Sometimes you just need a little bit of inspiration. (Especially on a rainy Monday when you’ve been up since 5:30am and just dripped balsamic on your white Banana Republic top right after doing the laundry.)
Let’s be real: that’s why we love blogs. Or one good reason, anyway. My latest love is Joy the Baker. Yes, I’m a little late to the game on that one. Of course I’d heard of her, but I think I might have avoided her blog because baking is an indulgence by which I try not to get too inspired (yeah I said it). All that butter and sugar is fantastic, but it’s a dangerous hobby.
Have you discovered Joy yet? It turns out she makes a lot of delicious food (and other fun things) besides just cupcakes. I highly recommend it, especially if you’re needing a little spark in the kitchen, or simply some sunshine in your day. She’s so… joyful. It’s true. And if you’re a fellow blogger, she even wrote a nifty post on 10 blog ideas to get you going.
Even though Joy and I apparently share a reading list (see #3: The Happiness Project was my weekend impulse buy, An Everlasting Meal is on the top of my non-fiction to-read list, and I like Thought Catalog way too much for my own good), said post is not what inspired this salad. Nope: THIS salad inspired this salad!
In fact, once I made that spinach-feta-orange-avocado magical salad, I not only ate it for 4 days straight and savored every bite like it was the last piece of chocolate – I also immediately insisted that everyone I know stop what they’re doing and make it. Right. Now. It is fantastically fresh and unexpected and just the change of pace you need to get you back into loving salad. Indeed, I have not stopped eating spinach for a single day since then. For a baker, I’d say Joy’s a pretty good influence!
Which brings me to this salad. Sure, I’ve had a spinach-strawberry salad with balsamic vinaigrette, and you probably have, too. When they’re super fresh (especially with local ingredients), it’s a highlight of spring. But Joy’s combination of leafy spinach, buttery avocado, salty cheese, juicy fruit and crunchy nuts? It was unforgettable. So I made a fusion… I fused? I married the two lovely concepts together into something a little bit different than your average Monday night salad. This salad is happy. It’s quick and easy (as salad should be). It even incorporates not one, but four power foods*! Get your daily dose of sunshine, antioxidants, protein and all that good stuff in one bowl.
What’s got you inspired lately? I am currently big on lemons, bike rides in the sun, gratitude and waking up excessively early to work out (ok, not so big on that yet, but I’m trying to like it!). If you could use some inspiration, might I suggest:
Going outside with a book or a bike or both!
OK, Recipe Time.
Strawberry-Spinach Salad with Avocado, Walnuts & Goat Cheese
(This makes one salad – obviously you can/should multiply and share!)
1 1/2 c. baby spinach
1/4 avocado, sliced
3 strawberries, sliced
1/4 c. walnuts, toasted
1/4 c. goat cheese, crumbled
sea salt + freshly cracked pepper
Balsamic Vinaigrette: Please make your own. It’s two ingredients. When you buy it bottled, it is expensive, processed and chock full of sugar and sodium and scary chemical preservatives. Watch this: put 2 parts olive oil + 1 part balsamic in a small jar. Close the lid tightly. Now shake. Ta-da: you just made vinaigrette! Of course you can adjust proportions if you like it tangier or milder.
(Hint: this is a simple formula for almost any vinaigrette. Try it with dijon mustard, lemon and honey. Or cider vinegar and maple syrup. Make it garlicky or citrusy or spicy. The jar is your oyster. Or something.)
Do I need to give you directions for salad? You know what to do.
*If you’re anything like me and you geek out about nutrition, you should buy Power Foods. It’s currently my favorite cookbook. Fun facts: spinach could protect you from Alzheimer’s, arthritis, diabetes, heart disease and some cancers. Berries are full of antioxidants, flavonoids, vitamin C, and fiber. Avocados, as you likely know, are the “good fat” and also increase your “good cholesterol” (HDL) and lower the “bad” (LDL). And those walnuts contain your omega-3 fatty acids, which your body can’t produce, and are good for your brain. A new study just released indicates sugar damages cognitive function, but that omega-3′s can curb that damage. So eat your nuts and skip the cookie.