One of the best ways to help yourself (and others!) to stay on the health track this Christmas is to BE the one to bring the healthy dish to the party. Don’t leave it up to someone else. I know in the past, I personally have been rushed and tired and sometimes just brought the easy-to-make, boxed, not-as-good-for you food item. I normally always regret it later when I find that there are no decent, gluten free options (a must for me!). While it certainly isn’t the end of the world, it does make for an evening of empty bellied-ness (of you had the ability to not eat anything) OR of sugar overload! So take this holiday tip and be the one to bring something a little more on the healthy side of things.
In fact, let me help you do that by suggesting you bring a veggie tray with this healthy Ranch Dip recipe! Most everyone likes finger food at parties and veggie trays fit into that category. You can customize the tray to your own preferences too. Not a fan of bell peppers? Throw in olives or more cucumbers etc!). If you don’t have the time (or energy!) to cut all those veggies for the tray, just purchase the pre-made veggie tray and just substitute the traditional ranch that is typically included with your own fantastic homemade version! Smart eh?
Why is traditional ranch from the bottle so bad? Or is it? Well for starters, the ingredient list doesn’t pack a positive nutritional punch. It contains soybean and canola oils (highly processed and more inflammatory), sugar and MSG, artificial flavors and “natural flavors” (whatever those are!). For people who can’t tolerate egg and soy products, Ranch dressing uses egg and soy as emulsifying agents (a common and not altogether bad practice…it’s just something some people need to be aware of). Also, two bloppy Tablespoons are 140 calories! Calories are NOT everything but let’s face it, 2 tablespoons is nothing(I could probably use that much on 3-4 baby carrots)! Have you seen very many people limit themselves to 2 Tablespoons of dressing? I think not!
What makes this particular homemade Ranch recipe better? The base of this dip uses (preferably organic) cottage cheese and Greek yogurt (or sour cream). Sprinkle in some herbs and that’s it. Really. The cottage cheese and Greek yogurt contain high amounts of protein (with some probiotics) and if I have done my math correctly, there are only 12 Kcals and 2 grams protein per Tablespoon dip ( as opposed to 70 kcals and 0 protein per Tablespoon for the Traditional Ranch). That means that instead of limiting yourself to a measly 2 Tablespoons, you can enjoy a satisfying ¼ cup or more and still come out ahead! And maybe the best part is, you don’t have all the additives in it. If you can tolerate dairy but not eggs or soy, good news, you can still have this dip!
Hint: Select cottage cheese without the thickener “carrageenan.” This seaweed-derived thickener has been known to cause irritation and inflammation in the gut. I have found the Daisy brand as the most reliable source for carrageenan-free dairy products! These are available in standard grocery stores nationwide.
I have personally been loving this dip with my carrot sticks each afternoon. Admittedly, I want to finesse the recipe to fit my tastes more but I am happy to work on that while I enjoy a nutritionally dense dip.
So the next time you wonder what healthy appetizer to share at the holiday party, why not try this dip?
Healthy Homemade Ranch Dressing
Recipe taken from Linsey Brin’s (Mom’s Into Fitness) Facebook post on 11/29/17.
1 cup cottage cheese
1 cup Plain (unsweetened) Greek Yogurt OR Sour Cream
1 Tablespoon parsley
1 Tablespoon dried chives
1 teaspoon garlic powder (not salt)
1 teaspoon onion powder
Salt and Pepper to taste.
Combine all ingredients together in a medium-sized bowl and mix well. If a smooth texture is desired, use a hand held immersion blender (or a regular one) to blend until smooth.