Healthy Cafe Rio Style Dressing

This recipe is inspired by my friend Rachel, who used RealTaste Hope Seasoning to make a healthier version of Cafe Rio Style Dressing. She shared the idea with a group of ladies and everyone was excited. If you have been to Utah, you may have a better understanding of what I'm talking about. Utahns love their Cafe Rio! The recipe she used can be found here on the website Favorite Family Recipes, which is a collection of recipes by 4 sisters and 1 brother. It's worth checking out.

I loved Rachel's suggestion of using Hope in place of Hidden Valley Ranch mix. Hope is organic, without any funny ingredients, just real food. As I looked over the recipe, I immediately wondered what I could substitute in place of the mayonnaise. Now, I can make a killer mayonnaise with light olive oil, the problem is, if you use a healthy oil, to make mayonnaise, it doesn't taste so good. Light, or neutral flavored olive oil is not healthy. Olive oil should taste like olives, otherwise it has either been chemically deodorized, or cut with cheap polyunsaturated oils which are NOT good for you. The same is true of Avocado Oil and Coconut Oil. These should taste like Avocados and Coconuts respectively, if your olive oil or coconut oil does not have the flavor of the food from which it was made, it's not in your health's best interest. Canola oil, and vegetable oil? Definitely NOT on the healthy list. See more information here and here about healthy fat. There is really is no healthy mayonnaise out there that you can buy or make; I'm so sorry to say! I've tried endlessly to figure out how to use a healthy oil and come up with a palatable result. When making mayonnaise with a truly healthy fat, it tastes what I describe as grassy, or in the case of coconut oil, coconutty with a weird coagulated texture. My husband is ok with it, but most people are not. That brings me to my desire to substitute the mayonnaise with something healthier. Below, I have used avocado in place of the mayonnaise. I hope you'll give it a try. It's delicious!

Healthy Cafe Rio Style Dressing

  • 2 small avocados, or 1 cup diced

  • 1 cup raw buttermilk (this could be raw yogurt that has only cultured for 12 hours rather than 24, or cultured buttermilk remaining from cultured butter) You could also use thin kefir, or 1/2 raw yogurt and 1/2 raw milk

  • 2 Tomatillos, husked

  • 1/2 bunch cilantro

  • 1 clove garlic

  • Juice of 1 a medium lime

  • 1/4 seeded jalapeno, optional

  • 2 1/2 Tbsp. RealTaste Hope Seasoning, you may need a little bit more to taste

1. Place all ingredients in a small blender, or food processor and puree.

2. Store in fridge for about a week.

3. This is delicious served on this Lentil Taco Salad.


Tomatillos can be a little tricky to find, especially organic. The good news is, they are easy to grow. The bounty of harvested tomatillos can be husked and frozen whole, to use throughout the year for this dressing. One year I had a plethora of tomatillos from one plant, and the word plethora might be an understatement! I gave them away to anyone who wanted them, made all kinds of things with tomatillos and still froze enough to get me through two years. I think I could have supplied the whole city with tomatillos. I have never quite had that kind of tomatillo success since, but one plant should give you enough to freeze and last throughout the year.

Some tomatillos are larger ,as well as, more acidic than others. Avocados also vary in their sweetness, depending on how ripe they are. You may wish to add up to 1 tsp. organic, pure maple syrup if the dressing is too acidic for your tastes.

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