Low Carb Ranch Pasta Salad (THM S)

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This pasta salad is a quick and easy side dish to make ahead for lunch or dinner – perfect for those busy weeknights!

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If you’ve ever been to a Ruby Tuesdays, you very likely know the pasta salad I’m talking about. Creamy, crunchy, and a little salty from the ham and Ranch.

Growing up in Woodstock, Georgia (which was very small then) Ruby Tuesdays was one of the only sit-down restaurants in our area. When my parents felt like treating us to a dinner out, we usually went there or our favorite Mexican food joint.

My mother loves to tell stories about what a veggie lover I’ve always been (apparently, I used to ask for a breakfast of carrots, celery, and ranch – who’d have guessed?!). So naturally I gravitated toward the salad bar and piled it high. The pasta salad became one of my favorites very quickly.

I haven’t been to Ruby Tuesdays in forever! The last memory I have of going there, I was pregnant with my daughter (which was 5 years ago). So, you can understand my excitement when I found this pasta salad EVEN BETTER than the one at the favored restaurant chain.

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It’s a fantastic use of leftover ham, veggies sitting in the fridge, or those last few Tablespoons of Ranch at the bottom of your jar.

My kids were digging this pasta salad too, even the veggies (that they normally shy away from).

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This salad is creamy, delightfully crunchy, and FRESH. Just look at all those flecks of fresh herbs from the homemade Ranch dressing – gorgeous!

Ranch Pasta Salad (THM S)

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Time: 10 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Credit: Erin Murray, My Fling with Food

Ingredients

  • 8oz Dreamfields Pasta (any short cut variety, I used elbows), cooked (makes about 2 cups cooked pasta)
  • 1 1/2 c finely diced ham
  • 1/3 c frozen peas (don’t worry about thawing or cooking, they thaw very quickly)
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, finely diced
  • 2 Tbsp mayonnaise
  • 2-3 heaping Tbsp Homemade Ranch Dressing
  • salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour, and add more mayo and/or ranch if the salad gets too dry.
  2. Store refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.

Low Carb Blender Ranch Dressing (THM S)

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a commission off of purchases made using these links. If you’re interested in fitness, the Trim Healthy Mama lifestyle, or just living a more healthy life, please consider using one or more of the links below. The money made helps me feed my growing family and keeps this blog running with free recipes. Thank you!

This homemade ranch dressing is so easy to make, you’ll never want to buy bottled again!
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What if I told you homemade ranch was just a turn of your blender away? Well, brace yourselves, because it’s true!

This ranch batch blended beautifully in my Ninja blender, and it only took a few minutes.

This recipe makes about 1 1/2 cups of salad dressing, however you can stretch it a little further. My dressing tends to thicken after refrigeration, and the flavor will intensify, so you can thin it out with a little half and half, almond milk, or water if you prefer.

My kids love this dressing with literally anything – cut veggies, salad (yes, they eat salad ^_^), nuggets, pizza, you name it. I love this dressing because I get to control the quality of ingredients, and because it tastes incredible. [Seriously, it’s better than those $5 bottles of organic dressing at the grocery store. AND IT DOESN’T COST YOU $5 A BATCH.]

Blender Ranch Dressing (THM S)

  • Servings: Multiple
  • Time: 10 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print


Credit: Erin Murray, My Fling with Food

Ingredients

  • 1 c mayonnaise
  • 1/2 c sour cream (full fat is fine. I used reduced fat, because it had slightly fewer carbs than full fat)
  • 1/2 small bunch fresh parsley
  • 1/2 small bunch fresh chives, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 c fresh dill
  • 2 small cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 2 tsp white balsamic vinegar
  • 5 dashes hot sauce
  • salt and pepper
  • half and half or plain, unsweetened almond milk to thin, optional

Directions

  1. Place all ingredients into a high-powered blender and blend well. Adjust the seasoning as needed, and thin with half and half or almond milk if desired.
  2. Place into a pint mason jar and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before use. Keeps in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Creamy Jalapeño Ranch Sauce (THM S)

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a commission off of purchases made using these links. If you’re interested in fitness, the Trim Healthy Mama lifestyle, or just living a more healthy life, please consider using one or more of the links below. The money made helps me feed my growing family and keeps this blog running with free recipes. Thank you!

If you are lucky enough to have a Chuy’s Tex-Mex restaurant near you, then I bet you already know the sauce I’m talking about. We discovered Chuy’s over the summer, and now my daughter begs to go there at least once a week. We try to appease her by going once or twice a week.

On to the legendary Creamy Jalapeño Sauce. At Chuy’s, you can put this sauce on anything you want – tacos, enchiladas, nachos, chile rellenos, and even dips your chips in it. It’s ah-mazing. It has a hint of ranch flavor, a ton of freshness, and just a little *bite* of fresh jalapeño.

After I made some wildly successful Homemade Buttermilk Ranch, I decided to build on that recipe to replicate copycat Chuy’s Creamy Jalapeño Sauce.

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What’s wonderful about this recipe is that it takes maybe five minutes to put together. You throw all of the ingredients into a food processor or high-powered blender and whip together until everything looks uniform. Then taste, taste, taste! Add more flavor as you wish – more dill, more cilantro, salt, pepper, etc. Make it your own! What you end up with is a fresh, creamy, slightly spicy sauce.

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A few tips…

*Grate or finely mince the garlic prior to blending it. Garlic can be tough for blenders and processors to get to, because it’s already small so it will get “chunked” instead of blended.

*Finely chop the jalapeño prior to blending it as well. Again, just helps ensure that you won’t end up with chunks of jalapeño. If you would like tips on how to take the seeds and ribs out without setting your hands on fire with pepper juice, check out my how-to here.

As with any homemade dressing/sauce, the flavor will intensify over time. It’s best to stir it before each use.

Use this fabulous sauce on your salads, tacos, enchiladas, as dip for crudités, or anything else your heart desires.

Creamy Jalapeño Ranch Sauce

  • Servings: Multiple
  • Time: 7 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Credit: Erin Murray, My Fling with Food

Ingredients

  • 1 c mayonnaise
  • 1/2 c reduced fat sour cream
  • 1 large handful fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 fresh jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped
  • 3 Tbsp fresh parsley
  • 3 Tbsp fresh chives
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • 1 tsp white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp gluten free Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 small sprig fresh dill, or 1/2 tsp dried dill, fronds removed and roughly chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • half and half to thin out as needed

Directions

  1. Place all ingredients into a high-powered mixer or food processor and blend well.
  2. Adjust seasoning as needed. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Wedge Salad with Buttermilk Ranch Dressing (THM S)

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a commission off of purchases made using these links. If you’re interested in fitness, the Trim Healthy Mama lifestyle, or just living a more healthy life, please consider using one or more of the links below. The money made helps me feed my growing family and keeps this blog running with free recipes. Thank you!

I’m probably preaching to the converted here, but I’ll go ahead and say it – ranch dressing rocks my world.

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I’ve spent time scouring store brands trying to find something that’s Trim Healthy Mama compliant while keeping within my budget, and it’s either a unicorn or it doesn’t exist. Most brands have varying sugar levels, and it seems the sugar levels and price have a variable relationship. Smaller levels, higher price. Quite frankly, I’m just not willing to pay upwards of $5 per bottle for something I’m not sure I’ll enjoy.

Enter: homemade ranch.

Honestly, it blows my mind how much better homemade dressings/sauces taste than store brand. I’m not even remotely exaggerating!

After mixing this dressing together, I really had to refrain from drinking the entire bowl.

I chopped everything by hand, but if you like the pieces smaller feel free to use a food processor.

*NOTE: Even If you’re using a food processor, still grate the garlic so that you don’t get any large pieces. I used a fine hand grater.

Start off by making a homemade buttermilk from unsweetened almond milk and apple cider vinegar.

Combine all other ingredients in a small bowl, season with salt and pepper, and add the buttermilk to your desired consistency.

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It tastes best when it has a few hours to hang out in the fridge, but straight from mixing to serving works too. The taste will deepen over time.

The first night, I paired this with one of my favorite classic sides: the wedge salad. There’s something about a wedge salad that feels so simple yet elegant. Even when I make it at home, I feel like I’m in a fancy steakhouse.

The best way to get your iceberg wedges is to start by cutting the stem end off the head of lettuce. Then cut diagonally down toward the center twice, and rock your knife side-to-side to free your wedge slice from its prison.

Add it to a bowl with some chopped seedless cucumbers, tomatoes, blue cheese crumbles, and bacon. Season with a little salt and pepper.

And finally, drizzle on your homemade ranch dressing.

Store the dressing in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks (although I’m almost certain it won’t be around that long), stirring before each use. This recipe makes about 8 servings.

Buttermilk Ranch Dressing (THM S)

  • Servings: Multiple
  • Time: 5 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print


Credit: Erin Murray, My Fling with Food

Ingredients

  • 1 c mayonnaise
  • 1/2 c reduced fat sour cream
  • 1/2 c unsweetened, plain almond milk
  • 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely grated (I use a hand grater
  • 4 Tbsp fresh chopped parsley
  • 3 Tbsp fresh chopped dill
  • 2 Tbsp fresh chives
  • 1/2 tsp white balsamic vinegar
  • few dashes hot sauce
  • salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Combine almond milk and apple cider vinegar in a small bowl and set aside. This makes your “buttermilk”
  2. Combine the remaining ingredients in a medium-sized bowl.
  3. Add the reserved buttermilk until the mixture reaches your desired consistency. Adjust salt and pepper as needed.
  4. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

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Crockpot Fiesta Ranch Chicken Tacos (THM E)

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a commission off of purchases made using these links. If you’re interested in fitness, the Trim Healthy Mama lifestyle, or just living a more healthy life, please consider using one or more of the links below. The money made helps me feed my growing family and keeps this blog running with free recipes. Thank you!

I love meals that you can spend 5 minutes prepping and then forget about for a few hours. Whether you have a busy afternoon schedule, work all day, or just don’t want to give dinner all your effort, this meal is perfect for you.

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The Crock-Pot pulls all the heavy duty – all you have to do is pile the ingredients in, set it, and forget it.

These tacos are seasoned with homemade dry ranch seasoning mix – don’t be intimidated, it’s SUPER easy to make at home! Added bonus? No sugar, dairy, or other additives like the stuff off the shelf. Then I spiced it up a little with some smoky paprika, cumin, and chili powder which lend flavor and spice but not heat (perfect for the kiddos!). The chicken simmers together with the spices, tomatoes, chiles, and onions until it’s fork tender, juicy, and delicious.

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[I mean, just look at that beauty! Tender, juicy chicken spiced to perfection and piled on warm, slightly crispy corn tortillas. Come. To. Momma.]

I chose to use gluten free corn tortillas as my wrappers. I was able to find Mission corn tortillas that were gluten free and THM compliant at my local Sprouts. If you have trouble finding them, these Del Campo Soft Corn Tortillas are similar in nutrition to Mission brand. Make sure that with any corn tortillas you always heat them gently in a dry skillet before using them – it enhances their flavor and helps draw out moisture so that they don’t turn to mush.

As far as toppings go, use any E-friendly toppings you wish: fat free sour cream, red or green salsa, hot sauce, lettuce, lime, tomatoes, scallions, radishes, or a light sprinkle of part skim mozzarella cheese. I squeezed lime over mine and it gave the tacos a nice zing of freshness.

This recipe makes a fairly large amount, so it’s perfect for a big family or a make-ahead meal for the week. This chicken would make a perfect salad topper as a rollover meal during the week – perfect for lunches or a quick-fix dinner.

My kids especially loved this meal! My daughter said multiple times, “These are the best tacos EVER,” and she’s in a bit of a picky phase. ^_~

Crockpot Fiesta Ranch Chicken Tacos (THM E)

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Time: 4-8 hours
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print


Credit: Erin Murray, My Fling with Food

Ingredients

  • 3lbs chicken breast (frozen or fresh is fine)
  • 15oz can mild fire-roasted tomatoes with green chiles
  • 15oz can kidney or black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 large onion, diced
  • 1/2 Tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 package gluten free corn tortillas (I used Mission. You can also use these Del Campo Soft Corn Tortillas.)
  • Toppings of choice: lettuce, cheese, salsa, fat free sour cream, lime, etc.
  • For the Ranch Seasoning:
  • 1 Tbsp minced dried onion
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 Tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp dried dill
  • 2 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

Directions

  1. Mix the ingredients for the ranch seasoning together in a small bowl and set aside.
  2. In a large Crock-Pot, place the chicken, onions, tomatoes (with juice), paprika, cumin, chili powder, and 1 can of water (I use the tomato or bean can to measure, because no dishes) and set on medium-high for 4-6 hours, or on low for 8 hours.
  3. After the chicken is cooked through, leave the crock-pot on the “warm” setting and begin to shred the chicken between 2 forks. When it’s shredded add the beans and 1-2 Tablespoons of the ranch seasoning mix. It depends on how much ranch flavor you want here – I added about 1.5 Tsp and it was a strong flavor, but you can adjust for more or less. Whatever amount of the mix is leftover, put it in a zip-top bag to use later. Let the mixture stand on warm uncovered for about an hour prior to serving, so some of the water evaporates.
  4. Prior to serving, prep the tortillas by placing them in a dry skillet on low heat and warming them on both sides. Then pile in the chicken mixture and your favorite toppings and chow down!

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Veggie Joe’s and Ranch Roasted Potatoes (Yes, It’s As Yummy As It Sounds)

Believe it or not, in making the Veggie Joe’s I had my very first lentil encounter. I had never eaten lentils before, and I’d certainly never cooked them before so this was a whole new experience in the kitchen.

Come to find out, making lentils is pretty easy and tasty! Next lentil adventure in soup perhaps? Could be. Let’s just take it one step at a time.

Sloppy Joe’s is one of those fun, easy weeknight meals that can go one of two ways: healthy or unhealthy. The way I always had Sloppy Joe’s growing up was with ground beef (I’m guessing not lean) and a can of Manwich (is that how you spell it?). I’m taking a shot in dark and saying they probably weren’t the healthiest thing I could have been putting in my mouth.

When I thought about making these Veggie Joe’s, I imagined something that would not only be tasty but also healthy for the whole family. I realize that getting getting some people, ahemMENANDCHILDRENahem, to eat vegetables is not an easy task. I don’t exactly take the uber-sneaky approach like Jessica Seinfeld does with her “Deceptively Delicious” cookbooks because that’s too much work. I like to think of myself as more of a veggie-ninja. I don’t grind them up so small that you don’t see them coming, a la Jessica, I just make them small enough to where it’s a pain in the ass to dig them out. On the other hand, I make them tasty too! Pretty good compromise, I’d say.

Veggie Joe’s

  • 1/2 cup ketchup (you could also use tomato sauce)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 cup cooked lentils
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped finely
  • 2 Tsp Montreal Steak seasoning
  • 1 1/2 cups mushrooms, finely chopped (about 1/2 of an 8oz package of whole mushrooms)
  • 1-1 1/2 tsp Dale’s low sodium sauce (or Worcestershire sauce)
  • 4-5 dashes hot sauce *optional
  • 3/4 – 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 Tsp olive oil

Heat a medium, deep skillet with olive oil on medium-high heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, and jalapeno and saute until tender (about 5-6 minutes). Add the chopped mushrooms and saute until just soft (about 3-4 minutes). Add the cooked lentils, grill seasoning, and ketchup to the cooked veggies and saute for about 2 minutes. Add the Dale’s, hot sauce (if using), and vegetable broth, cover and simmer on medium-low for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. After simmering, the liquid should have fully evaporated into the lentils and made a thick sauce. If not, leave the lid off and keep simmering until the remaining liquid cooks out.

Ranch Roasted Potatoes

  • 4-5 cups chopped potatoes, any variety (I used red potatoes and some leftover gold fingerling potatoes I had on hand)
  • 1 Tsp dried parsley
  • 1 1/2 Tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 Tsp olive oil

Preheat your oven to 400. Combine the parsley, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper in a small bowl and mix it with your fingers. This mixture makes a little more than you’ll need for the potatoes, but you can save it in a plastic baggy for later. Put the chopped potatoes in a medium-sized bowl, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with roughly 2 Tsp of the Ranch mixture. Use your hands to toss and pour them out in a single layer on a small baking sheet lined with foil. Toss them in the oven and bake for about 45 minutes, stir about halfway through to make sure the potatoes are browning on all sides.

NOM!