Blue & Purple Passion Jarred Salads with Tangerine Vinaigrette

Blue & Purple Passion Jarred Salads with Tangerine Vinaigrette by Produce with Amy“Your beliefs become your thoughts, 
Your thoughts become your words, 
Your words become your actions, 
Your actions become your habits, 
Your habits become your values, 
Your values become your destiny.” 
― Mahatma Gandhi

In what feels like a blink of an eye the weekend is nearly gone and we were just starting to get acquainted (to make it even more unbelievable, I had a three-day weekend and still it felt short). Last week’s Weight Watchers topic was weekends. I posed the question to my members, “What do you like to do on the weekends?” and “What do you need to do?”

I feel fortunate to be a WW leader because in addition to helping others learn, or reclaim, healthy habits — it keeps me accountable to my own weight management goals. Over the years I have learned to use the weekend to reflect on my progress and prepare for the week ahead. The majority of my weekend, during the school year, is dedicated to preparing lessons/grading and food prep. While I would love to be completely leisurely, I know that I have a much better week when all of our meals and snacks are cooked and prepped.

Over five years ago when my husband Mike and I made the commitment to eat whole foods we decided that we would keep processed food to a minimum and spend our money on quality ingredients. This means that we do not rely on takeout meals. This weekend we discussed going out to dinner but decided that I would prepare our favorite restaurant meal instead and save money. While sometimes we do treat ourselves for lunch or an evening out, the savings in opting out of restaurant fare makes purchasing fresh produce feel more affordable. Therefore, I never feel guilty when my grocery cart is full of fresh food. The time that I spend in the kitchen each week is essential to our health and weight management ~ and I believe that Mike and I are worth the hours that I labor over wholesome meals.

When I came up with the name for the jarred salad that I am sharing in this post, I was thinking about my passion for fresh and vibrantly colored vegetables. Food for me goes beyond taste ~ presentation, along with the nutritional value of ingredients, is important when I select meals and come up with recipes.

Did you know that blue and purple fruit, berries, and vegetables are high in anthocyanin? These compounds are believed to lower blood pressure and lower cholesterol. Anthocyanin is a powerful antioxidant that is also believed to promote brain health, memory, and have cancer fighting properties. So not only are blue and purple produce beautiful, but they help us thrive.

Purple cabbage, blackberries, and blueberriesMost of my jarred salad recipes serve as entrée (I include raw nuts, beans, or quinoa etc. for protein) so I wanted to come up with a salad that I could eat as a side. Of course, if you want this salad as a filling meal you can add your choice of protein to bulk it up.

Instead of lettuce I decided to add red/purple cabbage. I love the crunch that cabbage brings to a salad and I find its sweetness a wonderful compliment to fresh berries. I have also found that cabbage holds up really well in the Mason jar salads and that salads made with cabbage will last for well over a week (in fact I had one on day ten and it tasted just as fresh as the first day). The fiber in cabbage make it filling and I find that it takes me a bit longer to eat than lettuce which is also an important factor in satiety. As discussed in Weight Watchers meetings a few weeks back, it takes our bodies twenty minutes to register feelings of fullness (since our brains must send this message to our body) and that, on average, a person overeats by twenty bites.

I also decided to make one dressing and add ginger to 1/2 and rosemary the other 1/2 to add variety.

If you are new to jarred salads you may want to check out this post for tips and suggestions.

Tangerine Vinaigrette DressingTANGERINE VINIAGRETTE DRESSING

  • 1 tangerine (juice and zest)
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon of onion
  • 1/4-1/2 cup of white balsamic vinegar (I suggest adding vinegar a little at a time. I enjoy a tart dressing so I am generous with the vinegar)
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil (I leave the oil out and add 2 teaspoons of oil to each jar)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Blend all of the ingredients. I split the dressing in half and added fresh ginger root (since ginger is spicy I suggest adding a bit at a time if you are not accustomed to the taste) to 1/2 and to the other 1/2 I added a teaspoon of dried rosemary.

Blue & Purple Passion Jarred Salads

PURPLE PASSION JARRED SALADS

I layered these ingredients, in the following order (I used 6 ~ one quart Mason jars):

  • 2-3 Tablespoons of Tangerine Vinaigrette
  • Colored bell peppers (2-3 peppers)
  • Shredded carrots (one bag)
  • Blueberries (2 quarts)
  • Blackberries (one quart)
  • Purple/red cabbage (one small head)

Tangerine segments would also be a great addition to this salad.

Pin the recipe HERE.

Blue & Purple Jarred Salads with Tangerine Vinaigrette

The simplicity of these salads makes them quick to prepare and they are brimming with healthy nutrients. They will help fuel your week and the vibrant color may even help chase away the winter blues.

Please stop by my Facebook page and feel free to share my recipes with others. Make sure that you check out the salad tab at the top of this page for other Mason jar salad recipes. Check back often because I have three more jarred salad recipes and a soup recipe to share in the next couple weeks. Even though my schedule is full, I promise to make time to post because we are worth it. Together we can make fresh produce the cornerstone of our meals and thrive with health and energy. 🙂

Blue & Purple Passion Jarred Salad with Tangerine Vinaigrette

Tangerine Dressing by Produce with Amy

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Creamy Lemon & Dill Soup ~ Plant-Based Comfort Food

Creamy Lemon & Dill Soup by Produce with AmyGet people back into the kitchen and combat the trend toward processed food and fast food. ~ Andrew Weil

I have a confession to make. Ever since I switched to plant-based meals, I sometimes find myself in a food rut. Yes, I probably eat a wider range of foods now than I did before, but I find myself sometimes craving old favorites. While I would love my new lifestyle to be uncomplicated, at times it is not.

The story of why I choose plants over meat is multi-layered. My mom said she always knew that I would be a vegetarian when I was growing up because I always favored vegetables. In college I dabbled with meatless meals and found that I really did not miss meat. Approximately four years ago I decided to give up meat again and I found my life transforming.

My decision was based on a number of factors. After my husband Mike suffered a brain hemorrhage I started to re-evaluate what I was putting into our shopping cart. I started to purchase local and organic meat from our community food co-op. However, when Mike went back to school full-time, we could not swing the heftier price tag of organic poultry and grass-fed beef. At this time it was an easy choice for me to stop eating meat. Basic economics coupled with my compassion for animals made this the right choice. I feel that there is already so much suffering in the world and I do not want my meals to contribute to any more pain. The shift was easy since I had been leaning this way for a long time and out pocketbook gave me the nudge I needed.

To any meat eaters reading my blog, I promise you that it is not my purpose to try to convert you to only eating plants. However, as I tell my Weight Watchers members, I challenge you to seek out Vegan and vegetarian recipes because these recipes will maximize protein and nutrients. Many of my members incorporate a few meatless meals a week into their meal plan and find it helps both their grocery budget and their waist lines.

While I choose to eat mainly plants (I do on occasion have a free-range organic egg, a small amount of cheese, and every few months a piece of fish) my husband is a meat eater (though he is open to meatless meals). In fact, I roast a chicken for his weekday sandwiches each weekend.

I promise you that I will not pass judgement if your lifestyle is different from mine. We all have our own belief system and do what we believe is best. My goal for my blog is to reach out to others who also want to eat clean, non-processed food and learn more about nutrition and health. I thank you for taking the time to read my posts, to share my recipes, and for sharing your insights and recipe reviews.

Another goal that blogging achieves is that it is challenging me to come up with new recipes and avoid the food rut that I easily fall into. A couple of weeks ago I felt a craving set in for one of my favorite foods from years ago.

If you are from the Marquette area, chances are that you have had the Chicken Avgolemono Soup at Vango’s Pizza and Cocktail Lounge. (If you are in the area I highly recommend this restaurant. It is one of the few original “mom and pop” restaurants left in the area.) I worked at Vango’s for over seven years and during that time I lived on that spectacular soup. Even as I type this I can perfectly picture a vegetarian gyro with a steaming bowl of Avgolemono. Okay, maybe a few waffle fries too 😉 So I decided to come up with a plant-based version that would help satisfy my longing for the Greek soup.

When I started to create this soup I remembered when my WW receptionist Gini told me that her daughter uses beans to thicken soup. Since I did not want to use egg for this recipe, I decided to puree white beans and add it to the soup and it worked like a charm. If you like lemon and dill, I think you will enjoy this bowl of healthy comfort food. In fact, I think I will have to make another batch this weekend.

Creamy Lemon & Dill Soup
CREAMY LEMON & DILL SOUP (Printable recipe below)

    • 4 cups of vegetable stockCreamy Lemon & Dill Soup
    • 3 ribs of chopped celery
    • 3 lemons ~juice and zest (I really like lemon and this did turn out lemony. You may want to reduce the amount of lemon based on your personal taste)
    • 3 carrots, peeled and sliced
    • 3 cups of cooked white beans
    • 1 small, chopped onion
    • 1 clove of minced garlic
    • 1/2 cup of fresh, chopped parsley
    • 1/2 cup of fresh, chopped dill
    • 1 Tablespoon of coconut oil (or your favorite cooking oil)
    • Salt and pepper to taste

Saute the celery, onion, garlic, and carrots in the coconut oil until soft. Add the vegetable stock and bring to a boil.

Put the beans in a blender with a cup or two of the vegetable stock from the pot. Blend until silky smooth. Add the white bean puree to the soup pot. Add the lemon zest and juice, the parsley, and dill. Simmer for 5-10 minutes.

*Makes 10 cups

Printable Recipe ~ Creamy Lemon & Dill Soup

Pin this post HERE.

One of the ways that I enjoy this soup is with a generous drizzle of hot sauce. One night I added chunks of oregano roasted potatoes to the soup and partnered it with a salad and it became a filling dinner.  Other additions could include pasta (orzo or whole wheat pasta) and if you eat meat you could add chicken (though I think you will find it delicious without).
Creamy Lemon & Dill Soup

I hope you enjoy this recipe. You may also be interested in the others found on my Soup tab. As always, if you try this recipe, I would love to know what you think. Please stop by my Facebook page, leave a comment on this page, or send me an email and let me know how you found my blog. I am always fascinated with social networking and how our connections allow our journeys to intersect.

Together we can bring back the importance of the kitchen into our daily lives and release our reliance on heavily processed food. We will find that it is not difficult to prepare wholesome, nutritious food and live up to our healthy potential. Thank you for your support and inspiration. I promise to keep sharing so we can thrive together!

Blended Carrot, Orange, and Ginger Juice

Blended Carrot, Orange, and Ginger Juice

“I never guessed there were volcanoes in Illinois,
until I found them in my own garden.
Now, it happens every fall,
when I’m led to tall crater tops 
issuing feathery green smoke.” ~Cynthia Gallaher 

In my weekly Weight Watchers meetings a common question that I ask my members is, “What changes have you made to your food choices since you started the WW program?” Most members cite eating breakfast each morning, many state drinking more water, and a common change is planning out a weekly menu. I know one of the first changes that I made to my shopping cart was that I stopped purchasing juice. After figuring out how many Points Plus was in a glass of juice, I realized that juice was not worth my PP budget. Not to mention that many store-bought juices contain sugar and other ingredients that do not promote health. However, sometimes I really want a glass of juice with my brunch on the weekends.

Buying a Vitamix blender was one of the smartest kitchen investments that Mike and I have made. I make a variety of foods in our blender: my morning green smoothie, hummus, cold green soups, pureed soups, sauces, frozen summer cocktails, and I even use it to make fresh juice. While I really have considered investing in a high quality juicer, I love that when I make juice in my blender that I retain all the fiber in the fruit and vegetables. Blended juices are more filling and because the fiber is retained it takes our body a bit longer to absorb the nutrients. This slower absorption helps avoid blood sugar spikes that come with juices made in a juicer.

This morning I really was craving juice so I blended up one of my favorites. It is inspired from a gorgeous city that Mike and I consider our favorite vacation destination ~ Asheville, North Carolina. Asheville has an incredible eclectic vibe and features restaurants with the most exquisite local Vegan and vegetarian fare. One of our personal favorites is The Green Sage Coffeehouse & Cafe. If you go there I highly recommend their Veggie Hummus Wrap and their fresh pressed Carrot Ginger Juice.

Since oranges are still readily available at the grocers, I decided to add some citrus to our juice.

All it takes is three simple ingredients to make fresh Carrot, Orange, & Ginger Juice in your blender (four if you count the water).

All it takes is three simple ingredients to make fresh Carrot, Orange, & Ginger Juice in your blender (four if you count the water).

This recipe makes approximately four cups of juice (depending on the size of the oranges and carrots that you use.

Three Simple Ingredients
CARROT, ORANGE, & GINGER JUICEBlend Well

  • Two peeled oranges
  • Five peeled organic carrots
  • One inch piece of peeled, fresh ginger root (Since ginger can be an acquired taste, if you are not familiar with ginger I recommend adding a small amount at a time. Ginger has wonderful health benefits and aids in digestion)
  • One cup of water

Fresh blended Carrot, Orange, and Ginger JuiceBlend on low for 30 seconds and on high for 60 seconds. Since the blending will warm the juice a bit, I make mine in advance and let it sit for a while in the refrigerator. If you want to drink the juice immediately you could add ice in place of the water.

A high-powered blender like a Vitamix is ideal for this juice. It also makes the high price tag in purchasing one worthwhile. When we bought our Vitamix I was determined to use it every day and I have been successful in this goal.

The resulting juice will be quite frothy (it will settle in the refrigerator) and since blending retains the juice it will be thicker than conventional juices. You may add extra water to juice to thin it out. This juice would also be great with the addition of grapefruit and I really like the combination of carrots, apple, and ginger.

Mike and I each drank one cup with our breakfast and I stored the remaining juice in a Mason jar in the refrigerator to drink this week.

Pin this recipe HERE.

Carrot, Orange, and Ginger Juice Carrot, Orange, and Ginger Juice for TwoCitrus PowerThis weekend Mike started to feel a cold coming on so after breakfast I decided to whip him up some fresh citrus juice. I added four oranges, half a grapefruit, and a cup and a half of water.

The juice tastes fresh and does not need the addition of sugar. He will add a little fresh water to his glass before drinking and the burst of Vitamin C will help boost his immune system.

Who needs store-bought juice when you have a Vitamix?

Fresh Blended Citrus JuiceIf you experiment with your own juice please let me know what you think. Do you have any favorite combinations? If you are interested in checking out my other blender recipes check out my Green Smoothie recipes.

Stay tuned, my upcoming recipes include Mason Jar Salad recipes to add to my growing list and my recipe for a plant-based Creamy Lemon Dill Soup. I am having a productive weekend and I hope you are too. Thank you for joining me on this journey to maximize our health by eating an abundance of fruit and vegetables.

Citrus Berry Slaw Jarred Salad with Strawberry Basil Balsamic Dressing

Citrus Berry Slaw Jarred Salad  with Strawberry Basil Balsamic DressingWhen baking, follow directions. When cooking, go by your own taste.
 – Laiko Bahrs

Today has been a mellow day in the kitchen. Normally my Sunday routine is to engage in a cooking marathon, but since I have been tackling cabin fever by cooking, our freezer is stocked with individual homemade frozen meals, soup, chili, and I still have a few Mason jar salads in the refrigerator. It has been nice to have a relaxing Sunday.

I did roast a chicken and make homemade bread for Mike’s lunch. While some who embrace a plant-based meal plan may take issue with this, I must say that I have to honor my husband’s food choices. I was a meat-eater when we met and I cannot ask him to change because I have altered what I eat. As a Weight Watcher leader I hear this complaint often from my members. When we decide to follow the Weight Watchers program it does not mean that all of our loved ones do the same. Of course, we hope that our healthy lifestyle choices impact their lives but we all must make our own choices. Ultimately, we are the only ones who control what we consume (even when there are tempting foods in the house).

Mike is a healthy eater (he loves fruit and vegetables) and he will eat many meat-free meals. His lunches are important to me because I like to take care of him like he takes care of me (he does the majority of cleaning, maintains our house and our vehicles, and is always going out of his way to make my life easier). He started a new career in July and this meant having to make a switch in his lunches. Before he could take leftovers or even jarred salads (he may not admit this now 😉 ) but with his current job he does not have access to a microwave and only has time for a sandwich (he does also bring raw nuts, fresh fruit, a granola bar and Greek yogurt). However, sometimes he comes home with his lunch fully intact because he worked through lunch.

I promise you that I did try. I tried to convince Mike that peanut butter or hummus makes a satisfying sandwich filling. Yet, he gave me that look. So I agreed…only after trying to seduce him with the prospect of peanut butter AND banana. I realized that I was not going to win and decided that instead of feeding him store-bought lunch meat or deli meat packed with nitrates, that I would roast a chicken each week and make sandwiches and soup along with homemade bread. I admit that I have zero experience with baking but after finding a couple of slices of bread that were stuck in the back of the refrigerator after a couple of weeks (without a speck of mold) I decided this week to make my own. I am sure my homemade bread adventures will spur future blog posts.

In the meantime I have a new jarred salad recipe to share. My latest obsession in my salads is cabbage. I love its heartiness and the way it holds up longer than lettuce in salads. I think that the Citrus Berry Slaw that I have created would work well on its own and could be made with any berry and your choice of ingredients. This salad reminds me of summer and in the heart of winter that is a good thing. While the groundhog may have predicted this weekend that there will be six more weeks of winter ~ in Michigan we know what that means!
Strawberry Basil Balsamic Dressing by Produce with Amy

STRAWBERRY BASIL BALSAMIC DRESSING

  • 1 cup of strawberries (I used frozen)
  • 1 orange (juice and zest)
  • 1/8 cup of aged balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ cup of white balsamic vinegar
  • ½ cup of basil
  • 1/8-1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (I often leave the oil out of salad dressing and add 2 teaspoons to each jar for portion control)
  • 1 Tablespoon onion
  • 1 clove garlic

Citrus Berry Slaw by Produce with AmyCITRUS BERRY SLAW JARRED SALAD WITH STRAWBERRY BASIL DRESSING

strawberry slawI layered these ingredients, in the following order, in one quart Mason Jars:

  • 2-3 Tablespoons of Strawberry Basil Balsamic Dressing
  • 2 colored bell peppers (cut in chunks)
  • Radish (sliced)
  • ¼ cup of white beans
  • 1 quart of halved cherry tomatoes
  • Cauliflower (one head)
  • ¾-1  cup of Citrus Slaw (recipe below)

CITRUS BERRY SLAW

Citrus Berry Slaw Ingredients

  • 2 cups of chopped green cabbage (I did find that the cabbage really shrunk and the next time I will add a couple more cups of cabbage to the slaw)
  • 1 thinly sliced apple (your favorite variety)
  • 3 cups of fresh strawberries
  • ¼ cup of white balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ cup of sliced celery
  • ¼ cup of chopped colored bell pepper
  • 1 bunch of thinly sliced green onion
  • 1 clove of minced garlic
  • 1 lime (juice and zest. For a sweeter slaw you may use an orange or tangerine instead)
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Optional ~ Extra Virgin Olive Oil (if you are watching your fat you may choose to leave out)
    Citrus Berry Slaw Salad by Produce with AmyI promise that this salad is as flavorful as it is pretty. Make sure you check out my Salad Tab for other healthy and vibrant salads.Pin this recipe HERE.

As winter continues I promise to keep sharing my healthy recipes. It may not be strawberry season but we can fool Mother Nature by creating our own gardens. To me nothing tastes more like summer than strawberries and basil and I hope you enjoy this combination. Keep me posted and let me know what you think.
Citrus Strawberry Slaw Mason Jar Salads

 

Citrus Berry Slaw