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Nutty Quinoa, Spinach and Cranberry Salad

by Aggies Kitchen on November 2, 2012

Have you recovered from your post-Halloween hangover yet? Honestly, I can only handle so much candy. I don’t normally have a sweet tooth, but once I open the door to having “just one piece” I pretty much lose all my self control. It gets ugly people. Ugly.

Something needed to be done.

Here’s where this lovely, healthy quinoa salad comes in. I forced myself to make a batch of quinoa yesterday morning and using what I had in the fridge and pantry turned one of my favorite pasta salads into a quinoa salad. I skipped the cheese and made the dressing more simply and snacked on this salad pretty much all throughout the day. I have just enough leftover for my lunch today and that makes me a happy girl.

And let me tell you, I’m feeling a whole lot better than I was yesterday morning. And the candy is hidden and locked up. (Don’t worry, I’m not too much of a party pooper…my kids are enjoying their daily ration, for now) :)

PS…I shared some with my daughter and she LOVED it. Asked me to make her some for school lunch next week. Yes ma’am. ;)

Nutty Quinoa Salad with Cranberries and Fresh Spinach

The almonds and sunflower seeds give this quinoa salad crunchy texture and extra protein. The cranberries give each bite a burst of sweetness. The spinach adds a little more nutrition to an already healthy and power-packed salad. Put it all together and you have one pretty awesome meal you can feel good about eating.


  • 1 cup quinoa, pre-rinsed
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/4 cup toasted sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 2 cups fresh spinach, torn or sliced thinly
  • Dressing:
  • 4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Cook quinoa first according to directions. Set aside to cool.
  2. Transfer cooked quinoa to a bowl. Add almonds, sunflower seeds, cranberries and half the dressing. Place in refrigerator for at least one hour to cool completely and so quinoa can absorb the dressing.
  3. When ready to serve salad, add spinach and rest of dressing to quinoa and nut mixture. Gently toss to combine. Season with coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.


If I'm storing a salad like this in the fridge to eat over a few meals (as opposed to serving all at once), I like to freshen my individual serving up with a couple of splashes of vinegar and a light drizzle of oil before eating.



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{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

Carley November 2, 2012 at 12:50 pm

Fortunately I didn’t eat too much candy, but this is exactly what I’m looking for; start the new years resolution early & get head start on being healthy! Love qunioa, cranberries and spinach so this is “right up my street”. Thanks :)


kelley {mountain mama cooks} November 2, 2012 at 1:55 pm

Oh girl, I’m right there with you! I ate so much halloween candy yesterday that I made myself sick and haven’t touched it today! This looks delicious!!


Rachel Cooks November 2, 2012 at 2:10 pm

This looks fantastic! I just cooked up a huge pot of quinoa.


claire @ the realistic nutritionist November 2, 2012 at 2:12 pm

Oh i love this! I’ve recently really gotten into quinoa.


Shaina November 2, 2012 at 2:23 pm

I love quinoa salads. I definitely need an intervention right about now. We only have candy and food for meals, and when I go into the kitchen I’m drawn to the ease of Milk Duds with my coffee.


Paula - bell'alimento November 2, 2012 at 2:38 pm

Perfect timing – I’ve been needing more quinoa recipes to try!


Erica November 2, 2012 at 4:35 pm

I had NO candy on halloween….because I have the same issue :) This salad screams fall and healthy but filling! Great creation


Aggies Kitchen November 2, 2012 at 4:46 pm

Ya know, I remember either last year or year before getting through Halloween without one piece and thinking “that wasn’t hard”. It’s harder for me to STOP! lol! Have a great weekend Erica!


Matt mmWine Horbund November 2, 2012 at 4:40 pm

In my quest to actually eat quinoa, I’m pinning this so I can remember to make it :)


Aggies Kitchen November 2, 2012 at 4:45 pm

I really love it in chilled in salads Matt, I hope you try it. I didn’t like it the first time I made it so I tried it a few different ways. I actually ate it plain under sesame chicken and stir fried veggies last night, it was really good! You don’t feel as heavy as you do after you eat rice or pasta. When you’re ready to make it let me know if I can help! :)


Cassie | Bake Your Day November 2, 2012 at 6:20 pm

I can’t even begin to tell you how perfect this is. Love everything about this, Aggie, and it’s so perfect for post-halloween candy binge!


Amy (Savory Moments) November 2, 2012 at 10:35 pm

Lovely salad. Quinoa is so versatile. I always love spinach and cranberries together.


Alyssa (Everyday Maven) November 2, 2012 at 11:54 pm

I am such a huge quinoa fan and really into this version with seeds and nuts. I need to make this!


JulieD November 3, 2012 at 6:07 pm

I completely adore this…I wish we lived closer. Will try this soon! :)


Miss @ Miss in the Kitchen November 4, 2012 at 9:11 pm

I haven’t made quinoa in a while, this is on my list to try, it looks fantastic!


Valerie @ From Valerie's Kitchen November 4, 2012 at 11:29 pm

Yes! I am totally in the Halloween hangover stage. Actually, it’s just a general fall hangover. This is exactly what we all need right now.


Sommer@ASpicyPerspective November 5, 2012 at 9:29 am

Yes, I shipped all the Halloween candy out to the “man room” and figured my hubby’s friends can deal with it! ;) Good save with this quinoa!


Liz @ The Lemon Bowl November 5, 2012 at 9:51 am

I can only dream that one day my little guy requests this for lunch!!


Wanda @ My Sweet Zepol November 5, 2012 at 10:02 am

Quinoa is something I haven’t attempted on doing. Aggie, what does it taste like? To be honest, it scares me a little. ;)


Aggies Kitchen November 6, 2012 at 7:21 pm

Don’t be scared :) It’s very bland, mild flavor…like rice? It’s like a blank canvas, it takes on whatever flavor you give it. I would treat it like a rice. You can add it to soups or chili to start with, or try a salad like this one. I have a recipe on here for quinoa, black bean and cilantro salad that is a great one to start with !! Let me know when you’re ready to make it and I can help :)


Cookin' Canuck November 5, 2012 at 10:57 am

You know how much I’m loving this salad, right? I could eat this for lunch every single day.


Jessica@AKitchenAddiction November 5, 2012 at 3:19 pm

Great idea for a salad! Perfect for the fall!


Jamie @ Thrifty Veggie Mama November 6, 2012 at 11:11 am

Looks so yummy! I love quinoa salads. Thankfully, we didn’t get a ton of candy for Halloween this year.


Suzannah November 6, 2012 at 2:01 pm

Hi! I’m making this to take to some new parents later in the week. I was wondering if you made your quinoa with chicken (or veggie) broth, or just water. I usually cook mine with broth, but wondered if that would interfere with the other flavors going on here. Thanks!


Suzannah November 6, 2012 at 2:04 pm

Nevermind – just looked closer at the recipe and saw that it calls for water! :)


Aggies Kitchen November 6, 2012 at 2:07 pm

Hey there! Yes, for this recipe I did use water. I have used broth before though but would probably opt for water for salad quinoa.


Marly November 6, 2012 at 2:28 pm

I love your flavorful and healthy recipes! Can’t wait to try this one!


Tara @ Unsophisticook November 6, 2012 at 3:32 pm

I love quinoa and I’m always looking for new ways to serve it. This looks like a winner!


Kiersten @ Oh My Veggies November 6, 2012 at 7:54 pm

Quinoa salads are one of my favorite lunches. They’re much more filling than salad salads! ;) This looks delicious!


Brenda @ a farmgirl's dabbles November 8, 2012 at 8:56 am

I’d eat this over candy ANY DAY!! Beautiful.


Shari-Tickled Red November 15, 2012 at 11:24 am

Perfectly delicious salad to chase away those demonic treats :D xoxo


Jamie @ Thrifty Veggie Mama November 29, 2012 at 1:32 pm

Just made this for my lunch today and it is delicious!


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