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The Bachelor on the Cheap Gluten-Free Diet Challenge 2023 - Day 9, highlighting Tuscan Valley Ranch Dressing

Thank goodness Ranch dressing is gluten-free!  It's my go-to dressing and it's SO versatile!  Not only does it add great flavor to a salad, and can be used as a chip or veggie dip, but it's also good on baked potatoes, excellent as a featured ingredient in crack chicken, or in powder form, as a coating for fried chicken or pork chops (pre-GF diet days).

Before starting this diet, I took some products for granted, not giving a thought to if a bottled dressing or sauce had any wheat ingredients in it.  Cooking up some fried rice?  Grab the soy or teriyaki.  Having a salad?  Reach for the Blue Cheese.  Grilling up a steak?  Hit it with some Worcestershire.  Smoking up some ribs?  Slap some BBQ sauce on them.  A lot of my standard go-to bottled dressings and sauces have wheat ingredients in them, all of the above except the Ranch, included.  Those bottled dressings and sauces are no longer on my regular grocery shopping list. 

Early on in starting this diet, as I was going through the assortment of bottled stuff I have in my pantry and fridge, I was saying out loud when reading labels, "Oh shit!"...  So many products have wheat ingredients in them that you kind of ignorantly assume, don't.  When I discovered my favorite blue cheese dressing had a wheat ingredient listed, I started to fear the worst... I slowly reached for the Ranch bottle... 

Phew!  I was pleased to learn Tuscan Valley Ranch Dressing is gluten-free.  Life without Ranch dressing?  NO!  Available at Aldi, it's every bit as tasty as Hidden Valley Ranch and WAY cheaper!  Compare the Tuscan Valley price of $1.89 for a 16-ounce bottle, to the Hidden Valley Ranch price for a 16-ounce bottle of around $3.98 at the mainstream grocery store.  That's a difference of $2.09!  You can buy twice as much dressing at Aldi and still save $0.20 over buying a single bottle of Hidden Valley at the mainstream grocery store, with no sacrifice in taste, texture, or quality.

Day 9 on the diet was another eat-at-home day, which was low on protein count (I like to have at least 100 grams a day).  I did enjoy four gluten-free products, including the Ranch dressing, which before this diet, I didn't notice that it was GF "safe."

Here's a quick rundown of those GF products of the day:

The Day 9 Menu:

GF Diet Day 9

Tuscan Valley Ranch Dressing
The back of the Ranch dressing bottle, gluten-free

The calorie count was good, I'm trying to stay at around 1,600 per day.  The protein count was low, as previously mentioned, I try to get over 100 grams a day to benefit the exercise routine and weight loss.  The carb count is too high, I'd rather be at no more than 60 grams per day, but that's tough to do, especially if you want some variety in the daily diet.  Having options in tastes, textures, nutritional balance, and even convenience are all critical elements to maintaining a smarter and long-term effective diet.  And as convenient and tasty as hot dogs and brats are, I'm going to have to eliminate them as a regular in the diet, swapping them out for leaner proteins.  I need to 'treat' them, as an occasional treat, not a regular weekend or quick meal menu item.  I also need more veggies & fruits, I didn't get enough on the day with just the potato and avocado.

I used to think I was a pretty good food label reader, but my focus was always on protein and carb counts, and sodium levels.  My eyes have been opened in looking for wheat ingredients.  Going gluten-free has been educational and there's a lot more information to absorb!

$pend Wisely My Friends...

~ Mike

Related:  A Bachelor on the Cheap Challenge: Going Gluten-Free For Good

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