“Autumn that year painted the countryside in vivid shades of scarlet, saffron, and russet, and the days were clear and crisp under the harvest skies.” – Sharon Kay Penman

There’s a reason we named our homestead, “Superior Maple Grove Farm”

As much as I dislike seeing the warm weather fade away, I am determined to welcome autumn into my heart. Owning a farm has helped me appreciate the changing of the seasons in a deeper sense. Since I am a teacher I am also thankful that this fall that we have the opportunity to return to school face-to-face. I craved my work routine and I missed my students. Yet, last week we had to close our building’s doors again. I am not sure how long we will be engaged in distance learning, but right now it’s slated for three weeks.

As I welcomed my students back to school in September, we discussed how 2020 was a challenging year, and depending on how you look at it, Covid-19 may have taken many things from us: The end of the school year, time with family/friends with health problems, and opportunities to travel. However, we discussed how if you are a “glass is ½ full” type of person, maybe Covid-19 presented you with opportunities: More time with immediate family members, an organized house and living space, time to exercise, and home cooked meals. We all agreed that the pandemic taught us to appreciate the moment we are in because things can change suddenly.

When I asked my students what they had gained from the pandemic, every hour several students joked that they had gained weight and how they were making a commitment to eat healthier. We discussed how we all need to make our health a priority and that what we put into our bodies is as important is making sure our hands are washed and that we maintain proper social distance protocol. When we did goal planning I had several athletes who made personal goals to eat more servings of fruit and vegetables.

While I am not one to get all giddy over pumpkin flavored lattes, I do enjoy pumpkin in recipes. Last year I learned by accident that pumpkins are quite easy to grow. I planted a few pumpkin seeds at the bottom of our duck pond and their vines thrived. The pond is rimmed with rocks from our property and I think that the pumpkin plants do well because the rocks collect warmth from the sun. Not only am I able to grow several pumpkins from only a few seeds, but the foliage is lovely and softens the edge of the pond and the flowers provide a pop of ornamental color. This year I made sure to plant pumpkins that are recommended for their culinary flavor and texture.

When I came up with this recipe, I was looking for a healthy alternative to ice cream. I was curious about the combination of pumpkin and chocolate and was pleased with the results. I hope you enjoy the flavor combination while your body enjoys the nutritional benefits. Pumpkin is high in beta carotene (which our body converts to Vitamin A), potassium, and fiber. 

Guilt Free Chocolate & Pumpkin Shake


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

I would recommend experimenting with the amount of cocoa powder and vanilla that you want to add. I have found that the taste and strength varies greatly by brand. The same with the banana and the ice-cubes (depending on how thick you want your shake). You could also freeze the milk and pumpkin to add thickness. Walnuts, or other nuts, are a great compliment to your shake and sometimes I also add a hint of molasses for depth and earthiness. You could also swap out the cocoa powder for chocolate protein powder if you want to amp up the filling power of this shake.

May this recipe during these challenging times help you see your glass is at least ½ full. The cooler weather may force us to dig deep and find our grit and resilience. However, those traits are inherent in us Yoopers (and Americans). That is what we do!

I am making a commitment to myself to keep creating healthy recipes to share with you. They will help us boost our health and immune system, make sure you check out the tab at the top of the page for more recipes that maximize the power of produce. Take care of yourself and take care of each other!

I can’t think of a more beautiful place to call home and shelter in place.


“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

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.


*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!

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 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

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


  • 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.

Please make sure to stop by my Facebook Page and give it a “like” and make sure you sign up for email updates of my posts. Follow me on Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram, and Twitter. As always, please feel free to share my posts with others who embrace a healthy lifestyle.

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…”

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

  • 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)


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.


  • 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.


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.


Peach & Raspberry Cobbler Shake ~ Plant-Based & Guilt Free

Guilt-Free Peach & Raspberry Cobbler Shake by Produce with Amy“Freedom from obsession is not about something you do; it’s about knowing who you are. It’s about recognizing what sustains you and what exhausts you. What you love and what you think you love because you believe you can’t have it.” 
― Geneen Roth

Over the past couple months I have received several requests for plant-based desserts. Unfortunately, I am not much of a baker and in recent years my sweet tooth has been replaced by a love for salty and savory food. It may be due to the fact that I eat a lot of fruit and that my body and taste buds have adjusted to not consuming refined sugar very often. When I do get a sugary urge for something, other than a piece of fruit, I assemble healthy ingredients in my Vitamix blender and mix up a smoothie.

Since I have had recent requests for desserts, I decided that I would share some of my non-green smoothie recipes. The combination that I am sharing today tastes more like a milk shake than a smoothie. It tastes creamy, indulgent, but because it is made with frozen fruit and coconut water, it still has a refreshing edge to it.

When I first started experimenting with a plant-based diet, I started buying coconut and almond milk as a dairy substitute. I have noticed that these products have gained popularity, and not just for those who are lactose intolerant or those who follow a plant-based diet. I know that many of my Weight Watchers members gravitate toward it because the unsweetened varieties are lower in Points Plus than cow’s milk. However, if you are concerned about the nutritional value of food and trying to eat as cleanly as possible, I recommend that you look at the ingredient list on the packaged version of these dairy substitutes. Unfortunately, many of the products carry a long list of ingredients (most of which we do not recognize as real food). I do not imagine that almond milk contains many almonds because if it did they would have to charge much more for it (you know this if you have purchased almonds lately since they carry a relatively high price tag).

Peach & Raspberry ShakeWhat I have been trying to do is to make my own nut based milks with raw nuts and my Vitamix. I have bought dairy substitutes on occasion for convenience. The couple times that I did purchase almond milk, most went down the drain since I do not use it often.

For Weight Watchers members who are concerned about the PP value of this smoothie, I find that smoothies or shakes that I make with raw nuts (instead of dairy substitutes) tend to be much more filling. Nuts do have healthy fats and supply protein as well. So not only is this shake a great way to satisfy a sweet tooth but it is also strong nutritionally speaking. It is well worth the PP since it is real food.

For this shake I decided to use plain coconut water and raw nuts as the base. I used a mix of nuts (walnuts, cashews, almonds, macadamia, and pistachio) and I soaked them overnight (but they can be soaked a couple of hours in advance). Soaking raw nuts helps increase their enzymes and nutritional value, makes them easy to digest, and will make them softer and have a less gritty texture in recipes.

Ingredients for Peach & Raspberry Cobbler Shake by Produce with AmyPEACH & RASPBERRY COBBLER SHAKE

  • 1 cup frozen peaches
  • 1/2 cup frozen raspberries
  • 1/4 of a frozen banana (I added this after a quick taste of the shake because it needed to be a touch sweeter for my taste. If you want the shake sweeter add more banana)
  • 1/4 of raw, soaked nuts
  • 1 teaspoon real vanilla extract
  • Cinnamon to taste (I added approximately 1/2 a teaspoon and sprinkled more on the top before blending)
  • 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. This shake is versatile and you add your choice of fruit, but I recommend freezing the fruit first so the shake is thick.

Printable Recipe: Peach & Raspberry Cobbler Shake

Pin it HERE.
10Peach & Raspberry Dairy-Free ShakeRaspberry & Peach Cobbler ShakeFinding healthy ways to satisfy our cravings is simple if you use the right ingredients. I love to experiment with different combinations and enjoy being able to share my findings with you. If you like this shake you might want to try my Guilt Free Chocolate Pumpkin Shake and my Chocolate Covered Strawberry Smoothie.

If you enjoy my blog please stop by my Facebook page and give it a like and join the conversation. I love hearing from those who try my recipes and the tweaks made so they fit one’s personal taste and lifestyle. Healthy and delicious food is one of my passions and I am so thankful for the opportunity to share and learn together. I look forward to hearing from you. Cheers to our health!



Chocolate Covered Strawberry Smoothie ~ Plant-Based & Healthy


Chocolate Covered Strawberry Smoothie“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant.” –  Anne Bradstreet

Patience. I am trying to exercise patience waiting for spring. However, yesterday on my way to work my Jeep registered -22. We still have loads of snow outside and I am determined to believe that it will make spring even sweeter. I do know that I am looking forward to being on spring holiday next week so watch for a flurry of blog posts. I have many recipes to post, including a Creamy White Bean Soup with Green Chilis, Kale, and Tomatoes, a couple jarred salads, mushroom stroganoff, and I am dreaming up a couple more.

Tonight I was dreaming about summer and thinking about how I would like to share some smoothie recipes that would be a healthy, plant-based substitute for ice cream. Sometimes I want something sweet after dinner (aside from fresh fruit) and when this happens I like to blend up a dessert smoothie. Tonight I made a Chocolate Covered Strawberry Smoothie and it was perfect. It only had four simple ingredients and was free from artificial ingredients and refined sugar.


*1 cup frozen strawberries
*1 frozen banana
*2 teaspoons of unsweetened cocoa powder (or to taste)
*1 cup coconut water (I sometimes use coconut or almond milk but I am trying to stay away from all the processed additives in store-bought versions. I like to make my own nut milks but tonight I went for the easy route.)

This recipe is also delicious with cherries and you could add spinach and chia, hemp, or flax seeds for a nutritional burst.

Check out my other smoothie recipes HERE. 

I hope you enjoy this smoothie much as I did. Please make sure to stop by my Facebook page and feel free to share my recipes. Stay tuned for more ideas how to incorporate more fruit and vegetables into your meal plan.