This quinoa mango spinach salad is filled with healthy ingredients for a vegetarian protein packed meal.

I’m halfway through the first stage of NROLFW and wanted to do a quick update on my thoughts/progress so far with the plan.

Stage 1 calls for 16 workouts, alternating between workout A & workout B. After 3 full weeks, I’ve completed 8 of the workouts at the “2 set” phase and just today moved into the second half of stage 1 which increases the sets to 3.

I’m not going to do any updates on measurements yet, I’ll wait until the end of stage 1 for that. Sorry, no awkward full body muscle pictures today.

In general, I love it! In these 3 weeks, I’ve learned to live and function in a perpetual state of soreness (in a good way!). This is the longest I’ve ever stuck with a strength training program before. I seriously look forward to each and every workout. I think a few things are contributing to that:

  • The way the program is structured it encourages you to add heavier weights as the workouts progress.
  • It gives you “beginner” moves when necessary so it’s easy to tell when you’re gaining strength because they start to feel easy and you move onto the “real” moves (push-ups are an example here).
  • I think the emphasis on dumbbells and barbells instead of machines makes it more easily recognizable when you can handle increased weight.
  • I already see a difference in muscle definition. Positive reinforcement baby!
NROLFW update
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NROLFW update

These are me not flexing. I’m going to call them my “rolling hills” and I’m pretty sure they weren’t there before. Well on my way to looking like the book cover.


Click here for before pictures (granted, I am flexing in those so they’re not totally comparable).

A few fun facts:

-Prone jackknife is my favorite move of this stage.

-Step-ups are my least favorite (boring and tedious)

-I can now do 3 sets of 10 full push-ups!

Diet wise I haven’t been doing anything out of the ordinary besides being more cognizant of my protein intake. I will try to have a protein smoothie or something high in protein after each session. It doesn’t always happen, but I’d say about 75% of the time.

protein smoothie

Today’s smoothie, which overflowed the second I put the camera down and which Ginger promptly licked up.

Stay tuned after another 3 weeks for a full Stage 1 recap.


Now, let’s talk about mangoes. Again.

I actually bought 2 mangoes for last week’s mango black bean salad but only ended up using one because the other was hard as a rock.

Six days later after hanging out next to the bananas getting all ripe, it was begging to be used.

After reading Jenna’s recap on her fruit detox, I had been craving fruit and couldn’t even think about “real” dinner foods.

I just wanted fruit.

The practical side of me kicked in though and somehow I ended up with this.

Quinoa mango spinach salad

A quinoa, mango and spinach salad.


It’s a great summer salad that takes very little effort to throw together.

The quinoa adds some staying power as a lovely complete protein while the fruits bring wonderful sweet flavor.

Spinach greens kind of just wilt into the mix once the dressing is added. And feel free to use whatever greens you have on hand.

Arugula, watercress, baby kale or even tatsoi would be great.

Quinoa mango spinach salad

Top with some crunchy nuts and seeds for healthy fats and dinner or lunch is ready!

Quinoa mango spinach salad

With a piece of whole wheat sunflower seed bread it was the most delicious, light dinner.


Jicama Salad
Mango Black Bean Salad
Shrimp Avocado Mango Lime Salad
Simple Summer Corn and Tomato Salad

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Quinoa Mango Spinach Salad

Servings: 2 servings
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 30 minutes
This quinoa mango spinach salad is filled with healthy ingredients for a vegetarian protein packed meal.


  • 3 cups cooked red quinoa
  • 2 cups chopped baby spinach
  • 1 mango chopped
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/4 cup pepitas
  • 1/4 cup chopped dried cherries
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • juice of half a lime
  • juice of 1 small orange
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • salt & pepper


  • Rinse quinoa and toast with coconut oil before adding water and cooking normally (optional, but recommended).
  • Combine next 6 ingredients in a large bowl.
  • When quinoa is finished cooking, add to bowl and mix to combine.
  • Whisk together last 5 ingredients and pour over salad. Toss.
  • Chill in refrigerator for at least an hour before serving.


Serving: 1SERVINGCalories: 817kcalCarbohydrates: 92gProtein: 20gFat: 44gSaturated Fat: 6gPolyunsaturated Fat: 9gMonounsaturated Fat: 27gTrans Fat: 0.01gSodium: 49mgPotassium: 978mgFiber: 13gSugar: 27gVitamin A: 4621IUVitamin C: 47mgCalcium: 138mgIron: 7mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Salads
Cuisine: American

What’s the weirdest craving you’ve ever given into for dinner (or any meal)?

Founder and Writer at Running to the Kitchen | About

Gina Matsoukas is an AP syndicated writer. She is the founder, photographer and recipe developer of Running to the Kitchen — a food website focused on providing healthy, wholesome recipes using fresh and seasonal ingredients. Her work has been featured in numerous media outlets both digital and print, including MSN, Huffington post, Buzzfeed, Women’s Health and Food Network.

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  1. BWAHAHAHA to ‘I live things up and I put them down.’ I love it! I haven’t spent any time in a gym in ages, but I feel like the weight lifters always take their picing stuff up so seriously. :P

  2. Just wanted to say that this post has two things I love: weight training and mangos! It gets an A+ from me.

  3. I have tiny rolling hills but yours rock! Fitness books have never worked for me though….but maybe I should check this out! Thanks for the recap.

  4. Holy crap! I’m so jealous of your arms! I definitely suck at (and don’t know how to) strength train. I usually consider yoga or pilates strength training and call it a day. Maybe I should get that book!!

    As for the weirdest thing I’ve ever eaten for dinner…I’d have to probably say cookies or ice cream. Less weird and more just lazy. Haha

    Congrats on the strength training success!

  5. I was on not kidding like 6 blogs yesterday who all did a quinoa salad…some with fruit, too. I have to get on board :)

    Great arms….nice job Gina!

    1. I know, I saw the abundance of quinoa too! Funny how that happens. Thanks for the compliment :)

  6. Sweet rolling hills! I get in ruts with working out and am just not into it. But your rolling hills are good motivation!