Recently, I had some friends over for a little gluten free soiree. One of the delicious dishes I made was a simple little Kale Ranch Dip that I had thrown together a few weeks ago while in the midst of an all day kale-dehydrating marathon (many thanks to my friend, The Homesteading Hippy for her generosity!). I had transformed a ginormous mound of freshly picked, organic kale into about half a cup of powdered kale. A lot of time, a bit of effort, and not a lot to show for it..but considering the alternative (buying organic kale powder for around $20 a pound), it was worth it. Now I can sneak that little powerhouse into all kinds of things, like this delicious Homemade Kale Ranch Dip.
If you’ve ever intentionally read the labels on most commercially prepared dips and salad dressings, you know it’s rather frightening to really consider what, exactly, you are putting into your body. Or your children’s. It’s enough to keep a mom up at night. I started making my own mixes and seasoning blends several years ago, and not only are they much more healthy, they are pretty close to dirt cheap. I’m a big fan of healthy and dirt cheap, believe me.
If you have intentionally read them, but don’t know how to pronounce half the ingredients, you are not alone! Indecipherable ingredients are bad, but what they do to your health is even worse. Here’s just a few things to keep in mind the next time you want to pick up a packet of dry ranch dressing mix next time they’re on sale BOGO and you have coupons…
- MSG (Monosodium Glutamate): (excitotoxin) I really hate this stuff. You’ll probably get tired of me talking about it. But it really is bad for you, and it’s in so many foods. They have even found ways to rename it so you don’t recognize it, unless of course you take the time to keep up with information about it. MSG can be disguised as soy protein isolate, yeast extract, autolyzed/hydrolyzed anything, glutamic acid, whey protein isolate…apparently, there are over 40 sources of hidden MSG in processed foods. It can even be in maltodextrin…
- Maltodextrin – a type of carbohydrate with a high glycemic index. While it is a complex carbohydrate, the body treats it like sugar and responds appropriately with insulin. It may be derived from wheat (must be labeled as such in the US), corn, rice or potato. It is not a substance that is found naturally in whole foods, it’s cooked up in a lab. That should be enough reason alone to avoid it, but add in the potential for the use of GMOs in producing it and you have some freaky sugar…freaky SNEAKY sugar, as it is in many, many processed foods and unless you either avoid processed foods or read the labels, you’re probably consuming a lot of maltodextrin.
My son is HIGHLY sensitive to MSG so I avoid it like the plague. But I recently realized that I haven’t been remembering about the hidden sources of MSG. The majority of what he eats is not processed, but there are times, such as when we are at someone else’s house or at a potluck (although I usually bring food along that I know is safe and healthy for him, his sister and I since we also have to watch out for gluten), when he eats foods that are less than ideal. I do try to minimize that as much as possible. I need to print out a list of possible aliases for MSG to keep in my purse for when I’m shopping, eating out at a restaurant or some other place. Sometimes, I think it would be easier just to eat dandelions and twigs. Of course, they would be terrific with my delicious Kale Ranch Dip…
Ranch dressing mix is another one of those prepackaged, processed foods in my pantry that got replaced by a healthy, homemade version. I got this idea that a bit of kale powder mixed in with the ranch dressing mix would transform ordinary homemade Ranch Dip into an amazingly delicious Kale Ranch Dip…kind of like Clark Kent and Superman. As it turns out, I was correct. In fact, one of my friends at my little gluten free soiree said, and I quote…
I think this is the best dip I’ve ever eaten…ever!
That really made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I love a compliment like that! Especially when it’s about something that I came up with myself.
I’m not sure where I found the recipe for the Ranch Dressing Mix, I think it might be a tweaked version of something out of an Amish cookbook I have. Easily transform it into Kale Ranch Mix by adding the kale powder to the mix, or add it to the Kale Ranch Dip (or dressing) when you prepare it if you don’t want kale-y ranch all the time. I’m thinking it just needs to be a standard ingredient to my Ranch Dressing Mix, and since I’m due to make another batch, I’m just going to add some of that glorious green gold while I’m at it. Lord knows we could all use more greens in our diets!
I am what is known in many circles as a “dump cook.” This rather unappetizing title refers to my tendency to dump stuff together until it tastes like I like, not that I make food that belongs in the dump. So, following is a general idea of how I transform this artificial-coloring-flavoring-msg-free mix into The Best Dip Ever:
Homemade Kale Ranch Dip
- 2 c sour cream
- 2-4 Tbs Ranch Dressing Mix (see recipe below)
- 1 heaping tsp of powdered kale
Start by mixing in 2 tablespoons of dressing mix plus the kale. Taste. Add more dressing mix according to your taste preference, remembering that the flavor develops a bit as it sits in the fridge. Taste it again about 20 minutes before serving in case it needs any additional mix or kale, then mix well and pop it back in the fridge until serving time. Gently spoon the Kale Ranch Dip into an attractive serving dish and tastefully display it on your Hors d’oeuvre table. Then listen to your guests “Oooooh” and “Aaaaah” by the veggie tray (;
Homemade Ranch Dressing/Dip Mix
- 5 Tbs dried, minced onion
- 7 tsp dried parsley
- 1 tsp celery salt
- 3 tsp salt (or less if desired)
- 1 tsp garlic (we love garlic, so I make this a heaping teaspoon)
Mix well, store in an airtight container. Two tablespoons equals one packet of a commercially prepared mix. One heaping teaspoon of onion powder may be used instead of minced dried onion. Sometimes I use part minced, part powder, depending on what I have on hand. The rule of thumb for substituting a powdered version of a spice/seasoning is one TSP powder = 1 TBS dried/minced/etc.
I don’t often make ranch dressing (collective gasp, I know…), but you could easily use this mix to make your own Buttermilk Kale Ranch Dressing by simply following your favorite recipe and substituting this mix for a well-known brand of dry ranch dressing mix.
Try this and let me know what you think! I could just eat it with a spoon…but the veggies are much more healthy so I generally eat it with those!