Quinoa Salad with Dried Cranberries and Marcona Almonds

Ask just about any Gastronomy student and they will tell you what the highlight of class is: snack. Nothing breaks up a 6:00-9:00pm lecture better than a creative, satisfying, and scrumptious bite, hand selected by someone getting an advanced degree in food.

As fun as snack is, it can be pretty intimidating to cook for a bunch of foodies. Many students (myself included) work 9-5 jobs, meaning that snack must be prepared in advance. An ideal snack is portable, temperature stable, and of course, finger-licking good. Throwing in a few superfoods or ethnic ingredients doesn’t hurt either.

Quinoa Salad with Dried Cranberries and Marcona Almonds

When my turn to make snack rolled around (we pass around a sign-up sheet on the first day of class), I knew I wanted to bring something hearty and healthy, but also trendy and tasty.  That’s how I ended up with this quinoa salad. Quinoa AND Marcona almonds? I was pretty much golden. After all, nothing gets gastronomy students going more than ancient grains and gourmet ingredients.

Quinoa Salad with Dried Cranberries and Marcona Almonds (loosely inspired by the Chicken and Farro Salad recipe from True Food)

Makes about 5 1/2 cups


  • 1 cup quinoa, uncooked
  • 1 cup dried whole cranberries (I get mine from Whole Foods)
  • 3/4 cup pitted dates, sliced into thirds
  • 3/4 cup Marcona almonds
  • 2 oz (about 1/4 cup shredded) Manchego Cheese


  1. To cook quinoa, bring 2 cups of water to a boil and add quinoa. Then, reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. The outside germ of the grain will separate into a curly tail.
  2. After cooking, set quinoa aside to cool. Once it has cooled off, combine with other ingredients. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Nutrition Facts (per 1/2 cup serving): 193 calories, 7g fat (1g saturated), 29.5g carbohydrates (3.5g fiber, 13g sugar), 5.5g protein, 6.9% iron

– Kelly

True Food Kitchen: This RD approves!

This summer I spent a week in Phoenix, Arizona with my family. Not only was I able to read, swim, and spend some much-needed quality time with my family, but I was also able to finally eat at True Food Kitchen!

True Food Kitchen

^^The airy, trendy atmosphere was definitely a seller. Image via Fox Restaurant Concepts.

True Food Kitchen serves up “globally inspired cuisine” at its 6 different locations (all in the Southwestern United States). The basis of the menu is Dr. Andrew Weil’s anti-inflammatory diet, but don’t let that scare you off. From Spaghetti Squash Casserole with Fresh Mozzerella, Organic Tomatoes, and Zucchini to Grass Fed Steak Street Tacos with Avocado, Cojita Cheese, Tomotillo Salsa, Sour Cream and Anasazi Beans, these menu items are nothing short of spectacular.

True Food Kitchen

^^ Watermelon & Heirloom Tomato Salad with Goat Cheese, Basil, Cashews, and Olive Oil. Quite possibly my very favorite item on the menu!

Restaurants are usually a minefield of hidden fat and calories, devoid of nutrient rich fruits and vegetables. While True Food Kitchen does not post nutrition information (and some dishes do seem to be calorically dense), there is no doubt that the menu items available are extremely nutrient rich. I also love that vegetables are considered to be the main event, rather than an afterthought.

True Food Kitchen

^^ Tuscan Kale Salad with Lemon, Parmesan, Breadcrumbs, and Grilled Steelhead Salmon

Over the course of my trip, I went to True Food Kitchen 3 different times, and let me just say that 3 times was not nearly enough! Between my family and I, I got to sample:

  • Quinoa Johnny Cakes with Blueberries, Greek Yogurt, and Maple Syrup
  • Street Tacos with Grass Fed Steak
  • Tuscan Kale Salad with Grilled Steelhead Salmon
  • Spaghetti Squash Casserole with Fresh Mozzerella, Organic Tomatoes, and Zucchini
  • Red Chili Shrimp with Sesame Noodles
  • Heirloom Tomato & Watermelon Salad
  • Flourless Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Ice Cream
  • Nectarine and Blueberry Tart with Greek Yogurt Ice Cream



Don’t live in the Southwestern United States? No problem! Lately I have been getting my True Food fix at home, courtesy of the True Food Cookbook (pictured above). This cookbook is filled with seasonal recipes from the restaurant, as well as the most gorgeous photography I have ever seen.


^^ My rendition of the Chicken and Farro salad, via Instagram

Have you ever been to True Food Kitchen? Do you know of similar restaurants on the east coast? Do tell!

– Kelly