Served warm, cold, or in between, this Nourishing Quinoa Cranberry Salad is prepared to be easily digested and full of available nutrients.
What makes a quinoa salad a nourishing quinoa salad?
I know, words like nourishing get overused in the food blogging world and I understand that everyone’s definition of nourishing is different. We are all made from such fantastically different life circumstances and knowledge bases. But just so you and I are on the same page dear reader, nourishing food to me means that the most nutrients are preserved in the food while at the same time made available to be absorbed by our bodies.
In terms of this salad, it’s all about how you prep the quinoa and then what you cook it in. We’ll get to that below.
I’m about half way through the incredibly informative book Deep Nutrition – Why our Genes Need Traditional Food in which the author, Dr. Catherine Shanahan, goes after vegetable oil and sugar and how, with incredibly well researched data, they destroy our health. (I highly recommend reading this book to increase your knowledge on food.) Later in the book she goes on to describe what she calls the four pillars of health – her guide to the essential components of our diet.
Unfortunately, when I’m talking bone broth, I’m not talking about the products you see in the center aisle, I’m talking about the homemade version. (There are some artisan bone-broth-making companies out there that from what I can see sell decent product, but those are sold in the refrigerated or freezer section.) If you’re thinking, “I don’t have time for that!” I would lovingly say, “You do!” You can easily make broth in a crockpot or slow cooker to avoid having to baby sit it all day. And, the amount you’re able to get out of one batch will last you for a few weeks most likely.
Once you have the liquid gold that is bone broth, it doesn’t need to be reserved to soups and stews. It can be used to saute your veggies and cook all your grains! And if you have little ones like I do, it’s a great way to get them the nutrition they need even if they don’t like drinking a mug of it straight up.
Speaking of kids, my kids LOVE this salad. Most kids (and grown ups for that matter) love apples, cranberries and pistachios so much that they’ll get past the fact that there’s a little kale mixed in there.
The dressing is slightly sweet, the quinoa is light and fluffy and there is beautiful texture from the different fruit and nuts in this salad. It can be served warm or at room temperature, making it an easy party favorite. Leftovers are great too.
Oh, yes, I haven’t forgotten about the proper prep of the quinoa?! Soaking for a long period of time is the name of the game. Check out the bullet point below.
To Your Health! ~Mandy
Ingredient Notes and Knowledge Share
- Cranberries – Sadly, most cranberries sold are covered in some form of vegetable oil. It’s near impossible to find ones that aren’t, but they do exist. Alternatively, you can make your own even without a dehydrator! (Note: I would drastically reduce the sugar called for in the recipe I shared there though. It’s too much!!!!)
- Quinoa – This is described in the recipe, but I wanted to put it here as well. It is important to soak and rinse all of your grains, quinoa included! At least 7-8 hours (or as much as 24) before you prepare this recipe, place the quinoa in a glass or ceramic container and submerge in water. The water line should be 1-2 inches above the quinoa as the quinoa will expand. This extra step helps remove the bitter-tasting coating called saponin and neutralizes phytic acid. What does this mean for you and your family? The quinoa is easier to digest. And food that is easier to digest means more nutrient absorption of not only it but also the other food in the meal.
- Seeds, Grains, etc. – I’ll help you through the “how tos” of traditionally preparing grains and seeds, but if you’d like to know why I recommend reading up with the Weston A Price Foundation , Wardee Harmon (who specifically tackles quinoa in this video) or The Plant Paradox book (this book specifically deals with autoimmune diseases and grains).
Cranberry Quinoa Salad
Fluffy quinoa, crunchy apples and pistachios, nutrient-dense kale, and sweetness from the cranberries make this a delicious quinoa salad. Serve warm or at room temperature. Leftovers also keep well.
- 1 1/2 cup red or white quinoa soaked at 7-24 hours and rinsed
- 1 1/2 cup homemade chicken broth low-sodium store-bought can be substituted * see notes
- 1/2 teaspoon sea or himalayan salt
- 1 sweet apple like pink lady, honey crisp, or fuji cored and chopped into 1/4" cubes
- 2-3 kale leaves finely chopped
- 1/4-1/2 cup pistachios salted, no oil ** see notes
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries no oil if possible
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
- 1-2 teaspoons maple syrup
- sea or himalayan salt to taste ** see notes
*** DO AHEAD STEP - Soak the quinoa in water (quinoa should be submerged by at least 1-2 inches) for 7-24 hours. Then rinse. If you don't have time to do this, don't sweat it. It increases the digestibility of the quinoa but does not effect the outcome of the recipe. ***
Rinse the quinoa and add it along with the chicken broth and salt to a medium pot. Good according to package instructions. I lightly simmer the quinoa for 5 minutes, turn off the heat and allow it to sit for 20. After the 20 minutes, if it needs more liquid or a little more cooking time, I do so then.
While the quinoa is cooking, dice up the apples and kale and prepare the dressing.
When the quinoa has about 5 minutes left, stir in the kale to wilt it. Replace the lid and allow it to sit for the remaining time.
When the quinoa is finished, stir all the ingredients together. Taste for sweetness and salt. Add more to taste.
* If you don't have time to soak the quinoa, you will need more broth to cook the quinoa - usually about double the amount of dry quinoa. Example - 1.5 cups of quinoa, 3 cups of broth or other liquid.
** If using raw pistachios that are unsalted, you will probably want to add about a 1/2 teaspoon of salt (or more) to the dressing.