Saturday, April 14, 2012

Soy-Free Saturday: Ranch dressing and dips

We eat a LOT of ranch at our house.  

I really mean a LOT.

But if you look at your average bottle of ranch, it will likely contain soybean oil as a first, or possibly second, ingredient.  Occasionally it will list it as a possible ingredient, which is just frustrating.  When that happens, it just means that they are using the cheapest kind of oil they can get, so it could be any one (or a blend) of the oils listed.   Honestly, is it really that hard to make separate labels?

But I digress.

When I say that we eat ranch, I primarily mean that my kids eat a lot of ranch.  They eat it on chicken nuggets (yes, I occasionally feed my kids pre-made chicken nuggets. I know, I know.....I'm not proud of myself either), use it as dip for carrots, they like it as a dip for pretzels or whole-wheat crackers, on salads (ha! My kids eat salads.  That balances out the chicken nuggets, right??), or anything else that is vegetable related.  

So really, my problem became two-fold.  I wanted to find soy-free ranch dressing, but I also wanted to provide a healthy alternative to ranch for the kids as well, because let's be honest - soy-free or not, ranch isn't exactly a health food.

I found Annie's organic ranch, which is soy-free ranch at Target (also sold other places).  It's so good!  And my kids love the flavor.  

No soy-oil at all!

Now on to the next problem to solve:  a healthier alternative to the massive amounts of ranch my kids like to eat. I started buying Fage Plain Greek Yogurt, and ranch seasoning.  Whal-laa! Healthy ranch dip.

Note: It's SO much cheaper to buy the ranch seasoning in bulk!  Sam's Club has it that way, or you may be able to find it other places as well.  Much cheaper than the packets!  And yes, I know that's a lot of cinnamon. 

Now, to be clear, this ranch seasoning does have a little soy in it.  It says on the label that it has 1% or less of a few things, including "natural flavorings," and at the bottom says it contains soy.  So, I'm guessing the natural flavoring is soy.  However, this was a place where I had to choose what kind of balance to strike.

I'm not allergic to soy, it's something I'm working to eliminate out of my life for health reasons, and reduce in the live of my family.  So, I can give them ranch that has a lot of fat, a lot of calories, but not very many nutrients all the time,  or I can find something with very little soy, but a lot of nutrients. 

Greek yogurt has a lot of protein in it, and the Fage brand is made from the milk of cows that have not been treated with growth hormones.  So when the ranch dip we make is made primarily of that, plus a little bit of ranch seasoning that contains less than 1% of a soy flavoring, I think we've reached a compromise I can feel good about.

I know there are a lot of blogs about going completely all-natural, if-I-didn't-see-it-grow-I'm-not-eating-it, but honestly, that's just not where we are right now.  Maybe we will be someday, but for right now, we are trying to make healthy choices, but stick to ones that can work for our family.  

So if you're allergic to soy, stay away from the seasoning and just get Annie's.  Really, it's pretty delicious.  But if your kids are like mine and like ranch on everything, this might be a good alternative, and it will still be much, much lower in soy!

**Disclaimer: These Soy-Free Saturday posts contain only my opinion, and should be used with discretion according to your doctor's assessment of your personal needs.  


  1. Good to know! This has been a fun series. Keep up the good work! As far as the ranch dip goes, you can also make your own seasoning for the dip. Here's a link to the recipe I use:
    Apparently it works for ranch dressing too, but I haven't tried that because we are addicted to Newman's Own oil and vinegar dressing. :-) We LOVE this as a dip, though. The flavors are amazing! (Note that you do have to let it sit an hour or two after mixing before tasting - less amazing before it sets.) I used to do the Hidden Valley ranch seasoning but like this a lot better. Love to have options!

  2. I have just started reading her blogs - I will definitely have to check that out. Thanks!!