SPINACH SALAD WITH PEARS, DRIED CHERRIES, & CHERRY VINIAGRETTE

“Instruction is good for a child; but example is worth more.”
Alexandre Dumas

This winter as we headed into the winter holiday season, I was reminded of a quote I read. It went something like, “Don’t put yourself in debt to tell someone how much you love them.” That makes sense. As a writing teacher, I constantly tell my students to, “Show. Don’t tell.” We need to do this in our lives as well.

My husband shows his kids constantly how much he loves them through his labor. This winter, often after a long day at work, he will be found outside putting another layer of ice on their backyard hockey rink. He shows them through countless other ways: from having them gather their own breakfast in the chicken coop, teaching them how to remove a fish from the hook, and giving them the opportunity to splash in a Montana mountain stream in an off-the-grid camping spot.

John found the most amazing off-the grid camping spots last summer in Montana. Even if I did have to close my eyes getting there via curvy mountain roads.

I guarantee the kids will never forget this family vacation.

We LOVED Glacier NP!

While we want to make sure that our kids have modern comforts and are not completely cut off from technology. It is not on the top of our priority list to make sure that they have the latest video game system or cell phones. We want them to appreciate things that are homemade and have old-fashioned values.

The best gift I ever bought for my stepson Lukas was an “art box” full of paper, markers, and creative supplies. He entertained himself, and us, for hours designing eye-popping scenarios involving dinosaurs and military helicopters. Because I am a teacher and his dad is a police officer, he crafted a “21 Jump Street” purse for me. It came complete with a 3-D laptop, handcuffs, grenades, lipstick, and even coupons for my favorite store. Apparently, he still wanted me to look good and save money while I was catching the “robbers” (which is what he used to call anyone who commits a crime). Now that Lukas is nine, he still loves to be artistic. However, now he prefers a sketchbook and he loves to write stories (last year Zombie Snake received rave reviews from his teacher, peers, and family members).

After school, Lukas’ bus drops him off at my building and he loves seeing the projects that my high school students are working on. In October he became obsessed with the fact that my 11th graders were reading Ray Bradbury’s, Fahrenheit 451. I gave him a quick rundown of Bradbury’s plot and he was intrigued by Bradbury’s dystopian view of a society where owning books was illegal and firefighters started fires rather than putting them out. Luke’s eyes grew big when I mentioned the mechanical hound that instead of conducting search and rescue missions was programmed to search and destroy!  Needless to say, Lukas begged to PLEASE let him read the novel. He didn’t relent and for three days didn’t put the book down the whole time discussing the character Montag, how F 451 is the temperature at which paper burns, and marveling in how sixty-five years ago Bradbury imagined a world destroyed by TV/technology where people no longer communicate or think critically. We discussed the Nazi book burnings that fueled Bradbury’s imagination and what Clarisse represented in the novel.

Lukas was captivated by this book.

Some of Lukas’ “take aways” from the book was that he could never go to a school where he could not ask questions, he thought that the main character and his wife should talk more to each other and they would be happier, and he loved stumbling across vocabulary words that he had learned in school. I had to giggle one day, about a month after he read the book, when Lukas stood outside before getting in our vehicle with his mouth opening catching snowflakes on his tongue. For those who have read Fahrenheit 451, he was channeling Clarisse. What an intelligent and remarkable little boy! I am in awe and thankful I get to be his step mom. Lukas reminds me to stop and appreciate the priceless wonders of the world that cannot be purchased in a store.

Ray Bradbury wrote this masterpiece by renting a typewriter in the basement of a library for 10 cents an hour. He was watching the arrival of television and feared it had the potential of wiping out human interaction. He imagined a world where large, looming, interactive video screens occupied the four walls of a house and it was illegal to drive slow or even walk outside. This book gives me goose bumps every time I read it. To me, it is a cautionary tale about using technology in moderation and making sure we do not forget our humanity.

Lukas’ new best friend, a Bearded Dragon named Harper. While we have a cat, many dogs, chickens, and ducks – Harper is special because he is LUKE’S. We hope caring for him teaches him responsibility.

Avalon and Lukas supporting their dad’s role as a K9 Officer – and of course, K9 Nitro.

This holiday season seemed like a great place to focus on the human things that are important. A handmade card, a gift purchased from a local artist, and a meal made and shared with loved ones.

The salad recipe that I am sharing is healthy, festive, and celebrates local wonders with Michigan cherries. Not to mention it is topped with crown jewels – caramelized cashews (which could be artfully packaged to make a delicious homemade gift for guests).

This salad can be plated, arranged on a large platter or in a bowl, or layered in a Mason jar (for a healthy work week).

SPINACH SALAD

Spinach
Sliced Pears (There are several varieties found in stores)
Avocado
Feta cheese (gorgonzola or goat cheese work well with the flavors in the salad)
Dried cherries
Caramelized cashews (recipe to follow)
Cherry Vinaigrette (recipe to follow)

CARAMELIZED CASHEWS
*1 Tablespoon of butter

*1 Tablespoon of brown sugar 
–per 1/2 Cup of cashes–
*Cinnamon
*Nutmeg
*Pinch of Salt

Melt butter and add sugar along with a sprinkle of nutmeg and cinnamon (depending on how many cashews you are using. I usually make a large batch of cashews (4-5 cups) so I add a couple teaspoons of cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg). Cook on medium heat, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Add the cashews and stir to coat.

Spread the cashews out on a tinfoil lined cookie sheet and bake for 7-10 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Remove and cool. The nuts are indulgent and delicious and a few go a long way.

CHERRY VINAIGRETTE

*1 cup tart cherry juice (I found the juice in the refrigerated juice section. While tart cherry juice is expensive – it has a lot of healthy benefits. You can find less expensive varieties that combine cherry and pomegranate juices)
*1/4 cup of vinegar (my favorite variety of vinegar for this dressing are either red wine or balsamic)
*1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
*1 clove of garlic
*1 teaspoon of red onion
*1 Tablespoon honey (more or less to taste)
*salt and pepper to taste

May your New Year be full of health, laughter, and a community of family and friends. Make time to read a good book, share in wholesome and nurturing food, and remember that love comes wrapped in presence – no matter the season.

 

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Top Ten Recipes of All Time (Five Year Blogiversary)

Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”
― Soren Kierkegaard

It was a short, three days, back to work after a relaxing winter holiday. Today is day #6 of the January Productivity Challenge and I am staying true to my goals. Our house is slowly getting reorganized and I am dedicated to a weekly blog post. I have missed writing and reaching out and making connections with others over healthy living. It feels good to fulfill my promise to myself (even though this is only the first week). Trust me, I savor every comment left here – and on Facebook and Instagram. It is rewarding to learn that others enjoy my recipes, my photographs, and my musings. I too find the support that receive in return is priceless. To my faithful readers, thank you for being part of my journey for the past five years. To those new to my blog, welcome – I hope you enjoying browsing my posts and find something that is helpful to you. ❤

I shared my intentions for 2018 with my students this week and I had them too create their own SMART goals. I suggested that they start by making a goal for the month of January and that in February we would access and plan accordingly. They were able to create a personal, family, academic, extra-curricular, or “Act of Kindness” goal. I modeled many examples of goals with them and we discussed how setting small, realistic, and measurable goals can help us achieve success and how, ultimately, this taste of success can snowball into larger accomplishments throughout the course of lives.

We discussed how even a simple health goal (like sleeping for 8 hours a night) can help us become better humans. It can lead us to be better academically and can help us have stronger relationships and interactions with others. We talked about how everything is connected and that we become better stewards of our lives when we are taking care of ourselves and planning ahead.

In my own goal setting I spent some time thinking about what I wanted to happen with my weekly blog posts. While I love creating recipes, a new recipe a week does not fit with my lifestyle right now. I am am a busy teacher, wife, and step mother. However, I am determined to share more. More photos, more musings, more aspects of my daily life, and (as a friend requested) maybe poetry and some of my creative writing.

For this blog post I decided to do some research and analyze my site statistics. Today I am going to share with you the top ten recipes from Produce with Amy in the past five years. With the exception of one green smoothie recipe, the most popular posts have been salads. It was not surprising, because I get more questions and feedback on Mason jar salads than any other recipes. I pride myself in taking the “boring” out of salads. Even my husband John has turned into a “salad person” and frequently asks for a salad with dinner, for a snack, or in a jar for work.

Here they are, starting with the most popular first (LINK TO POST UNDER PHOTO):

#1 Glowing Green Mason Jar Salads with Avocado Vinaigrette Dressing

 

The end of the school year is racing at me. I find that prepping my lunches and dinners makes healthy eating a snap. If you find yourself in a pinch at mealtime you cannot go wrong with salads in a jar.

#2 Mason Jar Salads: Fresh, Visually Appealing, and Versatile (Classic Salad Bar in a Jar & Waldorf Inspired Slaw)

#3 Paradise in a Jar Salad with Blueberry Lemon Dressing

#4 Harvest Rainbow Mason Jar Salad with Creamy Pesto Dressing

#5 Mediterranean Mason Jar Salads with Greek Vinaigrette

Sweet and Savory ingredients make these Apple-a-Day Mason Jar Salads with Pumpkin Vinaigrette Dressing a seasonal hit!

#6 Apple-a-Day Mason Jar Salad with Pumpkin Vinaigrette
#7 Israeli Feast ~ Mason Jar Salad (with Tabouli, Hummus, and Olives)

#8 Garden Fiesta Mason Jar Salad

Summer on a plate!

#9 Watermelon and Cucumber Splash Green Smoothie (With or Without the Greens)

#10 Confetti Salad in a Jar with Creamy Chipotle Dressing

If you have questions about any of my recipes, please do not hesitate to ask. I love hearing from others that are also on the quest for a healthier lifestyle.

Thank you for helping me celebrate Produce with Amy’s five year milestone.  I am hopeful that 2018 will be full of inspiration that will inspire a plethora of new recipes and posts. Happy New Year and may yours be full of creative and healthy productivity! ❤

 

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

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

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

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

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

Fall Fusion Salad by Produce with Amy

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

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

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

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

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

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

PEAR DRESSING

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

 

Brussels SproutsROASTED BRUSSELS SPROUTS

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

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

Pin HERE.

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Make sure you check out my other Salad Recipes.

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

Cherry BBQ Salad with Nectarine, Avocado, Sweet Potato, Basil, & Tempeh

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

Rose Collage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Printable RecipeCHERRY BBQ Salad

Cherry BBQ Salad with Sweet Potatoes, Avocado, and Nectarines

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

Cherry BBQ Salads

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

Cherry Almond Coconut Shake

Cherry Limeade Green Smoothie

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

BBQ Cherry Jar Salad by Produce with Amy

Cherry BBQ Salad Dressing or Sauce by Produce with Amy

 

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

Bloom

Pink Peony

Cherry BBQ Salad Plate by Produce with Amy

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

KICKY MANGO VINAIGRETTE

  • 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

SUNSHINE IN A JAR SALAD WITH KICKY MANGO VINAIGRETTE

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.

Top Ten Posts of 2013

Top 10 Recipes of 2013 by Produce with Amy“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.”
― T.S. Eliot
Happy New Year

Happy New year to you and I hope that this post finds you full of renewed energy and healthy commitment for January and beyond. I always love the feel of a blank slate of a new year and have had a remarkable and relaxing two-week holiday away from work. Yet, I am ready to get back to my classroom and my routines. One of the things that my husband Mike and I decided that we had to do was try to capture a family photo. It was quite entertaining trying to get the cats to cooperate. If you look closely at the above photo our black cat Pandora is lurking behind the tabby Athena. I cannot tell you how many times one of us had to run to the camera to set the timer. I do believe that a camera remote is in the forecast for 2014.

I decided that I was not fully ready to usher out 2013 yet and decided that I needed to write a post with my top ten posts from the year. 2013 was definitely the “Year of the Mason Jar Salad” for Produce with Amy and I am excited for this recap.

The end of the school year is racing at me. I find that prepping my lunches and dinners makes healthy eating a snap. If you find yourself in a pinch at mealtime you cannot go wrong with salads in a jar.

When I first started making Mason Jar Salads I recycled spaghetti sauce jars!

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

Glowing Green Mason Jar Salad with Avocado Vinaigrette#2: Glowing Green Mason Jar Salads with Avocado Vinaigrette Dressing

Homemade salad dressing that is fresh and free from the chemicals and preservatives that often accompanies store bought versions.

 #3: Tangy Ranch and Zesty Avocado ~ Plant Based, Homemade, Salad Dressing

Israeli Feast Mason Jar Salad#4: Israeli Feast ~ Mason Jar Salad (with Tabouli, Hummus, and Olives)

Sweet and Savory ingredients make these Apple-a-Day Mason Jar Salads with Pumpkin Vinaigrette Dressing a seasonal hit!

#5: Apple-a-Day Mason Jar Salad with Pumpkin Vinaigrette

Mediterranean Mason Jar Salads with Greek Vinaigrette

#6: Mediterranean Mason Jar Salads with Greek Vinaigrette

Harvest Rainbow Mason Jar Salad with Creamy Pesto Dressing

#7: Harvest Rainbow Mason Jar Salad with Creamy Pesto Dressing

Garden Fiesta Mason Jar Salads#8: Garden Fiesta Mason Jar Salad

Photo by Heather Hollands

Photo by Heather Hollands

#9: Caprese Pasta Salad in a Jar

Green Smoothie

#10: Lean & Green Smoothie Challenge: Amy’s Sunday Energizer

New Year’s day was Produce with Amy’s 1st anniversary and I am so thankful for every one that has been reading and sharing my recipes. I promise to share many more healthy dishes in the next year. My journal is full of ideas, scribbles, and brainstorms and this Sunday I plan to share another Mason Jar Salad and homemade salad dressing. Thank you for reading and sharing the journey to eat more fruit and vegetables. Let’s thrive together in 2014.

22Amy Laitinen

Fruited Chia Mason Jar Salads with Blackberry & Lavender Vinaigrette

 “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”

― L.M. Montgomery

A tree in our neighbor's backyard.

A tree in our neighbor’s backyard.

There is an elegance in autumn that is not present in other seasons. The light, filtering through the leaves, has the quality of honey – thick and syrupy. Toothache sweet.

I had a revelation this afternoon. My Mason Jar Salad obsession takes root in the fact that my salads are like fall. October in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan is very much like a Mason Jar Salad.

October contains all of summer’s potential bottled up and presented in layered prettiness. Autumn is nature’s last stand before a long and cold winter. Fall attempts to coax our senses into accepting another season of hibernation. A jarred salad is portable and has the potential to be filled with an abundance of nutrients. It is an enticing container of fuel for our hectic and busy lives.

I have not posted recipes for the past couple weeks but I still have been preparing healthy meals. Last week I wanted to create a salad that was brimming with autumn’s lushness. About a month ago I started experimenting with the lavender in my garden and I found the flavor it brought to salad dressing pleasing.
Lavender

The night that I met my husband Mike (August 2011), he walked me home from a gathering. We lingered outside and talked for hours. My landlord had planted a patch of lavender and I remember that night plucking a strand to crush and smell the tranquil aroma. To this day, lavender reminds me of Mike. When he was deployed to Iraq I bought lavender linen spray for his return and it was the first perennial we planted when we bought our house.

Mike, Phoebe, and I have been enjoying the mild weather with evening walks.

Mike, Phoebe, and I have been enjoying the mild weather with evening walks.

In the past I would pick and dry lavender, but I had not experimented with using lavender in recipes until this fall. Lavender imparts a fruity taste so I combined it with fresh berries, fruit, and citrus.

Fruited Chia Mason Jar Salads with Blackberry & Lavender VinaigretteFruited Chia Mason Jar Salads with Blackberry & Lavender Vinaigrette

Homemade salad dressing is so easy to make. When you start with wholesome ingredients the end result is satisfying and packed with nutrition. Store-bought dressings often contain chemicals and preservatives.

Homemade salad dressing is so easy to make. When you start with wholesome ingredients the end result is satisfying and packed with nutrition. Store-bought dressings often contain chemicals and preservatives.

I tend to like tart dressings and I suggest that you experiment with how much lemon juice and vinegar you like in your dressing.

I tend to like tart dressings and I suggest that you experiment with how much lemon juice and vinegar you like in your dressing.


BLACKBERRY & LAVENDER VINAIGRETTE DRESSING15

  • 1 pint of fresh blackberries (frozen would work as well)
  • 1/2 cup of vinegar (I used champagne vinegar)
  • 1/4 cup of water (many homemade dressings do thicken as they sit and I thin out with water or extra vinegar)
  • 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil (you can always leave the oil out and add it individually to the Vitamix Dressingbottom of your jar, or to each salad for portion control)
  • 1 lemon ~ juice and zest 
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon of lavender blossoms (I harvested the lavender a few days ahead so it would dry)
  • 1 Tablespoon of raw honey (you could also use maple syrup)Blend dressing well.

When making Mason Jar Salads  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.

Fruited Chia Mason Jar Salads with Blackberry &  Lavender VinaigretteFRUITED CHIA MASON JAR SALADS
I layered these ingredients, in the following order, in one quart Mason jars. (I made five salads)

  • 3 Tablespoons of Blackberry & Lavender Vinaigrette Dressing
  • Sliced cucumber (I used two cucumbers)
  • 1 cup of fruit salad with Chia seeds and lime juice (recipe to follow)
  • White Beans (I used 1/2 cup)
  • Raw mixed nuts (I used 1/4 cup)
  • Chopped romaine lettuce

Fruit Salad with Lime Juice and Chia Seeds

FRUIT SALAD WITH LIME JUICE AND CHIA SEEDS

  • 1 chopped orange (I also included the orange zest before peeling)
  • 1 pint of raspberries
  • 1 chopped mango
  • 2 chopped kiwi
  • 1 cup chopped pineapple
  • Juice and zest of one lime
  • 5 Teaspoons of chia seeds
  • 2 Teaspoons of fresh mint ~ chopped
  • Optional ~ sweetener of choice (I did not use any). As the fruit salad sits the juices will marry and the flavor will become even more pleasing. 

There was approximately a cup of fruit salad remaining after I assembled the salads.

The salads turned out exactly as I hoped they would. They would also be lovely plated and would make a superb course for an autumn luncheon or dinner.

The combination of blackberry and lavender speak eloquently of autumn's ripe splendor.

The combination of blackberry and lavender speak eloquently of autumn’s ripe splendor.

The dressing and salad both harness the jubilation of October and I can imagine recreating both in the heart of winter for a fragrant and uplifting taste of deja vu. What is next up on my agenda? My plan is to continue writing and this evening I will be sharing another recipe for a Mediterranean Mason Jar Salad with Greek Vinaigrette. So stay tuned!

Pin this recipe here.

If you are interested in other Mason Jar Salads, please check out my other salads and dressings. You can follow my recipes on Pinterest and please like my Produce with Amy Facebook page.
Fruited Chia Mason Jar Salads with Blackberry & Lavender Vinaigrette

The flowers in my garden are still blooming.

The flowers in my garden are still blooming.

My pink roses are blooming better now than they were this summer.

My pink roses are blooming better now than they were this summer.

My sunflowers were late in blooming this year. Normally they bloom in the beginning of September.

My sunflowers were late in blooming this year. Normally they bloom in the beginning of September.

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Chia Fruit and Berry Salad with Citrus