Warm Quinoa Salad: A Spinach & Cranberry Twist

Quinoa is a grain that I’ve loved ever since trying it about a year ago. Now, the fluffy round grain has become a staple in my diet — I can’t seem to get enough of the high-protein, gluten-free food that is a great substitute for rice, pasta and bread. Plus it’s much healthier than all those white grains. But when first diving into quinoa land, why make it so daunting to figure out what to eat it with? Pair it with veggies, meat, sauces, practically anything and it’ll taste delicious.

Warm Quinoa Salad Spinach, Cranberry Twist 2

Here’s one rendition of a quinoa salad with a spinach and cranberry twist.


> 2 cups cooked quinoa
> 3 generous handfuls of spinach
> 4 tablespoons dried cranberries
> extra virgin olive oil
> garlic salt
> ground pepper
> small lemon wedge


Heat a small amount of olive oil in a large skillet on low. Add the cooked quinoa and heat through. Add the spinach, and cook until begins to wilt. Season with garlic salt and ground pepper, and stir to mix. Just before serving, add dried cranberries, and squeeze lemon juice over dish.

Makes 2 servings.

Warm Quinoa Salad Spinach, Cranberry Twist


Cranberry Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate chip cookies are a classic crowd-pleaser. Pure semi-sweet chocolate chips are sure to score big, but sometimes a fun variation in the classic can be quite satisfying. Oatmeal chocolate chip cookies have been a huge hit, but my personal favorite is adding dried fruit and nuts. This variation that I made as a gift has dried cranberries and semi-sweet chocolate chips, the perfect combination of tart and sweet.

Cranberry Chocolate Chip Cookies

The recipe was taken from the side of Arm & Hammer Baking Soda.

~ 2 1/4 cups flour
~ 1 teaspoon baking soda
~ 1 teaspoon salt
~ 1 cup butter, softened
~ 3/4 cup granulated sugar
~ 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
~ 2 eggs
~ 2/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
~ 2/3 cup dried cranberries

1. Preheat oven to 375┬░. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt.
2. In a large bowl, combine butter, sugar and vanilla extract. Using electric mixer, beat until creamy. Beat in eggs.
3. Gradually add dry mixture and mix well. Stir in chocolate chips and dried cranberries.
4. Drop rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 8 minutes or until lightly browned.

Have fun with these cookies by trying different variations with nuts, dried fruit and types of chocolate. You’ll be sure to find a favorite among your friends and family.

Cranberry Oatmeal Bars

After a short hiatus from baking, I’ve lured myself back into the baking world. Usually my inspiration for a recipe comes from the flavors that I’m craving. This time it came from a ┬ámistakenly purchased tub of Greek yogurt. While Greek yogurt is one of the many health foods that I spoil myself with every day, only the non-fat or low-fat varieties satisfy my stomach – the others proving to be too rich. Since I stick to the same brands of Fage and Chobani usually, I decided to give Oikos a try per a friend’s recommendation. With good intentions to try a new brand, I mistakenly bought the whole milk variety.

Instead of throwing away the tub of yogurt, I decided that perfect use of it would be in baking. So many baking recipes call for tons of butter or vegetable oil, when yogurt is a sufficient substitute. Hence, we get the cranberry oatmeal bars. They have a dense oatmeal base and a thick, rich yogurt topping. Friends commented that they are so delicious and rich that they couldn’t even consider having another piece, yet others came calling back to me for another piece the next day.

Ironically enough, the recipe was adapted from one taken from Chobani.com.

For the oat-based crust…

~ 1 cup all-purpose flour
~ 1 cup quick-cooking oats
~ 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
~ 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
~ 1/4 tsp baking soda
~ 1/4 tsp salt
~ 3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
~ 3 tbsp vegetable oil
~ 3 tbsp orange juice

For the yogurt topping…

~ 3/4 cup Oikos plain whole milk Greek yogurt
~ 1/2 cup sugar
~ 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
~ 1 large egg white
~ 1 1/2 cups dried cranberries
~ zest of 1/2 orange

1. Preheat oven to 325┬░. Lightly coat an 11×7-inch baking pan with cooking spray.
2. Whisk together the flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.
3. In a small bowl whisk together the butter, vegetable oil and orange juice. Add the juice mixture to the flour mixture, stirring until crumbly.
4. Reserve 1/2 cup of mixture for later. Press rest of mixture into pan and up sides, using bottom of a measuring cup to even out crust.
5. Whisk yogurt, sugar, flour and egg white in a medium bowl. Stir in cranberries and orange zest.
6. Spread over crust in even layer. Sprinkle reserved oat mixture on top.
7. Bake until edges are golden-brown, 30 to 40 minutes. Cool completely and slice into bars.

If you’re looking for a healthy yet rich recipe high in protein and calcium, these cranberry oatmeal bars are sure to please. They are quite sweet so if you’d like to reduce the amount of sugar in the yogurt topping, I would recommend adding only 1/4 cup instead of 1/2 cup. To give it a little more of a kick and flavor, you can add some sprinkle of cinnamon on top before baking.