Luke’s Kiwisaurus Green Smoothie

Luke's Kiwisaurus Green Smoothie by Produce with Amy“Talking about abstract things is important. Having big, wild conversations about concepts like art, music, time travel, and dreams makes it much easier when you’ll eventually need to talk about things like anger, sadness, pain, and love.”
―Tom Burns

Trixie and LukasIn my past two posts I introduced you to my step-daughter Avalon and today I am introducing you to my step-son, Lukas. Luke is six and he is an extremely entertaining and intelligent little boy. He has his father’s witty personality and knack for storytelling. Every morning when I wake him up for school Lukas shares with me the dream he had the night before and it usually involves a dinosaur in some shape or form. Lukas loves to play with Legos and he is a natural artist. One of the first gifts that I gave the kids was a box filled with paper and art supplies and Luke has spent hours creating masterpieces. Without fail, Luke has the capacity to make me smile even when I am feeling sad or grumpy. It is a pleasure and honor to be able to share his sunshine with you.

Last weekend was quality Lukas and Aimster time (Aimster being Lukas’ latest term of endearment for me). Avalon had a friend over for an overnight on Friday and spent the night at her friend’s on Saturday and I figured it was the perfect time for Luke and I to spend some one-on-one time. On Friday we cuddled with our new kitty Trixie while we giggled, laughed, and Lukas told me silly stories.
Luke and Trixie

My friend Kay shared a photo from UPAWS on Facebook of a sweet little tortie named Suzy Q. I fell in love with her and the next day my husband John adopted her for us. We named her Trixie (my favorite books as a little girl were the Trixie Belden series).

My friend Kay shared a photo from UPAWS of a sweet little tortie named Suzy Q. I fell in love with her sweet face and unusual markings and the next day my husband John adopted her for us. We named her Trixie (my favorite books as a little girl were the Trixie Belden series). Trixie has quite a fiesty personality and we all love her so much.

Several weeks ago Lukas decided that he wanted his own smoothie blog post (especially since I posted two of Avalon’s recipes). “I want to be famous too,” he told me.  While I explain to him that I am far from famous, Avalon and Lukas are always in awe of how many people I know when we go shopping or dine at a local restaurant. I have explained to them that when you are teacher you make many lasting friendships with many of your students and parents. Aside from being a teacher, I have held quite a few jobs in the area that involved working with the public and on occasion I do run into someone who knows me from my blog. Avalon, Lukas, and I talk a lot about being friendly and about how being a kind person can speak volumes about you to others. We also talk about the importance of attendance (both to school and work) and how you should not just show up but that working hard is important too.IMG_5705

I have told both Avalon and Lukas a story that one of my former students, Tori Lauren, shared during a 10th grade final exam. My students were instructed to write and present a This I Believe essay and Tori wrote about how her parents taught her from an early age that every person or opportunity could be a potential job interview. While going into the grocery store in her hometown her parents would remind her behave because, “she may want to seek employment there one day”. I will never forget Tori’s eloquent essay and the wisdom passed on from her parents. Whether this insight is literal or metaphorical, as human beings I do not think that we should overlook our networking potential and the first impressions that we make (regardless of our age). Tori and her siblings are hardworking 4-H kids and some of the best students that I have had in my teaching career. Now I am passing her wisdom on to my stepchildren. How cool is that? While many people profess that teachers make a difference — I firmly believe that students make a difference too! My students help shape my lessons and my teaching practice and I am thankful to be a life-long-learner.

IMG_5671While I do try to be a guide for my step children in teaching them valuable life lessons, sometimes we just like to act silly. We love to cuddle up and watch television together (an adjustment for me since I have never been much of a tv watcher – and the Disney channel is a completely new experience for me). Sometimes we read together when I tuck them in at night and I always love the Lukasisms that result in our time together. Some of my personal favorites are as follows:

Lukas: “Amy, when you were a carnivore did you like to eat Spinosaurus?” (I suppose forty-four years old to a six year old does sound ancient. 😉 )

When we were at Red Lobster:
Amy: “Lukas are you going to eat your shrimp too?”
Lukas: “Amy, I like mystery. When I twirl my pasta I like to be surprised if I get a shrimp!”

When he helped me gather eggs from the chicken coop and clean them and put them in the refrigerator:
Lukas: “You know what, Aimster? I was built for this!”
Amy: “Built for what, Buddy? Farm chores?”
Lukas: “Yes, I should probably go mow the lawn now.”

Last week while waiting to hop on the school bus:
Lukas: “Kiss me now! My kisses are magic.”
Amy: “Okay, Luke. You are too cute!” *smooch*
Lukas: “Aimster, I love your fluffy hair!” *my heart melts*
It’s true, he does. He loves to snuggle up to me and he loves to nestle his face into my hair. He tells me that I smell like ice cream. Considering how much this little boy loves ice cream, I take that as a giant compliment.

Speaking of ice cream and sweets, as a new step-mom with a bit of a healthy food I try to keep a bowl of fruit in the house at all times. obsession, I am still trying to find balance between what my kids want to eat and what I think that they should eat. John and the kids love their sweets and I am always trying to find ways to health up their meals. As I have shared in my last two posts, they are wild about Greek Gods Yogurt and I always try to keep fruit in the house. Lukas LOVES cantaloupe and we go through a couple of bunches of bananas a week. This fall Avalon has been enjoying pears and Lukas will devour grapes. I do still buy ice cream and we often have cake and cookies in the house — but John and I also try to find balance and encourage the kids to try different fruit and vegetables.
Greek Gods Strawberry Honey Yogurt

For the smoothie that we are sharing today, Lukas was passionate about including kiwi. He also thought it should have bananas and strawberries. We decided to add a bit of yogurt to the mix and he agreed to even add some spinach. (Adding greens is a huge step – last year at this time he would not have even considered drinking a smoothie – not to mention adding spinach to it).
Ready to blend

If you have never had spinach in smoothies before – you have to try it. Spinach is naturally sweet and you (and your kids) will not even know it is in there. My best friend Heather had her daughter Mackenzie convinced for almost a year that the smoothies she made for her were green because of the kiwi she put in them. One day Mackenzie saw one of my posts on Facebook and said to Heather, “Mom, Amy puts spinach in her smoothies?” 😉

The following is how I made Luke’s smoothie. John and Lukas both thought it was too tart for them. Therefore, if I made it again for them I would add extra banana or raw honey (or even fruit juice) to sweeten it a bit. Lukas drank about half of his – which I consider a huge victory since it contained a lot of fruit and greens. Baby steps!

Lukas making his smoothie!

I bought Lukas two Jurassic Park vehicles this weekend for being such a good boy when he went shopping with me. He wanted them to part of his blog post.

I bought Lukas two Jurassic Park vehicles this weekend for being such a good boy when he went shopping with me. He wanted them to part of his blog post.

LUKE’S KIWISAURUS GREEN SMOOTHIE

*2 medium frozen bananas
*3 peeled kiwi
*1/2 cup of frozen strawberries
*1 cup of Greek Gods Honey Strawberry Yogurt
*2 cups of spinach
*1 cup of water or fruit juice (more or less depending how thick you want your Fresh mint from our herb garden.smoothie…I made Luke’s with water)
*Optional – sprig of fresh mint. (Even though it’s November I was surprised to find mint still growing in our herb garden. It has been a very mild fall in Upper Michigan)
*Top with whipped cream (This was a MUST HAVE for Luke’s smoothie)

*
This recipe made two green smoothies

It fills me with joy to know that I am able to positively influence my step kids and encourage them to eat more fruit and vegetables. They both had a spectacular first marking period in school and we are working hard to make sure that the rest of school year is the same.

Avalon's 4th grade school picture.

Avalon’s 4th grade school picture.

Lukas' 1st grade school picture.

Lukas’ 1st grade school picture.

I bought Lukas and Avalon rewards for their success in school this year. Avalon chose a journal and we picked out an art book for Lukas.

I bought Lukas and Avalon rewards for their success in school this year. Avalon chose a journal and we picked out an art book for Lukas.

Luke’s teachers all comment on what a kind and thoughtful little boy he is and that he has a heart of gold. We received an email from his teacher that he was observed giving his snack that we packed him to a new boy in their class because he didn’t have one. John, who is a police officer, always tries to teach the kids to be kind to others. Obviously, his lessons do not go unnoticed and we could not be prouder.

As you can see, Luke's green smoothie is dinosaur approved!

As you can see, Luke’s green smoothie is dinosaur approved!

Make sure you check out my smoothie tab for other smoothie recipes. As well as Avalon’s Kid Friendly Recipes.  Right now is the perfect time to gear up for my December Green Smoothie Challenge with 31 days of printable recipes and shopping lists.

I hope that you are having a wonderful autumn and stay tuned because my next post will be a new Mason jar salad recipe. It is John’s favorite salad and I have been meaning to share it for months. Thank you for reading and I would love to hear about some of your favorite kid friendly healthy recipes. As a new mom, I am finding that truly does take a village. Lukas was happy to share his smoothie recipe with you – we hope that you enjoy it!
Luke

Trixie and her rescuer, John. He might not always admit it, but he's a softie. John will probably be Trixie's favorite. She will remember who saved her. So will I.

Trixie and her rescuer, John. He might not always admit it, but he’s a softie. John will probably be Trixie’s favorite. She will remember who saved her. So will I. ❤

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Luke's Kiwisaurus Smoothie

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Avalon’s Red Berry Smoothie

Avalon's Red Berry Smoothie by Produce with Amy“Strong women. May we know them. May we raise them. May we be them.”~Unknown

It is my pleasure to introduce you to a brand new blogger who is very special to me. Her name is Avalon, and as of June 30, 2015, she is my step-daughter. Avalon is a beautiful little girl (she looks just like her mama Kimberly).

Meet Miss Avalon

Meet Miss Avalon

Not only is Avalon a beauty – she is intelligent, graceful, a great singer, tech savvy, loves to read, and she has a bubbly personality. Avalon enjoys helping me out in the kitchen and it is my pleasure to teach her how to cook. At an early age my mom taught me the health benefits of eating fruit and vegetables and lovingly showed me how to create a feast from a variety of ingredients. Because of this, I am resourceful and I have a passion for cooking fresh food from whole foods. I want to pass this healthy lifestyle down to Avalon and her little brother Lukas (who also is quite handy in the kitchen). I love our family dinners and I am always encouraging the kids to try new foods (even though if they are reluctant at times – baby steps). It is hard enough having to acclimate to a step-mother. Add into the equation that she is a vegetarian AND a teacher and imagine what a readjustment that is!

IMG_2173I do apologize for being away from the blog for so long, but as you can see, I have been engaged in a great deal of lifestyle changes.

For my plant-based friends, you may see a few changes/options in some of my recipes.

When Lukas and Avalon’s dad John and I fell in love we knew we were meant to be. Yet, we also knew we would have some differences in opinion on food.

While I try to maintain a plant-based diet, John is aIMG_3272 hunter and hobby farmer who raises free range chickens and other livestock. While I still do not eat meat, I have been eating free-range eggs and I do eat a small amount of dairy (homemade pizza is a staple in our house nearly once a week). I promised John that I would not try to convert him, Avalon, and Lukas to vegetarians, but I would encourage them all to incorporate more fruit and vegetables into their diet. I love that John does not want to have to rely on factory farmed meat and it is our long-term goal to produce as much of our own food as possible. Next year we are hoping to acquire a hoop house to help extend our rather short growing season in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

I can get lost in the beauty of our home and land.

I can get lost in the beauty of our home and land.

I

I put the yogurt containers to good use this spring when I started our squash and tomato seedlings.

I put the yogurt containers to good use this spring when I started our squash and tomato seedlings.

When I started spending time with Avalon, Lukas, and John – one of the first things that I learned was that they all have a sweet tooth. So I tried to find healthier desserts that would satisfy both their craving for something sweet and my obsession with healthy food.

Many years ago when I was cutting out artificial sweeteners, I discovered Greek Gods Yogurt. If you eat dairy and you have not tried this brand – you are missing out. John and the kids instantly agreed that it was better than ice cream and now it is common for them to go through three containers a week. I cut up fruit add a dollop of yogurt and sometimes sprinkle on granola and whipped cream. Avalon’s summertime favorite is watermelon and strawberries with honey vanilla yogurt. Though, for her smoothie recipe we tried the black cherry flavor and Avalon said it may be her new favorite. Right now she is in Virginia visiting her mom and she asked me to stock up on it for when she gets home. I find this brand in all of our local supermarkets, but Target seems to have the best price (it’s often on Cartwheel for 20% off).

The recipe for Avalon’s smoothie made two large glasses, so if you want an individual serving, you may want to reduce it in half. I have to say that Lukas is not a smoothie fan and he drank all of his. It is that wonderful!

Avalon and her smoothie creation

Avalon’s Red Berry Smoothie

*1 frozen banana (I highly recommend frozen bananas for smoothies since they give it a creamy and cold texture. I buy extra bananas each week and when they get ripe I peel and toss into a bag in the freezer so we always have them on hand)
*1/2 cup of Greek Gods Black Cherry Yogurt
(You could substitute a plant-based coconut, soy, or almond yogurt)
*1/2 cup of frozen cherries (fresh if you have them on hand)
*1/2 cup of watermelon (watermelon freezes well but we used fresh)
*1/2 cup of strawberries (we used fresh that we picked at a local farm)
*1/2 cup of raspberries (fresh or frozen)
*1/2 cup to 1 cup of water (depending on how thick you want it and if you are using frozen fruit. You could eliminate the honey and use fruit juice instead.)
*Tablespoon of honey (you could use your favorite sweetener if you do not eat honey)
*Optional ~ fresh mint for garnish (I grew chocolate mint and the kids LOVED it. Avalon wanted John to try a leaf when he got home from work. The mint would also be great blended  into the smoothie.)

Blend well, serve, and enjoy!

Avalon and Lukas enjoyed their smoothie for breakfast but it would make a great dessert as well. It is a great way to sneak more vitamin and mineral rich fruit into your kids’ diet. Plus, it will help them stay hydrated in the heat.

Printable Recipe HERE —-> Avalon’s Red Berry Smoothie
Pin the recipe HERE.

Avalon's Red Berry Smoothie

As always, it is my goal to keep sharing my healthy recipes with you! Thank you for the continued support and the messages and comments that you have sent during my absence. I am excited to announce the news of my marriage and I cannot wait to share more glimpses of our life on the farm. It is gorgeous here and it feels exactly where I am meant to be.

Since I do not have a sweet tooth and try to stay away from sugar, I have not shared many dessert recipes on Produce with Amy. However, now that I have a family who loves sweets I will be striving to find healthy versions that they enjoy. John and the kids bought me a beautiful Kitchenaid mixer for my birthday so I do not have a proper excuse not to bake.

My sexy new Kitchenaid mixer. I have wanted one FOREVER! Thank you, John.

My sexy new Kitchenaid mixer. I have wanted one FOREVER! Thank you, John.

In addition, we have a garden full of zucchini and an apple orchard laden with fruit – so we will not have a shortage of healthy ingredients this fall. Plus, with a beautiful new blogger in the house – and a brand new Mac Book Pro – Avalon and I may have to try our hand at video blogging!

Make sure your scroll through the end to check out more photos.

Please feel free to share Avalon’s smoothie recipe and please leave a comment and stop by my Facebook page to let her know what you think! Make sure you follow me on Instagram, Twitter, and the other social media tabs at the right of the page. Thank you for joining me on the journey to eat more fruit and vegetables!

Avalon Trying the Chocolate Mint from our Herb Garden

Avalon Trying the Chocolate Mint from our Herb Garden

Lukas is Sold on the Smoothie

Lukas is Sold on the Smoothie

Avalon says that you have to try it!

Avalon says that you have to try it!

We picked strawberries in Trenary the day after our wedding!

We picked strawberries in Trenary the day after our wedding!

Healthy and Happy Kids!

Healthy and Happy Kids!

I love that John's shift this summer allows us to eat as a family. We try to eat Al Fresco when possible.

I love that John’s shift this summer allows us to eat as a family. We try to eat Al Fresco when possible.

Our Wedding Day: John, Avalon, Lukas, and I with my Mom Karen and my best friend Kim.

Our Wedding Day: John, Avalon, Lukas, and I with my Mom Karen and my best friend Kim.

Avalon, Lukas, and Amy.  We got married outside by Lake Superior and it was a cold, blustery day. However, as you can see by our smiles - we didn't let the weather interfere with our happiness.

Avalon, Lukas, and Amy.
We got married outside by Lake Superior and it was a cold, blustery day. However, as you can see by our smiles – we didn’t let the weather interfere with our happiness.

We got the kids a pool for their birthday. Summer is the time for spontaneous, make-up free selfies!

We got the kids a pool for their birthday. Summer is the time for spontaneous, make-up free selfies!

Avalon's Red Berry Smoothie

Fierce Green Smoothie with Blueberries and Kiwi

Fierce Green Smoothie by Produce with Amy“Thriving. That’s fighting… Surviving is barely getting by.”
― Jillian Michaels

Since August of 2007 I have been a Weight Watchers Coach and I have experienced my own challenges with my weight management. Now that I am in my forties I have found that I must fight harder than ever to maintain a healthy weight. Though, I accept the challenge, because I believe that my health and my self-concept are worth the battle. This fall I was facing a mountain of stress in my personal life and the scale started to climb beyond the top end of my WW recommended healthy weight range.  I was concerned and frustrated. Unfortunately, the chaos continued to mount – the scale would not budge – and I felt helpless, angry, anxious, and out of control of my life.

I will be honest, at times I considered walking away from my position at Weight Watchers, because I felt overwhelmed and as if I was a fraud. How could I stand up in front of my members helping be their weight loss guide when I could not even manage my own weight? Yet, I could feel my members support and I heard a loud voice in the back of my head telling me that I could thrive once again. I knew what I needed to do. In 2006, Weight Watchers gave me the tools and the courage to believe that I can succeed. While things may feel out of control in my life – ultimately, I was in control of the food that I consumed. I took a closer look at portion control and started to be faithful to tracking once again. The scale started to move in the right direction and I am happy to report that by December I was back to my goal weight.

My employment with Weight Watchers has brought me face-to-face with many individuals who also face stressful challenges in their lives. I always remind members that we must first take care of ourselves and that during times of crisis – being On Program helps us feel that we are in control. I know that focusing on Weight Watchers Power Foods, staying hydrated, and eating healthy portions have helped me manage my stress. Getting back to my goal weight has been a boost in my self-esteem and has empowered me to have a positive outlook, even when things feel grim.

Before I joined WW, I may have been tempted to feed my emotions with sugary and high fat foods. However, I know how those foods make me feel (and look). I profoundly believe that a diet that focuses on fresh fruit, vegetables, and non-processed whole foods helps us navigate stress and have the energy we need to have a positive attitude and be productive.

In the coming weeks, I will continue to nourish my body with healthy food and my goal is to incorporate more greens into my meals. I really notice a difference in my energy level when I start my day with a green smoothie. They are also great as a snack because they help curb starchy carbohydrate cravings.

If you are new to green smoothies you may want to check out my New Year’s Green Smoothie Challenge post where I share information and tips.

The green smoothie recipe that I am going to share with you today is one of my favorites. The combination of blueberries and cinnamon is incredible and I love that you can fit so many health benefits into a glass. Kiwi is higher in Vitamin C than an equivalent amount of orange and it will help your body absorb the iron in the spinach. The antioxidants in blueberries help improve memory and are low on the glycemic index and help regulate blood sugar. (Therefore, I thought that Fierce was the perfect name!)
Kiwi and Blueberries

FIERCE GREEN SMOOTHIE
(My smoothie recipes will yield 3-4 cups. I often drink 1/2 for breakfast and reserve the other half for a snack on my 1/2 hour commute home from work or for an evening snack. If you want to make less – reduce the ingredients that you add. Green smoothies will keep for several days in the refrigerator but they may separate)

  • 3-4 cups of spinach (more or less for one’s personal taste.)
  • 1 cup of blueberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 2 kiwis (reserve a piece for garnish)
  • 1/2 frozen banana (if you like your smoothie sweeter you may want to add more banana)
  • Juice and zest of one lemon (if using bottled juice you can add 1/4 cup)
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon (to taste)
  • 1 cup of coconut water (or regular water)
  • *Optional ~ 1 Tablespoon Chia Seeds (I add one Tablespoon per green smoothie that I am making. It is recommended to soak chia seeds. I do not soak mine since I have a high-powered blender and my smoothie often sits for  5-10 minutes before drinking. You could also stir into your smoothie before blending
  • *Optional ~ sprig of fresh mint

BlenderSmoothieBlend well and garnish with a kiwi slice and sprinkle of cinnamon. Because of the addition of blueberries – your smoothie will turn more purple than green.

If you are interested in checking out more green smoothie recipes, make sure you check out my Green Smoothie tab.

Pin this recipe HERE.

My goal for the new year is to continue to nourish my body with fresh fruit and vegetables so I can manage stress. I am determined to maintain my weight so I can look fierce this summer and feel the best that I can.

I challenge you to pick a goal and strive to reach it. Sip a green smoothie and reflect on what you want to achieve. If you (like I am) are facing a lot of stress in your life – you owe it to your body to eat clean and eradicate excuses. I raise my glass to you. Cheers to embracing a healthy lifestyle and thriving!

Light

blueberries

Rustic Fruit Sauce – Slow Cooked & Sweetener Free

Rustic Slow Cooked Fruit Sauce by Produce with Amy“I believe that food can be a profound means of communication, allowing me to express myself in a way that seems much deeper and more sincere than words.”
~Jenni Ferrari-Adler

Unwinding, relaxing, and resting is how I have spent my past two days. In the midst of a hectic school year, suddenly all activity came to screeching halt. If you have been watching the news, or the weather to be more exact, you know that there has been a massive winter storm pounding northern states. In fact, the town of Negaunee where I live, in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, received over three feet of snow. Yes, you read that correctly – THREE feet of snow and I have photos to prove it.

Mike: Baqubah, Iraq - 2003

Mike: Baqubah, Iraq – 2003

My husband, Mike, who is an Operation Iraqi Freedom Veteran — spent his Veterans Day removing snow from our yard.

The snow was wet and heavy and I appreciate all of his labor.

Today we woke up to several more inches of snow and he again had to dedicate the afternoon to snow removal. On the news they are reporting that lake effect snow will continue. Thank you, Lake Superior.

Mike - still smiling even though the snow is reaching beyond the snow blower.

Mike – still smiling even though the snow is reaching beyond the snow blower.

Mike carved a path leading to our backyard.

Mike carved a path leading to our backyard.

A couple of weeks ago we decided to leave the bird baths in our yard up since the birds were still frolicking around and using their basins to drink and bathe. Now the same bird baths have been swallowed up by the snow.

Yes the bottom picture is of the same bird baths in the top of the photo.

Yes the bottom picture is of the same bird baths in the top of the photo.

This was our driveway this morning with fresh snow piled up.

This was our driveway this morning with fresh snow piled up.

Today’s snow day gives me the perfect opportunity to share one of the recipes that I have been enjoying for the last couple weeks. When I started Weight Watchers in 2006, I ate a bowl of oatmeal every morning for breakfast. While I know that oatmeal is filling and carries many health benefits, I burnt myself out of oatmeal and for several years have only eaten oatmeal on occasion. As the weather has grown more cool, I decided that I would try to revisit oatmeal for breakfast and I decided that a rustic apple sauce topping would help me look forward to eating oatmeal again. It has done the trick.

Apples & PumpkinThe recipe that I am sharing today is versatile and you can add your favorite fruit – fresh or frozen – or whatever you have on hand. I do not have a strong sweet tooth so this recipe tend to be on the tart side. You could add brown sugar or a drizzle of maple syrup if you prefer it sweeter. It would also make a phenomenal topping for ice cream, or if you are dairy free, a topping for “nice” cream.

This recipe is inspired from a previous post that I have shared: Sweet & Tart Slow Cooker Apples with Cranberries, Pumpkin, and Oatmeal

 

Our cat Pandora is a lovely photo-bomber.

Our cat Pandora is a lovely photo-bomber.

RUSTIC SLOW COOKER FRUIT SAUCE

*2 sliced green apples
*2 sliced red apples
*2 sliced pears
*2 cups of frozen peaches
*1 can of pumpkin
*1 can of water
*1 bag of cranberries
*1 teaspoon of nutmeg
*1 Tablespoon of cinnamon
(you can add more if you like extra cinnamon)

Add all ingredients, except for the pears and peaches, to slow cooker. Set to low for 5 and 1/2 hours. In the last 1/2 hour add the pears and peaches so they retain their shape and are not reduced to sauce. This recipe freezes well.

Printable recipe: RUSTIC SLOW COOKER FRUIT SAUCE by Produce with Amy

Pin recipe HERE.
2

Sorry for the blurry photo. I snapped it when it was hot and steaming.

Sorry for the blurry photo. I snapped it when it was hot and steaming.

Rustic Slow Cooker FruitThis fruit sauce is simple to make and I love that it does not require any sweeteners. Not to mention the added benefit of making your house smell incredible. It is the perfect healthy comfort food and does not need to only be consumed for breakfast. At night if you crave something sweet it is the perfect snack on its own. If I have the taste for something a bit sweeter, this sauce is wonderful warmed up and topped with a few raisins or a drizzle of local maple syrup. I imagine it would also be lovely served over pancakes, waffles, or French toast. I might have to whip up a batch of pancakes this weekend for Mike – he did after all earn something special with all his work removing the snow in our yard.

Thank you for stopping by my blog and I encourage you to sign up for email updates and stop by my Facebook page and give it a like. Make sure you check out all my social networking links on the right side of the page. I look forward to sharing more healthy and plant-based recipes with you. Together we can incorporate more fruit and vegetables into our meal plan. Stay warm and safe to my friends in cold climates. For those that life in sunny locations, please send some sunshine our way!

Plant-Based Chocolate Mint Shake with Coconut

Plant-Based Chocolate Mint Shake with Coconut by Produce with Amy“Happiness. Simple as a glass of chocolate or tortuous as the heart. Bitter. Sweet. Alive.” ― Joanne Harris, “Chocolat”

July marks my seventh anniversary of reaching Lifetime status with Weight Watchers and August is also my seventh anniversary of becoming a Weight Watchers leader. When I look back and reflect on my journey, I realize that one of the healthiest changes that I made to my lifestyle is eradicating refined sugar from my meal plan. When I drink coffee or tea, I drink it black and candy, sweets, chocolate, juice, cereal, and ice-cream does not find its way into my shopping cart. I will on a rare occasion, when at a gathering, indulge in a regular soda (I try not to consume artificial sweeteners) and when I want something sweet I reach for a piece of fruit.

Every once in a while I will have a craving for something sweet – especially in the summer when ice-cream beckons – so I have come up with healthy ways to indulge a sweet tooth. Today I thought that I would share one of my favorites from the past couple years.

When I first started making plant-based shakes, or ice-cream, I would buy a carton of almond or coconut milk. But after reading the long list of ingredients, I decided that it would be healthier to make my own nut milks. Not to mention that I found myself tossing the processed cartons of plant-based milk away since I did not use it often and with the price of groceries, I despise throwing out food. For my dessert recipes that call for homemade plant-based milk, I use raw nuts and coconut water (or plain water). If I know beforehand that I am going to make a shake, I soak the nuts overnight (or for a few hours) but if I am being spontaneous – I add them straight to my Vitamix blender .

This recipe calls for fresh mint which I have available all summer in my garden. If you do not have access to fresh mint – a mint extract will do the trick. (I have found wonderful almond, mint, and vanilla extracts available in the spice aisle at Target.)

Cocoa Powder, Raw Nuts, & Mint

CHOCOLATE MINT SHAKE WITH COCONUT

  • 1 and a 1/2 frozen bananas (mine were medium in size. I allow my bananas to get fully ripe and then I peel and toss in a freezer bag or bowl for smoothies and ice-cream/shakes)
  • 1/2  cup to 1 cup of coconut water (depending on how thick or thin you want your shake. I used 1/2 cup)
  • 1/4 cup of raw nuts (I used a mix that I find at Target)
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder to taste (I used 2 heaping Tablespoons)
  • Handful of ice cubes
  • Few sprigs of mint (or 1+ teaspoons of extract)

Blend well and garnish with cocoa nibs (or chocolate chips – many varieties are plant-based) and coconut flakes. Serve and enjoy!

*Notes –
Possible healthy additions to this shake include:

  • Avocado (it adds healthy fat and makes the shake creamy…surprisingly, it does not dramatically impact the taste)
  • Vanilla extract
  • A dash of cinnamon or nutmeg
  • Spinach (it is naturally sweet and it will change the color of the smoothie but like the avocado will not dramatically change the taste)
  • When I make curry I do buy canned coconut milk and I freeze the leftover. When I have it on hand I will use it in my plant-based shakes to make them extra creamy.

Printable Recipe: CHOCOLATE MINT SHAKE WITH COCONUT by Produce with Amy

 

Chocolate Mint Shake by Produce with AmyChocolate Mint Shake with Coconut by Produce with AmyMake sure you check out my Healthy Indulges tab for other plant-based dessert shakes. I always love to hear what people think after trying one of my recipes and I enjoy hearing about the changes that are made to fit personal tastes.

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Have a beautiful week and I hope that you enjoy the Chocolate Mint Shake! I raise my glass to you – cheers to thriving together!

Chocolate & Mint Shake with Coconut by Produce with Amy

Chocolate Raspberry Mousse-Shake

Chocolate Raspberry Mousse-Shake with Avocado by Produce with Amy

“Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again…”
~Mary
Oliver

After a relaxing weekend Monday arrived with a blustery surprise. I thought that my husband Mike was joking when he woke me up and told me that I had a snow day off of work today. However, he was not kidding. Outside our window stretched a fresh landscape of white. I think that this makes #10 for the year ~ but who can keep track? 

Homemade bread toasted and spread with sun-dried hummus and topped with broccoli sprouts and capers. A side of quinoa tabbouleh, tomatoes, and Chicago style hot peppers.

Homemade bread toasted and spread with sun-dried hummus and topped with broccoli sprouts and capers. A side of quinoa tabbouleh, tomatoes, and Chicago style hot peppers.

What else is there to do but make the most of the morning and take advantage of extra down time. I enjoyed a breakfast with leftovers from my weekend food prep. If you have been following my blog you know that during the school year I utilize my weekends to make jarred salads, soup, homemade bread, and even make and freeze breakfast for my husband.

Normally, I have a green smoothie for breakfast but today since I had fresh hummus and tabbouleh in the refrigerator I decided to let that dictate my

Israeli Feast Jar Salads

Israeli Feast Jar Salads

breakfast. The hummus and tabbouleh was leftover from my Israeli Feast Jarred Salads. Here is a link to my Mason Jar Salads if you interested in my different combinations.

The jar salads have really transformed our meals. I take one to work each day for lunch and my husband eats one for dinner. I pour his out on a plate and rotate each night a different kind of protein on top. Add a cup of soup and you have a quick and convenient meal. Plus, the glass jars and metal lids help the salads stay fresh all week.  They eliminate throwing out costly produce and since a one quart jar holds over four cups, it is a great way to get more vegetables into your diet.

Mike's Jar Salads

Mike’s Jar Salad

I think that the time that I invest in food prep is a worthy investment. The last thing that I feel like doing when I get home from work is chopping up ingredients for a salad. I promise you that it is time well spent. Many of my Weight Watchers members make the salads and have found that they really help them stay on program and make healthier food choices.
Mason Jar Salad Prep

My weekend produce purchase which helps guarantee a healthy week.

My weekend produce purchase which helps guarantee a healthy week.

Today’s recipe that I am sharing is one that shows how wistful for spring I am. In the past few weeks I have shared a few Dessert Smoothie/Shake recipes. With summer approaching I wanted to share some dairy-free ice cream substitutes that will help satisfy a sweet tooth but still remain healthy. Over the past few years I have virtually eliminated refined sugar from my diet and find that the natural sugars in fruit helps me manage my hunger and I feel better.

This recipe tastes decadent but is packed with nutrients. It gets its luscious and creamy texture from avocado and its sweetness from a frozen banana. I know what many people may say. Avocado and chocolate? Yes, and please trust me. Avocado is technically a fruit and it contains healthy fat and an assortment of nutrients. It takes on the taste of both sweet and savory ingredients and I love to add them to my green smoothies. They make are a fantastic dairy-free alternate to add body to creamy desserts and even salad dressing. I often say that I could probably eat cardboard if it was smeared with avocado. 😉

I called this dessert a mousse-shake because it has the texture of a mousse. In fact, I ate half of this shake with a spoon and I think it would be elegant enough to serve at a dinner party. My version is only slightly sweet so if you prefer it to be sweeter you could add your sweetener of choice (maple syrup, agave, organic raw sugar, or even raw honey).

Plant-Based Chocolate Raspberry Shake with Avocado by Produce with Amy
CHOCOLATE RASPBERRY MOUSSE SHAKE

  • 1/2-3/4 cup of cold coconut water
  •  1/8 of a cup of raw almonds (I like to make my own almond milk to avoid the additives found in store bought varieties)
  • (I soaked them overnight which increases their nutrients, helps make them softer, and makes them easier to digest)
  • 1 small, ripe avocado 
  • 1 small frozen banana (you may add more banana if you like it sweeter)
  • 6 ounces of raspberries (I bought fresh raspberries and frozen them for 30 minutes before blending so they would be cold. You could also add a few ice cubes)
  • 1 Tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder (add as little or as much as you like)
  • Garnish with Cacao Nibs (I purchase in the bulk section of our local food coop)

Printable recipe: CHOCOLATE RASPBERRY MOUSSE SHAKE

Pin it HERE.

Chocolate Raspberry Dessert by Produce with AmyI hope that you enjoy this recipe and that you are finding, or will find, my posts helpful. Cooking and coming up with healthy recipes is my passion and I love being able to share this obsession with others. Please make sure you stop by my Facebook page, sign up for email updates of my posts, and follow me on Pinterest.

I love hearing from those who try my recipes and I appreciate your feedback and support. It keeps me inspired when I know that others are enjoying the food combinations that I create. Stay tuned, I am anxious for summer to get here so I can shop our local farmers markets! Have a wonderful day and thank you for joining me on the journey to eat more fruit and vegetables.
RaspberriesHealthy Chocolate Raspberry Dessert

 

 

Cherry Almond Coconut Shake ~ Plant-Based Healthy Indulgence

Guilt-Free Cherry Almond Coconut Shake by Produce with Amy “Well, I like to eat, sleep, drink, and be in love.
I like to work, read, learn, and understand life.”
― Langston Hughes

I woke up this morning with thankfulness. This is an intentional routine that I try to practice each day. I believe that we shape our own energy. Life can be fraught with stress (a majority that we manufacture ourselves). Therefore, it is important to stop and think about what is really important. Start each morning with a smile. (Smile right now…it made you feel lighter…did it not?) 😀

It is easy for me to type these things as I sit on the sofa enjoying a cup of peppermint tea and bask in the morning glow of my spring holiday. With each breath in and out ~ I am reminding myself to slow down and make the most of this time. Enjoy. Savor. Appreciate.

Today I will be mindful of the relaxation that my mind and body both need but I will also make a few preparations for next week. I acknowledge that going back to work will be a shock to my body (and the 160+ teenagers that share a classroom with me each day). I want to finish the last couple months of school with positive energy, commitment, and all the passion that led me to a career in education. Today I will prepare for the whirlwind that I will encounter next week by accomplishing some household chores and by getting a jump on my weekend cooking.

Along with a positive attitude, I believe that the food that we consume also plays on our mood and attitude. I find that when I am not consuming refined sugar and caffeine that I feel more balanced and able to manage stress and my emotions. The same goes with creating meals that are assembled with whole non-processed food. I am not saying that a bag of chips, soda, chocolate bar, or processed food item never ends up in my shopping cart, but it is a rarity.

A couple of posts ago, when I shared my recipe for a Peach & Raspberry Cobbler Shake, I explained how I made the shift away from store-bought dairy substitutes because of the long list of ingredients on the carton. It seemed like a natural change since I did invest in a Vitamix blender a few years ago and I always have raw nuts on hand. Why not make my own?

In anticipation of summer and warmer weather, today I am sharing another recipe for a Bowl of Cherrieshealthy dessert that tastes indulgent but is full of nutrients and will help you fuel your day. It is inspired by my favorite summer treat ~ cherries. I spend a bundle of money on fresh cherries each summer. In part, I believe, because they remind me of my childhood. My mom always had plenty of cherries (watermelon, grapes, and nectarines too) in the cooler when we spent long summer

Target carries my new obsession ~ real vanilla, almond, and peppermint extract.

Target carries my new obsession ~ real vanilla, almond, and peppermint extract.

days on the shore of Fortune Lake in my hometown of Crystal Falls, Michigan.

Since cherries are not in season in April, I had to settle for frozen cherries for this shake (I am calling it a shake instead of smoothie because it is thick and rich and tastes like a perfect dairy-free substitute for a traditional milk shake). The raw almonds help make it thick and give the drink a filling boost of protein. My advice is that you do not leave out the almond extract ~ I have made it without, and trust me, it does not taste the same.

Cherry Almond Coconut ShakeCHERRY ALMOND COCONUT SHAKE

  • 1 cup frozen cherries (If you are lucky enough to be using fresh cherries, make sure to freeze them first)Vitamix
  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 1/4 of raw, soaked almonds (soak overnight or for a few hours prior to making the shake)
  • 1 teaspoon real almond extract (I added a bit more)
  • Ice cubes (I added a few)
  • 3/4-1 cup of plain coconut water (I made sure it was cold and added 1/2 cup at first and added more until it was the consistency that I wanted. My shake was very thick and resembled a milk shake in texture)
  • Optional ~ 1 Tablespoon organic coconut flakes for garnish

Blend well. A great addition to this shake would also be a touch of vanilla extract and a dash of cinnamon.

Printable recipe: CHERRY ALMOND COCONUT SHAKE

Pin it HERE.

Cherry Almond Coconut Shake by Produce with Amy

Cherry Almond Coconut Smoothie

 

Cherry Almond Coconut Plant-Based Shake

If you are interested in other nutritious desserts, check out my Healthy Indulgences tab.

Thank you for stopping by my blog and please follow my posts via email, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr and make sure to find me on Facebook. I love the reciprocal nature of social networks. Together we can create a community of health minded individuals that are concerned about the fuel that put into our bodies. I look forward to sharing more recipes with you and please post your comments and feedback. Have a marvelous day and remember to stop to breathe, appreciate, and savor the world and all the gifts that are all around us.

Appreciation