A Day at the Ranch

I’ve been on sabbatical for way too long.  It’s summer!  It’s been crazy.  Kids going here, there and everywhere.  No set schedule.  Don’t get me wrong it’s been fun but unstructured (as always in the summer).  Sometimes it’s hard to get the creative juices flowing to write something as I have less alone time.   Recently something happened that I feel I need to share.  I have to write about something weighing (no pun intended) on my mind.  I need to cleanse my soul by admitting to an uncontrollable desire to consume an oldie but a goodie –  Hidden Valley Ranch Dip (which I will refer to affectionately as HVRD).  This is a true confession from a dietitian.

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I work at a local kitchen gadget store and one day my manager brought in vegetables and dip.  Ok, no big deal.  I was really happy she brought the veggies as I was really feeling up for a good eating day.   She normally brings in something like hummus or Tzatiki.  Not this day.  I peered into the little covered bowl.  Could that be ranch dip?  When was the last time you went to a party and the host served HVRD? I bet you can’t even remember.  Let me tell you, it’s got a flavor like no other.  When I took that first carrot and enrobed the end in the velvety dip, the memories came flooding back.  The real fireworks went off when I tasted it.  It was delicious beyond belief.  Why did it taste so good?  Was I really hungry?  Maybe.  Was it the sodium, the MSG, the sour cream?  Perhaps.  Ahh, I know it was probably the maltodextrin.  As a dietitian, I can’t get enough of that.  Anyway, all I know is that it was rich, dreamy and creamy.

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My manager brought a nice assortment of vegetables.  Carrots,  broccoli, and fresh cucumbers from her garden.  I started out dipping the tip of the veggie.  The more I ate the deeper I dipped.  Pretty soon it was about 90% dip and 10% veggie.  Then I spotted the snaps.  Do you know what a snap is?  Check it out below…

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They are a crispy, crunchy, salty party in your mouth.  I decided to try the snap in the ranch.  Oh my god….you can’t imagine.  I still was unsure why I found the HVRD so delectable but I couldn’t fight it any longer.  For the rest of the day at work, I was dipping and double dipping snaps and veggies in my new found love.  The day ended and I said good bye to my co-workers…and scraped the bottom of the bowl with one last snap.

A day or two passed and I couldn’t forget about the HVRD.  On my weekly grocery shopping trip, my cart uncontrollably headed to the salad dressing aisle.   The HVRD should be with the HV salad dressing, right?  Why not make my own HVRD?  Surely, I could eat it in moderation at home.  Plus, the kids would like it and just maybe it would help them get their “five a day” of fruits and vegetables.  I put one, no two packets in my cart.  The sour cream came next and I knew what I had to do.  I had to get the reduced fat.  Yes!  That was the healthy thing to do.  I finished my shopping trip and sped home to make my HVRD.

I also got organic carrots rather than those round tipped precut  ones.  Another way to make this healthier.  Actually they really taste a lot better, too.   It was really easy to make – 16 ounces sour cream (remember reduced fat) mixed with the packet of unidentifiable ingredients.  It says on the packet to thicken and enhance flavor, refrigerate one hour before serving but I had no time for that.   I took my organic carrot and dipped….good but probably needed that refrigeration to get the texture right.   I dipped all day.  Carrots, Triscuits, hard pretzels, soft pretzels – anything that could withstand the force of being submerged in the dip.  Feeling full I went to put the HVRD in the fridge and saw the salsa.  The wheels started turning.  That just might be a match made in heaven!  I mixed the HVRD and the salsa.  YUMBO!!!   Time for the Tostitos.   I continued to dip until I realized I just wasn’t digging it so much any more.   I was so full I was ready to burst.

You know what I think happened?  I think I finally just had too much (surprise, surprise).  You know how that first taste of something is really good?  As you continue to eat it, not so much.   When your food starts to not taste as good as when you started, STOP eating.  That evening I felt so bloated someone could have used me as a life preserver.  The next day I didn’t feel so hot, either.

What did I learn from this?  HVRD is probably not so bad in moderation.   Are there other recipes I could make with that little packet?  Maybe HVRD pudding, cheesecake, or quiche?  Believe it or not, these things entered my mind.  I also think I might just try a home made ranch dip.  That way I can identify all the ingredients I put in it.  I have not done this yet but I plan on making it.

The other thing I learned is one that I already knew.  Even if you REALLY like something, pace yourself.  Fully taste each bite.  Chew slowly.  Savor the flavor.  There is no rush.  No one is going to take your food away.  You will be able to have that food again!  You don’t want to end it feeling full and sick to your stomach.  Obviously, you’ll enjoy your food more this way, be healthier and feel better!

FYI, that second packet of HVRD is still in my kitchen cabinet…not far from the packet of Lipton’s Onion Soup.