty acids. So, if you are eating a healthy, Real Food diet, these Omega-6-containing oils are not an issue. These oils are used because of their mild taste (particularly safflower and sunflower), but they can also be mixed with healthy extra-virgin olive oil. Experiment to find the best mix for you!)

I consider this recipe to be a more gourmet mayo. I adore the taste. The consistency is a bit more like dressing than gelatinous store-bought mayo, so if I were to make ranch or even Italian salad dressing from this, I would season it directly (see ranch seasoning recipe below).

MAYONNAISE – Part Two

The second recipe, and the one that is closest in consistency and taste to a store-bought mayonnaise (but better!) is from Kelly the Kitchen Kop and can be found here.

Kelly recommends using sesame oil. You can definitely taste the sesame oil, which I like, but I have also made it with sunflower or safflower mixed with extra virgin olive oil, and have enjoyed the mild taste of both blends. I generally do about 1/4 to 1/3 olive oil.

I have finally perfected doing this with my stick blender, which is MUCH easier than a jar blender. The key, I think, is finding a reasonably narrow (not much wider than your stick blender) wide mouth jar. Then you can put in all of the ingredients (including the oil!) and stick your blender in. On low, turn it on and hold it on the bottom for about 10-15 seconds, and then slowly begin moving it up and down the jar, continuing until it’s completely emulsified. I have successfully doubled this, as well, which makes life easier. (Update: After a surprising failed batch or two, I realized there are a few more variables. One, your eggs should be room temperature. Two, it helps if you warm up the jar in which you’ll be blending. I still find the stick blender to be easiest, but of course you can follow the traditional method as the recipe is written. If your mayonnaise won’t emulsify or ‘breaks,’ here are some handy tips to fix it.)

As to the whey issue, don’t be afraid to skip it if you’re new to Real Food and it overwhelms you. I have successfully used whey in both (between 1/2 and 1 Tbsp.) and have been pleased with the taste, even after a few weeks in the fridge.

RANCH!

You may have noticed that both recipes contained a variation to prepare ranch dressing. If I may toot my own horn, I have not yet found a mix better than the one I’m going to share below. When I make this as a veggie dip for parties or serve it on salads, I am consistently asked for the recipe. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Ranch Seasoning Mix:
2 cups organic parsley flakes
1/2 cup organic dried minced onion
2 Tbsp. organic dill weed
1/3 cup + 1 Tbsp. organic onion powder
1/3 cup + 1 Tbsp. garlic powder
1/4 cup Celtic sea salt

Blend parsley, minced onion and dill weed in blender. Dump into bowl and stir in onion powder, garlic powder and salt. Put into container with tight-fitting lid.

How to Use This Seasoning
To make traditional ranch dressing, I combine 1 cup cultured buttermilk and 1 cup mayonnaise, and mix in 1 Tbsp. of the seasoning mix. (I have found that when using homemade mayo, I need to use my stick blender when making ranch to properly combine all of the ingredients.) If you’re not yet up to making your own mayo, Hain brand is an acceptable replacement.

While I also use the above recipe for making veggie dip, occasionally I’ll mix the seasoning right into sour cream or a mix of sour cream and mayo. (This is mostly by sight and taste, depending on consistency.) I have also thinned the above recipe with water when I wanted a more “drippy” dressing.

One of our family’s favorite variations, though, is when I mix the above dressing recipe about half and half with organic jarred salsa. It makes an amazing Mexi-Ranch, great for taco salads, steak salads, chips, veggies, putting in wraps, as a french fry dip – anything you can imagine! Enjoy!

Speaking of french fries – don’t miss my posts the week of 11.8.10 where I’ll review Kate Tietje’s e-book In the Kitchen: Real Food Basics. I’m including a sneak peek at some of her recipes (Yes! Guilt-free and amazing REAL french fries!) and a chance to win your own copy! You don’t want to miss it!

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5 responses to this post.

  1. How does the flavor of this ranch compare to Hidden Valley? I have a semi-homemade ranch recipe that used Hidden Valley packets, and I want to figure out how to modify it to make it from scratch. I’d like to start somewhere, but it’s hard when you already have the perfect taste…..

    Reply

    • I am a Hidden Valley fan from way-back! Truly, truly, this is a very similar taste (I say that because it has been years since I’ve had HV, although I remember loving it, but I know I had no ‘withdrawals’ when switching to this). The only hang up would be finding your right blend of seasoning, mayo and buttermilk, but it’s an easy one; you can fix it on the spot with your first batch. I know it’s a bit of an investment making the first batch of the seasoning mix, but I truly think it’s worth it, as someone who is a long-time ranch lover. And although I don’t know all the details of the HV mix, I’m pretty sure it contains MSG, no? You certainly want to avoid that!

      Reply

    • Just googled this, and yes the HV mix does contain MSG, along with maltodextrin, which in the US is usually derived from (GMO) corn. Try this blend and let me know what you think!

      Reply

  2. Posted by antihousewife on November 11, 2010 at 3:17 pm

    Yup, I’m thinking I will! My ranch recipe involves mayo, buttermilk, the HV ranch packet, and other seasonings. It’s supposed to be like Outback’s spicy ranch, but I make mine a little more picante since I want it that way! I’ll have to play with it, I suppose…..

    Reply

  3. When you perfect your mix, please share it here. Spicy ranch sounds yummy!

    Reply

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