Creamy Cranberry-Nut Broccoli Salad

My mind is a big jumble of chaos lately.

I feel like a have a trillion things to do. All day long I’m making and adding to ”to-do” lists.

My poor notepad app on my phone is about to explode, haha.

Creamy Cranberry-Nut Broccoli Salad. A HEALTHY, vegan version of Fresh Broccoli Salad! @ #vegan #healthy

I guess that is what I get for moving internationally…. without my stuff…. to live with my parents… with two small children. YIKES. Best decision ever??? Probably not. But at least I won’t sit alone by myself in Germany for 9 months, celebrating birthdays and all other holidays alone.

So if chaos means I get to have some socialization and make some memories with my family. Then yeah. I can deal with the craziness.

Creamy Cranberry-Nut Broccoli Salad. A HEALTHY, vegan version of Fresh Broccoli Salad! @ #vegan #healthy

To simplify things in my world right now, I have to turn to the simplest of recipes. Stuff like this broccoli salad.

This recipe is actually modeled after one of my favorite non-vegan sides: a fresh broccoli salad with chopped nuts, dried fruit, chopped onion, crumbled bacon and tossed in an easy sweetened, vinegar-mayonnaise dressing. You may have heard of it. Heck, you may have even tried it yourself. Maybe its’ one of your favorites too.

Well, I wanted to come up with a healthier VEGAN version. And it was super easy to do.

Kept the raw broccoli (obviously, haha), the nuts (I used pecans here), the dried fruit, and the onion. You could use soy bacon… but I just kept it out altogether. I’m not big on processed soy substitutes. And the dressing was a breeze to replicate with the help of soaked cashews.

Creamy Cranberry-Nut Broccoli Salad. A HEALTHY, vegan version of Fresh Broccoli Salad! @ #vegan #healthy

I looooove sweet, creamy salads. Especially when they are savory too and you can call them a healthy side :D hehehe.

This one can even be eaten as a main dish for lunch or dinner. Perfect for us vegans! Broccoli has SO much protein (about 17 grams per bunch). And to bump up the protein content you can use a nut that has a higher protein content like almonds AND add some hemp seeds. Maybe even throw in or serve some cooked grain on the side? I like the idea of some quinoa with this.

Change up the dried fruit if you would like too! We’re big dried cranberry fans around here, but dark or golden raisins and dried cherries work great too.

My favorite combo is chopped almonds, a few extra tablespoons of sunflower seeds, and dried cranberries. WITH the onion. Oh and apple cider vinegar. I always use apple cider vinegar because of its health benefits and the fact that it is alkaline for the body.

Basically whatever floats your boat with this one.

Smart Substitutions:

  • Use whatever nut/seed combo you would like here.
  • Vinegar choice is really up to you too.
  • Agave can be used instead of maple syrup.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Creamy Cranberry-Nut Broccoli Salad
Serves: 6
  • ¾ cup cashews, soaked overnight, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar (red wine, apple cider, etc.)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon dry mustard
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons water, more as needed
  • 4 cups chopped broccoli florets (from about 1 large head or two small)
  • ⅓ cup dried cranberries
  • ⅓ cup chopped pecans, almonds, or walnuts (toasted, if preferred)*
  • ⅓ cup finely chopped red onion (rinsed and dried to remove strong flavor, if desired- optional)
  1. MAKE THE DRESSING: Place all the ingredients into a high-speed blender and purée until completely smooth and creamy. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  2. FOR THE SALAD: Place all the ingredients into a large bowl and toss with dressing. You may not need all the dressing, depending on how creamy you like your salads. Or you can use it all and add more ingredients (broccoli, nuts, etc.) if you need to.
  3. Cover and set in refrigerator to chill at least two hours for the flavors to meld. I like making it the night before, but if you want to keep your nuts crunchy then don't add them until right before serving.
*Substitute nuts with your favorite seed of choice- sunflower or pumpkin seeds. Or just add them additionally for fun! I like to use at least two tablespoons of sunflower seeds for fun.
*Add hemp seeds for some extra protein.



3 Responses to “Creamy Cranberry-Nut Broccoli Salad”

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  • Christina May 1, 2014, 2:35 pm

    Ooh, I could kiss you…but I won’t, because that would be awkward!! I love this salad (the original), it’s my go-to side for any gathering. The last time I made it for a crowd I really wanted to healthify it but Steve was skeptical so I left it. I am so happy you’ve modified this salad to a healthy version, Steve likes your recipes so I know he’ll trust you and I can just copy!! I can’t wait to try it!

  • lmachell May 8, 2014, 12:35 am

    Haha so glad to hear it Christina! Good luck!

  • Tess @ Tips on Life & Love May 1, 2014, 8:44 pm

    I love cranberries, so I’m definitely trying this salad! I can’t imagine what it must be like picking up, and moving across the world. But just think of all the wonderful experiences you’re giving to your kids.