Gluten-Free Cherry Quinoa with Crunchy Cilantro Croutons

eHow Food Blog


Move over quinoa salads- this bowl is all about comfort (healthy comfort, that is). Here’s a twist on the traditional quinoa salad that’s filled with fiber, protein, inflammation-fighting sardines, vitamins, minerals and lots of hearty flavor. This quinoa dish is a great combo of sweet and savory with the sweet dried cherries, cilantro and savory sardines, plus it’s free of gluten, dairy, soy and eggs so you can serve this at your next spring dinner party or upcoming summer BBQ. It’s one of those one-bowl wonders that everyone wants to dig into and starts begging for seconds.

I’ve been eating sardines since I was a kid. My mother loves them, and ever since she introduced me to them years ago I’ve been addicted. They’re low in mercury, which has been great for me since I had heavy metal accumulation from eating too much sushi, tuna and swordfish. They’re also full of omega-3s and B vitamins, which help keep me fighting internal inflammation and zipping around like a bee buzzing with energy! They’re among the only foods that contain calcium and vitamin D, a combination required for healthy bones. After this winter, I need all the vitamin D that I can get. I’m very cautious about the sardines that I use because I want to make sure they are gluten-free and non-GMO as well as sold in BPA-free cans.


As I mentioned, this recipe features dried cherries and sardines, two of my favorite ingredients. The cherries are sweet and flavorful and the sardines are packed with inflammation-fighting omega-3s, calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B-12 and CoQ10, all of which have played a huge role in restoring my health.  These sardines add the perfect touch, along with my famous cilantro croutons that my family begs me for at least once a week! These homemade gluten-free croutons are far better for you than store-bought croutons, which are loaded with additives and processed GMO vegetable oils; these are fresh with yummy cilantro and so fragrant. When you are shopping for these ingredients, be sure to purchase organic spinach since conventional spinach is one of the Dirty Dozen!


Gluten-Free Cherry Quinoa with Crunchy Cilantro Croutons

Gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, egg-free

Serves 4


  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 teaspoon dried cilantro
  • 4 slices gluten-free bread, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 tins non-GMO, gluten-free, dairy-free sardines (I used BELA Sardines)
  • 2 cups purified water
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 2 cups organic spinach
  • 1 teaspoon organic moringa (I use the Organic India brand)
  • 2 tablespoons organic honey
  • 3/4 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 4 tablespoons dried cherries
  • 1/3 cup salted cashews
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes


  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In a large bowl, combine 2 tablespoons olive oil, cilantro and bread cubes; gently toss to combine until evenly coated.  Spread the cubes onto a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for 15 minutes, then stir the croutons and bake for another 15 minutes until golden brown and crispy.
  3. Remove from oven; set aside to cool.
  4. Bring 2 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan; add the quinoa and reduce heat. Simmer for 15 minutes or until the quinoa is soft and chewy. Fluff with a fork; set aside to cool.
  5. Meanwhile, steam the spinach in a steamer over medium heat.  Cook for 4 minutes or until wilted. Drain and set aside. Drain the sardines and set aside.
  6. In a large bowl, whisk the honey, moringa, curry powder, sea salt, pepper, lemon juice and remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large bowl. Add the sardines, quinoa, dried cherries, spinach, cashews and crushed red pepper flakes; gently toss to combine. Top with cilantro croutons and serve warm or at room temperature.

Photo Credit: Amie Valpone

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