Broccoli Bacon Salad

One of my favorite “picnic” salads is the broccoli salad. It’s creamy from mayo or miracle whip, sweet from the golden raisins, and salty from the onions and bacon. Mmmm…

I had a whole bag of broccoli in the fridge that needed to be dealt with before going bad. I didn’t have any mayo on hand, so I had to get creative.

After some mixing and concocting, I came up with this zippy (slightly tangy) broccoli and bacon salad.

broccoli bacon salad

Broccoli, raisins, almonds, turkey bacon, and an apple…

broccoli bacon salad broccoli bacon salad

…topped with a mildly sweet and tangy honey lime vinaigrette.

broccoli bacon salad   broccoli apple bacon salad broccoli apple bacon salad broccoli apple bacon salad broccoli apple bacon salad

The perfect texture and taste combination: crunchy, sweet, salty, and zippy!

broccoli apple bacon salad

It tastes best if you let it sit in the fridge for at least an hour before serving to let all of the flavors co-mingle and allow the salad to settle.

Broccoli Bacon Salad
  • 2 heads broccoli florets only, chopped
  • 5 pieces crispy turkey bacon, diced
  • 1/ cup almonds, chopped
  • ¾ cup raisins
  • 1 small apple, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 Tbsp. lime juice
  • 1 Tbsp. pumpkin oil (omit and replace with olive oil if you don’t have pumpkin oil)
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1.5 Tbsp. dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • dash onion powder
  • salt and pepper
  1. In a large bowl mix together broccoli, bacon, almonds, raisins and apple. Set aside.
  2. In a food processor, puree garlic, lime juice, oil, dijon mustard, vinegar, honey, onion powder, salt and pepper.
  3. Poor liquid mixture over broccoli and stir to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.

Recipe adapted from: The Healthy Foodie

It’s easy, it’s mayo-free, it’s tangy and it’s a nice spin on an ol’ fav!

What are some of your favorite “picnic” salads? Besides the broccoli salad I also really enjoy cabbage ramen noodle salad, Italian pasta salad and taco salad. Then again, it isn’t too often I meet a salad I don’t enjoy.


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Peanut Butter Popcorn Snack GIVEAWAY! {giveaway closed}

You all know I have a deep love for peanut butter, right? Peanut butter bananas, peanut butter toast, peanut chicken, peanut butter off a spoon, on a date, the list goes on. I love the stuff.

A couple of weeks ago, the kind folks at Smart Balance asked me if I’d like to sample a new product of theirs; one they were sure I would enjoy. One that involves peanut butter. I was totally game.

The product is: Smart Balance Peanut Butter Popcorn Nuggets

smart balance peanut butter popcorn nuggets

Popcorn rolled in peanut butter, crunchy peanuts, and oats. For real. The second this beautiful bag arrived at my door I tore into it.

smart balance peanut butter popcorn nuggets


smart balance peanut butter popcorn nuggets smart balance peanut butter popcorn nuggets

My face lit up upon first bite. These little babies are spectacular! They’re crunchy, they’re sweet, and they have the perfect amount of peanut butter hugging each popcorn kernel. Holy cow.

smart balance peanut butter popcorn nuggets


These are dangerously good!

I learned quickly that portion control is a must as I kept going back for more and more nibbles out of the bag. Enter: the ramekin. I began to pour the perfect snacks into a small ramekin to keep my portions within reason. My waist line thanks me.

They are the perfect anytime snack! I have been enjoying them especially as my dessert after dinner.

These nuggets can be found at Costco stores around the U.S. but guess what?! You don’t have to go to Costco if you win a bag from me here! Well, you will probably want to go to Costco anyway and pick these up in the meantime while I select a winner. You won’t regret it.

Store locator: Where you can fin Smart Balance Popcorn Nuggets

But seriously, want to win a bag for yourself?! ENTER HERE!

To enter to win one bag of Smart Balance Peanut Butter Nuggets, simply leave a comment on my blog telling me your favorite snack. Receive an additional entry by tweeting “I entered to win @SmartBalance Peanut Butter Nuggets from @NuttyMelanie” Just make sure you leave an extra comment telling me you tweeted.

Thanks and good luck! Giveaway ends on Sunday, February 2nd at midnight central time. One winner will be announced Monday, February 3rd!

Mmmmm snack time!

Disclaimer: Smart Balance provided me with one free bag of Smart Balance Peanut Butter Nuggets to sample and review. I was not compensated for this post and all opinions expressed on the product are solely my own.

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Friday Favs: Comforts and Pampering

Did everyone enjoy their tropical getaway yesterday? 😉 I have to admit that I forgot all about it, darnit! I’ll be sure to try to visit the sunshine again today.

How about a little Friday Favorites link up with Katie?!


1. This killer salad combo. As much as I haven’t been craving cold salads these days, I decided to throw together this beauty on a whim last night. It was spinach, garbanzo beans, feta cheese, olives, broccoli, sunflower seeds, hardboiled egg, and ranch dressing. It tasted like a salad from a fancy salad bar; I think the egg really made it.


2. Appropriate warm winter gear especially my Sorel boots. I live in those things in the winter. They keep my feet so warm and dry, plus they are cute! I get compliments on them everywhere I go.

jump in winter gear

melanie at nelsons

3. A cup of coffee. I have been limiting my coffee and caffeine intake (again, just trying to give my digestive system a break from stimulants), but this past week I gave in and had some coffee. I am so grateful for a warm and creamy cup of jo. It is such a comfort to me in the mornings. As much as I have been trying to replace coffee with tea in the morning, and convince myself that it is just as good, I can’t. It just doesn’t compare and never will.


4. My manicured nails and pedicured toes. I only get mani/pedis done once a year but think I may have to make it more of a habit (especially the toes) because it feels so good to have my hands, feet and nails all cleaned up!

pedicure toes

5. My bed. We own a Tempur-Pedic and I can only begin to tell you how amazing it is. I look forward to crawling into bed at night. The bed hugs you softly yet is perfectly firm. My Tempur-Pedic pillow supports my neck and keeps my spine aligned. Awww, excuse me as I go crawl back in bed now. 😉

I hope you all have a fabulous weekend!

Coffee or tea?

Cold salads in the winter?

Favorite winter gear?

Fun weekend plans?

Friday Favorites

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Treat Yourself Tuesday: Snacks & Girl Time

Today I am linking up with my lovely blend Becky for Treat Yourself Tuesday.

“Do whatever feels best for you. Do something that will make you feel relaxed and loved and happy. Remember this is about treating YOURSELF – not your friends, not your family, not your spouse, not your dog – so make sure you really focus on you. Treat yourself well and treat yourself often so that you will become the best you possible and in turn be your best for others in your life!” source

Little treats, big treats…it doesn’t matter.

Little things like making homemade almond butter on a Sunday afternoon. This was made with raw almonds, unsweetened coconut, and a touch of stevia. It will never compare to my beloved peanut butter but I do enjoy it still.

homemade almond butter

Fruit strips from Target made with fruit juice; 45 calories a piece and 9 grams a sugar. It’s a nice little sweet treat.

fruit strip

A lunch date with my friend Kalley and homemade vegetable soup topped with parmesan cheese!


Air-popped popcorn on #NationalPopcornDay seasoned with olive oil and salt.


Girls day with my beautiful mama. Manicure, pedicure, shopping, coffee. Yes, it was glorious!



How did you treat yourself this week?!

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Warm Cauliflower, Quinoa & Feta Salad

The cold winter evenings call for warm healthy dinners. Last night was no exception.

I roasted one head of organic cauliflower in a bit of olive oil in the oven at 375 degrees F for about 40 minutes, stirring it halfway. Once it was perfectly roasted, I set it aside as I whipped up the remainder of our meal.

My Sunday creation…

warm cauliflower, quinoa and feta salad


Next, I got the quinoa cooking. I mixed together one cup of quinoa with one cup of chicken stock and one cup of water. I brought the quinoa and liquids to a boil, then covered and let simmer for 15 minutes or until the liquid was gone. Then, I added garlic powder, turmeric, salt and pepper. I let this sit as I finished the rest of the meal.

In a large saute pan, I sautéed onion, zucchini, and garlic in olive oil. I then added a handful of spinach, garbanzo beans (chickpeas), and the roasted cauliflower. I added in dried oregano, dried basil, salt and pepper to taste. I gave this all a stir until the spinach was wilted in the dish.



warm cauliflower, quinoa and feta salad

My original plan was to stir the quinoa into the veggies and then serve it, but I decided to keep them separate.

To plate: beautiful yellow quinoa, topped with veggies, then feta cheese crumbles (this adds so much great flavor so don’t forget!!), and chopped kalamata olives.    warm cauliflower, quinoa and feta salad warm cauliflower, quinoa and feta salad


Dana and I both absolutely loved this dish. There were so many different textures and flavors and they all came together perfectly.

Whip it up for yourself! Try it for meat-free Monday!

Warm Cauliflower, Quinoa & Feta Salad
Serves: 2-4
  • 1 cup dried quinoa
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • dash of garlic powder
  • salt and pepper
  • ¾ cup onion, diced
  • ½ cup zucchini, finely diced
  • 1 large garlic clove, finely minced
  • handful of spinach
  • ¾ cup garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
  • 2-3 cups roasted cauliflower, chopped into large chunks
  • ¼ teaspoon dried basil
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ⅓ cup kalamata olives, diced
  • feta cheese crumbles
  1. Prepare quinoa per directions on package cooking with one part chicken stock and one part water.
  2. Once quinoa is fully cooked, stir in turmeric, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Set aside.
  3. In a large saute pan, saute onions, zucchini and garlic cloves in olive oil. Stir and cook for about 5 minutes.
  4. Next, add in a handful of spinach, beans, roasted cauliflower, basil, oregano, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir until spinach has wilted, about 3 minutes.
  5. You can now mix the quinoa with the veggies or keep them separate. I kept them separate.
  6. To plate (if kept separate): quinoa as the base, next the sautéed veggies, then the kalamata olives and feta cheese. Serve warm.

I hope you all had a fabulous weekend.

Any delicious recipes from the weekend or planned for the week ahead?


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Warm and Comforting Meals

Hey there!

Remember my New Year’s “resolution”? I am happy to say that over a week into the year, I am still on a roll with getting more creative with my meals, or more so being more motivated to make meals. I did get some help this week from family and friends but I did a bunch on my own too! I’m taking a few extra minutes on the weekends to semi-plan some meals for the week, so that I can get everything I need on our weekly grocery trip.

I missed the WIAW link-up yesterday, but want to share some of my veggie-packed eats as of lately. So here I go again with my version of WIAW: What I’ve Been Eating Lately: Warm and Comforting Meals!

Sautéed mushrooms, onions, black beans, and tomatoes served over crunchy spinach with havarti cheese and an egg. The egg was supposed to be over-easy but I kept cracking the sensitive yolk. I gave up after cracking the yolk on my second attempt. It was still good just not as good.

veggies with egg

Homemade chili from Amanda! I topped the chili with some colby jack cheese we had on hand. Sorry about the lighting; it doesn’t do the soup justice I swear!

chili from amanda

Mom’s homemade meatloaf! This meal was thoroughly enjoyed on an extremely cold winter evening here in Minnesota; one of the coldest we’ve had in a long time. Talk about comfort food. It warms my belly just thinking of it. Mmmm so so good.


Mom’s homemade ham and bean soup. She used the leftover ham from Christmas to make this super comforting soup.

ham and bean soup

I was so excited that I had a few meals made for me this week. It always holds true that when someone else makes food for you, it tastes better. Thanks mom and Amanda!

I definitely preferred warm meals this week due to the weather (besides my smoothies of course), but did manage to make a couple of cold salads. This one is spinach, broccoli, muffuletta mix, havarti cheese, BBQ chicken, and ranch.

bbq chicken spinach salad

Last night I made chicken stuffed zucchini boats. I mixed together diced cooked chicken, diced onion, parmesan cheese, and marinara sauce. I hollowed out a zucchini and filled it with the mixture. I topped the boats with mozzarella cheese and a bit more parmesan, baked them at 375 degrees F for about 15-20 minutes, and finished them off under the broiler.

zucchini boats with chicken marinara zucchini boats with chicken marinara

Not too shabby for an impromptu Wednesday evening meal!

Let’s hope the creativity continues all year!

What have you been cooking up lately?

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I’ve Been Cooking!

Hello, hello! Did everyone have a fabulous weekend? Mine was incredibly low-key which is always fine by me. We got a lot done around the house: deep cleaned, took down fall decorations and put up Christmas decorations :smile:, and spent the majority of the day on Sunday putting up Christmas lights. I listened to Christmas music this weekend too which made me very happy.

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned how badly I wanted to get back into the groove of meal prep and cooking actual nice meals versus waiting until the last-minute and then throwing something completely random together. This past week, I got to work on that.

For lunch on Wednesday, I made myself an open-face egg and cheese sandwich (heavy on the mustard) which tasted absolutely perfect.

egg and cheese open face sandwich

On Thursday I made eggplant lasagna with spinach and ground beef.

eggplant lasagna


It was good, but not something I would make again. As much as I try to love eggplant, I just don’t.


eggplant lasagna


On Friday I made us buffalo chicken salad with romaine lettuce, red onion, feta cheese, buffalo chicken, and buttermilk ranch dressing. SOOOO good! I love this salad.

buffalo chicken salad

On Saturday I took a break from cooking, mostly because I wasn’t super hungry once dinner time rolled around because I spoiled my dinner with ice cream. Whoops. #yolo #saystheRD

On Sunday I made a batch of cauliflower gratin based off of this recipe: Cauliflower Gratin by Good Dinner Mom. I didn’t have regular milk so I subbed in almond milk and I only had mild cheddar not sharp. This turned out pretty well still. On the side I had some leftover chicken (from the freezer) on top of spinach. Easy peasy dinner.

cheesy cauliflower cheesy cauliflower

Later I snacked on some homemade air-popped popcorn while watching a couple of episodes of Breaking Bad with my guys! Later I grabbed some raisins and some other snacks too.


So there’s the proof. I’ve been cooking! I don’t plan on stopping any time soon.

Who’s excited for Thanksgiving?! Only three days to go!

Question of the day: Have you been cooking up anything tasty lately? Please share!

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My Foodie To-Do List

It’s time for me to quit making excuses about getting busy in the kitchen. I miss being creative with my food, eating loads of veggies, and sharing recipes with you all. I’m going to work on getting back into the groove.

With the help of Pinterest and some of my previous blog posts, I have been inspired. I am adding the following food items to my foodie to-do list. My hope is that I can try to make something fun at least once a week, until I get back into the groove, then maybe more often than that.

Here’s what inspired me!

Portobello pizzas with tons of marinara sauce, veggies, and mozzarella cheese.

portobello pizza

My Veggie Nut Pizza again with lots of sauce, cheese, and veggies.

veggie nut pizza

My Thai Chicken Salad with Amazing Peanut Sauce

thai chicken salad

Broccoli and Cheese Soup from Peas and Crayons

broccoli cheese soup

Creamy cauliflower sauce over gluten-free brown rice or quinoa pasta and some broccoli and other veggies perhaps.

creamy cauliflower sauce

Polenta with Bolognese sauce

polenta with bolognese sauce

Buffalo chicken quesadillas

buffalo chicken quesadilla

Spinach Quinoa Scramble

  quinoa egg scramble

How’s that for a start? This lady needs to get back on track.

I need your advice: how do you get out of a cooking slump?

What’s on your foodie/recipe to-do list?

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Five Things Friday

Happy Friday!! I don’t know about you, but this week totally flew by for me. Another gloriously relaxing weekend is upon us, or at least for me!

Let’s kick this weekend off with a five random things Friday.

1. I actually cooked up a nice vegetarian meal last night! Hint: it involved spaghetti squash. The recipe will be up on the blog next week!

spaghetti squash


2. I thoroughly enjoyed our little early November snowfall we had this week. It was so light that most of it melted quickly and it didn’t mess up the roads and make for crazy traffic. It was just pretty and really got me into the holiday spirit!

first snow of the season


3. As much as I love my smoothies, now that the weather is permanently chilly, I am no longer wanting my cold smoothies in the morning as often. I’ve been into the two ingredient pancakes and hot oatmeal this week!





4. On Tuesday I got together with my girlfriend Courtney at People’s Organic in Edina for a hot beverage and some major catch-up time. I got the morning elixir which was hot water, lots of fresh lemon juice, agave nectar, and sea salt. It made my mouth pucker the slightest but it was so enjoyable! I want to try to recreate it at home. As always, it was so great to be with Courtney. She is a ray of sunshine and such a good friend.

people's organic

5. I am completely in love with scarves. This is not a new thing. When fall rolls around I am thrilled to reach for my fun scarves and use them as accessories to my wardrobe. They are so cozy yet don’t make me feel claustrophobic like a turtle neck does. I might have to add some new scarves to my birthday list! 🙂

caroline melanie dana and melanie


Have an amazing weekend my friends! xoxo

Questions of the day:

1. What is your main squeeze breakfast these days?

2. What are you most looking forward to this weekend?

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Weekend Favorites

So it’s for real Monday already? This weekend flew by! Mine was incredibly relaxing which I couldn’t have been more excited about. I was thinking, instead of doing a full recap of my weekend, how about I just breakdown some of my favorite moments from the weekend? Yea, I like that idea.

1. Watching an insane amount of New Girl with Dana while cozy in my sweatpants and snacking on some homemade caramel corn. What made it even better was that Dana made it!

homemade caramel corn


2. Meeting up with Katie for lunch at Panera! The excitement of getting together with Katie would have been enough but then you add Panera on top of that?! Man alive I was excited. And believe it or not, I actually branched out and instead of the usual French onion soup, I actually got broccoli cheese soup. It totally hit the spot! I was so happy to be with Katie for a while. Such a treat.

katie panera


panera broccoli cheese soup


3. Making some delicious food. For breakfast one day I made a two-ingredient pancake topped with peanut butter and real organic maple syrup. Not the prettiest photo I realize, but so tasty!

egg banana pancake

I also whipped up a batch of gluten-free pasta salad. I can’t remember if I used quinoa noodles or brown rice noodles (I had gotten them from the bulk bin at the co-op) but I do know it was one of the two. In the mix: peas, olives, celery, onions, chicken, mustard, mayo, salt and pepper, and a splash of lemon juice. This stuff was crazy good! homemade gluten free pasta salad

4. Watching Home Alone while walking on the treadmill in my warm home. Doesn’t that just sound cozy?!


home alone


5. Sleeping in and waking up with no alarm clock. And sleeping a lot. And getting an extra hour of sleep.



6. Dinner with my family on Sunday night. I should really say feast and not dinner. My mom and dad went all out with steaks, potatoes, broccoli, salad, and fresh fruit! So good! I think my body was really screaming for some iron from the red meat because it tasted really good to me last night. Our bodies know best after all. It was so nice hanging out with family as always!


steak dinner mom and dads


As you can see it was an incredibly relaxing weekend. Ahhhhh….

How was your weekend? What were your favorite moments of the weekend?

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