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.

LUKE’S KIWISAURUS GREEN SMOOTHIE

*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!
Luke

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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Fierce Green Smoothie with Blueberries and Kiwi

Fierce Green Smoothie by Produce with Amy“Thriving. That’s fighting… Surviving is barely getting by.”
― Jillian Michaels

Since August of 2007 I have been a Weight Watchers Coach and I have experienced my own challenges with my weight management. Now that I am in my forties I have found that I must fight harder than ever to maintain a healthy weight. Though, I accept the challenge, because I believe that my health and my self-concept are worth the battle. This fall I was facing a mountain of stress in my personal life and the scale started to climb beyond the top end of my WW recommended healthy weight range.  I was concerned and frustrated. Unfortunately, the chaos continued to mount – the scale would not budge – and I felt helpless, angry, anxious, and out of control of my life.

I will be honest, at times I considered walking away from my position at Weight Watchers, because I felt overwhelmed and as if I was a fraud. How could I stand up in front of my members helping be their weight loss guide when I could not even manage my own weight? Yet, I could feel my members support and I heard a loud voice in the back of my head telling me that I could thrive once again. I knew what I needed to do. In 2006, Weight Watchers gave me the tools and the courage to believe that I can succeed. While things may feel out of control in my life – ultimately, I was in control of the food that I consumed. I took a closer look at portion control and started to be faithful to tracking once again. The scale started to move in the right direction and I am happy to report that by December I was back to my goal weight.

My employment with Weight Watchers has brought me face-to-face with many individuals who also face stressful challenges in their lives. I always remind members that we must first take care of ourselves and that during times of crisis – being On Program helps us feel that we are in control. I know that focusing on Weight Watchers Power Foods, staying hydrated, and eating healthy portions have helped me manage my stress. Getting back to my goal weight has been a boost in my self-esteem and has empowered me to have a positive outlook, even when things feel grim.

Before I joined WW, I may have been tempted to feed my emotions with sugary and high fat foods. However, I know how those foods make me feel (and look). I profoundly believe that a diet that focuses on fresh fruit, vegetables, and non-processed whole foods helps us navigate stress and have the energy we need to have a positive attitude and be productive.

In the coming weeks, I will continue to nourish my body with healthy food and my goal is to incorporate more greens into my meals. I really notice a difference in my energy level when I start my day with a green smoothie. They are also great as a snack because they help curb starchy carbohydrate cravings.

If you are new to green smoothies you may want to check out my New Year’s Green Smoothie Challenge post where I share information and tips.

The green smoothie recipe that I am going to share with you today is one of my favorites. The combination of blueberries and cinnamon is incredible and I love that you can fit so many health benefits into a glass. Kiwi is higher in Vitamin C than an equivalent amount of orange and it will help your body absorb the iron in the spinach. The antioxidants in blueberries help improve memory and are low on the glycemic index and help regulate blood sugar. (Therefore, I thought that Fierce was the perfect name!)
Kiwi and Blueberries

FIERCE GREEN SMOOTHIE
(My smoothie recipes will yield 3-4 cups. I often drink 1/2 for breakfast and reserve the other half for a snack on my 1/2 hour commute home from work or for an evening snack. If you want to make less – reduce the ingredients that you add. Green smoothies will keep for several days in the refrigerator but they may separate)

  • 3-4 cups of spinach (more or less for one’s personal taste.)
  • 1 cup of blueberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 2 kiwis (reserve a piece for garnish)
  • 1/2 frozen banana (if you like your smoothie sweeter you may want to add more banana)
  • Juice and zest of one lemon (if using bottled juice you can add 1/4 cup)
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon (to taste)
  • 1 cup of coconut water (or regular water)
  • *Optional ~ 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. You could also stir into your smoothie before blending
  • *Optional ~ sprig of fresh mint

BlenderSmoothieBlend well and garnish with a kiwi slice and sprinkle of cinnamon. Because of the addition of blueberries – your smoothie will turn more purple than green.

If you are interested in checking out more green smoothie recipes, make sure you check out my Green Smoothie tab.

Pin this recipe HERE.

My goal for the new year is to continue to nourish my body with fresh fruit and vegetables so I can manage stress. I am determined to maintain my weight so I can look fierce this summer and feel the best that I can.

I challenge you to pick a goal and strive to reach it. Sip a green smoothie and reflect on what you want to achieve. If you (like I am) are facing a lot of stress in your life – you owe it to your body to eat clean and eradicate excuses. I raise my glass to you. Cheers to embracing a healthy lifestyle and thriving!

Light

blueberries

Gingered Nectarine Green Smoothie

Gingered Nectarine Green Smoothie“Part of doing something is listening. We are listening. To the sun. To the stars. To the wind.” -Madeleine L’Engle

Yellow RoseIt is mid-July and this week my goal is to be mindful of stopping to appreciate my time off for the summer. With thirteen years of teaching under my belt I know how important it is to refuel and recharge for the upcoming school year. It is easy to let time slip between our fingers and I commit to facing each of my days with intention.

My husband and I spent the weekend in my hometown of Crystal Falls, Michigan for my 25th high school Orange Liliesclass reunion. When we got home I was greeted with new blooms in my garden. Flowers feel like poems to me because they force me to slow down and savor the world. I examine the sunshine filtering through the trees, the breeze, the damp soil, and the flowers’ bright petals make the sky even seem more blue.

I love when I get comments and emails about my blog and I have received several in the last couple weeks about my green smoothies. It is always wonderful when I hear from readers that try, and enjoy, their first green smoothie. I have found that most people try one sip and they are hooked.

One of my friends suggested that I do a green smoothie challenge in August with recipes and printable shopping lists like I did in December and January. I have decided that if there is enough interest that I will. Read about my winter green smoothie challenge HERE.

Today I thought I would share the green smoothie that I enjoyed for breakfast this morning. Nectarines are one of my favorite fruits (second to cherries) and I love the combination of fresh ginger and cilantro with the sweetness of the nectarine. If you have not tried cilantro in your smoothie you have to add some. It adds a refreshing zing and has a lot of health properties (including detoxification of the body).

When I first started drinking green smoothies I added a frozen banana to each drink for sweetness but I find that I do not have to add the banana when I use fresh nectarines or peaches since their sugar content is so high. The texture of this smoothie is lush and smooth and I hope that you enjoy it!

GINGERED NECTARINE GREEN SMOOTHIE

  • 3-4 cups of spinach (or your greens of choice)
  • 1 pitted nectarine
  • 1 cup of coconut water (or regular water)
  • Fresh ginger root (to taste. Ginger can be an acquired taste so I recommend adding a little at a time until you achieve the flavor you desire)
  • Fresh cilantro (to taste. I used approximately 1/2 cup. If you do not like cilantro you could use parsley)
  • 1 Tablespoon of chia seeds (optional)

Blend well and enjoy! Fresh lime juice and zest would be a wonderful addition to this smoothie but I did not have any on hand.

If you want to participate in a green smoothie challenge in August, leave a comment or send me an email or message on my  Facebook page. I would love to come up with recipes that take advantage of the abundance of summer fruit and greens.

If you enjoy nectarines as much as I do, make sure you check-out my last recipe: Cherry BBQ Salad with Nectarine, Sweet Potato, Basil, & Tempeh.

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

Stay tuned because the next recipe that I post will be a healthy indulgence. It is a plant-based substitute for a milk-shake that combines chocolate, fresh mint, and coconut – and I promise that it is as spectacular as it sounds.

Enjoy your July and remember to slow down, stop, and savor summer while it is here.

Pink Lilies
Red Rose

 

December Green Smoothie Challenge

“Our bodies are our gardens – our wills are our gardeners.”  ~William Shakespeare
December Green Smoothie Challenge

The winter holiday season is right around the corner and so are many unhealthy food temptations. Last year was a challenge for me and I did not like the way I felt after indulging in too many sodium and sugar laden treats. This year I plan to jump start my healthy intentions for the New Year by challenging myself to start each day off in December with a nutrient rich green smoothie. Would you like to join me?

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 your 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 try new recipes.

If you are new to green smoothies I can help get you started with recipes, tips, nutritional information and suggested shopping lists. There are many health benefits to green smoothies, including: chlorophyll and nutrients are easily assimilated into the body since the blender breaks down the cell walls of the greens, glowing skin, increased energy levels, and reduction of salty and carbohydrate food cravings.

This challenge is a great opportunity to kick start our 2014 health routines and will turn our kitchens into a beacon of nutrition. Join me and let the transformation begin!

UPDATE:
Click here for Week #1 printable green smoothie recipes and shopping list.

Click here for Week #2 printable green smoothie recipes and shopping list.

Click here for Week #3 printable green smoothie recipes and shopping list.

Click here for Week #4 printable green smoothie recipes and shopping list.

If you want to read more about green smoothies click here to read a blog that I wrote in June about how I was first introduced to green smoothies.

Also, check out my green smoothie recipes here.

Pin this challenge here.

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. In December 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 ChallengeDecember Green Smoothie Challenge

 

Watermelon & Cucumber Splash Green Smoothie (With or Without the Greens)

12Alongside of tomatoes, watermelon has moved up to the front of the line in recent research studies on high-lycopene foods. Lycopene is a carotenoid phytonutrient that’s especially important for our cardiovascular health, and an increasing number of scientists now believe that lycopene is important for bone health as well.
~The George Mateljan Foundation

Mid-July, the sweet spot of summer, has arrived. As the thermometer soars the vegetables in the garden flourish, the roses climb, and the lilies in our front yard burst open in flames of color. While the humidity has been difficult to tolerate with temperatures in  the 90s the past few days, I try to dig deep and recall what February was like in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. That instantly takes the whine out of my voice and helps me welcome the heat.

I love to take flowers and blossoms from my garden and float them in vases and bowls (with or without candles).

I love to take blossoms from my garden and float them in vases and bowls (with or without candles).

In addition to having a weak cup of green tea each morning (I gave up coffee a few weeks ago), writing in a journal, taking our dog Phoebe for a short walk (before it gets too hot), and tending to the plants outside, a couple of weeks ago I added yoga to my morning routine. Like writing, I find it helps me set the tone for the day and find my balance both physically and spiritually. Over five years ago after my husband Mike suffered a brain hemorrhage, his neurologist would not clear him for running or lifting weights. She did tell him that yoga would be acceptable and that she highly recommended it for his rehabilitation. Mike laughed. I rolled my eyes at him and rushed out and bought him three Rodney Yee DVDs from Target. Desperate to get in some physical activity, Mike relented and was hooked from his first mountain pose. I remember him commenting on what a fierce work out yoga was, “I really broke out in sweat. It reminded me of some of the PT we did when I was in the Army.”

For a few months Mike and I would start our days by doing 20 minutes of yoga first thing in the morning together (I think Mike loved it because it guaranteed 20 minutes of silence without my probing questions, “bright ideas,” and chatter). Though sadly, because of hectic schedules, we stopped doing yoga together. A couple of weeks ago I dug out the DVD and decided that I wanted to build yoga practice back into my routine (maybe Mike will join me). When I go back to teaching in the fall I hope to continue to incorporate yoga into my mornings.

I highly recommend this DVD. It contains five 20 minute routines so you can rotate and do one each weekday morning. Yee is easy to follow and this is a great DVD for beginners.

I highly recommend this DVD. It contains five 20 minute routines so you can rotate and do one each weekday morning. Yee is so talented and explains fully which makes the poses easy to follow. This particular DVD is a great one for beginners.

This morning when I was doing the forward bend sequence, Yee said something that deeply resonated with me and I have been thinking about ever since. To paraphrase, in a gentle voice he reminded, allow yourself to be in your body, not in your mind. Like poetry, yoga allows us to slow down and concentrate on the moment. It may extremely difficult to shut our mind down and focus on our breathing and the stretch and sway of our bodies, but it is powerful when we attempt to do so. It helps profoundly to let the stress, anxiety, questions, and mile long to-do lists melt away (even if it is just for twenty minutes).

I believe that this philosophy of listening to my body is something that I discovered that I needed to be more aware of when I started Weight Watchers. In fact, six years ago TODAY was the day that I made my goal weight. Often in meetings I share with my members that many weight management experts talk about how it is important for one to discern between food cravings that happen from the neck up and those that occur from the neck down. I try (not always successfully) to listen to what my body NEEDS instead of the cravings that my head WANTS. This year I decided that my mantra would be, “Quality, not quantity,” when it comes to food and I think I have done a great job sticking to my plan to see food as fuel and nutrients. Well, except for the past couple weekends…

The past two weekends have been overflowing with family, friends, laughter, sodium laden food, beverages, steamy temperatures, and not enough water or fresh fruit and vegetables. I knew the moment that I stepped on the scale Monday I would cringe. I did. With hot weather and sodium it is normal for my body to retain water and I found myself up five pounds. Instead of throwing in the towel and feeling miserable and guilty, I created a plan to move more and start rehydrating myself properly. Today I can happily say that three days into the week and I am back at the weight I was Saturday for my weigh-in and I am continuing to hydrate and stay active.

Plain water is not a struggle for me (when I am mindful), and I normally drink multiple glasses a day, but I also know that our bodies get an abundance of water from fresh fruit and vegetables. So to help myself stay hydrated in this heat I am also consuming a green smoothie in the morning and one after dinner for my evening snack. Because I was so mindful of water retention the past couple weeks I have been eating a lot of cucumbers on salads because they contain properties that help our bodies ease bloating. When I shopped this week I also picked up a watermelon (because what can possibly be more refreshing in the stifling heat when you do not have air conditioning?) So I came up with a recipe that combines both cucumbers and watermelon and it was so cool and revitalizing that Mike and I both drank two (okay, maybe I had three 😉 )
Summer on a plate!

Summer on a plate!

This summer I have been finding my body craving green smoothies that are not very sweet. This smoothie is an example of one that contains less sugar. If you prefer a sweeter smoothie I recommend the addition of a frozen banana or another higher sugar fruit such as grapes, a peach, mango, or pineapple. The fresh mint could also be omitted but if you have some in your garden I recommend throwing in a handful to further enhance the freshness. A small amount of fresh basil or rosemary would also be a wonderful flavor addition to this drink.
7The texture of this smoothie was very light, and it is more like a juice, than a thick smoothie. You could add more ice if you wanted it thicker and if you are not a fan of green smoothies this combination would be delicious without the greens. The taste of the cucumber is very dominant so if you want the taste of the watermelon to over-ride the smoothie I would recommend going extremely light on the cucumber. 
Watermelon, cucumber, spinach, fresh mint, lime, and chia seeds.

Watermelon, cucumber, spinach, fresh mint, lime, and chia seeds.

WATERMELON & CUCUMBER SPLASH GREEN SMOOTHIE

  • 143 Cups of Spinach (or greens of choice. I have been plucking turnip greens from my garden and love them in smoothies. Beet greens, radish tops, and carrot tops also are superb out of the garden.)
  • 3 Cups of Watermelon 
  • 1/2 Cup of Cucumber (I left the seeds. Again, you might want to experiment with the cucumber and watermelon ratio to discover what your taste buds find pleasing)
  • Fresh Mint
  • Juice of 1/2 a Lime (use zest to amp up the lime flavor)
  • Chia Seeds (I added 2 Tablespoons. They are high in Omega-3 and make the smoothie more filling)
  • Handful of Ice Cubes (since the water content of the cucumber and watermelon is so high I did not add water but used ice to make the green smoothie cold. You could also chill it for a bit in the refrigerator before drinking. Coconut water would be a phenomenal addition to this smoothie since it contains properties that help rehydrate.)

This combination of ingredients made 32 ounces. It is so light and fresh you may find yourself wanting to make a double batch to keep in the refrigerator. It would keep well for a couple of days (it may separate but would still taste terrific) and would be a welcome relief in the heat.

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 mother.

Do not let the green color frighten you. The green smoothies taste like fruit and bursting with nutrition.

Do not let the green color frighten you. The green smoothies taste like fruit and are bursting with nutrition.

“The earth laughs in flowers.”  ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

“The earth laughs in flowers.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

If you are interested in trying some other green smoothies, check out these green smoothie recipes. Are you interested in other cucumber recipes? Here is recipe for a plant-based Creamy Cucumber & Dill Dressing and Cucumber Gazpacho Soup.

You also can find Produce with Amy recipes on 
PinterestPlease consider joining the conversation at my Produce with Amy facebook page.

I hope you make time today to listen. Listen to the sky, the wind, the water. Steep yourself in silence or the gentle rhythm of birdsong. Listen to what your body is telling you that it needs. Are you getting enough sleep? If you are feeling sluggish do you need to drink more water or get up and move and stretch? Do you think that adding more fresh fruit and vegetables into your meals and snacks might give you an energy boost? How about replacing that nightly indulgence of ice cream with a cold and creamy green smoothie? Stop and listen to your body.  Enjoy each ray of sunshine because before we know it the sweet spot of summer will have slipped away. Cheers to plants, healthy routines, and for the wisdom we gain on this journey. Most importantly, remember that you are worth the time that you make for yourself! Namaste.

Click on the image for a larger version.

Click on the image for a larger version.

6

Create beauty.

Create beauty.

 

Sunrise Green Smoothie with Mango & Pineapple (and Forty-Two Candles)

“There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life, and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.”
–Sophia Loren

Lake Superior sunrise the last week of June.

Lake Superior sunrise the last week of June.

Yesterday morning, the sky threatened rain and I was determined to not let the weather set a gloomy atmosphere. Instead, I decided to make my own vibrant sunrise in the form of a green smoothie. 14My summer morning routine has been spending my first 30-60 minutes reflecting in my personal journal. I like to listen to classical or meditative music and sometimes, when the weather is murky, I even light a couple of candles. I profoundly believe that we are in charge of our own emotions and moods and I find that quiet time writing and contemplating helps set a positive tone for my day.

I cannot say that I have always been this wise, but in recent years, my state of mind has made a jubilant transformation. The last week of June I celebrated my birthday, and instead of feeling trepidation that I was getting older, I felt a wave of peace wash over me as I blew out my candles 3(metaphorically, since I did not have a cake). My husband Mike and I are not big on celebrating birthdays or anniversaries. However, this year felt different. Mike did buy me a very special present (which I will explain in a future blog post) and when asked what I wanted to do, I told him that I wanted to watch the sun rise over Lake Superior. We were up at 5:00 a.m. and at the lake shore by 5:45. It was in the 40s that morning and not only was the water frigid, but the sand was so icy it instantly turned our feet numb. Was it worth it? Absolutely. Mike snapped  brilliant photos of the sun climbing the horizon and it was the perfect way to welcome my forty-second year.
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The contentment that I felt on my birthday was due to how confident I feel in my 40s. I owe much of my positive outlook to the knowledge that I have gained on my Weight Watchers journey. While I would love to have the body back that I had in my 20s — I also remember achieving it in unhealthy ways. I worked out like crazy and didn’t properly nourish my body. (Which obviously was not healthy but also impossible to maintain.) Instead of focusing on health, my goals were strictly for reasons of vanity. Though, after experiencing a major health scare at thirty-five (I suffered a pulmonary embolism) I am thankful that Weight Watchers has helped guide me down the path of nutrition and establishing healthy Routines and Spaces.

My lilies are starting to bloom.

My lilies are starting to bloom.

This month I will be celebrating my six-year anniversary of reaching Lifetime with Weight Watchers and I have learned so much and have had an inspiring support system along the way. I believe that education, self-reflection, and support are imperative to weight management. A healthy lifestyle helps keep our bodies AND our minds vibrant. Weight Watchers has had a positive ripple effect on my life: It has impacted my personal relationships, organization, ability to plan ahead, and I now have the energy and determination that I need to harness my creativity. Weight Watchers has taught me to be gentle with myself and that food is not a reward, nor is it something that I should feel guilty about. The beauty of the program is that if I encounter a stumbling block, I do not have to wait until the new year, the beginning of the month, or even a new week to start over ~ each meal, each snack, gives me the opportunity to start fresh. Without the experience and knowledge that I have gained with Weight Watchers, I would never have had the confidence to start this blog. Embracing a healthy lifestyle makes me want to help others do the same. Nothing thrills me more than getting a thank you from someone who has tried one of my recipes or was inspired by my reflections here on Produce.

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Mike, Phoebe, and I. We look so happy you cannot tell how frigid the air, sand, and water were that morning.

I am thankful that Mike and I celebrated my forty-second year by getting up early on a Sunday and braving the chilly morning. We promised to make time to see the sunrise from the shore again this summer. It felt like the perfect way to start out a new year and yesterday I as I started my day, I imagined the dreamy kaleidoscope of pastels stretching across the horizon. Drinking my Sunrise Green Smoothie I knew that I had to share my recipe with others who are also embracing a healthy lifestyle. As Weight Watchers has taught me, “Together we achieve more.”

This smoothie is the perfect for those that are new to green smoothies. I always suggest adding a frozen banana for sweetness, but I find with this recipe that the banana is not needed since the mango and pineapple do the trick. It is one of my favorite combinations and I love the bright green color gracing my glass.
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  • 3 cups of spinach or greens of choice (Spinach is naturally sweet and a great 6choice for those new to green smoothies. I also love kale in this smoothie. This is a great combination for kale and other stronger tasting greens because the sweet fruit helps mask the bitterness)
  • 1 cup coconut water (I used young coconut water with pulp. Regular water would be fine as well.)
  • 1/2 cup of pineapple (I used fresh)
  • 1/2 cup of mango (I used fresh but I often buy it frozen)
  • Juice of 1/2 a lime
  • 1 Tablespoon of chia seeds (Optional ~ I find chia seeds make the smoothie more filling and chia seeds are high in Omega-3)
  • Few sprigs of fresh mint (Also optional. 7Because it is summer and I have mint in my garden, I toss it into everything. Mint is great with sweet and savory dishes and since it is a perennial plant it comes back year-after-year)

You might want to freeze your fruit beforehand or toss in a few ice cubes if you want your green smoothie to be cold. 

Other great additions to this smoothie are:

  • Fresh ginger root
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Fresh parsley
  • Celery
  • Avocado

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20If you are interested in checking out my other green smoothie recipes I have links to previous posts on the Green Smoothie tab. You also can find Produce with Amy posts on Pinterest.

What are some of your favorite green smoothie combinations? I would love to hear from you. Please post in the comment section or join the conversation at my Produce with Amy facebook page. If you are new to green smoothies, please do not hesitate to ask questions. Many of my Weight Watchers members were leary to try them but now many of them are as hooked as I am.

I really notice a difference in my energy levels and how my body feels when I am consuming many servings of fruit and vegetables and green smoothies are a great way to start your day. They are also great as a snack because they help curb starchy carbohydrate cravings. Sometimes, I like to have one pre-dinner and, of course, the sweeter combinations serve well as a post-dinner dessert. 17

My goal for my new year is to nourish my body and mind well so I feel more alive. I will strive to find happiness in simple things, like a Lake Superior sunrise, that sometimes get neglected because of a demanding schedule. I will be mindful of seeking and creating beauty.

Do something special for yourself today. Sip a green smoothie and reflect on where you want to be tomorrow and on your next birthday. I raise my glass to you. Cheers to embracing a healthy lifestyle and thriving!

Click on image for a larger version.

Click on image for a larger version.

Phoebe and I greet a new year.

Phoebe and I greet a new year.

Cherry Limeade Green Smoothie ~ A Refreshing Sip of Summer

Bowl of Cherries“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”
― Hippocrates

The weather report threatened rain today as I raced the storm clouds and blended my green smoothie. I rushed outside, a few props in hand, to snap photos.

My neighbor pulled into his driveway. He offered up the obligatory, “I hope we get rain.”  I smiled wide and murmured an agreement. I smiled even wider realizing that he did not think twice about me snapping photos of the seating area in our front yard. I imagine he is used to me crouching along the flower beds with my iPhone and Mike’s hand-me-down camera slung around my neck. (Often my iPhone 5 captures the best photos…)

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True, the neighbors and passersby may think that I am a wacky woman. I am used to being called weird and strange. I teach 9th grade English, after all. I must uphold the reputation of the crazy-cat-lady-English-teacher (that is why my pets are named after Greek mythology) There also is something about standing in front of teenagers every day that makes a person lose their awkwardness.

I know that my friends, family, and Weight Watchers members thought I was strange five years ago when I told them that I was drinking green smoothies. (Brand new members still pucker up their faces in horror at the thought of blending greens into a smoothie) Yet, I knew that if they tried them, they would be hooked — and I hazard a guess that nine times of out ten, I was (and continue to be) right about my green smoothie hunch.

My exposure to green smoothies came five years ago this coming fall. My husband Mike had suffered a sudden and unexplained brain hemorrhage. After a couple of days of intense headaches I brought him to the emergency room in the middle of the night and they found blood on his brain. He was lucky and did not need surgery and only had to spend one night in the hospital (though I personally think it should have been longer). Yours truly became his Florence Nightingale.

The weeks that ensued were a blurry nightmare. He slept and I worried. He suffered an enormous amount of pain. I watched and he slept (I constantly checked to make sure he was still breathing). His friends sent flowers and came by to visit in hushed tones. His buddy Scott brought him prayer feathers. My friend Lil in South Dakota burned sage. Our friend Molly came and sat at our house so I could run errands (I was afraid to leave Mike alone). Our friends and family prayed. Slowly he healed.

Due to loss of blood, and iron, Mike ended up with restless leg syndrome. I was at the farmer’s market in Marquette explaining his situation to a young woman vendor and she mentioned that I should make him a green smoothie out of kale. She explained that I should also include some sort of fruit that was high in Vitamin C, like an orange, to help him absorb the iron from the greens. I was curious about her advice and did research when I got home, stumbling across loads of information about green smoothies by Victoria Boutenko. During this research I learned that green smoothies are highly nutritional because the blender breaks down the green’s cell walls and helps our bodies fully absorb the vitamins, minerals, protein, and chlorophyll.

In the weeks prior to hearing about green smoothies, I had spent hours on the internet literally searching brain food. While the doctors administered tests trying to come up with a reason for Mike’s brain trauma, I was coming across information that pointed to the healing power of food. The first couple of weeks after his hospitalization, he did not have an appetite and I was giving him back-to-back pain medication for his severe headaches. Though we quickly learned he had to eat something to keep the pills in his stomach. I was forcing him to gulp down oatmeal or mashed potatoes in the short time he was awake (I soon found out the food that I was feeding him was the wrong food for someone who had suffered a head trauma). I started to seek out organic food at our local food co-op and processed strange combinations of food in the blender: pumpkin, black beans, flax oil (high in Omega-3) along with other vegetables. “Drink this,” I would tell him, “this will help you heal.” Because organic meat was pricey, I kept him on a diet that was heavily vegetarian and I started making us both green smoothies. In addition to the smoothies we eradicated artificial sweeteners, incorporated more whole foods, and ate less refined sugar. Our shopping cart, pantry, refrigerator, and ice-box underwent a complete overhaul.

Eventually Mike’s restless leg syndrome went away, his headaches grew less severe, and he grew stronger. He ended up only taking a month off of work and his medical appointments were positive and upbeat. One of his neurologists was stunned when she tested Mike. He did not show any cognitive damage and he scored off the charts in his visual memory. She said she had never seen results quite like his with someone who had suffered frontal lobe damage. I told her about my research and the food that I was making for him and she told me to keep it up. At one appointment she even called Mike a, “walking and talking miracle.”

I will not take credit for Mike’s amazing recovery but I like to believe that the food that I prepared for him helped him heal. He is an amazing man with the determination, that us of Finnish descent, call sisu. Mike embodies sisu. He was in the U.S. Army and Army Reserves for thirteen years and served all over the globe, including Iraq in 2003. He has an extremely fierce work ethic and attention to detail and I know his determination helped him heal and overcome his setback. We often talk about how much healthier we are today after his illness because we armed ourselves with education and made healthy food choices our lifestyle.

Green Smoothies (Baby kale, spirulina powder, mango, strawberries, chia seeds, and water) with a vintage covered glass dish that I bought at a thrift store for $3.

Green Smoothies (Baby kale, spirulina powder, mango, strawberries, chia seeds, and water) with a vintage covered glass dish that I bought at a thrift store for $3.

Nearly five years later, Mike and I continue to drink green smoothies. While I have been drinking a green smoothie a day since January (with the exception of a day here-and-there) we have gone months without drinking them. Though, we always return because the green smoothies positively impact our energy levels and are filling and satisfying. In the past five years Mike and I have not had a cold that has lingered longer than a day or two. Our immune systems have been fortified with an abundance of fruit and vegetables.

For those that 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 a sweetness and makes the smoothie cold and creamy.

Since I have been drinking green smoothies for quite some time, my body does not crave a super sweet smoothie (especially in the morning) and I often prefer tart over sweet (unless I am drinking the green smoothie in place of dessert).

Last week I came up for a recipe for a refreshing summer classic, a Raspberry Lemonade Green Smoothie. 

Click on photo for a larger image.

Click on photo for a larger image.

My desire was to come up with a another tart, refreshing, summer classic and since I love the combination of cherries and lime the answer seemed obvious. I also wanted to come up with a recipe that was simple and did not contain too many exotic ingredients for those who are new to green smoothies.

6CHERRY LIMEADE GREEN SMOOTHIE

3*3 cups of spinach (I normally don’t measure and usually grab three large handfuls. I measure for recipes 🙂 )
*1-2 limes & zest (I juiced 2 limes and zested one)
*1 cup of cherries (fresh or frozen)
*1 small frozen banana (more if you want the smoothie sweeter)
*1 Tablespoon chia seeds (Optional. I add chia seeds for protein and Omega-3. I find that chia seeds also make the smoothie more filling)
*Fresh ginger root to taste. (Optional. I personally love the taste of ginger)
*Sprig of mint (Optional. Because it is summer and I have mint in my garden I add it to everything)
*1 cup of cold water and a few ice cubes
*Makes 3 cups

Here is a link to Pinterest to save this recipe: Cherry Limeade Green Smoothie

Zesting citrus really brightens the flavor of the smoothie. Just be careful you do not zest too deeply because the white pith under the peel is bitter.
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Chia seeds can me found in health food stores and ordered on-line. I do not pre-soak my chia seeds.

Chia seeds can me found in health food stores and ordered on-line. I do not pre-soak my chia seeds.

I let my bananas get ripe and then I peel and toss in a bag/bowl in the freezer. Ginger is very spicy so you might want to add a little and taste before you add more.

I let my bananas get ripe and then I peel and toss in a bag/bowl in the freezer.
Ginger is very spicy so you might want to add a little and taste before you add more.

2I did get to sit outside in the morning sunshine with a stunning book and my delicious Cherry Limeade Green Smoothie. It did not begin to rain until I had gone back inside.

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11My fuchsia peonies started to open yesterday and my flower boxes wait patiently for hot weather to help them flourish. The lilac blooms are started to brown at the edges but the bridal wreath is in its full glory.12

For obvious reasons, the past five years, I find myself stopping to appreciate all of life’s beauty more. I am thankful that Mike is thriving and that we are a team. Our relationship is not perfect but we have weathered some rough seas together. Our love is strong and true because we appreciate what we have. Our health is precious and I am grateful for each brand new day to give thanks.

It fills me with joy to know that I can help others embrace a healthy lifestyle. I love leading Weight Watcher meetings and watching my members meet the goals that they set for themselves. When I started this blog I had hoped to help keep myself accountable to a plant-based diet. Yet, I am touched by the outpouring of support that I have received from family, friends, and even complete strangers. It may be corny, but every time someone pins one of my recipes/follows me on Pinterest or likes my Produce with Amy facebook page my heart sings because I am helping to make a difference.

I thank Mike for letting me tell his story today. To those reading this blog, I ask that you stop, savor, and appreciate the simple things in life. Nourish your body with healthy food because you are worth it. Cheers to summer, bright blossoms, and green smoothies!

*A very special thank you also goes out to my friends for the gorgeous glass featured in this post. Thank you Patti Connors for you generous donation and Theresa Oja for giving me the glasses as an early birthday present. Theresa, your unwavering support and friendship is very precious to me.

You might be also interested in some other green smoothie recipes that I have posted:
Amy’s Energizer Smoothie
For dessert ~ Gingerbread Green Smoothie
For those who like a sweet smoothie ~ Jeweled Ambrosia Green Smoothie

Click on image for a larger version.

Click on image for a larger version.

Click on image for a larger version

Click on image for a larger version