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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Week #2 ~ December Green Smoothie Challenge (Recipes & Shopping List)

December Green Smoothie Challenge“Above all, challenge yourself. You may well surprise yourself
at what strengths you have, what you can accomplish.”
Cecile M. SpringerWeek #1 December Green Smoothie Challenge Recipes & Shopping List

I am thankful for the December Green Smoothie Challenge on many levels. It prevents me from falling into a green smoothie rut, it inspires my creativity and desire to generate new recipes, and it allows me to network with others to give/receive support and share ideas. If you are just joining us, you may want to read: Week #1 ~ December Green Smoothie Challenge (Recipes & Shopping List). The post contains tips and advice to those who are brand new to green smoothies and also recipes and a shopping list for the first seven days. If you have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to ask. Also, please share your recipe reviews or your own favorite recipes in the comment section or on my Produce with Amy Facebook Page.

These margarita glasses were a gift from my WW members and were hand painted by one of my member's mothers.

These margarita glasses were a gift from my WW members and were hand painted by one of my member’s mothers.

While creating recipes, my intention is to keep the green smoothies simple and to work from a shopping list that will not be too expensive. The recipes would be easy to tweak if you do not like a particular ingredient. Also, if you have any “leftovers” from last week you may decide to make amendments to the shopping list. If you like your smoothies sweet, you may want to buy extra fruit. Bananas work well as a sweetener. If you have a banana allergy pineapple, mango, and oranges are all high-sugar fruit. Sometimes I sweeten my smoothies with medjool dates and some people add a little raw honey or maple syrup.Sunrise Green Smoothie

Most of my recipes make approximately three cups. While I drink mine for breakfast, I often make extra so I can sip on it during my half hour commute home from work. One of the benefits of green smoothies are that they can help fight food cravings and sometimes my husband Mike and I will drink one before dinner or as a post-dinner snack.

In the second week’s shopping list I have included spinach and also kale. I do warn that kale tastes much stronger and more “grassy” than spinach, so I recommend that you a little at a time. Also, if you enjoy the taste of fresh ginger root (I personally could add it to every smoothie I make)

Tart Cherry Juice from Michigan

Tart Cherry Juice from Michigan

it does a great job of masking strong-tasting greens. In the past I also purchased tart cherry juice to flavor my green smoothies. Tart cherry juice is pricey (but it tastes terrific) and a little goes a long way. Plus, tart cherries have many health benefits. 

When you drink green smoothies for weeks-on-end it is important to rotate your greens. While spinach is my favorite ~ I also enjoy kale, carrot tops, beet greens, radish tops, spring mix greens, dandelion greens, and turnip greens. If you look in the produce section of your local market you will be surprised how many varieties of greens there are. While in the summer I enjoy growing my own, during winter months I will often buy bunches of beets, radishes, and carrots and lop off the tops to use in my smoothies. (Tip: if they are wilted when you purchase them you can immerse in cold water and they will perk right up).

When I started drinking green smoothies five years ago I read all that I could about green smoothie guru, Victoria Boutenko.  I highly recommend her books Green for Life and Green Smoothie Revolution. In her books, Victoria Boutenko stresses the importance of rotating our greens because of the alkaloids found in them. Read more about it here.

December Green Smoothie Challenge Week #2 Recipes and Shopping List
Week Two ~ December Green Smoothie Shopping List:
*
Shopping list is based on one Green Smoothie a day. If you are making green smoothies for two, or more, you will want to increase the amount you purchase.

  • 2 (9 ounce bags) of spinach
  • 1 bunch of kale (or an alternate green. If you are adventurous, try a variety of greens in place of the spinach)
  • 1 bunch of cilantro
  • 5-7 ripe bananas (peel and freeze)
  • 1 pineapple (unless you have some left from last week. You will need 2 cups)
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 orange
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 Granny Smith apple
  • 1 pear
  • Celery
  • Frozen mixed berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries ~ or similar mix)
  • Fresh ginger root
  • Cinnamon
  • Nutmeg
  • Vanilla extract
  • Can of pumpkin
  • Can of light coconut milk (often found in the Asian food section)

*Optional Ingredients

  • Molasses (used as flavoring in one of the smoothies)
  • Coconut flakes (used as a garnish for couple of the smoothies)
  • Chia seeds (some people add hemp seeds or flax-seeds)
  • Coconut water (regular water works fine but there are many health benefits to drinking coconut water. It can often be found in the Latin food or heath food section of the supermarket. I usually buy one large can per two green smoothies…or a couple liter containers).

Printable List:Week Two December Green Smoothie Challenge Shopping List

WEEK TWO RECIPES.
Each recipe should render approximately 3 CUPS of GREEN SMOOTHIE. They are so delicious you may want to make extra (or leave a little) for a mid-day snack.
Printable recipes posted below.

*If you plan on drinking your smoothies in the morning you may prep your smoothies the night before. You could even freeze ingredients in individual containers for the week. Sometimes when I know I am going to be in a time pinch in the morning I blend the night before and they stay fresh.

Day #8 December Green Smoothie ChallengeSunday ~ Day #8:  Jamaican Dream Green Smoothie
(My husband Mike and I got married on the beach in Jamaica and this smoothie transports me back to the tropics. We feasted on pumpkin soup and loved fresh fruit and frozen drinks)

  • 3-4 cups of spinach
  • 1/2 – 1 banana
  • 1/2 cup of pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup of pineapple
  • 1/2 cup of light canned coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 Tablespoon Molasses (since molasses has a strong taste you may want to add a little at a time)
  • Garnish with shredded coconut and nutmeg
  • 1/2 – 1 cup of coconut water (or regular water)

Day #9 Green Smoothie ChallengeMonday ~ Day #9: Berry Blast Green Smoothie

  •  1/3 of a bunch of kale
  • 1/2 – 1 banana
  • 1/2 bunch of cilantro (to taste)
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 3/4 cup of mixed berries
  • Fresh ginger root to taste (peeled)
  • 1 cup of water (or coconut water)

Day #10 December Green Smoothie ChallengeTuesday ~ Day #10: Lean & Green Smoothie

  • 2-3 cups of spinach
  • 1/2 cup of pineapple
  • 1 Granny Smith Apple (if it is organic, leave on the peel)
  • Celery (1 rib)
  • 1/2 cucumber (if it is organic, leave on the peel)
  • 1/2 avocado
  • Juice and zest of one lemon (1/2 if you want it less tart)
  • 1/2 bunch of cilantro (to taste)
  • Optional ~ banana (if you want it more sweet. I leave it out. You could also add another 1/2 cup of pineapple for sweetness)
  • 1 cup of water

Day #11 Green Smoothie ChallengeWednesday ~ Day #11: Berry Bliss Green Smoothie

  • 1/3 of a bunch of kale
  • 1/2-1 banana
  • 1 cup of mixed berries
  • 1/2 cup of light canned coconut milk
  • *Optional ~ ginger root to taste
  • 1/2 – 1 cup of water

Day #12 December Green Smoothie ChallengeThursday ~ Day #12: Autumn Harvest Green Smoothie

  • 3-4 cups of spinach
  • 3/4 – 1 cup of pumpkin
  • 1 pear
  • Ginger root (to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon 
  • 1/2 cup canned light coconut milk
  • 1/2 – 1 cup of water 
  • *Optional ~ banana (depending on how sweet you want it to be)

Day #13 December Green Smoothie ChallengeFriday ~ Day #13: Pina Colada Green Smoothie

  • 3-4 cups of spinach
  • 1 cup of pineapple
  • 1/2 – 1 banana
  • 1/2 cup of light canned coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup of coconut water or regular water
  • Garnish with coconut

Day #14 December Green Smoothie ChallengeSaturday ~ Day #14: Citrus Fusion Green Smoothie

  • 1/3 bunch of kale
  • 1 orange (you could also zest the orange for extra flavor)
  • 1/2 – 1 banana
  • 1/2 cup of light canned coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  • 1/2 – 1 cup of coconut water or regular water

Printable recipes:Week Two December Green Smoothie Challenge Recipes

Week Three Green Smoothie Challenge Recipes

Pin this blog post here.

Whether you are new to green smoothies, or a veteran blender, I hope that my posts are helpful to you. I would love your feedback on the daily thread I post on my Produce with Amy Facebook page. Please like my page so you can join the conversation. Cheers to health and thriving in 2014!
December Green Smoothie Challenge

Week #1 ~ December Green Smoothie Challenge (Recipes & Shopping List)

Visualize this thing you want. See it, feel it, believe in it. Make your mental blueprint and begin. ~Robert Collier
December Green Smoothie Challenge
First off, I want to thank you for joining me in the December Green Smoothie Challenge. The goal of this challenge is to have one green smoothie a day (either for breakfast or another time during the day). We will be incorporating more nutrients into our diet and together we will stay accountable and share recipes and ideas. This is not a fast but a way to increase our intake of greens and fruit. All you need is a blender (I used a regular blender for three years before I invested in a Vitamix) and the desire to be healthy.

To those who are new to green smoothies, my recommendation is always to start simple. My first one was spinach, banana, strawberry, and water. Spinach is naturally sweet and you won’t believe how good it tastes. A frozen banana is key because it gives the smoothie sweetness and makes it creamy. I buy a couple bunches of bananas a week and when they get ripe I peel and toss into a bowl or bag in the freezer. Experiment with your favorite fruit. I have tried tons of different combinations and often tossing in what I have on hand. Frozen fruit works well and makes the smoothie cold (though you can add ice as well).

Sláinte!

Sláinte!

For this challenge I will come up with recipes that you can follow if you would like. Please feel free to experiment with other combinations and please share your favorites in the comment section or on my Produce with Amy Facebook Page.

I’m a green smoothie “purist” and normally stick with water, fruit, chia seeds, and greens. The chia seeds make it filling and are a great source of calcium, protein, and Omega-3.Though, many of my Weight Watchers members add yogurt, milk and dairy-free milks, and even healthy oils to their green smoothies to help meet their Good Health Guidelines.

The smoothies are a great way to fortify your iron and breaking down the cell walls of the greens makes it easier for our bodies to absorb the nutrients. My husband Mike and I both drink one for breakfast and find them really filling and satisfying. I love them and I think they give me an important boost of energy in the morning!

I have fresh mint growing in my garden and love to add it to smoothies, fruit salad, and even savory dishes.

If you do not have a high powered blender I recommend blending up the greens and liquid first and then adding 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. This may not be as easy as dumping cold cereal and milk in a bowl, but I promise that it is worth your labor! 🙂

Weight Watchers members may wonder how to count the PP for the green smoothies. Personally, I do not count the PP of the fruit in my smoothies and only count the things I add that would carry a PP value (chia seeds, coconut water, avocado). Though, if you run the smoothie through the Recipe Builder, it will give you a PP value (once a fruit or vegetable is not in its natural state it is easier to over-eat). I always like to mention at my meetings that the danger of smoothies are that they may bypass our bodies hunger signals. However, I do not have this problem with green smoothies. I take a long time to sip my smoothie in the morning and it really satisfies me until I can have a morning snack at around 10:00-10:30. I attribute this to the fact that the smoothies are full of fiber and the chia seeds make them especially filling.

Week #1 December Green Smoothie Challenge Recipes & Shopping List

If you do not enjoy the listed fruit or berries, substitute them with your favorite. The amount Cherry Limeade Green Smoothieof fruit and greens that you put into each smoothie will vary depending on your personal taste. I always recommend that those who are new to green smoothies should add just a small amount of greens at first and go heavy on the fruit. You will find that the more smoothies you drink the more greens and less fruit you can start blending. If you prefer more fruit in your smoothies you may find yourself running out during the week. You may want to purchase extra “just in case.” When I first starting drinking green smoothies I found that bananas were essential to giving the smoothie its sweetness (frozen are also best). If you do not like bananas (or have an allergy), you may want to add a touch of your sweetener of choice: dates, raw honey, maple syrup, or raw sugar).

  • Spinach (3 ~ nine ounce bags of spinach) For the first week my plan includes just spinach. Week two I plan to incorporate other greens. For those who are not a stranger to green smoothies, you may want to add in some other greens such as kale.
  • Bananas (5-7)
  • 2 limes
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 fresh pineapple
  • 1 ~ twelve ounce bag of frozen mango (or 2 fresh)
  • 1 ~ twelve ounce bag of frozen raspberries (or 2 containers of fresh)
  • 1 ~ twelve ounce bag of frozen cherries
  • 1 bunch of parsley
  • 1 bunch of cilantro
  • Fresh ginger root
  • Coconut water (optional ~ regular water will work fine but coconut water is said to have positive health benefits. I usually buy one large can per two green smoothies or I buy a couple liter containers)
  • Chia seeds

Printable list: Week One December Green Smoothie Shopping List

December Green Smoothie Challenge

WEEK ONE RECIPES. Each recipe should render approximately 3 CUPS of GREEN SMOOTHIE. They are so delicious you may want to make extra (or leave a little) for a mid-day snack.  Printable recipes posted below.

*If you plan on drinking your smoothies in the morning you may prep your smoothies the night before. You could even freeze ingredients in individual containers for the week. Sometimes when I know I am going to be in a time pinch in the morning I blend the night before and they stay fresh.
Day #1 Sunday Energizer

Sunday ~ Day #1: Sunday Energizer Smoothie (Click here to read the original blog post)

  •   3-4 cups of spinach (more or less for one’s personal taste.)
  • 1/2 a cucumber 
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro 
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley
  • 1 frozen banana 
  • 1/2 cup of raspberries 
  • 1/2 cup of mango
  • 1 Tablespoon Chia Seeds (I add one Tablespoon per green smoothie that I am making. It is recommended to soak chia seeds. I do not soak mine since I have a high powered blender and my smoothie often sits for  5-10 minutes before drinking)
  • 1 inch piece of peeled fresh ginger (since it is strong tasting you might try to add a little at a time)
  • 1 cup of coconut water or regular water

Day #2 Sunrise Green Smoothie

Monday ~ Day #2: Sunrise Green Smoothie (Click here to read the original blog post)

  • 3 cups of spinach or greens of choice 
  • 1/2 cup of pineapple 
  • 1/2 cup of mango 
  • Juice of 1/2 a lime
  • 1 Tablespoon of chia seeds 
  • 1 cup coconut water or regular water

(I find that the mango and pineapple is so sweet that I do not add a banana. However, you could add one or 1/2 a banana)

December Green Smoothie ChallengeTuesday ~ Day #3: Cherry Limeade Green Smoothie (Click here to read the original blog post)

  • 3 cups of spinach
  • 1 lime & zest 
  • 1 cup of cherries
  • 1/2-1 frozen banana (more if you want the smoothie sweeter)
  • 1 Tablespoon chia seeds
  • Fresh peeled ginger root to taste.
  • 1 cup of coconut water or regular water

Day #4 December Green Smoothie ChallengeWednesday ~ Day #4: Glowing Green Smoothie

  • 3 cups spinach
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1/2 cucumber
  • 1/2 cup of pineapple
  • 1/2 cup of mango
  • Cilantro (to taste)
  • Banana (optional)
  • 1 Teaspoon of chia seeds
  • 1 cup of coconut water or regular water

Day #5Thursday ~ Day #5: Raspberry & Pineapple Passion Green Smoothie

  • 3 cups spinach
  • 1/2 cup of raspberries
  • 1/2 cup of pineapple
  • 1/2-1 banana
  • Parsley (approximately 1/4 cup)
  • 1 Teaspoon of chia seeds
  • 1 cup of coconut water or regular water

December Green Smoothie ChallengeFriday ~ Day #6: Cherry Blast Green Smoothie

  • 3 cups spinach
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 3/4-1 cup of cherries
  • 1/2-1 banana
  • Fresh peeled ginger root to taste
  • 1 Teaspoon of chia seeds
  • 1/2 lime and zest
  • 1 cup of coconut water or regular water

December Green Smoothie ChallengeSaturday ~ Day #7: Mango Madness Green Smoothie (or “Leftovers” Green Smoothie)

For day #7 you may want to repeat one of your favorites from the week or toss in what you have leftover in ingredients from the week.

  • 3 cups spinach
  • 1 cup of mango
  • 1/2 – 1 Banana
  • 1 Teaspoon of chia seeds
  • Parsley or cilantro (or both) depending what you have left
  • 1 cup of coconut water or regular water

Printable recipes: Week One December Green Smoothie Recipes

Pin this blog post here.

Week Two Green Smoothie Recipes

Please feel free to share this challenge with your friends and family. The more people involved the more ideas, tips, recipes, and inspiration we will all receive. Starting December 1st, I will be posting a daily thread on my Produce with Amy Facebook page. Please like my page so you can join the conversation. Cheers to health and thriving in 2014!
December Green Smoothie Challenge