Top Ten Recipes of 2014

 

Top 10 Recipes of 2014 “I love the dark hours of my being.
My mind deepens into them.
There I can find, as in old letters,
the days of my life, already lived,
and held like a legend, and understood.”
― Rainer Maria Rilke

As an English teacher, I always tell my students that when we write we make our thoughts tangible. Our words become our fingerprints and as we embroider paper, or the blinking computer screen, with our insight – our labor is a true act of creation. “Make sure you put the date on your manuscript,” I relentlessly remind them. Our writing serves as a time capsule and helps us chart our personal, academic, and professional growth.

Scrolling through the statistics for my blog, I am given insight into which of my posts have received the most traffic. I can see which links received the most clicks, shares, and various sites that have featured my recipes. I spend my morning reflecting on what my readers want and value and what potential recipes I can shape in 2014.

Yesterday was the two year anniversary of Produce with Amy and there are over one hundred posts that contain recipes crafted from vibrant fruit and vegetables – however, my posts also contain moments of reflection from my personal life. Truth-be-told, some of my ruminations leave me feeling melancholy because of events that have occurred in the past few months. 2015 will prove to be a year of change, growth,  and transformation. At the risk of being cryptic, I will leave it at that.

2014 was similar to 2013, in the fact that my recipes for Mason jar salads were the most popular. To reflect on the past year, and welcome a new year of discovery and health, I thought that I would share them again here.

Glowing Green Mason Jar Salad with Creamy Avocado Vinaigrette

#1 Glowing Green Mason Jar Salads with Avocado Vinaigrette Dressing

Sometimes when I get to the top there is not much room for lettuce. :) Yet, that is fine with me!

Sometimes when I get to the top there is not much room for lettuce. 🙂 Yet, that is fine with me!

#2 Mason Jar Salads: Fresh, Visually Appealing, and Versatile

Mediterranean Mason Jar Salads with Greek Vinaigrette#3 Mediterranean Mason Jar Salads with Greek Vinaigrette

Apple-a-Day Mason Jar Salads with Pumpkin Vinaigrette Dressing

Apple-a-Day Mason Jar Salads with Pumpkin Vinaigrette Dressing

#4 Apple-a-Day Mason Jar Salad with Pumpkin Vinaigrette

Harvest Rainbow Mason Jar Salads

Harvest Rainbow Mason Jar Salads

#5 Harvest Rainbow Mason Jar Salad with Creamy Pesto Dressing

Garden Fiesta Mason Jar Salads#6 Garden Fiesta Mason Jar Salad

Israeli Feast Mason Jar Salad#7 Israeli Feast ~ Mason Jar Salad (with Tabouli, Hummus, and Olives)

Confetti Salad in a Jar with Creamy Chipotle Dressing#8 Confetti Salad in a Jar with Creamy Chipotle Dressing

January Green Smoothie Challenge#9 New Year’s Green Smoothie Challenge ~ 31 Days of Printable Recipes and Shopping Lists

Sunshine Mason Jar Salad  with Mango Dressing#10 Sunshine Salad in a Jar with Kicky Mango Vinaigrette 

As I contemplate the hope and potential of a brand new year, I cannot help but be thankful for every one that has been reading and following my blog. Starting this blog has helped me stay accountable to a healthy lifestyle and I am thrilled that I can help encourage others to do the same. Thank you for sharing this journey and remember that we are worth all the hard work it takes to shop, prep, and prepare fresh meals made from whole foods. I look forward to sharing more recipes with you.

 

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Layered Greek Dip with Hummus & Tzatziki Sauce

Layered Greek Dip with Hummus & Tzatziki by Produce with Amy“Variety in your diet is health in your life.”
― Toni Sorenson

One of the reasons that I started this blog in January of 2013 was to challenge myself to come up with new recipes so I could avoid a food rut. Instead of being limited by a plant-based diet, I wanted to branch out and find new ways to incorporate fruit and vegetables and share my ideas with others.

To save both money and time, I am committed to prepping my lunches at home on the weekends. It is the healthiest routine that I have established for myself since I joined Weight Watchers in 2006 and one way that I help keep myself on track. I plan my menu and shopping list on Wednesday or Thursday, shop on Friday night or Saturday after my WW meeting, and prep on Saturday and/or Sunday.

A few weeks ago I found myself not thrilled about the lunches that I was transporting to work. With the cooler weather my salads felt a bit lackluster and I decided to make something that felt a little more special. I contemplated making my Layered Refried Bean and Guacamole Dip recipe, but instead decided to create a new version. I thought that a Greek dip that combined a plant-based tzatziki sauce and hummus would give my lunches a little sparkle.
Layered Greek Dip
Years ago I purchased three cup Pyrex glass containers with lids and I have found them perfect for portion control. I have over a dozen and they have held up well. Pint sized Mason jars would also work for these individual dips.

I made seven individual dips – five for me and two for my husband Mike. I cut up raw vegetables to scoop up the dip.  Mike loved his so much that he ate one straight out of the container with a spoon.

Before I started following a plant based diet, feta cheese was one of my favorites. I really crave feta so I was THRILLED when I discovered Jackie Soban’s blog, Vegan Yak Attack, and her recipe for  Herbed Tofu. I added a bit more vinegar to the recipe and also added dried dill. Because of this recipe I discovered Raw Coconut Vinegar (I bought it at our local food co-op) and I LOVE it. Thank you, Jackie!

Make sure you check out Jackie’s other recipes and follow her on Facebook and other social media. Her meal ideas are phenomenal and she incorporates stunning photography into all her posts. Doesn’t her photo of Herbed Tofu Tomato Salad make you drool? Trust me, you need some of this herbed tofu in your life.


LAYERED GREEK DIP WITH HUMMUS & TZATZIKI SAUCE

Layer the following in your containers. You can decide how much of each ingredient you want to add. I added 1/4 cup of hummus into each dish and divided the tzatziki sauce up between the seven containers.

*Note – next time I will add a little more hummus and less of the tzatziki sauce as the tofu based sour cream was very rich. 

*Hummus (recipe to follow. Store bought would work as well)
* Tzatziki sauce
(recipe to follow)
*Chopped romaine lettuce
(amount depends on how much you want to use. I used approximately three cups)
*Chopped green bell pepper
(I used one medium pepper)
*Chopped kalamata olives (I used approximately 1 cup)
*1 pint of halved grape tomatoes
*Pepperoncini peppers
(I used a couple of Tablespoons per individual dip)
*Vegan Yack Attack’s Herbed Tofu (I used half of her recipe divided between the dips)
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Layered Greek Dip by Produce with Amy

My Vitamix blender is one of my favorite kitchen tools.

My Vitamix blender is one of my favorite kitchen tools.

 

 

HUMMUS
*2 cups of cooked garbanzo beans
*1/8 cup of tahini
*1/8 cup of extra virgin olive oil
*1 clove of garlic
*Cumin to taste (I used close to a teaspoon)
*Salt to taste
(You can add a little water to blend)

 

 

Seeding the cucumbers by running a spoon down the middle will keep the sauce from getting runny.

Seeding the cucumbers by running a spoon down the middle will keep the sauce from getting runny.

TZATZIKI SAUCE

*2 seeded and finely chopped cucumbers
*1 container of Tofutti Dairy Free Sour Cream 12 ounces (if you eat dairy you could substitute plain fat-free Greek yogurt. I recommend the Greek Gods brand)
*1/4 cup of fresh chopped dill
(could substitute a couple teaspoons of dried)
*1/4 cup of finely chopped onion
*1 clove of finely minced garlic
*1 Tablespoon of lemon juice
*1 Tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce (Vegan recipe)
*Salt and pepper to taste

Make sure that you cut up a lot of raw veggies for dipping. I used carrots, cucumbers, celery, and colored bell peppers. Pita chips, tortilla chips, and pretzels would also be great for dipping.

Printable recipe: LAYERED GREEK DIP WITH HUMMUS & TZATZIKI SAUCE

Pin it HERE

The dip stayed fresh throughout the week and was exactly what I hoped it would be. I know that it sounds like a lot of work, but trust me, it is worth it when you taste how fantastic it is. I plan on making a large platter of this dip to bring to my mom’s house for Christmas. The ingredients for this dip also make a wonderful wrap.

If you are like me, variety truly is the spice of life and rotating my meal choices keeps me reaching for healthy food. Thank you for stopping by and make sure you check out all my other recipes. I love being able to share my passion for healthy cooking with you!

Athena, the sweetest little photo bomber.

Athena, the sweetest little photo bomber.

Fall Fusion Jar Salads with Brussels Sprouts, Apple, Walnuts, & Pear Dressing

Fall Fusion Jar Salad by Produce with Amy“It is, in my view, the duty of an apple to be crisp and crunchable, but a pear should have such a texture as leads to silent consumption.”
– Edward Bunyard, ‘The Anatomy of Dessert’

I have a confession to make – I tend to be obsessed with analyzing my blog statistics. On a daily basis, without fail, my most popular posts are my Mason jar salads. It is easy to understand why. Discovering the efficiency, versatility, and freshness of jarred salads can be life-changing. They have transformed my lunches and the way that I look at salad ingredients. When others expressed interest in my recipes I strove to come up with creative, vibrant, and nutritious combinations and the result was over twenty salads with homemade dressing. In fact, I still feel the pull to keep creating and today I will share with you my latest jar salad creation. If jar salads do not fit into your lifestyle, my salads can be plated for your enjoyment as well.

If you are new to Mason jar salads I suggest that you read this post for tips, tricks, and Pear, Pomegranate, and Walnutssuggestions.

My wish was to create a salad that would bring some of my favorite fall flavors together. What speaks more of fall than crisp apples and juicy pears? When I spotted a pomegranate at our local co-op I knew that it would be the perfect addition. I also decided to roast Brussels sprouts to bring out their sweetness and the result is an unforgettable salad that I hope you enjoy as much as I did. Not only is this salad brimming with fall flavor but it is also packed with fiber to help keep you full.

Fall Fusion Salad by Produce with Amy

FALL FUSION SALAD WITH BRUSSELS SPROUTS, APPLE, WALNUTS, & PEAR DRESSING

I divided the following ingredients and layered in the following order in five – one quart sized Mason jars:

*3 – 4 Tablespoons of Pear Dressing (recipe to follow)
*Flax oil (or your favorite salad oil. I added 2 teaspoons to each jar)
*1 quart of yellow grape tomatoes cut in 1/2
*3 sliced pears

*3 sliced apples (your favorite variety)
*1 pomegranate (if you do not have access to fresh pomegranate – blackberries would also work well)
*Raw walnuts (I used 2 Tablespoons per jar)
*2 pounds of roasted Brussels sprouts (recipe to follow)
*Chopped romaine lettuce
Pear Salad Dressing by Produce with Amy

I found raw coconut vinegar at our local co-op.

I found raw coconut vinegar at our local co-op.

PEAR DRESSING

*1 pear
*1/2 cup raw coconut vinegar (or your vinegar of choice. Since I like my vinegar tangy, I like to add more vinegar. If you like yours less tangy you can add the equivalent of water)
*1 Tablespoon of roasted garlic (or 1 clove of raw garlic)
*1 teaspoon of cinnamon
*1/4 cup of oil of your choice (I leave the oil out and add separately to each salad for portion control)

 

Brussels SproutsROASTED BRUSSELS SPROUTS

Cut Brussels sprouts in half and spread on baking sheet. Drizzle with a little bit of olive oil, sprinkle with salt, pepper, and two cloves of minced garlic (toss well). Roast at 400 degrees for 45 minutes (depending on oven). Turn sprouts at the 20 minute mark. Allow to cool before adding to the salad.
Fall Fusion Salad by Produce with Amy

Printable recipe: FALL FUSION SALAD WITH BRUSSELS SPROUTS, APPLE, WALNUTS, & PEAR DRESSING

Pin HERE.

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Make sure you check out my other Salad Recipes.

Thank you for reading and I would love to hear how you found your way to my blog. Make sure to subscribe to my new posts via email and follow me on Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram (links are on the right had side of the page). I love being part of healthy community and learning from each other. I hope you enjoy my salads. Cheers to our health and thriving together!

Black Bean, Lentil, & Quinoa Salad

Black Bean, Lentil, and Quinoa Salad by Produce with Amy“He who is best prepared can best serve his moment of inspiration.”
― Samuel Taylor Coleridge

The topic for last week’s Weight Watchers meeting was Fake It Until You Make It.  In my meetings we discussed what healthy changes we have made to our lifestyle that are now routine. The things that we do automatically – like eating breakfast, drinking water instead of soda, and adding vegetables to our meals to bulk them up. I shared that one of the biggest changes that I made when I joined WW was a weekly shopping trip (sometimes two) to make sure that our house is stocked with fresh fruit and vegetables. Before I joined WW my husband Mike and I would often go on one huge shopping run once or twice a month, and though we love fruit and vegetables, our supply would be depleted. I cannot

The Marquette Food Co-op features a machine to grind your own fresh almond and peanut butter.

The Marquette Food Co-op features a machine to grind your own fresh almond and peanut butter.

imagine how we survived before. Now Mike eats 3-4 pieces of fruit a day and on most days I eat 10-12 servings of fruit and vegetables each day. While fresh produce can be expensive, making sure our house is fully stocked prevents us from scrambling to put meals together and we do not have to rely on expensive take-out.

Another important step in my shopping routine that I practice is meal prep. On the weekends I make soup, dinner entrees, and prep lunches. Yet, even though I try to have a strong plan for the week, sometimes I end up making mistakes. A couple of weeks ago I found that after eating breakfast and lunch that I was still hungry. I realized that I was not eating enough protein at lunch and I had to make some changes.

Mike and I HAD to sample the peanut butter when I got home.

Mike and I HAD to sample the peanut butter when I got home.

Last week I made a layered Greek hummus dip (recipe to be shared soon) and for this week’s lunches I made a protein packed spicy salad with beans, lentils, and quinoa.

Yesterday while shopping I made sure to grind fresh peanut butter at our local food co-op

which I will eat with apples and sprouted Ezekiel bread as a mid-day snack.

The salad recipe is reminiscent of my Confetti Salad. I decided to make a version of it with what I have on hand.

If you have been following my blog you have probably figured out that I like spicy food and this salad can be made to suit your personal taste by controlling the amount of taco seasoning and jalapeno pepper. This salad screams TORTILLA CHIPS. Okay, everything I eat seems to demand tortilla chips – but we all must have our weaknesses and I will make due this week without. This recipe makes eight cups of salad and I packed one cup for my lunch tomorrow. I squeezed a little extra lime and vinegar over the top to give it a little extra zing.
Black Bean, Lentil, and Quinoa Salad by Produce with AmyBLACK BEAN, LENTIL, & QUINOA SALAD

*1 cup of cooked black beans
*1 cup of cooked lentils
*1 cup of cooked quinoa
*1 quart of halved grape tomatoes
*1 chopped green bell pepper
*1 cubed avocado
*1 large clove of minced garlic
*1 seeded and finely chopped jalapeno
*1/2 bunch of chopped cilantro
*1/4 cup of chopped onion
*1/4 cup of lime juice
*2 Tablespoons of raw apple cider vinegar
(or vinegar of your choice)
*1 – 2 Tablespoons of taco seasoning (to taste)

Printable recipe: BLACK BEAN, LENTIL, & QUINOA SALAD

Pin recipe HERE

Check out my other Salad Recipes.

I hope that my recipes help you create healthy routines in your life. Once you start prepping meals ahead for the week you will be hooked. It carves out precious time during the week, saves money, and helps a busy schedule feel more manageable. Make sure that you sign up for email updates of my recipes and let me know which ones are your favorites. Stay tuned for more produce packed dishes. I wish you a productive week!

Broccoli & Zucchini Jar Salads with Creamy Cucumber Dill Dressing

Broccoli & Zucchini Jar Salads with Creamy Cucumber Dill Dressing by Produce with Amy“We need space to be productive, we need places to go to be free.”
― Laure Lacornette

My promise to you, and myself, is that this post will be short and to the point. My weekend to-do list is lengthy and I have many new and healthy recipes to share.

Since I started posting Mason jar salad recipes a couple of years ago, they have been the most popular recipes on my blog. Weekly I receive comments, questions,  and messages of thanks. I love hearing from my readers and it fulfills me to know that my recipes are helping others eat more fruit and vegetables and embrace a healthy lifestyle. Believe me – you help me too!

Glowing Green Mason Jar Salad with Avocado VinaigretteIf you are new to Mason jar salads I recommend that you read this post for tips: Mason Jar Salads: Fresh, Visually Appealing, and Versatile.

I also have to give a huge shout-out and thanks to Tammy at Organize Yourself Skinny for linking my Glowing Green Mason Jar Salads on her post The Ultimate Mason Jar Salad Tutorial and Recipe Round Up. What an honor it is to be included in one of her posts.

For today’s salad I spiralized zucchini to add to the bottom layer and marinate in the dressing. While I am not a fan of kitchen gadgets, I love my spiralizer and this weekend I will be using it to cut ribbons of zucchini to incorporate into a vegetable lasagna (instead of pasta). Here is a link to the spiralizer that I purchased: Paderno World Cuisine Spiralizer.

The dressing in this salad is one of my favorites and I shared it in a previous post. The combination of cucumber and dill is one of my favorites: Creamy Cucumber & Dill Dressing.
Creamy Cucumber and Dill Dressing

BROCCOLI & ZUCCHINI JAR SALADS WITH CREAMY CUCUMBER DILL DRESSING

I divided the following ingredients in this order in 7 – one quart Mason jars:

*4 Tablespoons of Creamy Cucumber Dressing (link to recipe above)
*1 medium spiralized zucchini (you could also slice the squash)
*Sunflower seeds (I added 2 Tablespoons per jar)
*1 quart of halved cherry tomatoes
*1 head of chopped, blanched broccoli (to blanch broccoli I bring a pot of water to a boilBlanched Broccoli and immerse the chopped broccoli and cook for 3-4 minutes. I take out of the boiling water and instantly immerse in a bowl of ice water. The ice water shocks the broccoli and it is lightly cooks, turns bright green, and retains some of its crispness)
*Romaine lettuce
*Croutons (the croutons were an experiment. They did get soggy after sitting in the jars for a few days. I did not mind this since it reminded me of a panzanella salad. However, if you want your croutons crisp – I would recommend leaving them out and add them right before eating your salad)

Pin this recipe HERE.
Broccoli & Zucchini Mason Jar Salads with Creamy Cucumber Dill DressingThe dressing in this salad works well with the broccoli and zucchini and I hope that you enjoy it. I love being able to prep salads once and being able to eat healthy all week. This weekend I am creating a new jar salad recipe with an autumn theme. It will feature crisp apples and a glorious pear dressing – so stay tuned.

In the meantime, make sure you check out my other Jar Salad Recipes. Thank you for stopping by and please feel free to share my recipes with others. I would love to hear from you. Healthy food prep may take time but remember that we are worth all the hard work. Cheers to our health!

Produce with Amy


 

Vegetable Herbed Pasta Salad with Homemade Dressing – Fresh and Versatile

Vegetable Herbed Pasta Salad “I want every day to be a fresh start on expanding what is possible.”
― Oprah Winfrey

It has been a challenging summer on many levels. Not only has the weather been cool in the U.P. of Michigan, but I have been facing many personal stresses. Unfortunately, I have allowed myself to make excuses and have abandoned many of my healthy routines. Instead of waiting for the 1st of August to make changes – my husband and I hit the reset button yesterday. We are starting each morning with a green smoothie, reducing our caffeine to one cup of coffee or green tea, eliminating adult beverages, engaging in more strenuous exercise, and are sticking to clean meals. While we are healthy eaters in the past couple months – I have slipped into cooking unhealthy meals for my husband. This means that I find myself also munching on homemade fries or breakfast potatoes, chips, and other things that have zero nutritional value. Once we eliminate these foods – we do not miss them.

In addition to a healthier lifestyle, I have many blog posts in the works. This post includes a recipe that I shared on my Facebook page in May. It is for a vegetable and pasta salad recipe. Forget dressing your salad with bottled dressing – because homemade dressing is simple to make from your pantry. You can follow my basic recipe and toss in whatever vegetables you have on hand. Roasted or grilled vegetables make a great addition to this salad – zucchini, eggplant, mushrooms, asparagus, and Brussels sprouts are some of my favorites. In the summer I like to grill vegetable kabob and I make a few extra skewers to toss into salads. The flavors in this salad improve as it sits. I portion into individual containers and add a splash of extra vinegar to the top (aged balsamic vinegar adds a lot of flavor). If you are a Weight Watchers member, this salad works perfectly for Simple Start or the Simply Filling Technique since it is made up of Power Foods. For additional points olives are great in this salad and you can add your favorite protein for a complete meal. This week I am going to make a version of this salad and I will swap out the whole wheat pasta with quinoa and brown rice for something different.
Pasta salad

VEGETABLE HERBED PASTA SALAD

*1 package of cooked whole wheat pasta (sometimes I do not use the whole package depending on how much pasta I want in the salad)
*1 quart of halved grape tomatoes
*1 chopped cucumber,
*5 peeled and chopped carrots
*4 ribs of chopped celery
*1 bunch of fresh, chopped parsley
*1/4 of a medium, chopped onion
*2 cloves of minced garlic
*juice and zest of one lemon
*1/4 cup raw apple cider vinegar
*1 teaspoon each of dried dill, oregano, basil (in the summer I use fresh garden herbs and I also add fresh chives)
*pinch of salt and pepper.
*I add 2 teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil to each serving for portion control.

Printable recipe: VEGETABLE HERBED PASTA SALAD   

Pin the recipe HERE.

Make sure that you check out my Salad tab for other recipes.

Today I am working on recipes for an August Green Smoothie Challenge. If you have a favorite recipe, let me know and I will feature it in my post (I will give you credit). You can send me an email at amyslaitinen@gmail.com or message me on my Facebook Page. If you would like, please include biographical information about yourself and even a photo. Thank you! I am looking forward to drinking a month’s worth of green smoothies with my friends. Cheers to our health!
New Year Green Smoothie Challenge

Raw Zucchini Noodles with Lemon Basil Pesto

 

Raw Zucchini Noodles with Lemon Basil Pesto by Produce with Amy

“…we opened
two halves
of a miracle,
congealed acid
trickled
from the hemispheres
of a star,
the most intense liqueur
of nature,
unique, vivid,
concentrated…
-Pablo Neruda Ode to a Lemon

If you are like me, the mere thought of both lemon and basil can make your mouth water. Coming in second to taste – is their fragrance. I have always been enamored with the scent of basil and in the summer I make sure to plant many packets of basil seeds in my container garden. I have always said that I could bathe in water perfumed with the bruised leaves of basil (and maybe I have).

Pesto by Produce with Amy

Pesto is one of my favorite flavors and I love to freeze it for a taste of summer when the temperatures outside plunge and I need a mood enhancer. Trust me, pesto has the power to transport one to a beautiful July afternoon.

The pesto recipe that I am sharing today is not a traditional pesto recipe since it does not incorporate pine nuts or parmesan cheese. While I love the addition of pine nuts,

I buy raw nuts in the bulk section of our local co-op. However, I also purchase raw nuts from Target.

I buy raw nuts in the bulk section of our local co-op. However, I also purchase raw nuts from Target.

I did not have them on hand and most of my recipes are assembled by what is in the house. Since raw nuts are one of my protein and pantry staples – I used a raw nut mix that I purchase at Target. Our local food co-op has an incredible selection of raw nuts in the bulk section but they are currently out of my price range. The nuts provide a protein boost and I love the smooth and buttery flavor they give the pesto (trust me…you will not miss the cheese).

I bought a Paderno World Cuisine Spiralizer last summer and I knew that I would love raw zucchini noodles. For years I have enjoyed making summer salads out of thinly sliced zucchini (shingled and layered on a plate) and sprinkled with extra virgin olive oil, leeks or onion, lemon juice, and fresh herbs. It was a technique that I had learned from the Food Network after watching Tyler Florence make a similar salad. He explained that you should let the zucchini sit so the acids in the lemon juice soften and “cook” the squash.

The spiralizer makes easy work of processing the zucchini and I suggest letting the salad rest at least an hour before eating. It does taste better the longer the ingredients marry so it is the perfect dish to make for a gathering.

When I made this recipe last week my husband and I ate the zucchini noodles as they are pictured but normally I add in extra produce. Some of my favorite additions are tomatoes (fresh or sun-dried), colored bell peppers,  spinach, mushrooms, olives, and even roasted or boiled red or Yukon gold potatoes (the potatoes are incredible when they are folded into the cold zucchini noodles when they are still hot. When they are warm the potatoes really absorb the pesto).

 

PestoRAW ZUCCHINI NOODLES WITH LEMON BASIL PESTO

  • 3 small zucchini spiralized
  • Fresh basil (approximately 1 cup…loosely packed. I used a combination of sweet basil and lemon basil that I have in my garden)
  • 1/4 cup of raw nuts 
  • 1 large clove of garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon of fresh chives (optional. In the summer since I have chives in my garden I add them to everything)
  • Juice and zest of one lemon (if you are using bottled lemon juice – 1/4 – 1/2 cup depending on how tart you like the pesto)
  • 1/8 – 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil (I do not add the oil to my pesto but instead add oil to the top of the dish before serving for portion control)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Add the basil, nuts, garlic, chives, lemon juice and zest, and salt and pepper to a blender and blend until smooth.

I added approximately 3/4 of the pesto to the spiralized zucchini and let it sit for a couple hours in the refrigerator. I let the bowl sit out for 20-30 minutes before serving since I like this dish closer to room temperature. The remaining pesto I will use for dinner this week.

Raw Zucchini Noodles with Pesto

Printable recipe: RAW ZUCCHINI NOODLES WITH LEMON BASIL PESTO

Pin the zucchini HERE.

These raw zucchini noodles with pesto would make a great layer for a jar salad and they make a great salad bed (in place of or with greens) or as an accompaniment to your favorite grilled items. I love to top mine with a giant grilled portabella mushroom cap or vegetable kebobs.

Raw Zucchini Pesto Noodles

If you are interested in other zucchini noodle recipes make sure you check out my Zucchini Noodle Soup.

Scarlet Salads in a Jar with Cherry Chipotle VinaigretteI also love to spiralize raw beets to use in salads, check out my Scarlet Salad recipe.

Please make sure to stop by my Facebook Page and give it a “like” and sign up for email updates of my posts. Follow me on Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram, and Twitter.

I hope that you enjoy this simple pesto recipe and I would love to hear back from you if you try it. In the next couple days be on the lookout for my favorite cold savory green soup recipe and shortly I will be sharing printable recipes and a shopping list for an August Green Smoothie Challenge. I thought that a green smoothie a day would be a great way to celebrate summer fruit and produce  and I hope that you will join me!
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Cherry BBQ Salad with Nectarine, Avocado, Sweet Potato, Basil, & Tempeh

Salad with Cherry BBQ Dressing by Produce with Amy“There was something rather blousy about roses in full bloom, something shallow and raucous, like women with untidy hair.” – Daphne du Maurier (Rebecca)

Rose Collage

The last of the peonies.It has been a cool summer in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and my garden has not been doing well. I kept things simple this year and have six tomato plants, spinach and kale, beans, peas, squash, a couple of cucumbers, and herbs. My flowers are flourishing but sadly I said goodbye to the peonies this weekend. They weeped nearly all their petals on the lawn and at the same time my white rose erupted into bloom. It is punctual since last year it opened its petals around Independence Day as well.

One thing that I make sure that I take advantage of in the summer is the offering of fruit and berries available at the grocers. Last week I purchased cherries, nectarines, plums, watermelon, and strawberries.Cherries

Since I love fruit on salads I wanted to create a combination that involved cherries. I have been experimenting with making my own BBQ sauce and decided that I would allow a sweet and tangy sauce inspire my salad dressing.

The resulting Cherry BBQ Salad Dressing was pleasing and I knew that it had to be shared. To make it a dressing I added extra vinegar. If you want to use it as a BBQ sauce you can reduce the amount of vinegar in the recipe and it will be sweeter and thicker. It can be tweaked to your personal taste. My recipe is rather mild tasting and you could add more garlic, liquid smoke, and your favorite spices. I think it would also work well as a marinade.

Cherry BBQ Dressing by Produce with AmyCHERRY BBQ DRESSING (Printable recipe below)

  • 1 1/2 cup of fresh, pitted cherries (frozen would work)
  • 3/4 – 1 cup of vinegar (I used raw apple cider vinegar. I like tart dressing but if you do not, I suggest a little at a time. You can always use water to thin the dressing if it is too thick. Use a Tablespoon or so of vinegar if you want to use it as a sauce, unless you like your BBQ extra tangy)
  • 8 ounces of tomato sauce
  • 1 large clove of garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon of onion
  • 1 Tablespoon of Molasses (Add more if you like your dressing sweeter. You could also use brown sugar or your favorite sweetener but I like the flavor of molasses)
  • 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (if you follow a plant-based diet you can find many recipes on-line. Here is the one that I used.)
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • Sprig of fresh oregano (about three inches long. Could use a teaspoon of dried)
  • Tablespoon of fresh chives (I have chives in my garden so in the summer I use them in most dishes)
  • 1/8-1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil (I omit the oil and add it to each salad instead for portion control)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Blend dressing well and make final tweaks in ingredients based on your personal taste. This recipe made 2 and 1/4 cups of dressing. I will be using it this week as a marinade for grilling. Because the vinegar acts as a preservative, homemade dressing will last over a month in the refrigerator. I store my dressing in a Mason jar with a metal lid.

 

Ingredients for Cherry BBQ SaladCHERRY BBQ SALAD WITH NECTARINE, AVOCADO, SWEET POTATO, BASIL, & TEMPEH

Cherry BBQ Jar Salad by Produce with AmyI used the following ingredients to make two jar salads and two plated salads, so I divided each ingredient into four. If you are new to Mason jar salads you may want to read this post.

  • Cherry BBQ Dressing (I use 3-4 Tablespoons per salad. Since I make my own dressing and add the oil separately, I am able to use more dressing)
  • Extra virgin olive oil (2 teaspoons per salad)
  • 2 large sweet potatoes cubed and divided into four. (I scrubbed well, left the peeling on, wrapped in tinfoil, and baked. One of the heating elements is out in my oven so I check often until the potato is soft. If your oven is working correctly, I would suggest 30-45 minutes at 350-400 degrees. I know – a food blogger with a broken oven? 😉 A new one is on our long list of items that we have to purchase but our budget does not allow us to do so now…one of these days.)
  • 3 sliced avocado  
  • 2 sliced nectarines 
  • 4 Tablespoons fresh chopped basil ( I topped the nectarine with the basil since I enjoy the flavor combination)
  • 4 small onions,  caramelized (cut the onions into rings and cook on low in the oil of Cherry BBQ Tempeh by Produce with Amyyour choice until brown and soft. I used coconut oil)
  • 40 cherries, pitted and halved
  • 1 small package (8 ounces) of tempeh. Dip the tempeh in the Cherry BBQ Dressing and sear in a hot pan with oil for a couple of minutes. (I do try to limit my soy intake but this tempeh is fantastic. My husband does eat meat so the next time I will use meat for him since he is not a huge fan of tempeh and I do not like to give him soy. As an alternate protein source for myself I may add raw nuts or white beans)
  • One bag of spinach (or greens of your choice)

*Note – you can serve the tempeh and the onions warm or cold.

Printable RecipeCHERRY BBQ Salad

Cherry BBQ Salad with Sweet Potatoes, Avocado, and Nectarines

This salad speaks loudly of summer and I love all the lush textures and flavors. If you are interested, check out my other salad recipes and my other salad dressing recipes.

Cherry BBQ Salads

Here are other recipes that incorporate cherries: Scarlet Salads in a Jar with Cherry Chipotle Vinaigrette

Cherry Almond Coconut Shake

Cherry Limeade Green Smoothie

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BBQ Cherry Jar Salad by Produce with Amy

Cherry BBQ Salad Dressing or Sauce by Produce with Amy

 

Summer is the perfect time to experiment with fresh produce and find out what suits your taste buds. I promise to keep posting fresh and tantalizing recipes and if you try one, let me know what you think. I wish you a summer filled with healthy choices and time to appreciate the outdoors. Thank you for joining me on the journey to eat more fruit and vegetables.

Bloom

Pink Peony

Cherry BBQ Salad Plate by Produce with Amy

Spectrum Salad with Chili Lime Dressing

Spectrum Salad with Chili Lime Dressing Three Ways by Produce with Amy “Why do two colors, put one next to the other, sing? Can one really explain this? no. Just as one can never learn how to paint.” 
― Pablo Picasso

Summer salads are here – but to be fair – salads are my favorite year round. It is not that I think that you have to eat salads to be healthy, but I love the endless variety of fresh vegetables, fruit, homemade dressing and the creativity that comes with coming up with different flavor and nutrient combinations. All school year I made jar salads for lunch  and the last couple of months I have enjoyed making pasta salads. If you like pasta salad you might want to check out my recipe for Vegetable Filled Pasta Salad with Artichoke Hearts, Capers, and Dill which I have received many positive reviews.

In May I started making bento-styled lunches in three cup Pyrex containers. Instead of making Mason jar salads a week in advance, I would use the leftovers from dinner and other vegetables that I had on hand and make a couple at a time. I would drizzle with homemade dressing, and like always, I would add two teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil to each salad for portion control.

Lunch1

Fresh cilantro, tomatoes, asparagus, cilantro, mixed vegetables, broccoli, sweet potatoes, and chili lime dressing.

Lunch

Whole wheat spaghetti with Brussels sprouts, broccoli, asparagus, grape tomatoes, cucumbers, celery, carrots, capers, green garlic olives, kalamata olives and my Greek Vinaigrette Dressing.

Lunch 2

Edamame, broccoli, tomato, and asparagus dressed with chili lime dressing over rice. Eat warm or cold.

When I make salads, I like to bulk them up with ingredients that are going to have staying power. I love to add beans or raw nuts for protein and whole wheat pasta, other grains, or quinoa. For the salad that I am sharing today, I decided to use rice noodles – because I thought they would work well with the spicy chili lime dressing. My husband Mike loves rice noodles and I usually have them on hand. They come in a variety of textures (for this salad I used a thicker noodle) but the thin strands would work well too.

When I made the salad I prepared it three ways – in a jar, plated, and in rectangular Pyrex containers – so you could see the salad multiple ways. I love to create vibrant salads, since we eat with our eyes first, and I think that taking time to artfully arrange food helps deepen our enjoyment and brings eating to a new level.

12

How much of each ingredient you use will depend on how many salads you want to create. I made two Mason jar salads, three Pyrex salads (three cups), and one plated salad with the following:

SPECTRUM SALAD WITH CHILI LIME DRESSING

  • 1 quart of cherry tomatoes halved Rice Noodles
  • 5 carrots peeled and chopped
  • 1 yellow bell pepper chopped
  • 1 head of broccoli, steamed (I used one large bag of frozen since that is what I had on hand)
  • 1 twelve ounce bag of edamame (I find mine the “healthy” freezer section. I always make sure the edamame that I purchase is organic)
  • 1/2 head of purple/red cabbage, chopped
  • Rice noodles, cooked (I used 1/2 of a 16 ounce package)

Homemade Chili Lime Dressing by Produce with Amy

CHILI LIME DRESSINGChili Sauce

  • 1 cup of rice vinegar
  • 1 lime (juice and zest. If you are using bottled lime juice, one lime rendered 1/4 cup)
  • 1 clove of minced garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons of sesame oil (sesame oil has a very distinct taste and I love to use it to stir fry vegetables as well)
  • 2 Tablespoons of tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon garlic chili sauce (I purchase this sauce at Target and many grocery stores carry it in the Asian food section. Warning — chili sauce is SPICY so you may want to add a little at a time. I like heat so I even added more after mixing)
  • 1 Tablespoon of finely chopped onion (I used red onion but green onions would be great for this dressing)
  • 1 Tablespoon of finely chopped fresh ginger root (ginger has a very strong taste and if you are not used to it, I suggest adding a little at a time)
  • Fresh cilantro, finely chopped (1 used 1/4 cup. If you do not like cilantro, parsley would work well)
  • Sprig of fresh mint finely chopped, (since I have it in my garden, I add mint to everything in the summer)
  • Fresh chives, finely chopped (the same as the mint)

Normally, when I make dressing, I use my Vitamix blender. However, for this dressing, I wanted a chunkier consistency so I added all the ingredients into a pint-sized mason jar, put the lid on and gave it a good shake. I added 4 Tablespoons of dressing to the bottom of the two Mason jars and divided the rest between the other salads.

PRINTABLE RECIPE:SPECTRUM SALAD WITH CHILI LIME DRESSING by producewithamy

Plated Spectrum Salad by Produce with AmySpectrum Salad in a Jar by Produce with AmySpectrum Salad in Pyrex Containers

I hope you enjoy this salad as much as I did. I am going to make different varieties this summer and I think it will be great with different stone fruit (especially nectarines and peaches).

Please make sure you stop by my Facebook page, sign up for email updates of my posts, and follow my posts on Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram, and Twitter.

If you try this recipe, please let me know what you think. I love hearing from other health-minded individuals and the tweaks and additions that others make to fit personal tastes. Thank you for joining me in the journey to eat more fruit and vegetables. Together we can thrive and embrace a healthy lifestyle. I look forward to sharing more recipes with you!

My poppies started to bloom this week.

My poppies started to bloom this week.

My light pink peonies loved today's rain and started to unfurl.

My light pink peonies loved today’s rain and started to unfurl.

 

 

 

Vegetable Filled Pasta Salad with Artichoke Hearts, Capers, & Dill

Vegetable Pasta Salad with Artichoke Hearts, Capers, and Dill by Produce with Amy“Woods were ringed with a colour so soft, so subtle that it could scarcely be said to be a colour at all. It was more the idea of a colour – as if the trees were dreaming green dreams or thinking green thoughts.” – Susanna Clarke

Mike and Phoebe on the Heritage Trail I think it is safe to say that winter in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan is over. Today, on the 1st of June, it feels like we have been given a fresh start. To celebrate I broke open a fresh journal – clean pages – just like today’s freshly washed sky. Last week – Mike, Phoebe, and I enjoyed the blissful weather. The freshly minted leaves startled our senses, so green and new that they jolted us awake. As we hiked, the air itself appeared green. Vibrations of chartreuse permeated our vision like a green haze. It made our hearts soar and we were thankful.

GardenYesterday I started my container garden and decided that instead of buying ornamental fillers (vines and greenery) for my flower boxes,  I will use edible plants. I planted cilantro, parsley, dill, and basil. Instead of using morning glories as climbers, I planted peas and beans. I cannot wait to watch them progress over the summer. Our perennial herbs planted outside (chives, sage, oregano, thyme, mint, and lavender) are starting to flourish with the warm temperatures. I earned 5 Activity Points Plus hauling planters from the basement and did lots of squats weeding.

The school year is rushing to a close and I have six more days with my students before summer break is here. My goal for the summer is to share a minimum of two blog posts a week. My journal is quickly filling up with potential ideas and recipes. Though, I have been busy, I have continued to eat healthy and my favorite lunch or dinner for the past couple weeks has been vegetable filled pasta salad. I have been tracking Points Plus on weekends and sticking with the Simply Filling Technique on weekends. This way of eating, partnered with increased activity, has helped me lose 5 pounds in the last three weeks.

The salad that I am sharing today consists of 100% Power Foods. I am trying to reduce my intake of sugary fruit and am trying to incorporate more vegetables (I do eat fruit and am currently eating berries, green apples, and grapefruit – with small amounts of other fruit in my green smoothies).

A couple weeks ago, the topic in the Weight Watchers weekly handout was fiber. One of the high fiber foods that was mentioned was artichokes. I love artichoke hearts in salad and on pizza so I decided to incorporate some into my lunch for the week.

This photo was taken a couple years ago at my brother Jamie's on Christmas. I was making him artichoke dip...one of his favorites.

This photo was taken a couple years ago at my brother Jamie’s on Christmas. I was making him artichoke dip…one of his favorites.

Salad by Produce with Amy

VEGETABLE FILLED PASTA SALAD WITH ARTICHOKE HEARTS, CAPERS, & DILL

  • 4 cups of cooked whole wheat penne pasta (approximately 1/2 box of 13.25 ounce pasta)
  • 1 – 14 ounce can of artichoke heartsVegetables
  • 1 pint of halved grape tomatoes
  • 1 chopped yellow bell pepper
  • 3 cups of asparagus (I was going to use broccoli but our neighbor brought over wild asparagus that he picked)
  • 3 peeled and chopped carrots
  • 4 ribs of chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup of chopped onion
  • 3.5 ounces of capers (drained)
  • Fresh chopped dill to taste (I used one small clamshell that I purchased in the produce section)

DRESSING

  • 3/4 cup of red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice (1 juiced lemon and zest ~ if you use fresh)
  • 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard (spicy brown mustard also works well)
  • 1 clove of minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano 
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil (I am going to add 2 teaspoons of oil to each serving for portion control)

Chop all the ingredients and mix in large bowl. This salad makes approximately 12 cups. My husband and I will eat it all week. If you want a smaller portion you could reduce all the ingredients.

This salad would make a fantastic addition to a cook out or gathering. It takes better the longer it sits and will stay fresh for over a week (7-10 days).

Printable Recipe: VEGETABLE FILLED PASTA SALAD WITH ARTICHOKE HEARTS

Vegetable Filled Pasta Salad with Artichoke Hearts, Capers, and Dill by Produce with Amy

 

If you like this salad you may want to check out my other salad recipes.

Please make sure you stop by my Facebook page, sign up for email updates of my posts, and follow my posts on Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram, and Twitter.

If you try this recipe, please let me know what you think. I would love to hear from you. Thank you for joining me in the journey to eat more fruit and vegetables. Together we can thrive and embrace a healthy lifestyle. I look forward to sharing more recipes with you this summer.

Phoebe met two adorable Corgis down the street from our house.

Phoebe met two adorable Corgis down the street from our house.

Our neighborhood is bursting with spring!

Our neighborhood is bursting with spring!

My first flowers from my garden this season: Bleeding Hearts and Lily of the Valley.

My first flowers from my garden this season: Bleeding Hearts and Lily of the Valley with some of my vintage glass.