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Jan 16, 2016

Creamy "Ranch" Pasta Salad {vegan + gluten free} and 21 Days Dairy Free!

After the holidays have passed, I always have great plans to eat healthier, quit all of the bad eating habits I developed from Halloween through New Year's, and maybe even lose some weight. While I've cut dairy from my diet on multiple occasions and felt immensely better than before, it always seems to be the hardest diet change for me to stick with unless it's out of necessity (like when I was nursing my firstborn and because of his milk allergy). I have had no problem cutting gluten for over three years, avoiding any fast food for a long time, and not drinking soda for almost three years.

While I've fallen off the no-soda-drinking wagon, the others are still no problem for me. But if I'm being honest with you (and with myself), I don't feel my best when I'm not keeping a handle on my eating habits. I can think of all of the excuses in the world ("I'm nursing so I need the extra calories," is my favorite one currently...) but I know that if I just commit to the change and focus on making a healthy diet a priority, I won't regret it. 

What is one of the key pieces to making a change and sticking with it? Having someone to hold you accountable, of course! My friends at So Delicious Dairy Free have created the So Delicious Dairy Free 21 Day Dairy-Free Challenge Group on Facebook to help those of us who need it find support and recipes on our quest to maintain a dairy-free diet. They are even giving away prizes such as gift cards, food kits, and a trip for 2 to Boulder, Colorado to meet with health and fitness expert John Pierre - who wouldn't love to win that?!

The 21-Day Dairy-Free Challenge with So Delicious begins January 21 and goes through February 10, 2016, but you can go ahead and join the Facebook group and get started now. What is so beneficial about going dairy-free? Here are the Top Reasons People Go Dairy Free. Also, over on Instagram, for every photo of a dairy-free meal or snack uploaded with #DairyFree4Good during the official challenge dates, So Delicious Dairy Free will donate $1 to the Farm Sanctuary (up to $10,000; limit 3 entries per person per day).

Want more dairy-free recipe ideas? Download the Free Snackable eBook from Go Dairy Free for 25 Dairy-Free, Plant-Based, Gluten-Free Recipes to Inspire Healthy Eats for the Dairy-Free Challenge. It’s available for free on Kindle, iTunes, Kobo, and via PDF. You will also find plenty of delicious ideas to stay satisfied on your dairy-free journey with Recipes from So Delicious Dairy FreeRecipes from Go Dairy Free, and many more right here on Making it Milk-free like my Creamy "Ranch" Pasta Salad.

Creamy Ranch Pasta Salad {vegan + gluten free} from Making it Milk-free

Creamy "Ranch" Pasta Salad {vegan + gluten free}

  • 16 ounces gluten free pasta (shells or elbows)
  • 1 cup frozen peas and diced carrots, thawed 
  • 1 cup So Delicious Dairy Free Unsweetened Cultured Coconut Milk Yogurt
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp dried parsley 
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp dried dill
  • 1/4 tsp dried cilantro (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
Cook pasta in salted boiling water to al dente (according to package directions). Drain and allow pasta to cool completely.

Creamy Ranch Pasta Salad {vegan + gluten free} from Making it Milk-free

In a small bowl, stir together the onion powder, garlic powder, parsley, salt, dill, cilantro, and black pepper. Add the coconut milk yogurt and mix until well combined. (This dairy-free ranch dressing can be used for many other purposes so you might want to double the recipe and store some in a glass jar in the refrigerator for later! If you like a thinner consistency for salad dressing, stir in a little bit of dairy-free milk to thin it out.)

Creamy Ranch Pasta Salad {vegan + gluten free} from Making it Milk-free

In a large serving bowl, gently toss the cooled pasta with the peas and carrots. Pour about 3/4 of the ranch dressing mixture over and fold until all of the pasta and veggies are coated. (I like to add the remaining 1/4 of the dressing just before serving because some of it will be absorbed into the pasta while it sits.) Cover and store in the refrigerator until you're ready to serve it.

Creamy Ranch Pasta Salad {vegan + gluten free} from Making it Milk-free

Creamy Ranch Pasta Salad {vegan + gluten free} from Making it Milk-free

Creamy Ranch Pasta Salad {vegan + gluten free} from Making it Milk-free

Another bonus about this pasta salad is that you can take it to summer potlucks and not have to worry about it going bad like other mayo-based pasta salads!

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