One of my relatives has GERDs (acid reflux). I'm trying to find / make a salad dressing that avoids

  • acidity
  • large quantities of oil
  • spiciness (i.e. anything with capsaicin or peperine)

But I'm struggling to accomplish this because I don't know what type that would be. I bought a book called Garde Manger by the Culinary Institute of America (CIA).

For "cold emulsion sauces", they listed

  • temporary emulsions (e.g. vinagrettes)
  • stable emulsions (e.g. mayonnaise)

However both of those examples involve high amounts of fat or acid.

For "dairy-based dressings", these seemed to rely on primarily cheese and cream, both of which are high fat.

Salsas it said tended to have fruits and/or vegetables combined with an acid (e.g. citrus juice, vinegar, or wine). Again, won't work.

So the options left were

  • coulis and purees
  • coating sauces: aspic

Would either of these last two options work? It seems plausible since the book doesn't mention high fat or acidity as a requirement for them, but I wanted a second opinion since I've never made either.

  • 2
    If you have some kind of medical condition, you are not allowed to eat some types of foods. You have to accept that. Your relative won't enjoy the salad as they used to.
    – Johannes_B
    Commented Apr 1, 2019 at 5:26
  • I would like to remind everybody who wants to write an answer to take this question very literally and not see it as an xy problem and try suggesting alternatives for better foods for GERD. I know this is frequently acceptable in other cases, but since we don't have the necessary medical expertise, it is very likely that our quality criteria will fail here, with well meaning people upvoing plausible-sounding bad advice. So please just answer the part about dressing composition and leave the OP to find other solutions elsewhere.
    – rumtscho
    Commented Apr 1, 2019 at 10:55

3 Answers 3


Yogurt comes in low-fat variations and in my experience they work pretty well.

Yogurt can be used as a dressing. In a lot of instances you can make a nice dressing just by taking the recipe of a mayonnaise based dressing and then replacing the mayonnaise with yogurt. (I don't mean it will taste the same, just that the recipes will produce a still nice but different tasting dressing.)

Also something like a traditional Greek Tzatziki is a real nice dressing.

For spicy-ness look at adding fresh garlic, horse radish or onions.

Here's a nice recipe: Get some no-fat yogurt, some mustard, honey and garlic, add salt and pepper to taste. You now have a real nice base to work off. It's a really fresh flavor because of the yogurt but also full because of the honey and garlic.


Acids and spices are generally used to add flavor to the mostly flavorless salad.

To adapt recipes for your relative, you could try:

  • Use less sauce or dressing. Of cause the fat content of a dressing is high, but if you drizzle just a little bit over the salad, the overall fat content is much lower. Use less sauce to reduce the absolute amount of fat.
  • Use oils with a strong taste. You'll need much less oil and can greatly improve the taste of a salad if you use oils with a strong taste like sesame oil, walnut oil or peanut oil.
  • Add herbs or spices instead of oils. That's how the capsaicin usually gets into a salad, but there are very tasty alternatives: salt, parmesan or a similar grated cheese, oregano, garlic or bears garlic, chives, basil leaves, mint leaves, cress, coriander leaves or finely chopped fennel all add taste to a boring salad without any fat. There are so many more ingredients you could use that the combinations are endless.
  • 1
    Plus 1 especially for the last point.
    – Alchimista
    Commented Apr 1, 2019 at 8:27
  • Cooked vegetables are easier to digest than raw, if your relative has fewer problems with cooked then skipping salads entirely may be the way to go.
    – GdD
    Commented Apr 1, 2019 at 8:33
  • 1
    I removed the last point, plus a leading statement, both of which were related to health/nutrition. In this specific case, I happen to know that the suggestions from the last point are somewhere between useless and counterproductive, since I have a close family member with GERD. But even if it had been correct, it would have been inappropriate to be here, since voting then happens without any real expertise behind it. If a question has a health related background, please restrict yourself to a very literal interpretation and do not offer alternatives.
    – rumtscho
    Commented Apr 1, 2019 at 10:59
  • @rumtscho Are you sure it was appropriate to completely remove the last point? Both comments before yours specifically mention it, so it seems to have some value, even if it wasn't correct in regards to the health implications.
    – Elmy
    Commented Apr 1, 2019 at 11:54
  • 1
    @Elmy That's exactly my point. People who are not qualified to judge its value (the commenters, or me) are doing so. The only way we know to prevent this from happening is to not have this kind of content at all, and that's why we have a rule against it. It is routine to remove heatlh related content from otherwise on-topic answers, or to delete health-advice answers in their entirety. And please remember that popularity does not mean quality, most of our closing reasons cover extremey popular forms of content.
    – rumtscho
    Commented Apr 1, 2019 at 12:27

You can work with sweet and salty tastes. A cold soy sauce and mirin/honey mixture is sure to add some good flavours to a salad.

You can also crush garlic and ginger, fry it up, then add soy sauce, honey/sugar/mirin and a corn starch slurry for a teriyaki style sauce you can dress your salad with after it's cooled.

  • 1
    Soy sauce can be a good addition to a lot of traditional recipes. I myself have quite the liking for the Indonesian variation: kecap manis, a sweet and savory sauce.(And it even works great combined with my yogurt answer.)
    – Pieter B
    Commented Apr 4, 2019 at 17:23

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