Hidden Cashew Ranch Dressing Plus Tips for Eating Salads When You Really Don’t Want To

by on January 8, 2012
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Vegan Cashew Ranch Dressing

We’ve all been there. You’re trying to eat more greens but you just can’t face another lunchtime salad. Maybe it’s because of the prep involved, maybe it’s because it feels like the North Pole outside, or maybe it’s because you’re just sick and tired of chomping your way through a big bowl of raw veggies. So you either reach for something a little (or a lot) less nutritious or you use all your willpower to just force down that salad. If you’re lucky, you discover mid-salad that “Hey, I kinda like this salad.” If you’re not lucky, you wind up feeling either guilty for choosing something less nutritious or resentful for having had a less than thrilling lunch. So what to do? I have a few tips to make salad-eating easier and more enjoyable, plus a vegan ranch dressing that you can personalize to your taste buds’ content.

But first, a check-in for those of you following my KISSS healthy eating plan. As you know, a little over a week ago I made a commitment to eat simple meals of soup and salad while cutting out the sugar and flour. I’m happy to report that though there have been moments of temptation, I’ve completely resisted sugar and, for the most part, flour. I stuck to my resolution to have salads every day last week and managed to enjoy soups 4 out of 7 nights, opting for a huge veggie-tofu stir-“fry” over shirataki noodles (flourless noodles) one night, bean burritos made with 60-calorie multi-grain tortillas another, and oven-fries and a hummus wrap another. So though I didn’t stay away from flour completely, I used the lightest tortillas I could find (many of the white flour ones contain over 200 calories each) and filled them with lots of veggies and beans. I find that these tortillas don’t set off my flour cravings like bread does, a huge plus in my opinion.

Those of you who have been eating this way for a while will not be surprised to hear that I felt much more focused and had more energy, even though I was recovering from a cold during the first half of the week. By the end of the week, I had started a new workout routine (and have the sore glutes to prove it). And though, as I said before, my primary goal is health, I did lose a little over 4 pounds. Best of all, I did it without feeling deprived or hungry. Whenever I wanted to eat, I ate. If I was still hungry after one bowl of soup, I had another. I snacked on fruit (mostly oranges), no-oil popcorn, and chickpeas sprinkled with Creole seasonings whenever I felt tempted to eat something off-plan. In the coming weeks, I will probably reduce the number of snacks I eat, but when you’re just getting started, I think it’s important to keep from getting so hungry that you go crazy and eat everything in sight. (Been there, ate that!)

If you’ve been following along, I’d love to hear how you’re doing, as well as any tips you have for making this plan easier. Please feel free to leave a note in the comments or on the FFV Facebook page.

Vegan Cashew Ranch Dressing

Tips for Making Salad Your Meal (When You’d Really Rather Eat Pasta)

Prepare, Prepare, Prepare

You’re much more likely to stick to your salad resolution if your salad isn’t a chore to make. Have your salad ingredients prepped and ready to grab and throw together. To me, the most time-consuming part of making a salad is washing, drying, and chopping the greens. For a while, I was buying packages of those prewashed salad greens, but not only are they expensive, they often go bad quickly. Now I make my own ready-to-eat lettuce packets by using a FoodSaver to seal cleaned and chopped romaine lettuce in quart jars (see this great post for details). Once a week I prep all my lettuce and then, when lunchtime rolls around, all I need to do is empty a jar into a bowl and add the rest of my salad ingredients. (You don’t need to have a FoodSaver; a few of those “green bags” or containers will work almost as well.) Other ready-to-use salad greens to have on-hand include broccoli slaw, baby spinach, and alfalfa or clover sprouts. With the greens already chopped, you can throw together a salad in just minutes.

Top It

Start thinking of your huge salad as the base for something else. Hummus I’ve already mentioned, but get even more adventurous and top that big bowl o’greens with Chickpea Salad. Or think outside the fridge and top your salad with something hot: balsamic chickpeas, chili beans, red beans, spaghetti sauce, or even your leftover bean soup. The hot topping will wilt the greens and warm up the whole salad, making it much more comforting on a cold day.

If giving up bread has left you craving sandwiches, let your salad be your bun! Try your favorite burger crumbled over your salad. Some of my favorites are Curried Eggplant-Lentil-Quinoa Burgers, Roasted Beet Burgers, Sweet Potato Falafel, and Red Bean-Chipotle Burgers.

Spice It Up

Don’t count on your salad dressing to deliver all the flavor to your salad. Add spicy, sweet, or tangy ingredients that make every bite sparkle with flavor. If you’re a fire lover, sliced or chopped jalapenos add an interesting heat, but if you’re looking for a tamer flavor, toss on a little salsa. Throw on some diced apples or pears or a few raisins or dried cranberries for a hint of sweetness. You may not think you like fruit in your salad, but give it a try. (My favorite combo is balsamic vinaigrette or ranch dressing, chickpeas, diced apples, raisins, and walnuts.)

Just Do It

A few times this week I was not in the mood for a salad…until I started eating it. Sometimes you just have to push past your aversion and make that salad. You may be pleasantly surprised at how satisfying it is.Hidden Cashew Ranch DressingYour turn: Leave me your best advice for making salads a part of your daily life.

A good salad dressing can make even a plain Jane salad interesting. Here’s the basic template I use to make a creamy salad dressing that my daughter loves. It’s highly adaptable, and though it uses cashews for creaminess, it still contains less than 30 calories per 2-tablespoon serving.

Hidden Cashew Ranch Dressing Plus Tips for Eating Salads When You Really Don't Want To
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This recipe is meant as a rough guideline for making your own personal ranch dressing. I rarely measure and just add seasonings to taste. Start with the amounts listed and add more as needed. You can give it your own flair by adding other seasonings, such as dill weed, celery seed, or red pepper. Just start small because once you add it, you can’t take it out!
Serves: 12
  • 1/4 cup raw cashews (see note about soaking)
  • 1 1/4 cup plain, unsweetened non-dairy milk (I used Westsoy)
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (more if using Meyer lemons)
  • 1 clove garlic (or 1/4 tsp. garlic powder)
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated onion
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (optional or to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
  • 2 teaspoons chives, raw or freeze-dried, snipped
  1. Place all ingredients except parsley and chives into blender and process on high until smooth. Add parsley and chives and blend on low briefly to incorporate them. Check seasonings and add more as needed, but remember that the flavor will get stronger over time. Refrigerate for at least an hour to allow flavors to blend. Stir or shake before serving.
If you are using a regular blender, rather than a high-speed blender like a Vita-Mix, soak the cashews first to soften them before blending. Cover them with water and allow them to stand for at least 4 hours. Pour off the water before proceeding with the recipe. You may need to reduce the amount of non-dairy milk by a couple of tablespoons to prevent the dressing from being too thin.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1/12 of recipe Calories: 27 Fat: 1.7g Carbohydrates: 1.8g Sugar: less than 1g Sodium: 52.3mg Fiber: less than 1g Protein: 1.5g

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{ 108 comments… read them below or add one }

1 luminousvegans January 8, 2012 at 7:00 pm

Thank you for the recipe! I love ranch dressing but have yet to find a vegan version that is satisfying…yours looks delicious and simple. I can’t wait to try it.


2 Vail January 8, 2012 at 7:15 pm

I love adding cilantro to my salad dressings, it really changes things up. I’ll add the leaves to the salad and use the stems in the dressing, adding them early on to grind them up with the nuts. Also, I add a cap of vinegar to my salad before adding the dressing; it starts the cell walls breaking down for digestion of nutrients and makes the dressing easier to spread over the greens – I like my salads well dressed πŸ™‚

I made another batch of New Years Soup (black eyed peas, greens, veggies) this weekend to get me through lunches at work this week, and plan to shop for lettuce greens after work tomorrow for dinners. I love the Trader Joe’s ‘leaves only’ romaine for a ‘fast food’ splurge and their big cheap bag of ‘southern greens’ for adding to soups.

AND…I finally looked at the restorative exercise CD my sister gave me to check out. Great ‘thorasic spine’ stretches for those of us hunched in front of a computer all day.(http://life.gaiam.com/video/restorative-exercises-spinal-alignment)

Sorry for rambling; thank you for the KISSS support!


3 meredith January 8, 2012 at 7:31 pm

I like to use peach mango salsa as salad dressing and I also like using guacamole in it as well.


4 Carol January 8, 2012 at 7:54 pm

Hi Susan – this is the first time I’ve commented on your site, yet I’ve been enjoyed the high quality of your prose and recipes now for over a year. Nevertheless, this new thread of posts is the best yet! I too am trying to follow the Eat to Live in the KISSS ways you describe, so your guiding thoughts and practical tips have come along at the right time. I really like this post, in particular, as I’m always flummoxed when it comes to salads in winter. All excellent suggestions.

Re the FoodSaver idea β€” a poor person’s alternative that I’ve used in the past is to bag the greens in large zipper food storage bags, first pressing out all the air to the point of flattening the bag considerably. I’ve kept bags fresh for about a week or so with this method.

And please do keep the soup selections coming! I often find the hardest part of meal prep is the choosing of menu items. Yours are inspiring and make it much easier to plan my own. Again, thanks for all your work.


5 lisa January 8, 2012 at 8:18 pm

I love red kale salad. I add shredded carrot, sliced red onion, red grapes, a few dried cherries and some sunflower seeds. My dressing is equal parts fresh lemon and orange juice. Another one of my faves is spinach salad with strawberries, red onion, walnuts, drizzled with a little balsamic vinegar. Yum!


6 AJ January 9, 2012 at 5:41 pm

Haven’t commented here before, but love the site. Really, really like your suggestions here lisa – thanks for sharing! Will def try both salads…



7 Izzy January 8, 2012 at 8:48 pm

Thanks for posting this, cant wait to give it a try! Maybe tomorrow. πŸ™‚


8 Carol January 8, 2012 at 8:51 pm

Correction on my earlier post β€” I should have said NON-zipper bags, i.e., the hermetically sealable kind. The zippered ones aren’t air-tight so lose their compression.


9 Jess January 8, 2012 at 9:19 pm

If you DO have to use prewashed lettuce, Costco is usually a great bargain. It’s like 4.00 or 5.00 for one of the GIANT tubs of leaves.


10 Paula (Salad in a Jar) January 8, 2012 at 9:45 pm

Thanks for the link, Susan. This dressing looks wonderful. The idea of adding cashews for creaminess is new to me. Can’t wait to try it.


11 Katie Cain January 8, 2012 at 10:09 pm

Susan, I had to snicker when I read the part about if you’re lucky getting that mid-salad “Hey I like this salad…” I’m not big on salads although I have found myself craving them lately. What motivates me to eat salads is trying new and different ingredients in there (I just made one with mizuna greens and kumquats – it was pretty fun!) and topping it with some type of seed or nut. My favorite choices are pepitas and pecans. My big salad spinner is key for washing and drying the greens quickly.

I love that you are sharing your KISSS journey and congratulate you on the progress made so far. I also get flour/sugar addictions so I have decided to cut out all sugary baked goods – muffins, sweet breads, cookies, etc. – for a while. Going cold turkey (so to speak) has really helped so far because my problem is that once I start, it’s hard to stop the cravings.

Looking forward to trying this dressing recipe.


12 Seasideshawn January 8, 2012 at 10:22 pm

THANKS so much for another dresssing-I’m happy with a great balsamic, yet I’m still living on your low fat tahini dressing, & also the pinto beans (homemade) for taco salad my husband loves, LOVES-you get used to real foods & start to crave them-I hope people know that-my husband truly enjoys REAL food, we saw Dr.Fuhrman speak…….ps, I’m with you on the sea salt-no sweet tooth here but give me SOMETHING if I’m cooking real food & nothing out of a box!


13 AikoVenus January 8, 2012 at 10:43 pm

I love salad without sauce (and in general) but this looks delicious! I love your name for it too. ^^ I might have to share this with my non-nut liking friends just to see if they like it as much as I know I will.


14 veganisme January 9, 2012 at 12:16 am

Question about the chickpea snacks..do you dry them in the oven so they are crunchy or are you eating them the regular cooked way?


15 Susan Voisin January 9, 2012 at 6:49 am

I’m just eating them regularly cooked, sprinkled with seasonings. I’ve done roasted chickpeas before (and there’s a recipe here if you search) but I think I prefer them soft. Also, they’re good for an emergency snack: just open a can, rinse, drain, and sprinkle.


16 Amber K January 9, 2012 at 12:34 am

Wow, this dressing looks delicious!


17 Michelle January 9, 2012 at 2:58 am

Great article! I’m interested if any other readers have tried using the food saver and mason jars for storing lettuce. I live in the tropics and keeping washed lettuce fresh and crisp (when it’s not fresh or crisp to start with) is a major challenge. I really like the idea….but would love to read some more reviews of this method before I pay to have the appliance and the mason jars shipped internationally…..


18 Courtney J January 15, 2012 at 8:32 pm

We actually put a folded paper towel in with our lettuce and it helps to absorb the excess moisture in the container. You might want to give it a try. πŸ™‚


19 Jessica January 30, 2012 at 5:25 pm

I bought a foodsaver and the wide mouth jars after reading this post and it’s the best thing I ever did! I DON’T live in the tropics (Utah actually, so it’s cold winter right now) but I’ve had lettuce stay good in the jars for 11 days. Pretty dang good if you ask me.


20 Michelle January 30, 2012 at 5:44 pm

Oooh thanks for the feedback! I bought the jars and the attachment and they arrived today so I can’t wait to start eating crisp lettuce!


21 Jessica January 30, 2012 at 10:46 pm

I’ve also started washing all of my lettuce in a homemade wash of vinegar, water, and a little table salt. I just clean out my sink, fill with water, add 2 or 3 cups of vinegar and a little pour of salt. Swish around, let it hang out, rinse, salad spin, chop and stuff the jars! I swear the wash sometimes crisps up lettuce that’s slightly less crunchy. Either way, cheaper than expensive store wash and makes me feel better about buying lettuce in bulk (where Ive found bugs and dirt, not the most delicious of things.. And that’s just what I could SEE) I’ve also noticed that if I don’t get my lettuce really dry, little perspiration beads will show up on the inside of the jar, but this hasn’t seemed to affect the lettuce lasting at all. So glad Susan turned us on to this trick!


22 Julia January 9, 2012 at 3:30 am


First – I love your blog and have been following for a looong time and never told you how wonderful you and your recipes are – you and they are AMAZING! I love the idea of this dressing, especially since my husband has said that he a) wants to eat more salads and b) has been craving ranch dressing for the first time in a long time.

My question is – what role does the chia seeds play in the dressing? Do they help to thicken like flaxseeds would, or are they just for nutrition and/or taste? I was wondering if I needed to substitute for them or if I could just leave them out.

Thanks (for this and everything you do)!


23 Susan Voisin January 9, 2012 at 6:46 am

Thanks for the kind words, Julia! As for the chia seeds, they add thickness (so that I don’t have to use as many cashews) and nutrition. Flax seeds would do the same thing, though I like the light taste of chia better. Or you could leave them out and use more cashews. Hope your husband enjoys it!


24 AVBear January 18, 2012 at 7:57 am

I made this dressing today for a kale and grated butternut squash salad (with a half avocado, tomato and half an apple sliced on top). Since chia seeds are hard to come by, I used flax, and it worked out really well. The dressing is gutsy and yummy… just what a kale-salad needs. Thank you!


25 Susan B January 9, 2012 at 6:29 am

Great tips. I need to keep it quick and simple. I’ll use organic spinach and mixes already made up in the supermarket. One thing I do is keep tons of organic frozen veggies around. I toss in some frozen peas, corns, beans…etc. They defrost by lunchtime. I also make a few days of dressings and store in the fridge.


26 Marta January 9, 2012 at 6:33 am

I find as long as I have olives and avocado and some kind of warm bean, I’m very happy with a salad! My goal the last few weeks has been to eat beans every day and salad/greens every day. Usually this happens at lunch. The prep ahead suggestion is so important. I have two preschoolers at home and lunch often sneaks up on us – making PBJ super tempting.

The dressing looks amazing! What is the yield? My only issue with making my own dressing is that it tends to make more then I can eat before spoiling… Lesser amounts often are not enough for the blender to puree properly. I have a high power blender, so I don’t usually soak cashews first, but maybe doing so and halfing the recipe would work…


27 Susan Voisin January 9, 2012 at 6:43 am

The recipe makes a cup and a half. I’ve kept it for close to two weeks, but I wouldn’t use it past that. Halving it sounds like a good idea.


28 Louise Placek January 9, 2012 at 7:56 am

Susan, you continue to be an inspiration. I have the same issue with salads in winter. All I want is bready things and something warm and soul-nourishing like a cup of carob (can’t eat chocolate) – rice milk cocoa with a side of cinnamon toast (mmmmm…). What I have discovered entices me to eat more salads is roasted veggies (carrots, broccoli, sweet peppers, cauliflower, edamame, corn, sweet potatoes…). I also keep tubs of freshly chopped carrots, red and green cabbage, celery, onions, to throw in. Even if you have to refresh the tubs every few days you have saved yourself some time and energy on several days. Also, freezing serving sized containers of different soups, stews (make big batches on weekends) and other nourishing meals gives you more choices each day to keep you interested. Throwing some cooked quinoa, millet, brown rice, or buckwheat into a salad gives it a bit more “tooth” and satisfaction.

We are all so much better for the sharing of successes (and failures) in striving for a healthy lifestyle. Inspiration can come as much from other’s perspiration as from our own. πŸ™‚


29 Christine January 9, 2012 at 9:04 am

I completely agree with “Prepare, Prepare, Prepare.” I wrote a blog post on this. I try to eat a salad as a meal once day. Chopping all ingredients on Sunday or Monday. That helps me a ton. (http://itseasybeingvegan.com/2011/10/18/its-easy-being-vegan-reason-12/)


30 unita January 9, 2012 at 10:38 am

OMG !! will you marry me….i just made this 5 minutes ago…i now have creamy dressing in my life again…yay


31 Katie June 30, 2012 at 3:38 pm

My feelings exactly!!!!


32 moonwatcher January 9, 2012 at 11:30 am

Hi Susan,

I enjoyed this post, and the salad dressing template looks yummy–I have a feeling I will be trying it out when my parsley comes back in the Spring. πŸ™‚

I just want to add a somewhat different note of harmony to the choir on salads. I don’t know if I’m part bunny or what, but I never tire of eating salads. Or maybe part goat. Because I really like crunching on things. Even if I don’t have time to make a salad, which is hardly ever, I will happily grab a whole romaine leaf or a carrot to chomp on. In the winter my staples for salad are kale, romaine, red cabbage, and any other cabbage that might look good, because I live alone and they keep well. Also like baby spinach and arugula added in.
When I make a salad my goal is to see and the eat a rainbow. The prep is a kind of meditation on color and texture for me, so I don’t mind it, and in fact find it relaxing. I have a couple of ceramic knives that make chopping or slicing veggies easy and fun (present from my formally trained as a chef sister). Maybe this is terrible, but I usually don’t wash my lettuce. I buy organic at my co-op, and it is washed so well, I rarely have to. I love the white ribs of romaine as well as the green for their crunch.

In the winter I like to see a lot of bright color on the top of my salad so at least there will be julienned carrots and purple cabbage strips on it–and if I am lucky some organic sweet bell peppers or all colors. Like many who posted here, I am a fan of fruit in salad as well. Pears and apples are especially good.

I have two dressings I like–one is an Asian style one from the PCRM site, made with rice vinegar, apple juice concentrate, tamari, fresh ginger and minced shallot–good for an Asian cole slow effect, or a “warm” salad.

I also have been making a dressing with balsamic white vinegar, dijon mustard, nutritional yeast, a touch of date syrpup, some dried, roasted tomatoes crumbled and a grated shallot. Those coming over that have tried it like it also.

The simplest addition to brighten my salad is one I am lucky to have because of my raspberries–red wine vinegar infused with fresh raspberries. You could do it with thawed frozen ones too. Fill a jar with raspberries and their juice then our red wine vinegar in, close tightly, put in a dark place and let it sit for no less than two weeks. 4-6 is better. You get a sweet, bright vinegar good on everything, and especially nice if you are sensitive to citrus, as I can be.

I also like to top my salads with warm things in winter. “Steamed “hash browns made of poatoes, sweet potatoes or even winter squash or a combo, a few beans and a littel salsa is good.

Well, anyway, I hope as more people become comfortable with salads they will fall into a natural salad meditation on the beautiful rainbow of colors and nutrients. Like painting a picture on your plate you can eat!

Ground flax or pumpkin seeds are my favorite “nutty” addition.

Happy chomping, warm or cold!!




33 Sonnet January 9, 2012 at 12:03 pm

I love this post! I have salads every weekday for lunch and always try to rotate my toppings so that I don’t get bored of them. I can’t wait to try this dressing! πŸ™‚


34 moonwatcher January 9, 2012 at 1:09 pm

a ps for bok choy lovers out there: one of the most enjoyable and exotic salads I came up with last Fall was from leftovers: bok choy stems and leaves, red bell pepper strips, purple cabbage, some nori pieces and some leftover fresh papaya a friend had given me. Maybe a few sesame seeds. Wow, was it good with that Asian style dressing and a splash of raspberry vinegar!

If you want to have something like that hot, but not really cooked, still bright and crisp, a trick I use is to put it all in a mixing bowl and pour boiling water over. Let sit for a few minutes, then drain and toss with a little dressing. This would work well with those non-flour shiratake noodle combined in as well. I like a version of Happy Herbivore’s Cheater Pad Thai sauce with this: I use half a tablespoon of peanut butter, half a tablespoon of miso, two tablespoons of tamari, 2 tablespoon of sweet red chili sauce (the Thai kind), fresh ginger to taste and either minced garlic or garlic powder to taste. It packs a lot of flavor and doesn’t take much at all. A few dabs go a long way, along with some rice vinegar, or the Asian dressing.




35 Susan Voisin January 9, 2012 at 1:28 pm

Thank you so much for all your great tips! I never would have dreamed of using bok choy in a salad, but I may give it a try. I’m the opposite of you, though. I don’t really like crunchy things! That’s why you never see carrots on my salad. πŸ™‚


36 Fiona January 13, 2012 at 10:44 pm

Wow thank you for posting this Moonwatcher! It sounds amazing! I am definitely trying this!


37 susan January 9, 2012 at 2:09 pm

But aren’t the cashews soooo high in fat???


38 Courtney January 9, 2012 at 2:14 pm

I never tire of salads…I love them! I see each salad as a customizable blank slate. You can make each one different it is hard to get tired of them! I love adding fresh herbs to my salads. Also, I have 3-4 different Mrs Dash blends on hand, and they are great additions to the same old same old salad. Totally spices things up and adds a great flavor!



39 Katie January 9, 2012 at 3:44 pm

Thanks for the tips! Very inspiring for someone like me who needs to get on track with the salads.

I find that I need to think outside the box when it comes to salads. Then it stays interesting, and I use up what I have in the fridge. For example, I just made a batch your low fat slaw, which is amazing, and some tempeh bacon. Those would probably taste great on some greens as well. Not something that I would have really thought to put together, but I bet they taste great together.


40 Rebecca January 9, 2012 at 6:02 pm

My tip for salads is to make them beautiful! They can be so pretty with grated beets and carrots, adding color makes for a beautiful presentation that is way prettier than say, a burrito!


41 Cassia January 9, 2012 at 8:35 pm

I have been a long time visiter but this is the first time I have written. I got the e-mail with the recipe today and I had to make it. I made a trip to Trader Joe’s just for cashews and soy milk. I love the dressing! I can’t wait to have it on salad tomorrow. I’m going to make it for a function this weekend!


42 wendy (healthy girls kitchen) January 10, 2012 at 5:38 am

I feel like I should have commented on this post a few days ago, but it got away from me!

I used to watch people who ordered a big salad as a meal at a restaurant with envy. I knew it was the best option for my health but there was a war in my mind over what I craved (which was not salad) and salad. I thought I would be left feeling deprived if all I had was a salad.

Fast forward many years. Now I crave salad. Following E2L had done a 180 on my taste buds. I know with all of the fiber in my body that I will be full and satisfied on a huge salad and the war in my head is gone. Here’s what I’m talkin’ about! http://healthygirlskitchen.blogspot.com/2012/01/what-im-craving-for-dinner-mexican.html

My one tip that I want to share is that I generally prepare enough salad for 2 dinners for myself and my husband all in a huge bowl, but I don’t dress it. We eat half on night 1 and the rest goes into the fridge for the next day. The salad is absolutely fine the second day and it cuts down on my salad prep time by 50%.

I’m also trying out the Progressive Lettuce Keeper to store washed and cut lettuce instead of green bags. The green bags work really, really well, but I have a hard time throwing them out. I end up washing them and it’s a big pain in the butt. The permanent lettuce keeper seems to be the trick.


43 Urban Vegan January 10, 2012 at 8:00 am

Great tips, as ever, Susan. A recovering hedonist, I am trying to eat healthier and your blog always provides inspiration. Funny thing is, I never used to have a problem eating salads–in fact, I’d always gravitated toward them (in between the other decadent foods I noshed on!). But since I had surgery last month, my entire palate changed. My appetite was totally shot and the only things I felt like eating usually contained sugar and flour (ugh!). I hardly ate any veggies last month, which was totally unlike me. Finally, last nite, I had a spinach salad and it tasted so good to me. I’m loving all these low-fat dressing recipes and am going to try this one tonite!


44 moonwatcher January 10, 2012 at 11:27 am

Hi again,

No worries, Susan, you don’t have to be a “goat” like me and chomp on things the livelong day. . lol. Another non-crunchy thing I discovered I like on salads is a sweet pea guacamole– I know there are a lot of recipes for this type of thing out there, and you have a couple of good ones right here, like Bryanna’s that you posted last Fall when reviewing her book, and your own Guacamole Goddess dressing. I’ve been making a version of Chef AJ’s, which has no avocado, and I am surprised by how much I like pureed thawed frozen green peas. Not everybody does, or will, but flavored with some roasted ground cumin seeds, and other yummy things (for me, that means cilantro, of course) I like how a dollop of it adds bright color, taste and another texture to the salad bowl.

So here’s to all the variety, whether we like to chomp or not. . .and thanks again for another GREAT looking dressing. Lord knows I lived on your Goddess Dressing–the remake of Annie’s–in my early days of eating like this, and still return to it at times. I will look forward to trying this one out, too.

I really enjoyed this post and all the comments about how people enjoy their salads–or trick themselves into doing so!!





45 Dawn January 11, 2012 at 9:13 am

Thanks so much for these great tips. I prepped about three days’ worth of a spinach/romaine mix for salad base after reading. I have successfully stuck to my plan of eating salad twice and will for lunch today too. It does make it much easier to have everything almost ready to go.
This ranch dressing looks wonderful and I can’t wait to try it too!


46 Mia J January 11, 2012 at 11:21 am

Thanks so much for your wonderful tips! the biggest thing that get in my way of eating salads is the prep time.. but now I’ll definitely start preparing them before hand. Can’t wait to try the dressing, but I think I’ll have your balsamic chickpea salad tonight! My usual favorite salad includes a laaaarge amount of pico de gallo on greens, topped with black beans.. I DO get cravings for that, as well as your hot skillet salad!


47 Nicole January 11, 2012 at 4:22 pm

I read this post the other night and it was perfect because I was procrastinating putting dinner together…I had all of the fixings for salad but just wasn’t feeling it. I did go for the salad!


48 maria de lourdes araujo January 11, 2012 at 5:13 pm

OlΓ‘ boa noite.

Cada dia me surprendo com essas delicias amei essa receita vou por logo aqui na porta da geladeira e vou fazer amanha.

Obrigada por essa delicia. beijos


49 Candice January 11, 2012 at 8:53 pm

Just a general comment–You have the best recipes for vegan, no-oil eating! I am always excited to see a new posting, and I get recipes for ingredients I want to use up by searching. I need to look further to see if you have a store or donation area, because your work is worth it!


50 Susan Voisin January 11, 2012 at 9:09 pm

Thanks, Candace! No donations necessary, though if you buy anything through my Amazon store or links, I get a little something. πŸ™‚


51 Marie January 13, 2012 at 2:26 pm

Susan, thanks so much for your blog. I’m not really much of a cook, but have found that if I follow your recipes, I can do a passable impression.

I was *so* excited to see your ranch dressing recipe. (Thank you!)

The recipe says “Check seasonings and add more as needed”. My batch turned out to be a creamy, somewhat-garlicky dressiing — not exactly what I’d call a traditional “ranch” flavor. How does a non-cook know what seasonings to add more of? Is it the combo of garlic and onion powder that make it “ranch”?

Sorry, but like I said, I’m not really much of a cook, so I don’t know these things the way others probably do.


52 Susan Voisin January 13, 2012 at 6:26 pm

Marie, the combo of garlic, onion, and parsley plus the tang of “buttermilk” (here substituted with lemon juice) are the basic flavors of ranch dressing. The problem is that garlic cloves vary in flavor, and while mine was mild, it sounds like yours wasn’t. A better option is to start with 1/8 teaspoon of garlic powder and see if that is enough. Then if the dressing doesn’t have enough flavor, you can add more. The same goes for the lemon juice. If it doesn’t have enough zip, add more. To taste just means that you play with it until it tastes good to you.


53 Marie January 14, 2012 at 7:15 am

Thank you, Susan — I’ll give that a try!


54 Roni January 13, 2012 at 9:17 pm

I sometimes like to do a dippin salad,

Where you take whole lettuce leaves, slices, sticke and sprigs of this and that and dip them into a little cup of dressing. Saves you having to chop too much, and somehow tastes different than on a fork? I don’t know how…


55 Catherine January 14, 2012 at 3:39 pm

this is a really good salad dressing. It is very close to real ranch.


56 GetSkinnyGoVegan January 15, 2012 at 3:43 pm

I introduced my neighbor to these types of raw nut based dressing and she uses them several times weekly. Seems that they are very “mainstream” friendly, which is ALWAYS a good thing if one is having company that does not want dehydrated wheatsprout cookies!


57 Conz January 15, 2012 at 5:58 pm

I’ve just had a look at those tortilas, and apart from having oil in it (!), the ingredients are downright scary!


58 rob January 15, 2012 at 8:27 pm

This post has the ring of honesty – we don’t always want to eat salads but we should!
At our site, we have others working on the day to day challenges of being vegan – would appreciate your input and you should promote your site as well!



59 js January 15, 2012 at 8:52 pm

This looks like an interesting recipe. I never liked ranch dressing even when I was a kid and all my friends poured it on everything (even their pizza), but I think I would like this.

This is my favorite fast salad lately (although YMMV because you said you don’t like crunch things)…

Huge bowl of mixed greens, sliced carrots, green onions if I’ve got some, a ton of fresh parsley (like 1/4 cup chopped), slivered almonds, and shelled edamame (warm, preferably). Top with either a storebought oil-free sesame ginger dressing (whole foods sells one; it’s not Healthiest Thing Ever, but it’s not bad used sparingly) or a homemade version.

It’s also good with clementine or orange slices added. Have been having this for lunch lately with soup or chili. I am not sure what makes it so good but I think it’s the parsley. I’ve been on a parsley kick lately for some reason; I’ve been making a lot of “skillet salads” too and putting a bunch of fresh parsley on top of the plate of hot veggies.


60 Shelly January 15, 2012 at 9:59 pm

I’ve seen your name on several other forums and sites and so appreciate your wisdom since I am new to embracing this lifestyle. Starting tommorow!!!!! I am a non medicated type 2 diabetic and wondered if I juice with a vitamix that leaves the fiber in..does that effect my blood sugar spikes ……do you know ? I’m thinking of going all juice for a week or so but was unsure and then I’m gonna start eating all your fabulous recipes. I’m so glad to have found your site!!!! Everything looks easy and yummy….Shelly


61 erica January 16, 2012 at 12:31 am

i just made this substituting water for milk and apple cider vinegar for the lemon juice. it’s amazing! i’ll be making this all the time, thank you!!


62 Amanda Blog and Kiss January 16, 2012 at 1:23 am

If I’m not feeling very “salady” I just leave out the lettuce! It’s pretty much the most boring part of a salad, so instead I just make a salad with chopped vegetables, some fruit (mango or grapes or pomegranate seeds), chickpeas and dressing. It doesn’t feel like a lettuce salad, because it’s heavier and more filling.


63 Dr. Cat, The Happy Rehab Doc January 16, 2012 at 1:53 pm

This ranch dressing looks amazing! Thank you!!

The best piece of advice I can give you on the newly sugar-free life is to eat a piece of fruit at every meal and as your evening snack. This is what I did on the advice of my OA sponsor and she was completely right–it definitely took the edge off! Of course, if you are diabetic than absolutely disregard this advice!!

Hope that helps!:-) It does get a lot easier with time!


64 Richa@HobbyandMore January 16, 2012 at 7:25 pm

I have to try this dressing.. so perfect!


65 Ganasini Devi January 16, 2012 at 7:46 pm

Hi Susan,
I love your site. I’ve been vegan for about 11 years but had never heard of the KISSS approach. It sounds right on and I’ve started playing with it. One of my favorite very quick salad dressings is Reduced Fat Veganaisse, which has about 1/2 the fat and calories and tastes great mixed with whatever vinegar you like. Sometimes I add some italian seasoning herbs but it really doesn’t need it. Also thanks for the suggestion on adding garbanzo’s to tahini dressing to cut down on the amount of tahini used. I’ve been adding vinegar to tahini also and its delicious but high in fat if you like lots of dressing. Thanks for your work


66 Chey Wood January 17, 2012 at 5:05 pm

I love your blog I am new to the low fat vegan thing I saved my liver when giving up oils, not even fat just oils!it helped my health so much just doing that so thanks for your lovely blog!


67 Jamie Walker January 19, 2012 at 3:56 pm

Thanks for sharing this delicious (and VEGAN!!!) salad dressing recipe! YUM!


68 colleen January 19, 2012 at 7:58 pm

roasted chickpeas or wasabi peas are great for crunch. quinoa and brown rice add a nutty flavour and some whole grain goodness. i also love to crumble a veggie burger into my greens and use salsa as the dressing.


69 Nina January 21, 2012 at 1:25 pm

Susan, fantastic post! I just discovered your site and am so happy I did. Can’t wait to try this dressing and look forward to your future posts! Cheers from Houston!


70 moonwatcher January 23, 2012 at 7:26 pm

Hi Susan,

Just can’t say enough about salad. Now instead of saying thisdressing looks good, I can say it IS good. I have been into borchst made in the crock pot from Kathy Hester’s recipe (I have made both golden and red, and actually like the red better, I think, being a beet freak), and so I had a little bit of cashew cream leftover, from the little bit I made to put on the top of my borscht. It probably amounted to about what was needed for half of your dressing recipe, so I halved the dressing recipe, and slightly reduced the amount of West Soy. It is really light and lovely and satisfying when i want something creamy on my salad. I will be looking forward to making it again when Spring arrives and I have lots of Italian parsley and fresh chives coming up.

Thanks again,



71 Susan Voisin January 23, 2012 at 8:02 pm

I’m so glad to hear you liked it! Thanks for all your “salad notes.”


72 Pam January 29, 2012 at 6:24 pm

OMG!!! My favorite salad dressing is back on the menu. πŸ™‚ Thank you SO much!

I’ve been “choking down” daily salads dressed with just rice vinegar, which is OK, but too acidic for my taste to do day afte day. Ditto lemon juice. But after I tried this recipe, I enjoy my salads once again.

So far, I’ve made it per your recipe and my family and friends have enjoyed it. I have also experimented already be adding extra cracked pepper (cracked pepper ranch) and extra garlic (by accident). Both were good. Next, I’m going to try basil with a little nutritional yeast to see if I can give it a pesto taste.

Susan, I love your blog and your website. I sincerely appreciate all of the effort that you invest to share delicious recipes, beautiful photos and valuable information so freely – and I know it is a lot of work. You are a blessing. Thank you.


73 Lady Miss Jme January 30, 2012 at 9:50 am

I have made this for years πŸ™‚ I recommend soaking cashews always, they never seem to do the trick dry – even with a Vita-Mix or a Blendtec.

Most nuts – are more digestible and thereby nutrient available if soaked – only brazil nuts are already enzyme ready when picked.


74 Susan Voisin January 30, 2012 at 9:57 am

Hmmm. Gotta disagree with you. But if that’s your experience, so be it. Mine is different.


75 Lady Miss Jme January 30, 2012 at 11:03 am

Gotta disagree with which part? About the nuts needing soaked – or that they are more digestible after soaking?


76 Susan Voisin January 30, 2012 at 11:16 am

Both, really. From a culinary standpoint, my sauces and dressings get just as creamy whether I soak or not, so I go the shorter route. And though lots of websites claim improved digestibility and nutrition from soaking nuts, I haven’t seen a real scientific study to back it up (see http://whfoods.org/genpage.php?tname=dailytip&dbid=97 ). But if you know of one, I’m open to the possibility.


77 Tracy February 4, 2012 at 9:47 pm

Love your ranch idea… i usually make “cashew cheese” but this is a great twist! And I wanted to “pipe in” about the pre-prep… I’ve been doing this for about a month now, and it makes it so much easier to have a salad… even TWO salads a day! I chop in my food processor (pulse) broccoli, cauliflower, red cabbage, carrots, and kale. Mix it all up and put it in glass Pyrex in the fridge. It lasts because I don’t put anything wet in, like cucumbers or something. It only lasts two or three days anyway, we eat it up!!! And it’s like eating 3 salads in one, it’s not as much “work” to chew it all up because it’s already diced so small!


78 Eslah February 25, 2012 at 1:11 am

Looks great .I was wondering how long will this keep in the fridge ? thanks πŸ™‚


79 Susan Voisin February 25, 2012 at 7:59 am

I think it’s best if you use it within a week, but it may keep a little longer than that.


80 Small Footprints April 8, 2012 at 7:42 pm

I love green salads so … it’s not a problem to incorporate them into almost every meal. Sometimes, though, just to shake things up, I like to make a salad of “toppings”. In other words, imagine all the yummy veggies one would put on top of a lettuce salad (beans, peas, cucumbers, celery, beets, corn, mushrooms, carrots, etc.) and leave the lettuce out … or replace the lettuce with shredded cabbage. I usually make a simple Italian style dressing and let it marinade for awhile in the refrigerator … it’s lovely! Thanks so much for this recipe … I’ve been dying for a good vegan ranch style dressing and I think this is the one!

I love your site … I’ve added you to my blog roll so that I won’t miss a thing! πŸ™‚


81 moonwatcher April 29, 2012 at 4:15 pm

Oh Susan!

I just had to write and say I made a version of this dressing with almond milk, flax seed and my very own first fresh chives and parsley from the garden. Oh, it was wonderful. A little lighter than with the soy. but still scrumptious.

Thanks again




82 Dawn May 2, 2012 at 9:15 am

Susan–I finally got around to making this dressing and it was so delicious! I had tried some dressing with chia as the only thickener and while they tasted okay they just were not great. This was really, really good. Thank you so very much for posting so many wonderful recipes and tips that have helped me continue to eat better-for-me and tasty, satisfying food. I like vinaigrette style dressings so that has helped me but I was getting tired of trying to vary them and never have a creamy dressing. This was so tasty. I will be making this again and I will be serving it to omni friends because they will love it too!
Thanks again–Dawn


83 admattai July 7, 2012 at 2:11 pm

this dressing looks great! after making your tofu-cashew mayo & using it in salad dressing, I’m excited to try this. just a quick question: would this dressing freeze well? I may not use it all up in a week. Thanks!


84 Susan Voisin July 7, 2012 at 2:20 pm

I think it would freeze just fine. Hope you enjoy it!


85 Yvonne August 7, 2012 at 10:41 am

have you found a balsamic vinaigrette that doen’t have sugar? I use balsamic vinegar but i’m getting tried of the same taste of grapes. I have tried serveral different kinds and they all seem to taste the same except for White Balsamic Vinegar. I have looked at the vinaigrettes and I can’t find any without sugar or sweetner. Love your site, it has helped me a great deal!


86 Gianna November 25, 2012 at 12:26 am

Thank you for this recipe, ive been looking for something more pure than the veganaise or tofu based recipes out there! just made it and it tastes great. It was super thin so I doubled the cashews. I’m guessing the chia seeds will thicken it over the hour wait time as well, so I may have jumped the gun.. Salad is my favorite food, but then again, most people think of salad as romaine, tomatoes, red onions and cucumbers. Boring! I love those ingredients but you can’t stop there. That’s a wimpy salad. Many other commenters have made great suggestions. My staples are avocado or roasted butternut squash. For me, my dedication to salad lunches became much more fun when I convinced a co-worker to buddy up. We take turns buying the basics (spinach, kale, green onions, red bells peppers, baby heirloom tomatoes, diced cucumbers and avocados) then we also take turns buying 2 “wild card” ingredients per week (exotic Vietnamese herbs, roasted veggies, black fermented garlic, homemade vegan pesto, red quinoa) everyday becomes an adventure instead of a chore. Try this “better than peanut sauce” dressing for a fun Thai twist:
2 tb raw almond butter
2 tb raw agave
2 tb chili garlic sauce ( same brand that makes sriracha, or just use fresh garlic and red pepper flakes as a last resort)
Splash of lime juice
Splash of Nama shoyu (or soy sauce)
Blend until creamy and use as a dip for veggie spring rolls or as a Asian slaw dressing.

Keep eating salad people, and remember the definition of a salad is a fluid idea πŸ™‚

Thank you for this blog


87 Kenisha January 5, 2013 at 10:59 am

I was just sharing with a friend last night that I do not crave salads in the winter. I will try these tips though. Thank you Susan!


88 Meghan January 5, 2013 at 12:19 pm

I have a really hard time eating raw salads everyday so I compromised. I saute all different kinds of veggies; cauliflower, broccoli, asparagus, french green beans, celery, carrots, onion, garlic, zucchini, and squash, very lightly(about 5 minutes each, a little more for the cauliflower and brocolli), then I put some seasonings in the mixture and top a nice bed of dark greens with the veggie mixture. I also make a no fat balsamic dressing and this combo makes it so yummy and makes me want to eat salads more. Sometimes I also throw into my salad a quarter cup of brown rice with herbs.


89 Marilyn Hernandez February 8, 2013 at 8:02 pm

I love your dressing and salad ideas! I am overweight but decided to change my eating habits after being inspired by a documentary called “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead.” So, for the past week I have been juicing my fruits and vegetables and plan to juice for a month (when I can afford to), but for now I have to eat some healthy solids. I stumbled upon your blog while searching for healthy and natural dressings because I am fed up with all of the store-bought processed and unhealthy dressings that are available. Your blog has such a wide variety of recipes to choose from and they are not very complicated to make, so I am excited about having some healthy choices (the “Hidden Cashew Ranch Dressing” and “Ridiculously Easy Vegan Buttermilk Salad Dressing” look especially tasty and I nearly have all the ingredients to make them). I just wanted to thank you for putting them out there. I am definitely going to subscribe! Thanks again!
– Marilyn


90 Sharon Tenney August 23, 2013 at 1:24 am

Hi Susan,
As usual, I often come to your blog for ideas. My daughter is joining me in eating vegan, and she just tonight said she now wants to cut out the oils. But…she adores Ranch dressing and dairy. She is finally breaking the dairy habit. But she really loves creamy dressings. So….to your blog I came! And here is the recipe for Ranch Dressing – without dairy or oils!! Wow! I also read the comments and I see that it can be frozen – we will try that.
Thanks so much for your hard work. I always look forward to receiving your newest recipe! πŸ™‚


91 Lisa October 26, 2013 at 12:19 pm

Great dressing! I added chilli powder and cumin to top my salad with black beans, salsa and avacado! Super delicious, thank you.


92 Robin January 12, 2014 at 10:30 am


As always, thank you! I needed to use a god 3+ tablespoons of lemon juice to give it a little zip! It was tasty last night and I plan to smuggle it into the restaurant we are going to for lunch today!!!



93 Tracey Eakin March 20, 2014 at 11:38 am


You are my favorite source for low-fat, plant-based recipes. Your Hidden Cashew Ranch dressing is delicious. I also tried drizzling it over hot pasta and it created a wonderful Alfredo-like sauce.

Take care,



94 SamuelS June 18, 2014 at 8:08 pm

Quick question here… can almond milk be used instead of soy? Will the flavour be too different? Thank you…


95 Susan Voisin January 6, 2015 at 11:15 am

Almond milk is fine! In fact, it’s what I’m using these days.


96 SamuelS June 18, 2014 at 8:14 pm

Another quick question, will a mix of ground chia and flax seeds work in this recipe? Thank you..


97 Fiona July 3, 2014 at 7:56 pm

I made this dressing as stated except I subbed dried parsley for fresh since I didn’t have fresh (and I used almond milk). I felt far too much milk was called for and that it watered down the flavor. I liked the dressing, but I think I would have loved it if there were only, say, 1/2 cup milk in it. I might try it again like that, and if I do, I’ll report back. The theme of this post though is kinda sad and not very inspiring to enjoy eating salads unfortunately!


98 pretzel January 9, 2015 at 4:26 pm

I did find the flavor to be mild enough that I added more garlic and spices, but I don’t think it could be a dressing with only 1/2 cup milk. I used soaked cashews and 1 cup of plain soy milk and it was so thick I had to spoon it onto my salad and was able to later use as a dip. I could have added the final 1/4 cup of soy milk.


99 Anne E. McGuigan August 7, 2014 at 7:41 am

I served this dressing over kale and cherry tomatoes. It was so easy to make and delicious too! Many thanks, Anne http://vegangrammie.com/


100 Tiffany B January 6, 2015 at 7:38 pm

Thanks for the tips for eating salads on cold days! I will definitely be trying the idea of a warm veggie burger on my salad with a warm dressing on a cold day.


101 Pam January 6, 2015 at 8:01 pm

Thanks for this recipe, I can’t wait to try it. I use cashews for my mayo substitute in pasta and potato salad so I know this will be great!


102 Sharon January 7, 2015 at 12:40 am

I love this dressing. Thank you


103 Jill January 7, 2015 at 1:14 pm

I made this last night and it thickened up nicely for my salad today. πŸ™‚ I used 2 tablespoons cider vinegar in place of the lemon juice to get that super-zippy tanginess of the original Ranch dressing. I split the recipe in half and in one container added dill weed and parsley, and in the other added about 2 tablespoons of salsa for a salsa ranch dressing.

Really loving all the low-calorie items on your website. Happy 2015!


104 pgyx January 18, 2015 at 7:31 pm

I’ve now made this dressing 3 times both with almond and soy milk. It’s awesome on salad and as a dip! Also very amenable to variations. I add some dried herbs. Going to try the apple cider vinegar that another commenter recommended. It’s a winner!


105 Taxi April 17, 2015 at 10:37 pm

Hi Susan & thank you for all the great ideas that keep me going!! Do you have a recipe that imitates “hidden valley ranch BUTTERMILK recipe? I dont like it to taste too lemony but then how do you get that specific buttermilk flavor? It’s a unique flavor that I can’t figure out. Thx for your help!


106 Candace June 13, 2015 at 9:30 pm

is it supposed to be 1 1-4 cup milk or just 1/4 cup? Does it get thicker when it airs in the fridge?


107 Susan Voisin June 13, 2015 at 11:06 pm

It’s one and a quarter cups of milk. Yes, it does thicken somewhat in the fridge.


108 Cindy March 14, 2016 at 1:12 pm

I have started eating a big leafy salad with olives, sunflower seeds, dried cranberries and warmed brown rice for breakfast! Starts my day off right!


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