Recently I was at a party where mayo laden broccoli salad appeared on many plates, being touted as the healthy choice. I got to thinking about how healthy that salad would be if I could recreate it, and nix the mayo, the bacon, the cheese, and the croutons. My mind was working overtime thinking about what would I use to create a creamy, tasty and satisfying healthy broccoli salad, without compromising my nutrition standards.
The search for healthy options.
Here’s one thing I’ve learned from 6 years as a health coach. Most people want to make healthy choices, and are actually trying hard to do that. BUT….it’s not always easy. Have you ever gone to a cookout and seen a broccoli salad on the buffet and assumed it was a healthier choice than the coleslaw because it is loaded with broccoli? It appears to be a solid choice, and it possibly IS a healthy option…..but it also may be loaded with mayo and sugar and other ingredients that degrade it as a good choice. Confusing, I know. Maybe the coleslaw has a simple oil/vinegar S+P dressing on top of shredded cabbage and carrots. Super choice. Clean ingredients all the way. And there you have it. The entire list of ingredients is needed to make informed decisions about what you choose to put into your body.
If you want to do right by yourself, you have to get curious. There’s nothing wrong with asking what’s in a dish. Nothing at all. At a restaurant, a prepared foods counter, or even as the guest at someone else’s house. You can ask questions without judging. Consider yourself on a fact-finding mission that is crucial to meeting your health goals.
Homemade Dressing for the WIN!
Finding a dressing that uses unrefined oils, no sugar or preservatives is not easy. This is why I make my own. Contrary to popular belief, it is not time consuming to make your own salad dressing. This simple miso dressing is so good, it is one of my everyday dressings. I like to swap miso into recipe that calls for a thicker, creamy texture like mayo. Not only does it avoid a chemically processed, refined oil, but miso is a great addition because it is fermented and offers probiotic benefits as well. I usually use an immersion blender for this dressing, but you can easily blend it together quickly with a whisk. Bam! Done!
Broccoli’s Health Benefits.
In the example I gave about assuming the broccoli salad with the mayo was healthy because of the broccoli, it makes perfect sense. Broccoli is loaded with fiber, antioxidants, vitamin C, vitamin K, iron and potassium….what’s not to like about that? The delicious dressing in this recipe makes the raw broccoli tasty and lets you reap those benefits without destroying any of them in the cooking process. Yay. It doesn’t really take long to trim the broccoli and cut it into bite sized florets, but if you’re short on time, buy broccoli slaw and sub that in. It will still be crunchy and tasty and nutritious….and lack of time won’t be your excuse for not making this.
Sunflower Seeds add nutrition and crunch!
Sunflower seeds are a tasty way to add protein to this already nutrient dense salad. I generally buy raw and unsalted nuts and seeds to have in my pantry. That way, if I need to toast them for a recipe I can, and if the recipe calls for raw, I’m on it. I think this healthy broccoli salad tastes best with toasted sunflower seeds—I love the crunch they add. If you want to save time, buy your sunflower seeds already toasted, just read the label and make sure unnecessary refined oils weren’t added in the process.
A note about the sun-dried tomatoes in this recipe. Totally optional. I think there is a texture and flavor they bring that is said to have a similar taste to bacon, so I like to sub them in where bacon would be a natural ingredient as a healthier choice. Let me know what you think in the comments about this swap and whether or not you decided to use them.
Healthy Broccoli Salad is perfect for a pot-luck because:
- It is super tasty.
- You can make it ahead (it actually tastes better when it’s been sitting in the dressing for at least a couple hours).
- It has an ingredient list that is simple and wholesome.
- You can make it in under 15 minutes.
- It is nutrient dense.
- There will be plenty of people looking for a healthy option.
- The dressing is delicious, and you won’t need it all….perfect for tomorrow’s lunch!
For those of you observing Yom Kippur this week, this would be an awesome choice to bring to break-fast…..where the buffet is often lacking healthy options. This apple honey cake would be another great thing to bring. Who doesn’t like to break their fast on a pice of moist and flavorful cake? Wishing you all an easy and meaningful fast, and obvious healthy choices at the end of it.
- ¼ cup white Miso
- 3 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 2 Tablespoons Maple Syrup
- ½ teaspoon ground white pepper
- 2-4 Tablespoons water
- 1 lb. broccoli (about 5 cups florets)
- 1 cup chopped cabbage
- 3 scallions, thinly sliced
- ¼ cup unsweetened, unsulfured dried cranberries or cherries
- ½ cup sunflower seeds, toasted
- Make Dressing: Combine all ingredients, except water with immersion blender, or vigorous whisking, until well mixed. Gradually add water, 1 Tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency. Thicker is better for the broccoli salad, but thinner is better if you have extra and want to use as an everyday salad dressing.
- Prepare the veggies: Trim broccoli and cut into bite sized florets, chopping stems into discs. (There is a lot of nutrition in the stems, so don’t just toss them. Trim off the woody part and what remains can be sliced into thin discs). Shred the cabbage and thinly slice scallions.
- Sun dried tomatoes. If they are pliable, great…..just cut them into strips. If they are very dry, soak them in warm water for 15 minutes to reconstitute. Drain and slice into strips.
- Sunflower seeds: If they’re already toasted, you’re all set. If you have raw seeds, lightly toast in a dry skillet, shaking the pan so they don’t burn. Alternately, you can toast them in a 300 degree oven for 7-10 minutes, watching closely so they don’t burn.
- Place everything in a large bowl and pour half the dressing over. Toss well so everything is coated. Cover and store in fridge to let the dressing absorb and flavors gel. Minimum 2 hours or overnight. Taste to determine if more dressing is needed. Serve cold or at room temp. Leftover dressing can be used on any salad.
Optional: 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, NOT packed in oil
Amount Per Serving Calories 199Total Fat 11gSaturated Fat 1gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 9gCholesterol 0mgSodium 939mgCarbohydrates 23gFiber 5gSugar 12gProtein 6g