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January 25, 2010

Broccoli Salad / Family Favorites Healthy Cooking Challenge

Are there crickets chirping around here or what? Despite my silence, I have actually been much busier in the kitchen than usual, but I decided to leave the camera and commentary out of it. Today is day 8 of the 10 day cleanse that I am participating in, hosted by Spark! Wellness and Choosing Raw. It has been a great experience and I am feeling great. During the cleanse I have been eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables and have eliminated all caffeine, alcohol, refined sugar, processed foods, along with common allergens such as dairy, gluten, soy, corn, and more. To give you a general idea of the meals, most days go like this: I start the day with a green smoothie, for lunch I have a great big salad, and dinner is a cup of whole grains with lots of steamed vegetables. I have noticed increased energy, elimination of bloating (i.e. a flat belly), and decreased cravings for junk. This is also my longest stretch yet without dairy, which has been very exciting for me.

The cleanse packet came with loads of delicious recipes, but I have also come up with some of my own that are acceptable for the cleanse. One thing that I made is this Broccoli Salad. I was inspired to make this salad as part of the Healthy Cooking Challenge hosted by Alicia at Vegan Epicurean. The theme is family favorites -- and the challenge is to adapt a family favorite into a healthy vegan version. Before we get into family favorites, I thought it only appropriate to introduce you to my family. This is a picture of me with my dad and brother circa 1991.

Cute crowd,
aren't we? :-)

To say that my dad was a super-dad would be an understatement -- he did it all. We lost my mother soon after my brother was born, and as a single dad, my father had a very full plate! He always made sure to keep our plates full too, figuratively and literally. He cooked dinner every night, always consisting of meat, potatoes, and vegetables. Looking back now, it was pretty much exactly what you would expect from a man in charge of dinner, with main courses such as bbq chicken, hamburgers, meatloaf, and the like. You never heard any complaints from us though.. well, except for the nights that he served the frozen vegetable mix that included lima beans.

While my average childhood dinner did not spark any ideas for this family favorites cooking challenge, a broccoli salad recipe that my father often made for potlucks and picnics did come to mind. I had forgotten about this recipe until a few years back when I encountered it at a salad bar. All of the ingredients appeared to be the same as I remembered: broccoli, raisins, sunflower seeds, red onion, bacon, and a creamy mayonnaise based dressing. I could not enjoy a serving because of the bacon, but it really brought back happy memories seeing it.

This dish is obviously quite easy to make vegetarian, but making it vegan is a bit more of a challenge. Traditionally the dressing includes mayo and buttermilk. I have never bought vegan mayo before, and I figured why start now when I can make my own. I turned to the Vegan Epicurean archives where I found several options, but opted for the pine nut version. While the consistency and appearance are very similar to mayonnaise, the flavor doesn't match--however it is delightful! The recipe utilizes apple cider vinegar, lemon, and lemon zest to give it some zip, so I'm deeming this the Miracle Whip of vegan mayonnaise (never mind not having other vegan mayo experiences to compare it to). At any rate, it was perfect for this recipe, with almond milk, agave, and some additional apple cider vinegar rounding out the dressing.

I obviously left out the bacon, and I did not bother coming up with a substitute because the salad shines without it. The last tweak that I made was to drop the raisins and sub in pomegranate seeds. This salad is quite different from the one by my dear father, but I believe it is a worthy tribute to the original.

Broccoli Salad
Makes 4 large side dish servings
(apprx 1-1/2 cups per serving)

4 c broccoli florets and stems, chopped into small bite sized pieces
1/3 c red onion, finely diced
3/4 c pomegranate seeds
1/2 c raw sunflower seeds

1/2 c Alicia's pine nut mayo
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp agave
1/4 c almond milk


Whisk dressing ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.

Combine all other ingredients in a medium bowl and toss with dressing. Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes prior to serving.

I love you dad!


  1. That looks so good. How'd you like the nut mayo?

  2. I guess I should have read closer - you say Miracle whip so I'm assuming sweet. Have you tried her other version yet? I was leaning toward that one.

  3. Awww....this post brought tears to my eyes! What a wonderful father. He should be an inspiration to dads everywhere, and he is lucky to have such a great daughtter!

    And the broccoli salad looks delicious, of course.

  4. Yum, yum! Looks like a great salad! This post was so sweet-- I bet your dad is really proud of you! He sounds like a great pop! :-)

    Glad to hear the cleanse is going well!

  5. Thanks for your nice comments ladies!

    Heather -- my comparison to miracle whip came more from the tangy-ness, but now that you mention it, a sweet note would really bring it even closer. I haven't tried any of the other versions, although she tells me that the first vegan mayo recipe that she posted is so much like vegannaise that it is scary! I really liked the pine nut version, but I also plan to try this other one as well.

  6. What a touching tribute, and what cute pics!

    The salad looks great, I absolutely love broccoli, and pine nut mayo sounds really interesting.

  7. Wow looking salad (and photo!) Great story about your dad too, how inspiring and what a wonderful loving man (and family) it sounds like you have (including the cute kitties to the left!)

  8. What a great recipe! I tried something similar at a potluck a few months back. Of course after my first bit, I realized there were bacon bits in it , so in the trash it went. (Although im not even sure if bacon bits even contain actual meat or are just overly processed…). I am glad to see this version and love the pomegranate seeds in it!

  9. What a sweet post! That is so nice that you have such a nice relationship with your dad! Love those pics, you were such a cutie!

    Yummy salad! mm!

  10. your dad is amazing! he sounds like such a wonderful person, and that's so awesome that he cooked up all kinds of eats for you guys when you were growing up. we didn't care for that frozen veggie mix with the lima beans either. ah ha ha! i don't think i've ever had broccoli salad before, but like you i've seen it on salad bars before. yours sounds great, and i really like the idea of a pine nut mayo and i love the pomegranate seeds in there. also, congrats on being dairy free for so long - that rocks socks! enjoy the rest of the cleanse!

  11. What a lovely tribute to your, Dad, Sarah... got tears in my eyes! Love seeing all the photos. And your broccoli salad is beautiful--love the pomegranate seeds. Thanks for some really great links. I've been wanting to try a cleanse--but one that's tasty and fun as well as eliminating the toxins build-up. Thank you for the inspiration! Happy Days :o)

  12. What a lovely and very touching post to your dad. Loved the recent and not so recent pics too.

    Thanks for sharing the salad, I can't wait to try it too.


  13. My mum made us meat potatoes and vegetables too - I think it was what was expected but that is an impressive salad that your dad took to potlucks - and an impressive tale about him bringing you up solo - sorry to hear about your mum dying so young - am glad you father could take up some of the slack - sounds like a great salad

    I have tried making vegan mayonnaise and also brought some - my version and the commerical one are worlds apart - fyi

  14. I am intriqued with the idea of the pomegranate seeds. Will definitely give that a try...although my pomegranate bushes did not produce anything at all this year. Thanks for this neat tip!

  15. and this salad elevates my heart!

  16. Wow! What a sweet post! Your dad is so amazing and I'm so touched by this wonderful story.

    The broccoli salad looks and sounds so healthy and delicious! I love that you added pomegranate seeds in it and the pinenut mayo sounds absolutely fantastic. Alicia must be very proud of you!

    So happy to hear that you're enjoying the cleanse and it makes you feel great, way to go! I'm totally inspired!!!

  17. Hi Sarah!

    I love all the pictures of you, your dad, and your brother. There was just something so touching about them. I can really tell that your Dad loves you two... I seriously almost cried! (I must miss my dad...) That's how sensitive and emotional I am today! You have a precious family! Thank you for sharing a slice of your childhood with me today! :)

    (Oh and thanks for your comment about my raw vegan sushi! I got it and it warmed my heart!)

  18. Hi Sarah!

    Thanks for stopping by my blog... I have enjoyed your blog so far... The dish that you made looks realy good. I hate that I didn't get to try all the recipes in the packet during the cleanse.. but I will definately continue trying them out.

    I will add you to my blog roll so I can keep up with you..

    Looking forward to reading more :)

  19. This is just so sweet, and I love the pictures!

    The salad looks good, but your dad sounds amazing!

  20. Aww! Your dad sounds amazing. I love the then and now photos, too! That salad looks fantastic- I'd have never thought of that combo on my own. I'll have to try this... you led me to tempeh wings, who knows where you will lead me next?

  21. Sarah,

    I always loved that broccoli salad - can't wait to try your altered version!

    Love the pictures and story of you, your brother and dad. He is a super guy and the best brother I could ever ask for!
    Aunt Lynne

  22. Sarah,

    I am deeply touched by how you shared a little piece of our story. I love you Sarah and I am so proud of the fine young woman that you have become. I think your version of the Broccoli Salad looks a lot healthier than the one I used to prepare. I will look forward to trying it. Keep up the good work. Your plate presentations and photography are fantastic.

    Thanks to everyone for the kind words. Even though we went through a very difficult loss, we had a great life together. Being a single dad gave me the opportunity to know my children in a way that most men will never know.


  23. aww, your family seems great.
    i will have to try that vegan mayo...i don't really like the taste of mayo but sometimes you need it to hold a salad together. so maybe i'll like this better than real mayo.

  24. What a lovely tribute to your dad. You are very fortunate to have one that so lived up to his God-given title. I actually have tears in my eyes after reading your post. Ahem, er, must be some dust, I mean.

    Anyhow, I think it's great that you are trying to go vegan. I want you to know that I support you every step of the way, and if there's anything I can do to help, just e-mail me (on my profile). By the way, your salad looks fantastic, delicious and crunchy! :)

  25. And, I just discovered the note from your dad just two comments above mine. How supportive he is of you! How wonderful that he stopped by here to give you public encouragement. Sounds like an amazing person, as do you too.

  26. Your dad is very brave and you all are indeed very cute! Your broccoli salad sounds wonderful and your daddy's too, except for the bacon.. sounds like your dad does have some culinary skill! Maybe he was just too busy to be too inventive with your week day meals..

  27. Oh what a sweet post! What a wonderful Dad you have! I must tell you that I am SO happy to have found your blog! Your recipes look great! I am struggling to incorporate a more vegetarian diet with my family of 5 boys. It is a hard transition! your blog will really help!! thanks so much!

  28. Oh, I love the idea for pomagranate in broccoli salad. I may have to make this tomorrow -- I am craving a good, crunchy salad. Beautiful tribute to your dad as well.


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