Raw Vegan No Fat Sweet Onion Salad Dressing Recipe And Why Fast Food Salads Are Bad For Your Health

by on February 6, 2012


Raw Vegan Fat Free Sweet Onion Salad Dressing Recipe

This is an oil free and fat free  bonus recipe that comes in my Savory Raw Dinner Recipes book and ebook (not shown in the dvd) that I’m going to share with you today. If you are looking for some amazingly delicious and healthy raw food recipes, please check it out. I’ve gotten so much positive feedback on my spin on oil free raw vegan dinner recipes. (Scroll down for the recipe.)

Travel update: We are back home now in Vancouver, BC this week after spending 2 months in Corpus Christi, Texas and enjoying the sun down there (and avoiding the dark clouds and rain here). It’s nice to be back home, but it feels a little surreal. I have to get used to my kitchen again and finding all of my seasonings and kitchen gadgets. So I’m going to ease back into making recipes, as I’ve totally broken my groove from traveling and moving back in and unpacking everything.

Sweet onion dressing was one of my favourite dressings I used to buy from a bottle (because it’s low fat), but it’s filled with high fructose corn syrup, so I decided to make my own and it tastes pretty similar and is much healthier.

Why Do I Make And Prefer Fat Free Raw or Vegan Salad Dressings?

Well because salad is supposed to be healthy and full of nutrients, and not be a fat bomb of a meal. When I was at the Houston, TX airport we grabbed a bite to eat at Wendy’s and I was just curiously looking around me at what other families were getting. I noticed the woman beside me was eating what she thought was a really healthy meal, because there were no burgers or fries in sight: a BLT Cobb Chicken Salad, a cup of chili and a large soda.

Now I don’t know if you know this, but all restaurants and fast food companies market their salads to women, especially mothers and older women who are trying to eat healthier, watch their weight (or lose weight) as their children and husbands love ordering a burger and fries regularly. Everyone generally thinks burgers and fries are less healthy and salads are on the top of the list of healthy meals so this can be misleading when it comes down to the details.

The woman who ordered this was also probably 35-45 lbs over her ideal weight. I don’t say this to be critical, just to give you an idea of who buys these fast food salads and how they are being seriously deceived. The thing that shocked me the most was that she squeezed every last drop of dressing out of her packet and then proceeded to suck on the packet just to double check! Gross! I thought people knew these dressings were very fatty and to only use half the packet or less. I guess not in Texas…

Why Wendy’s and Fast Food Salads Are

NOT Healthy and Actually Bad For You.

Let’s take a look at her “healthy” Wendy’s meal. <- Go here for the nutritional info.

BLT Cobb salad, chicken, bacon, feta cheese, tortilla strips, dressing

Let’s add up her totals here just to get an idea of how “healthy” this meal is. I’ll pretend she only got a small soda, as Wendy’s doesn’t want to acknowledge people drink more than this… yeah right!

 Menu Item  Calories     Fat    Sat Fat   Cholest  Sodium   Fiber
Wendy’s BLT Cobb Salad  450  25g  11g  270mg  1610mg  3g
Thousand Island Dressing  160  15g  2.5g  15mg 290mg  0g
Large Chili  310  9g  3.5g  60mg  1330mg  10g
Small Cola Or Sprite 160  0g 0g  0g  0mg  0g
Total:  1080  49g  17g  345mg  3230mg  13g
 Rec. D. Allowance:  2000  65g  20g  300mg  1500mg  25g


Thousand Island Dressing is the highest calorie dressing they offer. Avoid it at all costs!

Sodas: Wendy’s CONVENIENTLY only lists the amounts for a SMALL cup of every beverage in their nutritional info. This is insanity. Combo meals come with a medium or large drink! This is total deception.

This salad meal with chili is over half the recommended daily calories for an athletic adult women or an inactive man. Most woman in their 40-60’s only need 1600-1800 calories if they are fairly sedentary. So the RDA of 2000 calories is obviously too high for her. It blows the RDA for cholesterol and sodium out of the water, and is almost maxing out the fat and sat fat for the entire day.

Let’s compare this to a typical combo meal at Wendy’s, just to see how it stacks up as a “healthy choice” for woman.

Menu Item  Calories      Fat  Sat Fat   Cholest        Sodium   Fiber        
Single 1/4 pounder  580  33g  14g  105mg  1240mg  3g
Med. Fries  420  21g  4g  0mg  450mg  6g
Small Cola or Sprite  160  0g  0g  0g  0g  0g
 Total:  1160  54g   18g  105mg 1690mg 9g
Diff Between Salad Meal and Burger Combo  -80  -5g  -1g  +240mg  +1540mg  -3g


There isn’t any real health benefit in going for a salad with chicken, bacon, feta cheese, creamy dressing, croutons/tortilla strips, and ground beef chili instead of a burger and fries. You save a little bit of calories, but let’s face it, if you’re a woman you blew your calorie budget for almost 2 meals on one meal, and you killed your cholesterol and sodium recommendations for the day. This is bad news for your heart, arteries, blood pressure, and waistline ladies. Don’t be fooled that restaurant and fast food salads are in ANY way shape or form healthy, low in fat, or low in calories. If you want a salad, the best bet is to bring your own fat free dressing (store bought or homemade) and get a large green garden salad. No croutons, no cheese, no bacon, no meat, no fried noodles, no tortilla strips etc. You can also bring or order a fruit plate, fruit cup, piece of fruit (if available). Or try going somewhere that can do steamed vegetables and plain rice, that’s a healthy meal as well.

Now, are you curious what we got instead at Wendy’s? Bet you had no idea you could eat Low Fat Vegan at Wendy’s!

We got a side salad and a plain baked potato each with a small packet of Italian dressing (they didn’t have light so we made do).

(DO NOT eat the fried croutons this can come with the garden salad!)

Menu Item:  Calories  Fat  Sat Fat  Cholest  Sodium  Fiber
 Wendy’s Garden Side Salad  25  0g  0g  0g  30mg  2g
 Wendy’s Plain Baked Potato  270  0g  0g  0g 25mg  7g
 Italian Vinaigrette (Low Fat)  70  6g  1g  0g  180mg  0g
 Total:  365  6g  1g  0g  235mg  9g


This is your best option at Wendy’s for a low fat, filling, nutrient and fiber rich meal. You can even get an extra baked potato for a more filling meal.

If you want to know more about why oils, nuts and seeds are NOT good for your health check out this great dvd by vegan RD and Nutritionist Jeff Novick      From Oil To NutsIt will dispel every half truth and myth you’ve ever heard about oils and nuts being “heart healthy”, “good for weightloss” “super foods” and more. I’ve shown it to all of my friends and they were just shocked. They are much more conscientious about their food choices now and have lost weight and lowered their cholesterol and risk for heart disease and cancer.

Wow, what a difference it makes just ordering vegan sides (that are not deep fried and free of creamy dressings/butter/margarine) compared to the regular fast food fare. You can get a large snack or a mini meal, for about $3.50 or less. If you want a larger meal, just order 2 baked potatoes. We always skip the butter, margarine, sour cream and fatty dressings. You can use ketchup or a vinaigrette to season it, or better yet bring a little packet or container of salsa, or barbecue sauce etc if you’re planning ahead.

It is actually NOT that hard to eat vegan and relatively low fat when traveling. Of course it’s not 100% unrefined and ideal, but it’s a heck of a lot better than just saying oh well and getting that pack of fries or fatty oil and cheese salad like many vegans and vegetarians do.

Our first option of course when in airports is always to scope out the Asian food and look for steamed veggies, rice, vegan sushi rolls, rice paper wraps, or stir fries. Keep that in mind next time, if you are new to eating vegan or low fat vegan and worry about eating on the go.

Now on to my recipe oil free vegan salad dressing recipe.

This is a really easy no oil, fat free vegan salad dressing recipe that you can make with ingredients you probably already have on hand. I know I had all of these already, so it was simple enough. I put mine into an empty condiment style bottle so it could be squirted easily on the salad in small amounts.

(Oil Free) No Fat Raw Vegan Sweet Onion Salad Dressing


Makes about 1 1/2 cups of dressing


5-6 tbsp of apple cider vinegar
1 cup peeled cucumber, chopped
1 clove of garlic
1 cup of sweet vidalia onion, diced (about 1/2 large onion) (Walla Walla is another variety you can use too)
8 small dates, pitted
1/4 tsp salt
pepper to taste
2+ tbsp water (to blend or thin as necessary)


1. Place ingredients into a Vitamix or food processor and blend until smooth.
2. Taste test and adjust seasonings if desired.
3. Serve over green salad and refrigerate any leftovers.


To make the onion flavour more mild, you can chop the onion in advance and let it sit out or in the fridge and oxidize so that some of the strong oils dissipate and it won’t be as intense.

This is a dressing I would use in smaller quantities because of the bite. I wouldn’t make an entire family sized salad with it, and eat it myself. It might sting your tongue a little if you eat the whole recipe in one meal. Side salads or a medium sized salad would be best with this recipe.

For more information on Savory Raw Dinner Recipes click here

What do you think of this recipe? What was your favourite salad dressing you now make vegan or raw?

{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Amanda June 20, 2014 at 3:01 PM

Do you have any nutrition facts, i.e. calories per serving??


2 Penelope November 24, 2013 at 9:02 PM

OMG! this dressing is awesome…. did customize it to my pref’s as follows
Used 3tbsp vinegar
1/4 spanish red onion (don’t know others)
2 cloves garlic
Have a Rawmazing day, Thank you
(Penelope, Perth , Western Australia)


3 Troy Robertson April 22, 2013 at 9:52 AM

I am new to the Vegan lifestyle and have been struggling with salad dressings along with general disbelieve by others that I am following this lifestyle . I have been using a small amount of Olive Oil (1tsp) and vinegar with creole mustard and seasonings mostly but it is getting old. Thanks again for this great looking recipe which I will try tonight:)


4 kristin April 24, 2012 at 10:02 AM

Hi, I dont eat oils, nuts, or any vinegar. What else can I use instead of the vinegar? Can I just omit it? I am trying to stick to 100% raw vegan. Thank you.


5 Low Fat Vegan Chef Veronica April 24, 2012 at 12:09 PM

apple cider vinegar you can get raw. You can use some lemon juice instead but it could be too lemony. Use a little bit. I’m not sure why you’re not having any nuts or seeds though, you can get those raw too. It’s good to have small quantities of them in dressings.


6 Veronica July 2, 2012 at 12:44 PM

I also don’t eat vinegar and nuts only a couple of days a week. The reason is I am following recommendations of the 80/10/10 diet that states you should not eat any fats on most days, even nuts and avacados. Also it says vinegar should be avoided 🙁


7 Low Fat Vegan Chef Veronica July 2, 2012 at 12:50 PM

People choose to make their own version of 80/10/10 or low fat vegan diet. I find that it was too strict for no reason on the vinegar and I think fats once a day is fine, I would be starving all the time if it was only a few times a week.


8 Nancy March 24, 2012 at 8:08 PM

2. I have not made this yet as I do not have the right onion. Hopefully I will find one soon. I do not like raw onions much but maybe the right kind will work for me. I love to make oil free dressings so am happy to have another recipe. So far every thing I have made of yours has been wonderful.


9 Naomi March 15, 2012 at 6:06 PM

i’m trying to find a way to make my church’s typical social event menus healthier & little more appealing to raw foodies & the elderly who have so many health issues.. Typically our pot lucks are wonderful: but still christmas/easter every year brings a lot of cooked food & sweets: more raw is always needed. This also has to be cost-effective. OF COURSE, many people just bring fresh veggies & dips – an abundance of which you have provided for. THANK YOU. …. now it’s my job to convince the committee that we need raw food trays at the church’s biggest seasonal fundraiser: the ‘whine & SNEEZE”, as i jokingly refer to it!! So; … in short; i really appreciate the online support group.

my latest successful foray with this great fat-free sauce was to start with rice cake, layer on homemade sunflower pate add 1/8 tsp. veronica’s onion dressing & top with a floret of parsley. Fantastic. (NOW, will see about the committee!!); cheers!!


10 melissa March 9, 2012 at 9:12 PM

This time tried the dressing with extra lemon juice & put in 1/2 tbsp. valencia peanut butter. i admit the peanut butter was a bold choice (& expensive) since it’s only available in health food stores but i find i’m always in competition on a friday at work for innovative treats & i’m up against people who are wowed by a simple strawberry: timbits are the usual. (And accepted, especially by the guys)!! The women who buy or bring their own raw salads are gushing over the dressing, as they’re all tired of the type you buy at the store with the ready made (now boring) pre-packaged salads. it’s bridged a gap between those who are vegetarian and those who are not & helped me to fit in as a vegan I think it eventually will help with my waistline woes: as i watch my monthly & seasonal weight gain issues become a thing of the past. Peer pressure is high, particularly on the PIzza friday issues. Many of my co-workers don’t even know what a sprouts maker is let alone a dehydrater!! Cheers on your weekend; & keep those real-life blogs going!!


11 Veronica March 11, 2012 at 8:44 PM

I’m glad the dressing worked out for you. I used to try tons of low fat salad dressings and I got so tired of how vinegary they were and just made me sick. Fresh dressing will always taste vetter even if they can’t pinpoint what they like about it. This was a recipe I wanted to make as a substitute to fat free store bought sweet onion dressing. I will make more nut dressings in the future. I just have so many recipe book projects I’m already workung on. Delicious vegan salad dressings are definitely on my list though!


12 Jess February 11, 2012 at 7:05 PM

Tried your vegan sweet onion dressing and it was very good< in fact the best non oil or seed dressing I have made to date, thanks, Jess


13 Veronica February 12, 2012 at 8:05 AM

Oh thank you! It’s not my favourite one, so thanks for letting me know it’s still a good recipe!


14 Margaret February 22, 2012 at 1:37 AM

Thank you so much Veronica.
Will try the dressing & give to my family/friends
Kind regards


15 Connie February 9, 2012 at 3:49 AM

I loved your post today about what and how to eat when traveling. It was so true to a real life experience…. how to pick the right thing to eat when surrounded with lots of bad choices. You are really doing a great job with your posts and answers to questions.


16 Lorra February 8, 2012 at 4:32 AM


Love your recipe ideas 🙂 I’ve been following Fred for a while and it led me to you as well!

It would be awesome if both or one of you came and did a talk at Banyen and sold books – I am getting really frustrated with the amount of high-fat raw books and restaurants everywhere – they’re good for a transition but as I now know well…it is not sustainable. We need people to talk more about low-fat raw and vegan – yeah! 🙂 Please let me know if you and/or Fred are interested now that you are back in Vancouver.


17 Veronica February 8, 2012 at 4:35 AM

Hi Lorra,

I know where that store is. I have not been to it yet. We don’t do a lot of public talks because it kind of throws a wrench into starting new projects for the online aspect of our company. We need to get some things settled now that we just got back to Vancouver. But I’ll keep that in mind. How many people could fit in the venue?


18 Lorra February 9, 2012 at 4:26 AM

I’ll check it out with our events manager and let you know 🙂 I think it would be great – I know you both work primarily online but it would be a real treat for a lot of people 🙂


19 Lorra February 10, 2012 at 5:52 AM

At the highest capacity we’ve had it was around 100 people. Of course banyen sets up larger audiences but outside of the store. If you guys don’t want to do a talk you should at least sell books through us – getting Fred’s books through other vendors in the states is funny since he is local – also we get a low discount so would have to charge a higher price, and unlikely to sell them that way. Just a thought – we need those books in there, though!


20 Marie louise February 8, 2012 at 4:00 AM

About what to eat where you’re outside, I was last saterday with my husband in an italian restaurant (we live in china and I needed to find something western !). When I ordered, the waitress looked at me and asked : “only salad and side dishes ?”. I had no time to answer, my husband said : “as she’s veganian, yes”. But I will remerber to ask them without any dressing next time !

About your recipe, it looks great but I will have to wait to come back to France to try it. Even then, I a not sure I will find those sweet onions as they are very seasonal where I live(d). I will try with spring onion, there’s a lot of them here in China.
Thank you !


21 Joe February 8, 2012 at 1:23 AM

Hi Veronica, I am glad to see that sweet onion recipe again. It is simply good.

The Savory Raw Dinner Recipes DVDs are keeping me busy. I had my tomatoes dried past Sunday. They are just so delicious. I made tomato sauce and had them on my raw spaghetti.


22 Em February 8, 2012 at 1:10 AM

Great post – so interesting to compare the nutritional stats on those meals – always love your detail Veronica.

As for this recipe, I made it last week, and though I did love it, my lips were stinging! Especially nearer the sides of my mouth. I had to take a breather every now and then through my huge salad. I thought it might have been because of the apple cider vinegar (I hadn’t had any vinegar for a couple of years) – but now I’m thinking it might have had something to do with the fact that I used brown onions (and probably more than the recipe called for) and also that I ate the entire portion myself in one go! My eyes were watering…

Your picture at the top of the post shows a lovely, delicate-looking salad – mine definitely did not look like that – I think I drowned mine… 🙁

Still I did love the tangy sweetness, cut with the garlic. It was definitely worth it, but I think I’ll try and source the vidalia onions for next time – or maybe try Francesco’s tip of using scallion (I wonder if he means spring/green onions) and (more?) garlic.

Thanks too, for your description of vidalia onions to Vicky – so helpful. I think I’ve seen them but tended to ignore them, thinking that with their weird saucer shape they’d be trickier to cut.


23 Veronica February 8, 2012 at 3:04 AM

Hey Em,

Yes it is a very tangy but strong dressing. Fred and I ate it as a side salad only. It’s not the kind I would use for a gigantic salad meal because it can be so tangy.

You know when you get tired of eating low fat Italian style dressings because it’s just vinegar and water with flavourings?

Try with a sweet onion next time, really they are not the same. I can cut them without my eyes going crazy, but regular onions I wear my contacts or onion goggles so that I can do it.

Try adding more cucumber next time if you want it really mild, it would be the vinegar and onion combo that is so strong if you are not used to either.

Scallion does mean green/spring onion as well. Everyone calls them something different, I usually write green onions in my recipes.

The sweet onions aren’t that much harder to cut, you don’t have to dice it evenly if you’re blending it anyways. I’m just careful with my knife and I never cut myself or anything.


24 Em February 8, 2012 at 10:32 AM

Right…mental note: side salad next time, not huge salad… 🙂
And will try it with a little more cucumber as you suggested – and maybe with spring onions, if I can’t get the vidalia.



25 Elainie February 7, 2012 at 11:33 PM

Love this! Can’t wait to make it and all the other recipes on your site! Beautiful, simple and healthy!


26 Veronica February 7, 2012 at 10:20 PM

Thank you Rob and Ron Drake. 🙂

It should last for a few days in the fridge if you have leftovers. Keep it airtight. The fibre in it helps it from oxidizing so fast, unlike juices. Enjoy!


27 RON DRAKE February 7, 2012 at 10:18 PM

An excellent salad dressing exactly as written. Great taste; just right zippy flavor of sweet/sour/garlic. Loved it, esp w/NO oil! Thank You very much.


28 Rob February 7, 2012 at 9:48 PM

Veronica – you are always gracious, complete and SO INTELLIGENT with your responses. Really appreciated – Fred’s a lucky b…..d.


29 Francesco February 7, 2012 at 7:51 PM

Just tried it tonight. Simply delicious… Instead of Vidalia/sweet onions I used a half scallion and a half piece of garlic.


30 Em February 8, 2012 at 1:22 AM

Francesco, when you say scallion – do you mean the long, thin, green onions with the thin white ends (we call them spring onions where I grew up or shallots where I live now) or something else?

I’ve never known a vegetable to cause so much confusion (even within the same country!) as some of the onion family – maybe the yam…

Also, what do you mean by half? And half a piece of garlic – do you mean extra to what the recipe calls for or instead of the one clove as per the recipe? I’m thinking that maybe you made a slightly smaller batch.

I only ask because you say it was delicious – I had a problem with over-onioning mine – it was delicious too, but stung me quite a lot. I wouldn’t mind trying it with scallions…


31 Marilyn February 7, 2012 at 5:32 PM

Can’t wait to try this! (Vidalias are hard to find in our neck of the woods)

Also, how about something special for Valentine’s day using carob.

Love love love your recipes. Thanks SO much!


32 Veronica February 7, 2012 at 4:02 AM

lol did you just do that lucas? Was it really strong and too bite-y?

Have any of you had that sweet onion sauce they had at Subway? I used to like that, and it’s clearly a sweet onion flavour, probably cooked the onions or onion powder. But yes as this is a raw recipe, I would recommend sweet onions possibly white onion only. Lots of red or yellow onion raw is seriously intense!


33 Lucas February 7, 2012 at 12:45 AM

Note to Self: DO NOT MAKE the Raw Vegan Sweet Onion Salad Dressing with red onion instead of sweet onion. *face slap*


34 Vicky (Sweet and Healthy Living) February 6, 2012 at 4:26 PM

That dressing looks so good! I will have to try it! I am not sure if I can find specifically vidalia onions, do you think it would work with a regular onion? Maybe just use less?


35 Veronica February 6, 2012 at 6:37 PM

Hi Vicky,

Vidalia onions are sweet onions. When you go to the grocery store they usually have a different types. These are not standard big round yellow onions with the orangish peel. Sweet onions are more flat on the top and bottom and have a light yellow peel to them. Sometimes they are so flatted like saucers. They are sweet without that burning eye stinging oil that are in regular onions. I can cut them without tearing up like crazy. Try to see if you can find them.

It just could be very very strong with too much bite if you use a regular onion. If I had to find a substitute I would say white onion (white inside bright white peel) would be my next choice, and not the standard yellow cooking onion.

I get vidalia/sweet onions at Costco or Whole Foods.


36 Amandla February 6, 2012 at 5:25 AM

That sounds like a great raw dressing and it’s oil free. The dates much add a nice sweetness – I’ll have to try it. Thanks.


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