spinach & arugula salad with shrimp and a cilantro lime yogurt dressing

Well, here I am again, popping my head in after a longer-than-intended blogging hiatus. What can I say? I gotta lot on my plate! Another semester to finish, a clinical placement to wrap up, a dissertation to get off the ground....oh! and that little wedding to prepare for, which is some how, some way, in 3 and a half weeks. Phew!

I HAD intentions of blogging regularly during this time about a re-do of the 4-week pre-summer clean-eating challenge, which I created around this time last year. Four weeks before my wedding and a 10-day Caribbean vacation seems like a reasonable motivator to do the challenge, huh? Unfortunately, I just don't have the hours in the day to track my progress or post a lot of new recipes. Plus, while I AM planning to follow the first portion of the challenge for the next few weeks (the general eat-clean part of it), the 17 day diet part just doesn't fit into my life right now. That kind of restriction simply requires too much time and energy that I don't currently have; plus, I am really trying to maintain my weight (and it's hard NOT to lose weight on the 17 day diet if you really follow it). So, my pre-wedding plan is basically to eat healthy and "clean" -- which I usually do anyway -- but cut down on the added treats for a few weeks, continue working out, and try not to stress! I'm feeling really good about my health right now in general, so it's nice that I don't need to do anything drastic prior to the big day. Besides, who wants to be hungry and grumpy during this beautiful time??

If anyone DOES want to do the 4-week challenge before summer, I'd totally encourage you to do it! Whether you do just the first portion like me or you want to follow the whole 4 weeks like we did last year, it is a great way to start summer off on a healthy foot. Start here, then check out all of the posts within the challenge. And let me know if you have any questions or need a little motivation :)

As for me, I've been making and eating many of my favorite healthy recipes lately -- my beef and spinach meatballs (which I'll sometimes make with turkey instead of beef), hefty salads like this one and this one,  chicken and egg salad for wraps or salads, stuffed avocado, and healthy frittatas.  Here's another favorite to add to the list: spinach and arugula salad with shrimp, avocado, and a DELICIOUS homemade cilantro lime yogurt dressing. It's the perfect pre-wedding meal IMO: plenty of veggies, lean protein, healthy fats, and, of course, it's tasty and flavorful. Ryan's word-for-word evaluation after taking a few bites? "This is like, the best salad I've ever had."

I've talked before about how I prefer to make my own salad dressings. I tend to make pretty basic/simple dressings most of the time (olive oil + vinegar + mustard or citrus or herbs). Well, this one is a little fancier. It's creamy and zesty and decadent-tasting and SO full of flavor. Plus, by "fancy" I don't mean difficult: all you have to do is throw a few ingredients into a food processor and -- voila! Easy and delicious. 

This salad takes all of 10 minutes to throw together. Perfect for busy summer nights when you want something quick and healthy. The shrimp cooks in 3 minutes, the dressing just takes a quick whirl in the food processor, then you just have to chop a few veggies. Simplicity at its best.

Here's how to make it:


catch-up and a spinach & kale salad with warm bacon vinaigrette & fried egg

WOW, long time no blog, eh? I haven't fallen off a cliff or anything, so you can stop worrying about that. Where have I been? Well, I could spout out piles o' excuses for not blogging as much lately, but how about I just skip it? In sum: life has been quite crazy lately -- in a good way, for the most part -- and filled to the brim with wedding activities and work and school and all the rest of it. Here's a snapshot of my non-work waking hours over the past few weeks:

Making sure to meal prep at the beginning of the week...

And making plenty of fast and quick and simple dinners.

Eating several loaves of my almond butter banana bread.

Kicking off my surprisingly fun side-hobby as an amateur calligrapher by addressing and customizing what felt like a bajillion wedding invitations/envelopes.

(personal details blurred)

...then finally dropping them off at the post office!

Weekend indulgences, such as this amazing seafood lunch with my love in old town Alexandria.

Alternating between beautiful and sunny days...

...and snow. Within 24 hours. 

Yeah, I'd like to forget about that last one. At this point, I'd be okay with never seeing snow again in my life. It seems like spring is fiiiinally here... although I shouldn't risk jinxing it. Last night, at least, was a warm, lovely spring evening (and a Tuesday! when I get home at a normal-person hour!), so I celebrated by making a fresh -- yet still indulgent -- salad. Finally, the time of year when I crave salads! But it's not hot yet, so I'm not quite ready for an all-cold salad for dinner. I know I'm weird, but that just doesn't do it for me except maaayybe on an 80 degree August day. I need something warm for dinner. How about a warm bacon vinaigrette and a fried egg on TOP of a salad?

Yep, that'll do the trick.

This salad involves a base combo of massaged kale (don't laugh if you've never done it!) and spinach, plus diced avocado, a warm vinaigrette with pieces of bacon in it (YUM), and a fried egg. Yeah, it pretty much rocks. 

You could totally do all spinach or all kale if you prefer, and I wouldn't hate it if you added tomatoes or goat cheese or red onions or mushrooms. Mm. You've gotta try the warm dressing though! Back in college, I used to always order the warm bacon salad at one of our on-campus dining places -- the hot bacon dressing definitely had addictive properties. I'm pretty sure their recipe was based off of Paula Deen's, if that tells you anything. I decided to health-ify it a LITTLE though and add some extra nutrition with kale and avocado and egg. Don't get me wrong, this is still quite high in fat grams (bacon! bacon grease! avocado! egg!) but we're getting in LOTS of protein and vitamins and nutrients at the same time! Nothin' to feel too bad about here.

Here's how to whip it up: 


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