“Like winds and sunsets, wild things were taken for granted until progress began to do away with them. Now we face the question whether a still higher ‘standard of living’ is worth its cost in things natural, wild and free. For us of the minority, the opportunity to see geese is more important than television.”
-Aldo Leopold

Anticipation. The promise of summer has grown stronger each month. From the moment my daffodils, hyacinths, and tulips starting showing off – I have been waiting for the distinctive rattle of the cranes as they touch down in our pasture, the smell of fresh mown grass, and the warmth of slightly pink shoulders after a day in the garden. Not to mention, strawberries that finally taste like strawberries and tomatoes that taste like tomatoes. Knowing nothing will ever be as wonderful as that first bite.

Our beautiful Golden Gracie loves having me home for the summer!

As a young girl I always anticipated summer days so I could swim, ride my bike, and attend Fortune Lake Lutheran Camp. Since my birthday was at the end of the month, when school was not in session, my mom would always make a special treat for to me to bring to my classmates on the last week of school. I remember the year she made homemade cupcakes and topped each one with a gorgeous pink icing rose. I was so proud of those birthday cupcakes that I can still remember handing out each one.

One of the benefits of being a teacher is holding on to that anticipation of the end of the school year. While it ends up being a whirlwind trying to tie up all the year’s loose ends by wrapping up grading, tucking away my classroom, and finishing the end of year reports. However, when that final bell rings – I still feel the rush of freedom that comes with time off for vacation and projects!

Apollo loves walking up and down the “river” to our pond, but he does not jump into the pond.

While I feel fortunate to have the luxury of time in the summer, I have to be careful to make sure that I am productive. While it may sound tempting to lounge around in pajamas drinking coffee all day, I try to start my mornings with a schedule (imagine that) to make sure that my time is structured. This year part of my morning routine includes exercise and a green smoothie.

I prefer a tart smoothie over a sweet one (especially in the morning) unless I am drinking the green smoothie in place of dessert. If you 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 sweetness and makes the smoothie cold and creamy.

This recipe is for a surprisingly simple and refreshing summer classic. You can control how much banana and lemon you add depending on the level of tartness or sweetness that makes your taste buds happy.


*3 cups of spinach
*1 lemon (juice and zest)
*1 cup of raspberries (fresh or frozen
*1 small frozen banana
*1 cup of water (you can use coconut water)
*A handful of ice cubes
*Optional – chia seeds and/or fresh mint

It always makes me feel productive when I share a new recipe and focus on healthy living. I have plenty of projects this summer that will help fill the void of my empty classroom and I have to fuel my body properly to accomplish everything on my list. I hope you join me in lifting a glass to celebrate summer.

Make sure you check out the other green smoothie recipes on my blog. In fact, I have an entire month of green smoothie recipes, with printable shopping lists, posted in case you want to commit to a healthy challenge.

My photo bomber Apollo

 Tips for those new to green smoothies

1. Start by adding a small amount of greens. Spinach is naturally sweet.

2. A frozen banana is essential. It gives the smoothie sweetness and makes it creamy. Buy a couple of bunches of bananas a week and when they ripen, peel and toss into a bowl or bag in the freezer.

3. Fresh ginger root helps mask the grassy flavor of greens that have a stronger taste (such as kale and dandelion greens). Raw ginger also helps promote digestion, as do parsley and cilantro (it may sound odd to add cilantro to afruit smoothie, but it is a wonderful and unexpected addition).

4. If you do not like bananas you can use dates, maple syrup, or raw honey for sweetness.

5. You can add other liquids other than water: coconut water, milk, almond or coconut milk.

6. Chia seeds are filling and are a great source of calcium, protein, and Omega-3.

7. Protein powder and Greek yogurt are great additions to make a smoothie filling.

8. We use a Vitamix blender at our house, but if you do not have a high-powered blender, blend up the greens and liquid first and then add the fruit (cut up in small pieces) a little bit at a time. When you freeze your bananas you will want to slice or break them into small chunks.

My happy place.
My azalea bushes finally bloomed after several years!
Lupine and Iris

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

  • 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.