Sunshine Salad in a Jar with Kicky Mango Vinaigrette

Sunshine Salad with Kicky Mango Vinaigrette by Produce with Amy“Even trained for years as we all had been in precision of language, what words could you use which would give another the experience of sunshine.” 
― Lois Lowry 

Today was to be my first day back to school/work after a two-week holiday hiatus but Mother Nature had other plans. In the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Lower Michigan, and all across the Midwest, school has been closed due to harsh sub-zero temperatures and voluminous snow. Truth be told, I was ready to reclaim my work routines. I crave the structure of a schedule ~ regular bedtime, mealtimes, and purpose. This makes me believe that full-retirement will never be an option for me because I would suffer a completely rootless existence (okay, maybe I am being a tad bit dramatic) but two weeks has been a long time to be away from my classroom and I am anxious to have my students compile their poetry portfolios.

Last night I decided that I needed to make the most of an extra day off and this morning I savored a quiet house and writing time. The blank pages of my journal were pure potential. Linen pages spread out like a glistening frosted meadow and my scrawling lines plowed through the smooth, icyA poppy from my summer garden whiteness. Perhaps in January it is easier to find precise words to describe the winter landscape. Though, it is light that I crave. I covet Facebook posts from my friends who live in southern locations and I peek at the photos of sunshine sifting through my summer blooms. Perhaps it is this hope that helps us go on with our days. I believe that metaphorically summer gives us something to look forward to and encourages us to toil and work hard.

The eternal optimist that tries to dominate my heart (usually with success) believes that we must make our own sunshine. The space that I try to create is filled with color and it makes me believe that is why I am so passionate about eating a variety of fruit and vegetables. I find myself in constant awe at the glorious colors and art in food presentation. Perhaps I missed my calling? Maybe not. Without a doubt I believe that I was meant to be an English teacher and one day I will find a way to combine my love of blogging and food writing with teaching. Maybe post-retirement I will teach blogging workshops? Cooking classes? Food writing? Maybe I will take nutrition courses and open a cafe that has poetry workshops and readings? Maybe I will etch poetry on jars and market my own salad line? Maybe I will travel and publish place-conscious cookbooks? Maybe I will use my broadcasting degree from Marquette University and host my own cooking show?

Okay, it appears as if the cold may be making me delirious and I am getting ahead of myself. Right now I need to focus on my thirteenth year of teaching and continue to share vibrant vegetable recipes on my blog. I must thank my readers for encouraging me to share my recipes. I may be situated in a very remote area of the United States that is often omitted from many maps, but social networking allows us to connect.

Sunshine Salad with Mango DressingAs you can see from my last post, Top Ten Posts of 2013, my most popular recipes to date have been jarred salads. This does not surprise me, for as I have said previously, jarred salads are visually stunning and look like lovely edible terrarium gardens. Whether you tote them to work or keep them in your refrigerator at home, they will entice you to eat more vegetables, fruit, and greens. If you are new to jarred salads you might want to read this post.

When coming up with the recipe that I am going to share today, I intentionally wanted to create a bright, layered salad that utilized orange and yellow hued produce specifically for its health benefits. I also wanted to give the dressing a little heat, so I kicked it up with fresh jalapeno.

“These bright-colored fruits and vegetables contain zeaxanthin, flavonoids, lycopene, potassium, vitamin C and beta-carotene, which is vitamin A.

The nutrients help our bodies in many different ways, from our eyes to our bones:

  1. Aids in eye health and reduces the risk of macular degeneration of the eye
  2. Reduces the risk of prostate cancer
  3. Lowers blood pressure
  4. Lowers LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol)
  5. Promotes healthy joints
  6. Promotes collagen formation
  7. Fights harmful free radicals in the body
  8. Encourages pH balance of the body
  9. Boosts immune system
  10. Builds healthier bones by working with calcium and magnesium”
    Source: 10 Reasons to Eat Orange and Yellow Fruits and Veggies

I also remembered reading research that documented the complexion promoting benefits of lycopene and nutrients found in these varieties of produce. Read more about this phenomena here. This time of year I find my skin really suffers from the effects of the dry air and lack of sunshine so it gives me another reason to eat my vegetables.

Today as I dream about sunshine winter has iced over any precise words that I could use to describe a gold washed sky. So, I will let my Mason jar salads articulate.

Sunshine Salad in a Jar with a KickKicky Mango Vinaigrette *Printable recipe below


  • 3/4 cup of rice vinegar (your favorite vinegar will work. Rice vinegar is a great choice because it is less acidic than a lot of vinegar. Some of my other favorites for homemade dressings are raw apple cider vinegar, champagne vinegar, and white balsamic vinegar. I really like tart dressings and if you do not, I suggest adding a little vinegar at a time)
  • 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil (often I do not add the oil to the dressing but add it individually to each jar for portion control)
  • 1 peeled and pitted mango (you could substitute a cup of frozen)
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • teaspoon of onion
  • 1 lime (both the juice and the zest)
  • Jalapeno (I used 1/2 of a large pepper. I added a little at a time until I was satisfied. If you do not want a big “kick” you could use a banana pepper or green chilies)
  • 1/4 cup of fresh parsley and/or cilantro (I used a little of each)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Blend well. This made enough for 6 jarred salads with 1/2 cup leftover. I store in a jar in the refrigerator and the dressing keeps for over a month.

When making Mason Jar Salads it is important to put the dressing in first and keep it away from the greens. The acid in the dressing will make the greens slimy. If you close tight (I do not vacuum seal my jars) they will keep for over a week in the refrigerator. When you are ready to eat you can shake and either pour the salad out on a plate or bowl, or eat straight out of the jar. I find with the quart sized Mason jars that I need extra dressing. Sometimes I add extra vinegar or lemon juice to the bottom as well as the dressing.

Sunshine Mason Jar Salad  with Mango Dressing


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

  • 2-4 Tablespoons of Kicky Mango Vinaigrette (depending how much dressing you like. For these salads I used four since I really crammed in a lot of greens in the top)
  • Orange bell pepper (one divided among six jars)
  • Carrots (4 large carrots)
  • Yellow cherry tomatoes (halved)Roasted Sweet Potato
  • Pineapple (I used 1 cup of fresh)
  • Orange (I used one)
  • Grapefruit (I used one)
  • 2 large roasted sweet potatoes (I peeled and cut into pieces, drizzled with coconut oil, sea salt, pepper, sprinkled with chili powder and roasted in a 450 degree oven for 30 minutes…turned at the 15 minute mark)
  • Chickpeas (1/4 cup in each jar)
  • Raw nuts (Tablespoon in each jar)
  • Kale
  • Romaine Lettuce

Printable recipe here: Sunshine in a Jar Salad with Kicky Mango VinaigretteSunshine SaladSunshine Vegan SaladSunshine Salad with Citrus and Pineapple

Pin this recipe here.

As I sit tucked away in my quiet, cozy, and tiny house ~ I cannot help but feel wonder for the opportunity that I have to connect with people from all over the globe and share my passion. I love healthy food, writing, photography, and brilliant color. Food should be savored and appreciated as a piece of art. The composition of flavor, color, nutrients, and attention to detail are vital to both pleasure and health.

As always, if you try this recipe, I would love your feedback. Please stop by my Facebook page and, if so inclined, please share my recipes with others. Make sure that you check out the salad tab at the top of this page for other recipes.

Have a sunny day, my friends! Even if it means having to manufacture your own sunshine.

This afternoon while selecting photos I marveled at this ray of sunshine that found its way to grace my Sunshine Salad.

This afternoon while selecting photos I marveled at this ray of sunshine that found its way to grace my Sunshine Salad.

Winter Citrus & Fennel Mason Jar Salads with Green Apple Vinaigrette

This afternoon our living room was bathed in sunlight and our cat Athena basked in the glow.

This afternoon our living room was bathed in light and our cat Athena basked in a puddle of sunshine. How quickly the weather turned…it’s now a frenzy of snowflakes outside.

“Complacencies of the peignoir, and late
Coffee and oranges in a sunny chair…”
~Wallace Stevens from “Sunday Morning”

It is the week before Christmas break and I cannot believe how fast time rushes by. Today was Day #15 of the December Green Smoothie Challenge and I am enjoying sharing my recipes and being artful by capturing a photo each morning to share on my Facebook page.

Mike and I enjoyed a quiet weekend at home and last night watched, Broadcast News. It reminded me of high school when I had aspirations of being a television journalist. While I do have a broadcasting degree from Marquette University, life had other plans for me and I am thankful that I heard my calling to be a teacher. As I type this, I am hoping that the blizzard conditions outside cease. I do not want a snow day tomorrow ~ I have too much to accomplish with my students. Though, if we do, I will make sure to be productive and may find time to share a recipe for the soup that is bubbling in my Crock-pot.

Yesterday afternoon, after my Weight Watchers meeting, I went grocery shopping (I wouldWinter Citrus & Fennel Mason Jar Salads with Green Apple Vinaigrette Dressing really like to bring back my routine of shopping mid-week) and in addition to green smoothie ingredients I bought fresh produce for Mason jar salads. Often we associate salads with summer but, like soup, I think that salads are seasonless. I brainstormed what I thought would constitute the perfect winter salad. Of course, what came to mind was juicy oranges and grapefruit. I thought that the perfect accompaniment to both would be fennel and pomegranate. But what about the dressing? I knew that the citrus salad needed something both sweet, tart, and savory. How about green apple? I have to say ~ the result was pleasing and I am almost as excited to share these gorgeous salads with you as I am to eat them this week.


  • 1 cup of vinegar (I used 1/2 cup raw apple cider vinegar and 1/2 cup white balsamic)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 Granny Smith apple (I left the peel on)
  • 1 orange (juice and zest. This gives the dressing sweetness without adding refined sugar)
  • 1 clove of garlicHomemade Green Apple Vinaigrette Dressing
  • 1 teaspoon of onion
  • Salt & pepper to taste

If you want to control the amount of oil that goes into your dressing you can leave it out and add the oil to each individual salad. Lemon juice or lime juice would work well in place of the orange and you could add honey or sweetener of choice to make it slightly sweet. I always recommend that you taste as you go when making homemade dressings. I like dressing tart so I am in generous when I add in the vinegar.
Winter Citrus & Fennel Mason Jar Salads with Green Apple VinaigretteWinter Citrus & Fennel Mason Jar Salads with Green Apple VinaigretteIf you are new to Mason Jar Salads you may want to read one of my previous posts that shares many tips for jarred salads: Mason Jar Salads: Fresh, Visually Appealing, and Versatile.


I made six jarred salads and layered the following in each one quart sized Mason jars. Layer the dressing first, followed by hearty fruit/vegetables. Layer the lettuce/greens last.

  • 3 Tablespoons of Green Apple Vinaigrette DressingWinter Citrus & Fennel Mason Jar Salads with Green Apple Vinaigrette
  • Red bell pepper (I used one pepper)
  • Sliced fennel (I used one bulb)
  • Grapefruit (I used one. Peel like an orange and cut in slices)
  • Oranges (I used two)
  • Pomegranate
  • Celery (three ribs)
  • Raw pumpkin seeds and almonds (2 Tablespoons per salad)
  • Chopped kale
  • Chopped romaine lettuce

I am so thankful to the weekends and time to recharge and prepare for a busy week. Mason Jar Salads are a huge time saver since they only take about a half an hour to prepare and they stay fresh all week.

If you are interested in other salad and dressing recipes, make sure you check out my Salad Tab and my Salad Dressing Tab. I hope that you enjoy this recipe and that it makes your life a little less hectic and a lot more healthy. There are only a couple more weeks left in 2013 so let’s make them the best that we can. I look forward to a new year and sharing this journey with my health-minded friends. I promise many more recipes in the days to come.
Winter Citrus & Fennel Mason Jar Salad with Green Apple VinaigretteGreen Apple Vinaigrette Dressing