Roasted Beet, Mango, and Blueberry Salad with Orange Dill Dressing ~ Plated or Layered in a Jar

7Dill is an annual herb whose fragrant, delicate-tasting leaves, also known as dillweed, will enhance a variety of your favorite foods.

Yet dill brings as much to the landscape as it does to the palate. Its finely textured blue-green foliage grows on upright stalks of fountainous stems. In late spring, you may want to cut dill’s chartreuse flowers and use them in a flower arrangement ~ Southern Living

Yesterday I shared my recipe for Orange Dill Vinaigrette Dressing and today I will share a vibrant and delicious salad that I dressed with this flavorful vinaigrette.

(Clink on image for a larger version).

(Clink on image for a larger version).

Since my latest obsession is Mason Jar Salads, I layered the ingredients into four jars (quart sized) but also wanted to demonstrate that this would make a fantastic plated salad as well. The plated salad that I made was HUGE and my husband Mike devoured it for dinner. This recipe could easily make six jar salads.

I always make sure my salads have a variety of colors and textures.

I always make sure my salads have a variety of colors and textures.

Roasted Beet, Mango, and Blueberry Salad with Orange Dill Dressing

Ingredients:

  • Orange Dill Dressing
  • Savory Quinoa (Recipe to Follow)
  • Roasted Beets (Instructions to follow)
  • 1 green pepper
  • Thinly sliced red onion (about 1/2 a medium onion)
  • 2 ripe mango
  • Pint of blueberries
  • 1 cup of raw almonds (or nut of choice)
  • 8 ounces of Sugar Snap Peas (I bought one package)
  • Greens (I used romaine and spinach)

Savory Quinoa 

  • 2 cups of cooked quinoa (could substitute brown rice, bulgar, wheatberries)
  • 1 cup of chopped celery
  • 1 cup chopped yellow or white onion
  • 1-2 cloves of minced garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon of coconut oil (or cooking oil of your choice)
  • 1 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • Few leaves of chopped fresh mint
  • Fresh snipped chives
  • Salt and pepper to taste
    Sautee the onion, celery, and garlic in the coconut oil until they are soft.

    Sautee the onion, celery, and garlic in the coconut oil until they are soft.

    Add sauteed vegetables to the bowl of quinoa

    Add sauteed vegetables to the bowl of quinoa

    Add nutmeg, mint, and chives and stir.

    Add nutmeg, mint, and chives and stir.  Salt and pepper to taste.

    I love to add nutmeg to savory dishes because it really adds a depth of flavor. In the summer when I have an abundance of chives and mint in my garden I add them to nearly every dish I make.

    I love to add nutmeg to savory dishes because it really adds a depth of flavor. In the summer when I have an abundance of chives and mint in my garden I add them to nearly every dish I make.

    Do not to forget to save your beet tops. They are incredible in smoothies or lightly saute and drizzle with olive oil and serve as a side.

    Do not to forget to save your beet tops. They are incredible in smoothies or lightly saute and drizzle with olive oil and serve as a side.

    Preparing beets can be a bit messy but in my opinion their sweet flavor and silky texture makes them worth the mess. I LOVE the combination of beets and dill so I knew this salad would be a taste pleaser.

    The beets that I bought were large so I cut them into many pieces. I scrubbed them well and left the peelings on. If you have smaller beets you can cut in 1/2 or thirds. Once they are done roasting the peels will slide right off. I roasted these beets for 40 minutes at 450 degrees. I opened the oven after 20 minutes and gave them a toss. I let the beets cool before making the salad.

    I put the beets in a glass baking dish, add a clove of minced garlic, a Tablespoon of coconut oil, and salt and pepper.

    I put the beets in a glass baking dish, add a clove of minced garlic, a Tablespoon of coconut oil, and salt and pepper.

    For the Mason Jar Salads I started with two Tablespoons of the Orange Dill dressing  (though I found myself adding more dressing when I ate the salad so next time I will add three Tablespoons). I then added a layer of beets and green pepper.
    21Next a layer of the Savory Quinoa and a few pieces of red onion.
    22Next a layer of mango and a layer of blueberries.

    23Next a 1/8 cup of raw almond and a half dozen pea pods.

24I then filled the rest of the jar with chopped romaine and spinach.

16The plated salad also contained all the above ingredients. While I really enjoyed the combination of the mango with the other flavors, I think that orange segments would also be a lovely addition.

Take a look at the gorgeous colors.

Take a look at the gorgeous colors.

Summer on a plate!

Summer on a plate!

18If you are interested in other Mason Jar Salads, here are some of my previous recipes:

Israeli Feast ~ Mason Jar Salad (with Tabouli, Hummus, and Olives)

Classic Salad Bar in a Jar and Waldorf Inspired Slaw

If you are interested in pinning this salad and other recipes, here is a link to my Produce with Amy board.

I hope you enjoy my Orange Dill Vinaigrette Dressing along with this nutrient rich salad. Summer is salad season, and whether it is plated up or layered in a jar, it is a quick, cool, satisfying, and versatile meal. I promise to keep the salad dressing recipes coming. I think that my next dressing will take on a spicy flair and feature cilantro.

Keep filling your plate with a rainbow of fruit and vegetables and reap the benefits of a healthy life. Cheers to summer and thriving! ❤

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Roasted Beet, Mango, and Blueberry SaladRainbow Plate

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Orange Dill Vinaigrette Dressing

Soon tomatoes will appear!

Soon tomatoes will appear!

“Gardening is akin to writing stories. No experience could have taught me more about grief or flowers, about achieving survival by going, your fingers in the ground, the limit of physical exhaustion.” 
― Eurdora Welty

Is there anything more delicious than a homegrown tomato fresh out of the garden? While purists say garden tomatoes should be enjoyed plain and unfettered from even a shake of salt and pepper, I love to embellish tomatoes with fresh snipped herbs. Basil, dill, cilantro, chives, parsley (you get the picture…I have an affinity for fresh herbs AND tomatoes). Knowing this, you can imagine how happy I was when I spotted the first flowers on my

My cute little garden

My cute little garden

tomato plants a few days ago. True, in the U.P. of Michigan we start our gardens late (unless you want to go through the labor of covering them each night in hopes that frost’s cruel fingers do not wrap tightly around your tender plants) but our weather can also be hot and fruitful for tomatoes.

My vegetable garden was planted on June 10th and my tomatoes are starting to thrive in the warm weather we are finally experiencing. My mom, Karen, started my tomato plants from seed and we planted twenty-five. She also gave me spaghetti squash, turnip, jalapeno pepper, eggplant, cabbage, and many flower seedlings. I planted a variety of lettuce,

The self-watering containers that Mike built me for five tomato plants. They water from underneath.

The self-watering containers that Mike built me for five tomato plants. They water from underneath.

spinach, cucumber, zucchini, a couple of beans, and peas, along with a container herb garden. Turnips do especially well in my garden and I do confess that I enjoy the greens more than the root vegetable. Turnip greens make phenomenal smoothies.

Last night I did spot a sweet little rabbit munching away on my front flower bed and a few minutes later our dog Phoebe and I caught him in the vegetable garden. (Sorry Mom, I think he nibbled on my cabbage plants…).

I have a soft-spot for animals.

I have a soft-spot for animals.

I know that we could put up fencing, or make the liquid fence my mom swears by, but I am not too concerned since the rabbits seem to leave my tomatoes alone. Soon our farmer’s market will be brimming with fresh produce and I am looking forward to being able to support local farmers.

With an abundance of fresh produce, summer is salad season. While we eat salads year round, in the summer our salads often take center stage and become the main course. When it is hot a salad really hits the spot and is a snap to prepare (without having to cook).

I love to make my own salad dressings so I know exactly what I’m eating. I feel better knowing that my dressing is 11preservative and additive-free, and since I control how much oil I put in, my dressing is easy on the waistline. I normally do not follow a recipe and just dump in the ingredients, but I have come to realize that being a food blogger means that I have to share exact measurements. 😉 Though, as I always mention in my posts, make sure you tweak recipes to suit your own taste buds. When it comes to salad dressing I prefer tart and tangy. The only salad dressing that I buy is Newman’s Own Light Italian and an occasional bottle of Annie’s. I keep two bottles in the refrigerator and when I buy a fresh bottle, half gets dumped into the other and I fill both with a combination of vinegar and lemon juice. Not only does this give me the tangy taste that I desire, but cutting it with vinegar/lemon juice, also makes it less fattening.

Today I am going to share my recipe for Orange Dill Vinaigrette. Because of the addition of  orange juice it is a sweeter variety of dressing and you can control the level of tartness by how much vinegar you add. Often when I make dressings I do not add the oil in and instead add the oil to each individual salad for portion control. Often people trying to manage their weight want to skimp on the oil, but a high quality olive oil truly enhances the taste of dressing and has so many health benefits. The oil helps us absorb the Vitamin K in the greens, keeps our digestion regular, is necessary for proper brain function, and our skin, nails, and hair really benefit from the nutrients in the oil. For this recipe I keep the oil portion small but adding more would work as well. After investigating vinaigrettes on-line I found that some chefs use a 3:1 oil to vinegar ratio for dressings.

Ingredients Pictured: White Balsamic Vinegar, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Onion, Fresh Dill, Garlic, Salt, and Pepper

Ingredients Pictured: White Balsamic Vinegar, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Onion, Fresh Dill, Garlic, Salt, and Pepper

13ORANGE DILL VINAIGRETTE DRESSING

  • 1 cup white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 orange (juice and zest. The orange I juiced rendered 1/2 cup of juice and I added approximately 1 Tablespoon of zest)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (for Weight Watchers: 1/4 cup of oil makes the dressing 2 PP per Tablespoon. If you reduce the oil to 1/8 cup it is 1 PP per Tablespoon)
  • 1/4 cup fresh dill (this may vary by personal taste. Growing up, dill was a major food group since my family loves pickles.)
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon of onion
  • Salt & Pepper to taste (or you could omit and season the salad itself)

To make the dressing you can chop the onion, dill, finely mince the garlic and whisk all of Vitamixthe ingredients together. However, the best method that I have found is to put all the ingredients into the blender and give it a good pulse. If you want to make the dressing more visually pleasing you can add some chopped dill to the final product.

Store in the refrigerator in a cruet or Mason jar (or recycle a jar the next time you have one) and give it a good shake before serving. People often ask how long my salad dressing last in the refrigerator but I end up using them within a week . I would imagine that this one would last for a couple of weeks.

Link to recipe on Pinterest

This dill in this dressing marries well with the orange juice and it gives it just the right balance of tangy and sweet without having to add sugar. In my next post I will be featuring a salad that I came up with using my Orange Dill Vinaigrette Dressing. To give you a hint it combined roasted beets, mango, blueberries, and other fresh vegetables for a vibrant and cool summer salad. It is a perfect plated dinner salad or can be layered in a Mason jar.

My latest goal is to not buy bottled dressing at all, so I promise to keep the salad dressing recipes coming! If you are interested in more homemade dressings here are my recipes for Tangy Ranch and Zesty Avocado (plant-based dressings). Link to Ranch and Avocado dressing recipes on Pinterest.

I hope you enjoy the Orange Dill Vinaigrette dressing as much as I do. Please join the conversation by “liking” my Produce with Amy facebook group. Recipe reviews are always appreciated and let me know what kind of recipes interest you. I love being able to help others maximize their health and productivity by eating more fresh fruit and vegetables. Cheers to additive and preservative free salad dressing, the bounty of summer, and thriving!
(Clink on image for a larger version).

(Clink on image for a larger version).

Link to recipe visual on Pinterest

Orange Dill Vinaigrette Dressing


Cherry Limeade Green Smoothie ~ A Refreshing Sip of Summer

Bowl of Cherries“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”
― Hippocrates

The weather report threatened rain today as I raced the storm clouds and blended my green smoothie. I rushed outside, a few props in hand, to snap photos.

My neighbor pulled into his driveway. He offered up the obligatory, “I hope we get rain.”  I smiled wide and murmured an agreement. I smiled even wider realizing that he did not think twice about me snapping photos of the seating area in our front yard. I imagine he is used to me crouching along the flower beds with my iPhone and Mike’s hand-me-down camera slung around my neck. (Often my iPhone 5 captures the best photos…)

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True, the neighbors and passersby may think that I am a wacky woman. I am used to being called weird and strange. I teach 9th grade English, after all. I must uphold the reputation of the crazy-cat-lady-English-teacher (that is why my pets are named after Greek mythology) There also is something about standing in front of teenagers every day that makes a person lose their awkwardness.

I know that my friends, family, and Weight Watchers members thought I was strange five years ago when I told them that I was drinking green smoothies. (Brand new members still pucker up their faces in horror at the thought of blending greens into a smoothie) Yet, I knew that if they tried them, they would be hooked — and I hazard a guess that nine times of out ten, I was (and continue to be) right about my green smoothie hunch.

My exposure to green smoothies came five years ago this coming fall. My husband Mike had suffered a sudden and unexplained brain hemorrhage. After a couple of days of intense headaches I brought him to the emergency room in the middle of the night and they found blood on his brain. He was lucky and did not need surgery and only had to spend one night in the hospital (though I personally think it should have been longer). Yours truly became his Florence Nightingale.

The weeks that ensued were a blurry nightmare. He slept and I worried. He suffered an enormous amount of pain. I watched and he slept (I constantly checked to make sure he was still breathing). His friends sent flowers and came by to visit in hushed tones. His buddy Scott brought him prayer feathers. My friend Lil in South Dakota burned sage. Our friend Molly came and sat at our house so I could run errands (I was afraid to leave Mike alone). Our friends and family prayed. Slowly he healed.

Due to loss of blood, and iron, Mike ended up with restless leg syndrome. I was at the farmer’s market in Marquette explaining his situation to a young woman vendor and she mentioned that I should make him a green smoothie out of kale. She explained that I should also include some sort of fruit that was high in Vitamin C, like an orange, to help him absorb the iron from the greens. I was curious about her advice and did research when I got home, stumbling across loads of information about green smoothies by Victoria Boutenko. During this research I learned that green smoothies are highly nutritional because the blender breaks down the green’s cell walls and helps our bodies fully absorb the vitamins, minerals, protein, and chlorophyll.

In the weeks prior to hearing about green smoothies, I had spent hours on the internet literally searching brain food. While the doctors administered tests trying to come up with a reason for Mike’s brain trauma, I was coming across information that pointed to the healing power of food. The first couple of weeks after his hospitalization, he did not have an appetite and I was giving him back-to-back pain medication for his severe headaches. Though we quickly learned he had to eat something to keep the pills in his stomach. I was forcing him to gulp down oatmeal or mashed potatoes in the short time he was awake (I soon found out the food that I was feeding him was the wrong food for someone who had suffered a head trauma). I started to seek out organic food at our local food co-op and processed strange combinations of food in the blender: pumpkin, black beans, flax oil (high in Omega-3) along with other vegetables. “Drink this,” I would tell him, “this will help you heal.” Because organic meat was pricey, I kept him on a diet that was heavily vegetarian and I started making us both green smoothies. In addition to the smoothies we eradicated artificial sweeteners, incorporated more whole foods, and ate less refined sugar. Our shopping cart, pantry, refrigerator, and ice-box underwent a complete overhaul.

Eventually Mike’s restless leg syndrome went away, his headaches grew less severe, and he grew stronger. He ended up only taking a month off of work and his medical appointments were positive and upbeat. One of his neurologists was stunned when she tested Mike. He did not show any cognitive damage and he scored off the charts in his visual memory. She said she had never seen results quite like his with someone who had suffered frontal lobe damage. I told her about my research and the food that I was making for him and she told me to keep it up. At one appointment she even called Mike a, “walking and talking miracle.”

I will not take credit for Mike’s amazing recovery but I like to believe that the food that I prepared for him helped him heal. He is an amazing man with the determination, that us of Finnish descent, call sisu. Mike embodies sisu. He was in the U.S. Army and Army Reserves for thirteen years and served all over the globe, including Iraq in 2003. He has an extremely fierce work ethic and attention to detail and I know his determination helped him heal and overcome his setback. We often talk about how much healthier we are today after his illness because we armed ourselves with education and made healthy food choices our lifestyle.

Green Smoothies (Baby kale, spirulina powder, mango, strawberries, chia seeds, and water) with a vintage covered glass dish that I bought at a thrift store for $3.

Green Smoothies (Baby kale, spirulina powder, mango, strawberries, chia seeds, and water) with a vintage covered glass dish that I bought at a thrift store for $3.

Nearly five years later, Mike and I continue to drink green smoothies. While I have been drinking a green smoothie a day since January (with the exception of a day here-and-there) we have gone months without drinking them. Though, we always return because the green smoothies positively impact our energy levels and are filling and satisfying. In the past five years Mike and I have not had a cold that has lingered longer than a day or two. Our immune systems have been fortified with an abundance of fruit and vegetables.

For those that are new to green smoothies, I always recommend starting with spinach since it is naturally sweet and easy to blend. A frozen banana is also essential. The banana imparts a sweetness and makes the smoothie cold and creamy.

Since I have been drinking green smoothies for quite some time, my body does not crave a super sweet smoothie (especially in the morning) and I often prefer tart over sweet (unless I am drinking the green smoothie in place of dessert).

Last week I came up for a recipe for a refreshing summer classic, a Raspberry Lemonade Green Smoothie. 

Click on photo for a larger image.

Click on photo for a larger image.

My desire was to come up with a another tart, refreshing, summer classic and since I love the combination of cherries and lime the answer seemed obvious. I also wanted to come up with a recipe that was simple and did not contain too many exotic ingredients for those who are new to green smoothies.

6CHERRY LIMEADE GREEN SMOOTHIE

3*3 cups of spinach (I normally don’t measure and usually grab three large handfuls. I measure for recipes 🙂 )
*1-2 limes & zest (I juiced 2 limes and zested one)
*1 cup of cherries (fresh or frozen)
*1 small frozen banana (more if you want the smoothie sweeter)
*1 Tablespoon chia seeds (Optional. I add chia seeds for protein and Omega-3. I find that chia seeds also make the smoothie more filling)
*Fresh ginger root to taste. (Optional. I personally love the taste of ginger)
*Sprig of mint (Optional. Because it is summer and I have mint in my garden I add it to everything)
*1 cup of cold water and a few ice cubes
*Makes 3 cups

Here is a link to Pinterest to save this recipe: Cherry Limeade Green Smoothie

Zesting citrus really brightens the flavor of the smoothie. Just be careful you do not zest too deeply because the white pith under the peel is bitter.
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Chia seeds can me found in health food stores and ordered on-line. I do not pre-soak my chia seeds.

Chia seeds can me found in health food stores and ordered on-line. I do not pre-soak my chia seeds.

I let my bananas get ripe and then I peel and toss in a bag/bowl in the freezer. Ginger is very spicy so you might want to add a little and taste before you add more.

I let my bananas get ripe and then I peel and toss in a bag/bowl in the freezer.
Ginger is very spicy so you might want to add a little and taste before you add more.

2I did get to sit outside in the morning sunshine with a stunning book and my delicious Cherry Limeade Green Smoothie. It did not begin to rain until I had gone back inside.

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11My fuchsia peonies started to open yesterday and my flower boxes wait patiently for hot weather to help them flourish. The lilac blooms are started to brown at the edges but the bridal wreath is in its full glory.12

For obvious reasons, the past five years, I find myself stopping to appreciate all of life’s beauty more. I am thankful that Mike is thriving and that we are a team. Our relationship is not perfect but we have weathered some rough seas together. Our love is strong and true because we appreciate what we have. Our health is precious and I am grateful for each brand new day to give thanks.

It fills me with joy to know that I can help others embrace a healthy lifestyle. I love leading Weight Watcher meetings and watching my members meet the goals that they set for themselves. When I started this blog I had hoped to help keep myself accountable to a plant-based diet. Yet, I am touched by the outpouring of support that I have received from family, friends, and even complete strangers. It may be corny, but every time someone pins one of my recipes/follows me on Pinterest or likes my Produce with Amy facebook page my heart sings because I am helping to make a difference.

I thank Mike for letting me tell his story today. To those reading this blog, I ask that you stop, savor, and appreciate the simple things in life. Nourish your body with healthy food because you are worth it. Cheers to summer, bright blossoms, and green smoothies!

*A very special thank you also goes out to my friends for the gorgeous glass featured in this post. Thank you Patti Connors for you generous donation and Theresa Oja for giving me the glasses as an early birthday present. Theresa, your unwavering support and friendship is very precious to me.

You might be also interested in some other green smoothie recipes that I have posted:
Amy’s Energizer Smoothie
For dessert ~ Gingerbread Green Smoothie
For those who like a sweet smoothie ~ Jeweled Ambrosia Green Smoothie

Click on image for a larger version.

Click on image for a larger version.

Click on image for a larger version

Click on image for a larger version

Israeli Feast ~ Mason Jar Salad (with Tabouli, Hummus, and Olives)

2“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.”
― Henry Miller

I am enamored with Mason Jar Salads on many levels:

1. One of my obsessions is having a food plan for the week. During the school year I cook a huge stock-pot of soup or chili on Sundays and I also take time to cook/prep lunches, dinner entrees, and snacks. This helps immensely with my weight management and keeps Mike and I sane with our busy schedules. Even though I am home for the summer I plan to still make the Mason Jar Salads because they are so handy to grab when I am right in the middle of a project. I am hoping to come up with a plethora of recipes this summer to get me through next school year with healthy and satisfying lunches that involve fruit and vegetables.

2. As a visual person the salads entice me. It may sound silly but I find the Mason Jar Salads extremely visually appealing. They look like pretty terrarium gardens and always make me anticipate diving into the salad.

3. They really stay fresh. I have friends who have in the past few weeks reported that their salads have kept for OVER a week in the refrigerator. (The glass keeps the lettuce more crisp than if stored in plastic.)

4. The Mason Jar Salads eliminate wasted produce. I tend to be thrifty and utilize every fruit and vegetable I purchase, but I have many people say that these salads have helped  prevent them from tossing out expensive produce. (It is incredible how many vegetables you can stuff into a jar). Try it and you will be a believer!

5. The jarred salads are igniting my creativity. Since I follow a plant-based meal plan salads are a daily staple and variety is key. It is so easy to fall into a food rut and this new concept in food preparation is helping me come up with new tastes and flavor combinations.

Sue courtesy of: Sue Anderson

Sue courtesy of: Sue Anderson. Click on photo for a larger view.

The outpouring of response from my Weight Watchers members and readers of my blog has been immense over the past few weeks. So much so that on my Produce Facebook Page I declared that June was Mason Jar Salad month. I have had so many people share fantastic ideas. My friend Sue ran with the Mason Jar Salad idea and came up with a recipe for a mouth-watering beet salad. Sue used extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar for the dressing. She then added roasted beets, celery, leeks, carrots (she doesn’t normally include those, but wanted more of a barrier between dressing and cheese), goat cheese, walnuts, sprouts, and red and green leaf lettuce. Oh my!

Photo courtesy of: Brenda Aldrich (click on photo for a larger view)

Photo courtesy of: Brenda Aldrich

Brenda, my friend and Weight Watchers Receptionist, yesterday shared a recipe that used extra virgin olive oil, Mojito-Style Chickpeas: which is ~ 3 TBSP Lime juice, 1 TBSP honey, 1/4 tsp Himalayan Salt, 1/4 cup fresh mint, 15 oz chickpeas & 2 cucumbers all mixed together and then divided between the jars. She then added carrots, radishes, yellow pepper, orange pepper, tomato, and baby lettuce. Brenda got the recipe for the chickpeas (which I cannot wait to try) from greenlitebites.

Photo courtesy of: LeeLa Heinzel (click on photo for a larger view)

Photo courtesy of: LeeLa Heinzel (click on photo for a larger view)

LeeLa  incorporated a Weight Watchers recipe for Santa Fe Salad with Chili Lime Dressing. Her salads use hearty beans and corn. The recipe can be found here on Pinterest. I am going to try these with my plant-based Tangy Avocado Dressing.

Photo courtesy of: Cheryl Alexander (click on photo for a larger view)

Photo courtesy of: Cheryl Alexander (click on photo for a larger view)

Cheryl made Mason Jar Salads for using: radishes, zucchini, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, two types of lettuce, and bottled dressing (one of them being a raspberry vinaigrette dressing with added grapes, strawberries, and some raisins.) 

Ladies, thank you for the terrific Mason Jar Salad combinations, keep the recipes coming!

On Produce so far I have shared two recipes for Mason Jar Salads: Classic Salad Bar in a Jar and Waldorf Inspired Slaw. Here is the link on Pinterest.
Classic Salad Bar in a JarToday’s recipe was inspired from a trip that I took to Israel last spring. In my very first blog post, back in January, I highlighted how easy it was to maintain a plant-based diet in Israel. The food was fresh and every dish was brimming with vegetables. I found myself eating salads for breakfast with dollops of hummus and avocado salad (similar to guacamole). One of my current breakfasts of choice is a salad or a vegetable filled plate.

Photos that I snapped of food in Israel.

Photos that I snapped of food in Israel.

In honor of the opportunity I had to travel to Israel, I wanted to create a salad that would bring me back to that sacred time and place in my life. Here is my creation…

ISRAELI FEAST MASON JAR SALAD: (I made six jars of salad)

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I layered in the following order:

  • 1 Tablespoon of vinegar in each jar (I used raw apple cider vinegar)
  • Thinly sliced cucumber (I used one large cucumber and divided it between the six jars)
  • 1/2 cup of Amy’s Twist on Tabouli (recipe to follow)
  • Tomato (I used three medium tomatoes; 1/2 in each jar)
  • Olives (I used two large green olives stuffed with sun-dried tomatoes and 4 Greek olives)
  • 1/4 cup of hummus (recipe to follow)
  • Green pepper (I used one large green pepper)
  • Lettuce (I used romaine and red leaf lettuce)

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Israeli Feast Mason Jar Salad

AMY’S TWIST ON TABOULI

  1. 1 generous cup of quinoa (While most recipes call for bulgar, I opted for protein rich quinoa. In the past I would have used much more quinoa. The tabouli that I had in Israel was heavy on parsley and did not have as much bulgar as the tabouli I have had in the states)
  2. 1/4 cup of chopped onion
  3. 1 clove of finely minced garlic
  4. 1 bunch of parsley finely chopped (it ended up being two cups chopped)
  5. 1 lemon juiced (I also used the zest. I highly recommend using citrus zest in recipes because it really amps up the flavor. The zest is where all the essential oils are contained)
  6. Few fresh mint leaves
  7. Salt and pepper to taste
  8. 2 Tablespoons of olive oil (normally I would put in 2 additional Tablespoons of oil but I knew that the hummus would have oil as well)

Tabouli ingredients

Tabouli ingredients


Quinoa is an ancient seed that is a complete protein and can be used in sweet or savory dishes.

Quinoa is an ancient seed that is a complete protein and can be used in sweet or savory dishes.

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VITAMIX HUMMUS RECIPE (from the Whole Food Recipes cookbook)

10(I made 1/2 of the recipe for the six Mason Jar Salads)

  1. 30 ounces of chickpeas (it says to reserve one can’s liquid. Though, I always make my own from dried beans)
  2. 1/4 cup raw sesame seeds (I used jarred tahini)
  3. 1/4 cup lemon juice (again I used the zest)
  4. 1 garlic clove
  5. 1 teaspoon cumin
  6. salt
  7. I also added freshly snipped chives since I an abundance in my garden.

Hummus

Here's information on cooking your own garbanzo beans/chickpeas.  Click on image for a larger version

Here’s information on cooking your own garbanzo beans/chickpeas.
Click on image for a larger version

13The Israeli Feast salads turned out exactly as hoped and I have enjoyed two already. For those who eat cheese, feta would be a flavorful layer. The next time we grill I plan on planking and grilling eggplant and zucchini to add to the salad.

My trip to Israel was life-changing in so many aspects of my professional life as an educator. However, it greatly impacted my personal life as well both spiritually and physically. It helped me further embrace a lifestyle that is surrounded by plant-based meals.

Hummus and Tabouli are two of my go-to meal additions. You will love the flavor that they impart and will want to make them both alone and to enjoy in a lettuce salad, in a wrap, or on a sandwich. Imagine making a large version of this layered salad for a picnic or BBQ.

Hummus can be infused with endless herb combinations. Great additions are: caramelized onions, roasted garlic, roasted red peppers, olives, capers, and artichoke hearts. Sometimes I like to add a little bit of nut butter and I love to whirl in pumpkin, roasted squash, or eggplant.

Here is the pin to the Israeli Feast Mason Jar Salad on Pinterest.

Quinoa Tabouli by Produce with Amy

Let me know what some of your favorite jar salad combinations are. I hope you are enjoying summer and the fresh produce in the supermarket, road-side stands, and at your local farmer’s market. Remember to let today involve beauty. Create it and seek it out. It is all about perspective. Cheers to health, fresh produce, and  thriving! ❤
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Here is a sampling of the hundreds of photos that I snapped in Israel:

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Homemade Taco Seasoning

Homemade Taco Seasoning

Homemade Taco Seasoning

A few months ago, while working on a blog post for a layered vegan refried bean and guacamole dip, I wanted to add taco seasoning to the guacamole. I saw a recipe on Pinterest for taco seasoning and had all the ingredients on hand in the pantry.  Never will I buy pre-packaged taco seasoning packets again! I like knowing exactly what is in my seasoning and it makes me feel better knowing that it is not full of additives and preservatives. Now I quadruple the recipe and store in a recycled jar in my spice cabinet. I use taco seasoning to flavor black beans, homemade refried beans, soup, guacamole, tempeh, veggie burgers, and anything else that needs a little spice.

Homemade Taco Seasoning
Source: Allrecipes
Ingredients:
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
Instructions:
In a small bowl, mix together chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, red pepper flakes, oregano, paprika, cumin, salt and pepper. Store in an airtight container. Yields about 2 3/4 tablespoons.

Here is a link to the recipe on Pinterest: Homemade Taco Seasoning

Guilt Free Chocolate Pumpkin Shake ~ Plant-Based & Healthy

“The answer must be, I think, that beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. The least we can do is try to be there.”
~Annie Dillard, “Pilgrim at Tinker Creek”

photo (42)Two weeks into summer break and it feels like a dream. Morning walks, writing in my journal, browsing thrift stores, and spending hours working in my vegetable and flower beds. For my first summer read I started Annie Dillard’s, “Pilgrim at Tinker Creek” and am enamored with her apt use of language. I am thinking it is a book that will find its way on my winter reading list as well. It is so rich and dense with imagery and wisdom that I cannot possibly take it all in with one reading.

Tuesday after my walk I updated my Facebook status with, “I swear the air itself is infused with the color purple from the intoxicating fragrance of lilacs.” One would be hard pressed to find a yard in the town of Negaunee that does not have at least one lilac bush bending under the weight of frothy lavender blooms. Last week we were serenaded with a gentle rain and I watched the lilac bushes in our backyard shimmering under the water droplets. One of the lilac bushes in our yard was Mike’s birthday gift to me when we bought our house. It was so tiny that we called it the “lilac stick.” It is still small but for the past few years it has erupted in a chorus of violet. Instead of feeling gloomy, because of the rain, I made an opportunity to catch a glimpse of poetry among the branches. In between raindrops I grabbed my camera and snapped a few photos.

I was reminded of this line of poetry from Pablo Neruda’s, “100 Love Sonnets” and thought it would be the perfect companion piece. Those who know me understand how much I love poetry. I think that poetry is a reminder in our busy lives that we must slow down, savor, and contemplate life’s great mysteries. Poetry helps us figure out who we are, where we have been, and where we are going.

June Lilacs and Rain

Yesterday I was greeted by another poem as my first poppy opened it ruffled skirts in a profusion of orange. Here are some of the photos that I captured of the lilacs, the poppy, and my favorite thrift store find of June.

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Though it is not officially summer on the calendar, summer has arrived in Upper Michigan. Today is a bit cold and dreary but I decided to take advantage of the opportunity to write a blog post. My last post was a tart and refreshing Raspberry Lemonade Green Smoothie. It has been my go-to smoothie for the past week. While I have many more green smoothie recipes in the works, I was thinking that what really goes hand-and-hand with summer is ice-cream. I remember when I start Weight Watchers in the fall of 2006 and I felt frustrated that Mike could eat his weight in ice-cream. (Even though the calories have caught up with him now… Sorry, Honey. 😉 )

While there are many low-fat yogurts and ice-creams on the market, switching to plant-based eating presents many challenges. Our local co-op sells non-dairy substitutes but they tend to be rather pricey and full of sugar. So, when my sweet tooth arrives (often after dinner) I have been whipping up my own non-dairy shake that is satisfying and packed with nutrition.

When I made this shake today, I ended up doubling the batch. The first batch I drank as a mid-afternoon snack and I froze the other half in a covered glass bowl and it will become an “ice-cream” treat this weekend. It does freeze quite hard and if you leave the bowl out for a bit it softens right up and you can eat your “ice cream” with a spoon.

Simple ingredients that I always have on hand.

Simple ingredients that I always have on hand.

Chocolate Pumpkin Shake

  1. 3/4-1 cup non-dairy milk of your choice (I used unsweetened almond milk)
  2. 1 frozen banana (the banana gives this the shake-like texture and sweetness. I do not add sugar. If you want your shake more sweet add more banana)
  3. 1/4-1/2 cup pumpkin (to taste…sometimes I add more and sometimes less)
  4. 1 Tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder
  5. 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  6. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  7. Few ice-cubes
  8. Blend, pour in glass, and sprinkle with cinnamon
    *Makes approximately 19 ounces

I would recommend experimenting with the amount of cocoa powder and vanilla that you want to add. I have found that the taste and strength varies greatly by brand. The same with the banana and the ice-cubes (depending on how thick you want your shake). You could also freeze the non-dairy milk and pumpkin to add thickness. You could also add walnuts or other nuts to your shake. Sometimes I also add a hint of molasses.

When my bananas get extra ripe, I peel and toss in a bag or bowl in the freezer.  This is canned pumpkin but this fall I will be baking and freezing fresh pumpkin.

When my bananas get extra ripe, I peel and toss in a bag or bowl in the freezer.
This is canned pumpkin but this fall I will be baking and freezing fresh pumpkin.

Blend

Blend

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Enjoy your luscious and healthy shake!

Enjoy your luscious and healthy shake!

Chocolate Pumpkin Shake

Click on image to see a larger version.

Here is a link to the recipe on Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/pin/91338698665271115/

I hope summer has arrived in your heart and in your hometown. Is it rainy? Grab your camera and make your neighbors think you are crazy and snap photos of that poetry that is hiding.  Let today involve beauty. Create it and seek it out. Remember, it is all about perspective. Cheers to health, vitality, and thriving!

Summon Summer with a Raspberry Lemonade Green Smoothie

Raspberry Lemonade Green Smoothie by Produce with Amy“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.” ~F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

Today marked the third official day of my summer break. To many people being an educator and having summers “off” would be a dream come true. Yet, I feel guilt surface when Mike kisses me goodbye in the morning (I know he would love extra time to complete all of his household projects). While I love to have time to prep and plan for a fresh school year and enjoy much-needed R&R, the beginning of my summer holiday often gives me a hearty dose of the blues. Last year my friend Sue (now a retired teacher) suggested that perhaps it was the loss of adrenaline that I get from guiding spirited teenagers each day. Maybe it is the surge of the crowd that keeps me moving and drives me. Once the school year is over, my endorphins plunge and I feel depressed.

Well, I decided that this summer I was going to outrun the blues. To have a productive summer I decided that I WAS NOT going to lounge around in my pajamas drinking coffee and feeling sorry for myself. After all, I decided back in January when I started this blog that I was going to be PRODUCTIVE! So I started off Monday morning with a schedule (imagine that) to make sure that my time was structured.

I am enamored with my morning routine: hot water and lemon followed by a cup of green tea (yes, I am giving up coffee. I will dedicate this adventure to it own blog post in a week or so). 30 minutes of reflective journal writing (I listen to meditative/instrumental music and will gradually increase this writing time to 60 minutes). A short walk with Phoebe (our dog) and 30 minutes of cardio. One of the rules during the above is that I am not able to access facebook or other technology until I complete my morning routine. After cardio I drink water and have breakfast (usually a green smoothie).

My afternoon routine is composed of various household chores (which I have honestly failed at). For next week I am going to simplify my afternoon routine and come up with a long list of projects that need to be completed (example: clean the kitchen utensil drawers, scrub out the refrigerator, organize bookshelves, swap out winter clothes for summer). Each morning after my morning routine I will choose ONE project to complete. That way I can still spend time gardening, getting in extra exercise, reading, writing, blogging, and planning for the 2013-2014 school year.

Today I did have every intention to deep clean the kitchen from top to bottom. It would have been a perfect day since today was rather chilly, rainy and gloomy, with temperatures in the 50s. After my morning routine I quickly scanned my schedule on the refrigerator but I felt so calm and peaceful after my writing session and rejuvenated after my cardio that I started to rethink my day. Before Phoebe and I went for our walk I made myself a green smoothie. Since I drink one each morning I try to change things up but usually do not follow a particular recipe. Today’s smoothie was very simple and I could not help thinking how much it tasted like raspberry lemonade. I wanted to share this smoothie with others (which meant I could not possible deep clean the kitchen…sorry, Mike 😉

The ingredients for this green smoothie are simple: Raspberries (I used frozen), spinach, lemon juice and zest (I used a small organic lemon), frozen banana, fresh mint (optional but highly recommended), and water.

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Fresh raspberries would be perfect in this recipe and makes me want to pick fresh berries this summer.

Fresh raspberries would be perfect in this recipe and makes me want to pick fresh berries this summer.

I only used two of these three pieces since I wanted my smoothie more tart.   For green smoothies I recommend waiting until your bananas are ripe. Peel and toss in a bag or bowl in the freezer.

I only used two of these three pieces since I wanted my smoothie more tart. I would recommend more banana if you want your smoothie to be sweeter. For green smoothies I recommend waiting until your bananas are ripe then peel and toss in a bag or bowl in the freezer. I buy extra bananas each week so I have plenty frozen for 1-2 green smoothies a day.

If you are using lemon concentrate my lemon rendered 1/4 cup of juice.

If you are using lemon concentrate my lemon rendered 1/4 cup of juice.

Lemon zest adds a fantastic zing to a smoothie!

Lemon zest adds a fantastic zing to a smoothie!

I have fresh mint growing in my garden and love to add it to smoothies, fruit salad, and even savory dishes.

I have fresh mint growing in my garden and love to add it to smoothies, fruit salad, and even savory dishes.

I will soon be celebrating our Vitamix's "One Year Anniversary." How did we ever live without it?

I will soon be celebrating our Vitamix’s “One Year Anniversary.” How did we ever live without it?

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The finished product. Summery and nutritious.

Here is the exact “recipe” that I used with measurements. You may also want to add a few ice cubes to the blender or to the finished smoothie. For a larger version click on the photo.

Raspberry Lemonade Green Smoothie

I bought this dainty little crystal vase yesterday for 25 cents when I was thrift shopping. It looks darling with Johnny-jump-ups and forget-me-nots from my garden.

I bought this dainty little crystal vase yesterday for 25 cents when I was thrift shopping. It looks darling with Johnny-jump-ups and forget-me-nots from my garden.

Who wants to deep clean the kitchen when blogging is so fun? Not me. ;)

Who wants to deep clean the kitchen when blogging is so fun? Not me. 😉

It always makes me feel productive when I share a new recipe and focus on healthy living. I think that blogging will help fill the void of my empty classroom. I am looking forward to sharing more recipes and I even have a post on upcycling thrift store items started. Here is a sneak peek of some of the items that I purchased for a song yesterday. To give you a hint, the post probably will not take root for a couple of months. It needs warm weather and sunshine to help it bloom.100_1651

If you use Pinterest here is a pin for the recipe: Raspberry Lemonade Green Smoothie. Hopefully it will help summon summer in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Cheers to a productive and healthy summer!