Cranberry Quinoa “Stuffing”

Why must turkey be the official Thanksgiving mascot?

Stuffing 2

It makes me sad because I know so much work goes into preparing an entire turkey, but to me, the meal could do without it. This is also coming from the girl who prefers deli meat over roasted.

*Hides head in shame*

We were at Eclectic Cafe and on a whim, I ordered a turkey omelet, even though I tend to stick to veg and fish dishes at restaurants. When they brought it out, I immediately starting picking around the turkey.

The Pilot: “Don’t you like your omelet?”

Me: “Um.. it’s ok. I didn’t think it was this kind of turkey. This is like Thanksgiving turkey… I like the other stuff.”

Pilot: “You mean the processed stuff?!”

We couldn’t help but laugh because here I am, preferring whole foods, local foods, organic foods… and I like the deli meat. I haven’t been purchasing it much because it’s hard (and expensive) to find organic, but it’s good stuff, especially on omelets and salads.

Stuffing 4


For a long time, I was a vegetarian (here’s when I started eating chicken again), but even after that point, I didn’t go back to Thanksgiving turkey. I should be happy about a sprinkle of protein in the carb and sugar party, but really, it was all about the side dishes: stuffing, potatoes, sweet potato, green beans and the grand finale of happiness… dessert.


Oh, the stuffing- my favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal. How would that be for a Thanksgiving mascot? A lovely brown blob with a smiley face. “Happy Thanksgiving!”

I’ve made it so many different ways: with Ezekiel bread, cornbread, traditional, from the box (which is pretty dang delicious, not gonna lie) and most recently, without the bread.


I know, I know.

Stuffing is about the bread, but I thought it would be fun to make a quinoa twist on my favorite Thanksgiving side dish. Even more protein in the carb and sugar party, with all of the classic stuffing flavors.

Hope you enjoy <3

Quinoa Stuffing with Cranberries


Quinoa Stuffing with Cranberries

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gluten-free, easy to veganize


  • 3 chicken sausages (I used sweet apple organic, but any vegetarian sub or tempeh would be great too)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 large apples, chopped
  • 12 cloves garlic
  • 1.5 C quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 3 C veggie or chicken broth
  • 1 heaping TBSP chopped fresh sage
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 C dried cranberries


  1. In a large pan over medium heat, sautée the sausage, onion and apple in a little olive oil until soft, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and season well with salt and pepper.
  2. Transfer to the rice cooker (or if you want to cook it on the stovetop, a large pot)
  3. Add the quinoa, cranberries, sage, thyme and broth.
  4. Cook on the “brown rice” setting, or until light and fluffy (stovetop, cover and simmer for about 25 minutes)




Ingredients 3

It’s a perfect lunch staple: on top of salad, or in a day-after-Thanksgiving style wrap with lettuce and cranberry goat cheese.

Stuffing 3


Happy early Thanksgiving <3



What are you making for Thanksgiving this year? Absolute favorite part of the meal??

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  1. Abby @ Change of Pace on November 14, 2012 at 10:26 am

    Looks like a great recipe! I think I’ll veganize it and take it for our Christmas potluck so my husband has something delicious to eat!

  2. Amy on November 14, 2012 at 10:27 am

    It looks yummy! This year my sister is making a meal, so I’ll make some pies or something to take over and maybe some funeral potatoes.

  3. Julie on November 14, 2012 at 10:30 am

    I stopped eating meat 2 years ago & I haven’t missed turkey at all on Thanksgiving! The sides have ALWAYS been my favorite part of “Turkey Day” 🙂

  4. Colleen on November 14, 2012 at 10:35 am

    BRILLIANT. I can’t wait to try it!

  5. Lindsay @ fashionable footprints on November 14, 2012 at 10:42 am

    this looks delish – I am totally trying this!!

    fashionable footprints

  6. Abby on November 14, 2012 at 10:49 am

    I love love love stuffing! I think I would ready it year round if I could! This looks like an awesome, much healthier alternative that I’ll definitely be trying!

  7. Kimberly on November 14, 2012 at 11:06 am

    YUMMMMM I will be making this soon.

  8. Hayley @ Running on Pumpkin on November 14, 2012 at 11:06 am

    Such a good idea! I am the exact same way on Thanksgiving – I always have a little turkey but I honestly could care less about it. I LOVE the stuffing and sweet potatoes (and pumpkin pie of course). I also like thinly sliced deli turkey more than the real stuff!! Haha too funny.

  9. Alexandra on November 14, 2012 at 11:12 am

    This is genius!! I think I am going to make this for dinner tonight as I just happen to have all of the ingredients at home already! There are only two of us at my house but I think I will still make the whole recipe as use the rest as leftovers….that is, if there is any left over 🙂

  10. Rachel on November 14, 2012 at 11:25 am

    OOo this sounds good! I think I’ll try this with tempeh for Thanksgiving 🙂

  11. Dynamics on November 14, 2012 at 11:37 am

    PERFECT. Thank you. Thanksgiving is not thanksgiving unless I have my mom’s mashed taters and gravy. A once a year splurge. Leftover the next day is just as yummy.

  12. Kerry @ Totes My Oats on November 14, 2012 at 11:56 am

    Yum, that sounds amazing! I will be going to my aunt and uncle’s in Michigan this year. I look forward to our family’s stuffing every year. It is the best thing!

  13. Sarah @ Yogi in Action on November 14, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    That looks delicious! I’m in Canada so Thanksgiving was last month- but I just may need to celebrate again so I can make that!

  14. Danielle on November 14, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    Fellow “real” meat hater over here also 😉 I’ve always loved deli turkey and have been warming up to the idea of deli ham lately, but I’ve always HATED roasted/Thanksgiving turkey and ham. Funny how that works, isn’t it? 🙂

  15. Jennifer on November 14, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    First, I’m just now catching up so Happy Birthday Week, Gina. 🙂

    I love deli meat too but I go hard core ‘traditional’ for all the holidays.

    For Thanksgiving I’m doing the Turkey, Dressing and Pies and my guests are bringing sides/snacks/other treats/drinks.

    • Fitnessista on November 14, 2012 at 6:23 pm

      thank you so much!

  16. Grace @ Practicing Grace on November 14, 2012 at 12:31 pm

    Trying this with tempeh ASAP mmmmmm

    • Fitnessista on November 14, 2012 at 6:23 pm

      let me know what you think 🙂

  17. Mila on November 14, 2012 at 12:33 pm

    Couldn’t agree more – *love* stuffing! Just today I lost about an hour looking up an easy recipe for sage stuffing (the classic?). There are some fancy recipes out there – which is great – but my tiny kitchen is fancy-prohibitive. Anyone have any suggestions for an easy sage stuffing?

  18. Jess@atasteofconfidence on November 14, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    I am not a huge fan of turkey, either. My plate is usually a bunch of stuffing and vegetables with a tiny portion of turkey on the side, haha.

  19. Kelster on November 14, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    I’m the opposite. I hate deli meats. I try to buy them for sandwiches but I just can never get past the first sandwiches. I need the real stuff.

    • Janice on November 14, 2012 at 1:28 pm

      I agree! I need the real version. Deli meats, even organic, low sodium varieties, are way too salty for my taste. This stuffing looks awesome though!

  20. Andrea @ Vegvacious on November 14, 2012 at 1:03 pm

    Love this! If stuffing was the main event at Thanksgiving and Christmas, I would be a very happy girl. My dad always makes some traditional stuffing and bakes it separately in the oven so I can eat it (b/c I am a vegetarian) but I love this twist using quinoa. I am definitely going to be trying this!!!

  21. Michelle on November 14, 2012 at 1:11 pm

    Omg I thought it was just me who didn’t like “real turkey” lol!! I only like the deli meat too!

    • Fitnessista on November 14, 2012 at 6:20 pm

      i’m glad i’m not alone 🙂

  22. Amy Ramos on November 14, 2012 at 1:19 pm

    Awesome! I think I will add this as a side dish in addition to the “traditional” stuffing.

  23. NatureHealMe on November 14, 2012 at 1:24 pm

    This recipe sounds delicious! So delicious I may even give up having the traditional boxed stuffing this Thanksgiving to try it out!

  24. Averie @ Averie Cooks on November 14, 2012 at 1:38 pm

    I am not a traditional stuffing kind of person, at all. Something about it has never appealed to me. My hubs loves it and I make it for him but your version is way more up my alley!

  25. Ashley @ My Food 'N' Fitness Diaries on November 14, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    Looks delicious! I’d have to agree with you about the turkey… It’s not my favorite. I’d much prefer a plate full of the yummy sides! I usually will take a small piece of turkey and eat it with my stuffing and mashed potatoes to give it some extra flavor while also packing in some protein. My favorite sides would have to be stuffing and sweet potato casserole. Yummmm.

  26. Laura J. on November 14, 2012 at 1:55 pm

    I love the turkey! And the sweet potato casserole and the stuffing and the veggies and the desserts! I love it all 😉

  27. joelle @ on a pink typewriter on November 14, 2012 at 2:08 pm

    This looks great! I used to be ALL about the turkey and sweet potatoes and didn’t bat an eye at stuffing, but the past few Thanksgivings, I’ve been obsessed.

    Especially loving your photos lately, too!

    • Fitnessista on November 14, 2012 at 6:16 pm

      thank you- i’ve been working on making them better 🙂 i’ll never be great at photography though, not really my thang

  28. Danielle@cleanfoodcreativefitness on November 14, 2012 at 2:15 pm

    This looks amazing and I love that it’s gluten free! I’ve actually never been a regular stuffing fan so I think this sounds way better! I’ve never loved the thanksgiving foods much turkey, mashed potatoes, and stuffing just isn’t super exciting for me!

  29. Sarah on November 14, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    I just made this for lunch. I omitted the cranberries and instead enjoyed mine with a generous helping of jellied cranberry sauce (I just love that stuff!) and it was amazing. My husband and son couldn’t get enough!

    • Fitnessista on November 14, 2012 at 6:15 pm

      i’m so happy you enjoyed it!

  30. Steph @ Steph Stays Slim on November 14, 2012 at 2:39 pm

    I was just thinking about a good stuffing recipe for Thanksgiving this year…I think this one is the winner!

    • Fitnessista on November 14, 2012 at 6:16 pm

      let me know if you try it 🙂

  31. Cher @ Weddicted on November 14, 2012 at 3:46 pm

    I’m a vegetarian, but my husband is the same way! Barely eats the turkey, loves everything else! My fave = dessert!

  32. Ali on November 14, 2012 at 3:46 pm

    This is a dumb question, but why do you have to rinse the quinoa? I mean, I don’t rinse my rice!

    • Fitnessista on November 14, 2012 at 6:10 pm

      there’s a chemical on quinoa that repels insects- it can make it taste bitter if you don’t rinse it

  33. Lauren on November 14, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    This looks amazing 🙂 I’m Canadian so Thanksgiving is well in the past, but that’s not going to stop me!

    On an unrelated note, I was surprised when your pic popped up on another site ( I figured you might not be aware since they don’t credit the photo or link back to your site.

  34. Rachel Boller - Busy Mama on November 14, 2012 at 4:49 pm

    Yum, that stuffing sounds amazing! I’m bringing over roasted parsnips and a raw/vegan pumpkin pie!

  35. Soniathe Mexigarian on November 14, 2012 at 5:24 pm

    The stuffing goes quick in my house. We literally do hand to hand combat to get the last of the stuffing 🙂 I dunno why we only have it once a year. . . .

  36. Emily @ Perfection Isn't Happy on November 14, 2012 at 5:28 pm

    I don’t care for the turkey either! I’d much rather load up on side dishes!

  37. Stephanie on November 14, 2012 at 6:07 pm

    This is not related to this post…but for some reasons I don’t see your updates on my wall on facebook anymore. I was actually thinking wow Gina hasn’t posted in a long time. But then I saw that you did and it does show on the Fitnessista facebook page, but I don’t see the updates.

    Is there a new setting that I don’t know about?

  38. Erin @ Girl Gone Veggie on November 14, 2012 at 7:00 pm

    Stovetop stuffing is the bomb dot com. I feel bad because my stepmom spends so much time making the real stuff but I love it from the box!

  39. April on November 14, 2012 at 7:52 pm

    i’m pretty much salivating after reading this post! definitely bookmarking this recipe to make next week 🙂

    and your post inspired my lunch today – i made a sandwich with deli turkey, so delish!

  40. Sarabell on November 14, 2012 at 8:02 pm

    I am always really bummed out on Thanksgiving because it’s a big feast of foods I don’t really like. Especially turkey, can’t stand birds!
    Last year I made a sausage-and-apple stuffing which could easily be made with chicken/turkey sausage for the non-vegetarian readers and it was so yummy! I ate a plate with stuffing and veggies on it!

  41. Amber on November 14, 2012 at 8:23 pm

    This makes me so happy! Thanks Gina!

  42. Ush on November 14, 2012 at 8:24 pm

    This recipe looks really good! I’m excited to try it this weekend as a dry run.

    My family NEVER makes turkey for Thanksgiving, we usually do chicken or cornish game hens, and sometimes no bird at all. Turkey is definitely the least interesting thanksgiving food, but luckily everything else is awesome (mashed potatoes and stuffing … yum!). Also my mom makes cranberry chutney instead of cranberry sauce, it’s pretty good!

  43. Ali @ WHOLEistically Fit on November 14, 2012 at 8:37 pm

    I also really like lunch meat, especially fresh from the deli. I like the carved types with the thicker slices and my husband and I usually get Boar’s Head. It’s a brand sold at our local Sprouts Farmers Market and doesn’t contain any fillers or “pink slime”. The other week they were handing out free samples and I, of course, obliged! 😀 I tried their chipotle chicken breast & omg it was sooooo good! The problem is that I like to snack on lunch meat when we have it around, so when we get it for sandwiches it’s kind of a problem. We go to make our sandwiches and somehow, magically the lunch meat has disappeared ;). Whoops! (Can’t believe I just went on about lunch meat for a full paragraph – o wait, yes I can.) 😀

  44. Julie on November 14, 2012 at 10:49 pm

    This is amazing. I cannot wait to make this for Thanksgiving!

  45. Bek @ Crave on November 15, 2012 at 1:02 am

    We don’t do thanksgiving in Aus, but occasionally we do have roast turkey on roast nights- I love it! But I also do love the processed kind- ooo naughty us hahah 😉

  46. Ashley on November 15, 2012 at 2:00 am

    This looks delicious! I was so excited to read that you like deli turkey meat but not the thanksgiving turkey meat! I feel the same way and whenever I tell someone that, they give me a weird look. Whoo, I am not alone! Ha. I read the comment about why you need to rinse it (I never have but now that I know why you should, I will) and I was wondering how you rinse it? Do you just put it in a bowl and rinse water over it and then drain it? What is the best way to rinse quinoa? Thank you!

  47. Kim on November 15, 2012 at 6:16 am

    Looks delicious. Can’t wait to make it!

  48. Torie =) on November 15, 2012 at 7:28 am

    Oh, I love stuffing and the dark meat!!! At my aunt’s house, they always set aside the dark meat for me because I am pretty much the only one who eats it. Yum!!! I can’t wait for Thanksgiving!!!

  49. Kelly @ Femme Fitale on November 15, 2012 at 8:21 am

    I hear you, lady!!
    It definitely a joyless meal option for me. And preparing the turkey is even more joyless…ick.
    What a great idea to use quinoa for the dressing though 😉 I’ll need to try!

  50. Samantha on November 15, 2012 at 4:20 pm

    Trisha yearwood has her own show on foodnetwork and she made this turkey which looked amazing! Here is a blogger who is going to try it

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