Verdant Salad with Spring Green Vegetables

Verdant Salad with Spring Green Vegetables ~ Produce with Amy“If you wish to make anything grow, you must understand it, and understand it in a very real sense. ‘Green fingers’ are a fact, and a mystery only to the unpracticed. But green fingers are the extensions of a verdant heart.” 
― Russell Page, The Education of a Gardener

April 4It feels a bit outlandish to be sharing this recipe today.  A few weeks ago in the creation process, I imagined finishing this blog post on a clear spring day. The kind of day that makes you want to rush out and hang freshly laundered sheets on the line and brew up a pitcher of iced green tea with fresh mint leaves. I should have know better.

As I type, Mother Nature is brewing up a storm with violent snow squalls and over a foot of snow is predicted across the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. At least I know that I am not alone when I say that I am aching for green grass, spring flowers, and the opportunity to poke seeds down into a plot of damp earth. Instead, today I made the most of a quiet house and replaced visions of iced tea with a steaming bowl of homemade Hot & Sour Soup and watched with wonderment the blizzard churn outside.

In preparation of the storm I did go to the grocers yesterday. Our freezer was rather bare so I made soup for the whole month and froze all but a few servings.

A sampling of yesterday's produce on the kitchen island and my husband upcycled from an old table.

A sampling of yesterday’s produce on the kitchen island and my husband upcycled from an old table.

Shellac ManicureYet, I did not forget that it was spring break and before the chore of shopping and food prep, I did treat myself to a shellac manicure.

My friend Jackie Johnson has been working her magic on my nails since fall and I find that a manicure perks up my mood and gives me something pretty to anticipate. Each time I go, I love to pick out a different color and this week was no exception. I decided that with gray skies and giant snow banks in the horizon, the brighter the color the better, and I indulged in a vibrant orange hue. The color speaks to me the intensity of spring tulips after a long winter and feels as fresh as juicy citrus.

ManicureIncidentally, if you are in the Marquette, Michigan area ~make sure that you make an appointment with Jackie at Lakeshore Skin Care. Jackie’s new clients get 20% off for the first visit with her and 20% off for each sixth visit. She also does regular manicures and spa chair pedicures. Jackie is full of spunk and sparkle and she makes your visit comfortable and entertaining (make an appointment at 273-0512).

Take my word for it, you will be hooked on the shellac manicure and you are worth the pampering! As we often talk about in my Weight Watchers meetings, rewards are important in our journey and when we make an investment in ourselves we feel stronger, empowered, and more capable of taking on challenges. A manicure is the perfect reward because it serves as a constant anchor and reminder of our commitment.

Even though it may not look like spring outside my window, I am excited to share my spring salad idea with you. It combines fresh green vegetables with a zingy Asian inspired ginger dressing. In case you do not enjoy ginger, I will also include a Mexican inspired dressing that I use with my Confetti Salad. I have made the salad both ways and they were equally delicious.

This recipe did render a large bowl (approximately eight cups) so you might want to cut the recipe in half if you want to enjoy a couple of meals and not for the whole week. However, it is so pretty and flavorful that it would be a great dish for a gathering. It is perfect for an event because it is a recipe that can be made in advance and the flavor improves as it marinates.
Verdant Salad by Produce with Amy

VERDANT SALAD WITH SPRING GREEN VEGETABLES

  • 2 cups of edamame
  • 2 cups of chopped asparagusVerdant Salads with Avocado
  • 2 cups of chopped broccoli
  • 2 cubed avocados
  • 1 cup of chopped celery
  • 1 lime (juice and zest)
  • 1/2 bunch of chopped cilantro (since cilantro is an acquired taste you could use parsley if you are not fond of cilantro)
  • 1/4 cup of chopped onion (I used red because I had some leftover from another recipe but I would recommend green onions to match the green theme)
  • 1/8-1/4 cup of rice vinegar
  • 2 cloves of minced garlic
  • Fresh minced ginger root (to taste. Since ginger is strong I would recommend adding a little at a time. I like the taste of ginger so I used a 1 inch piece)
  • 2 Tablespoons of toasted sesame oil
  • 1 Tablespoon tamari (or soy sauce)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Alternate dressing (for those who are not fans of ginger…which is also an acquired taste)

  • 2 limes (juice and zest)
  • 1 jalapeno (finely chopped)
  • 1 large clove of minced garlic
  • 1 bunch of chopped green onions
  • 1/8 cup of vinegar (I used raw apple cider vinegar)
  • 1/8-1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • Homemade Taco Seasoning (to taste. I ended up adding approximately 1 Tablespoon)
  • Salt and pepper to tasteBlanching involves a quick immersion in boiling water and placing the vegetable instantly in an ice bath. This process allows the asparagus to turn vibrant green and remain crisp.

I blanched the asparagus and broccoli by immersing it in boiling water for two-three minutes and directly dropping it into an ice-bath. This brings out the best of the nutrients in they vegetables but they still retain a pleasant crispness.

Add all of the ingredients to the bowl (you may want to add the avocado last so it retains some of its shape). Stir, serve, and enjoy!

Printable recipe: VERDANT SALAD WITH SPRING GREEN VEGETABLES

Pin it HERE.
Verdant Salad with Spring Green Vegetables Lettuce Wrap by Produce with Amy

This salad would make a wonderful layer to a Mason jar salad or it would be great in a lettuce wrap. If you are interested in a another spring salad check out my Summon Spring Jarred Salads with Asparagus, Strawberries, and Pineapple Vinaigrette. While you are at it, make sure that you check out all my other salads. Make sure you follow my posts via email and stop by my Facebook page and give it a like. Please let me know if you try any of my recipes. I love to hear from individuals who are also embracing a healthy lifestyle and finding ways to eat more fruit and vegetables.

To all my readers who are still gazing at a winter landscape out the window, hold on tight. Spring will be here soon and it will be glorious and sweet. Until then, wrap yourself in some color and do something special to spoil yourself. Ladies, trust me on the shellac manicure. Gentlemen, do not forget, your nails need pampering too. Take care and remember that taking time to prepare fresh meals may be time consuming, but it is an investment in your health. Thanks for stopping by and cheers to thriving together!

The view outside my window this afternoon.

The view outside my window this afternoon.

 

Verdant Salad with Spring Green Vegetables and Dressing Two Ways by Produce with Amy

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Homemade Taco Seasoning

Homemade Taco Seasoning

Homemade Taco Seasoning

A few months ago, while working on a blog post for a layered vegan refried bean and guacamole dip, I wanted to add taco seasoning to the guacamole. I saw a recipe on Pinterest for taco seasoning and had all the ingredients on hand in the pantry.  Never will I buy pre-packaged taco seasoning packets again! I like knowing exactly what is in my seasoning and it makes me feel better knowing that it is not full of additives and preservatives. Now I quadruple the recipe and store in a recycled jar in my spice cabinet. I use taco seasoning to flavor black beans, homemade refried beans, soup, guacamole, tempeh, veggie burgers, and anything else that needs a little spice.

Homemade Taco Seasoning
Source: Allrecipes
Ingredients:
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
Instructions:
In a small bowl, mix together chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, red pepper flakes, oregano, paprika, cumin, salt and pepper. Store in an airtight container. Yields about 2 3/4 tablespoons.

Here is a link to the recipe on Pinterest: Homemade Taco Seasoning

Layered Refried Bean and Guacamole Dip ~ Individually Packaged for Portion Control

Layered Dip with Beans and Guacamole by Produce with Amy“It is spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart.” 
― Rainer Maria Rilke

Bleeding Hearts Spring 2013

It appears that we have finally turned corner on winter in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I keep reminding myself, however, that it is not unheard of to have snow storms in May. Mike and I made sure we took advantage of the beautiful weather this weekend and yesterday and today took our dog Phoebe for a hike. We are fortunate to have many scenic trails right in our backyard. We witnessed many patches of snow still lingering in the woods and it was quite muddy.

Mike and Phoebe enjoying the fresh air.

Mike and Phoebe enjoying the fresh air.

I have been struggling with finding time to blog recently and today I knew that I had to push myself. My intentions were to write this post during spring break since that is when I took the photos. The flurry of Cinco de Mayo posts on Facebook today made me realize that today was the perfect day to share my recipe for a luscious plant-based Layered Refried Bean and Guacamole Dip.

A plant-based diet relies very heavily on beans for protein and I am always looking for new ways to use them. One of my favorite party appetizers is layered taco dip and here is my version. While tortilla chips are one of my favorite foods, they are also a trigger for me so instead of tortilla chip I try to eat this dip with raw vegetables. I also like to make the dip in individual containers for portion control. Years ago I made a sound investment by purchasing a couple dozen of Pyrex glass containers in a 3 cup size. They have really held up well and are so convenient for lunches. I

These glass containers stack neatly in the refrigerator and freezer.

These glass containers stack neatly in the refrigerator and freezer.

Ingredients for the guacamole: fresh cilantro, three avocados, lime juice, taco seasoning, red onion, and sour cream (I use Vegan soy-based sour cream). If you eat dairy you could also use plain Greek yogurt.

Ingredients for the guacamole: fresh cilantro, avocados, lime juice, garlic, taco seasoning, red onion, and sour cream (I use Vegan soy-based sour cream). If you eat dairy you could also use plain Greek yogurt.

I saw a recipe on Pinterest for taco seasoning and had all the ingredients on hand in the pantry. I doubled the batch and am storing in a recycled jar. Never will I buy pre-packaged taco seasoning packets again!
Homemade Taco Seasoning
Source: Allrecipes
Ingredients:
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
Instructions:
In a small bowl, mix together chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, red pepper flakes, oregano, paprika, cumin, salt and pepper. Store in an airtight container. Yields about 2 3/4 tablespoons.
Homemade Taco Seasoning

Homemade Taco Seasoning

Guacamole
*2 avocados cubed
*1/4 cup chopped red onion
*1/2 Tablespoon taco seasoning (or to taste)
*2 cloves of minced garlic
*1/4 cup chopped cilantro
*2 Tablespoons lime juice
*1/2 cup sour cream (I used Vegan sour cream)

I LOVE avocado. As I have said in an earlier post, I could eat cardboard if it had a smear of avocado on it.

I LOVE avocado. As I have said in an earlier post, I could eat cardboard if it had a smear of avocado on it.

Add the chopped red onion.

Add the chopped red onion.

Add the taco seasoning.

Add the taco seasoning.

Fresh cilantro really perks up the flavor of the avocado. Add the garlic and lime juice as well.

Fresh cilantro really perks up the flavor of the avocado. Add the garlic and lime juice as well.

The sour cream gives it some body.

The sour cream gives it some body.

When I made guacamole to serve on its own I also add in some chopped tomatoes.

When I make guacamole to serve on its own I also add in some chopped tomatoes.

The finished product.

The finished product.

For each individual dip you will need:
*1/2 cup Vegetarian Refried Beans
*1/2 cup Guacamole
*1/4 cup salsa
*Lettuce
*Tomato
*Black olives
(any other toppings you desire)
I made four individual dips. They were quite generous in size and I probably could have made five from the recipe.

To start the dip, I added 1/2 cup of Vegetarian Refried Beans.

To start the dip, I added 1/2 cup of Vegetarian Refried Beans.

Top the beans with a 1/2 cup of guacamole.

Top the beans with a 1/2 cup of guacamole.

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Top the guacamole with 1/4 cup of salsa. You can also use taco sauce.

Top the guacamole with 1/4 cup of salsa. You can also use taco sauce.

Next chop lettuce.

Next chop lettuce.

A layer of crispy lettuce gives the dip a pleasing crunch.

A layer of crispy lettuce gives the dip a pleasing crunch.

Top tomatoes. I used grape tomatoes but any tomato will do.

Top with tomatoes. I used grape tomatoes because they do not release much juice (my dip needed to sit a few days in the refrigerator) but any tomato will do.  If I make this dip on a platter for a party I purchase large tomatoes and cut into small pieces.

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Sprinkle the dip with black olives.

Sprinkle the dip with black olives. You can also add jalapenos, corn, cheese, and your favorite taco additions. A drizzle of hot sauce or taco sauce is always a welcome addition.

My guacamole recipe and one can of refried beans rendered four individual layered dips. I will make my own refried beans next time.

My guacamole recipe and one can of refried beans rendered four individual layered dips. I will make my own refried beans next time.

Ready to store in the refrigerator.

Ready to store in the refrigerator.

I ate the dip with raw vegetables.

I ate the dip with raw vegetables.

Why wait for a party when you can eat taco dip whenever you want. Fresh, healthy, and a great way to eat your vegetables!

Why wait for a party when you can eat taco dip whenever you want. Fresh, healthy, and a great way to eat your vegetables!

This dip is versatile and you can fashion it to suit your tastebuds. I have swapped out the refried beans for black beans before and have topped with spinach instead of lettuce. If you are like me and are always looking for healthy comfort food, you will enjoy this dip.

This weekend was a very productive weekend. Yesterday I cooked for the week and my lunches this week will be homemade marina over whole wheat pasta. I added two different kinds of olives to the sauce, capers, and lemon juice. My plan is to share my recipe in a future post.

Olive marinara over whole wheat pasta.

Olive marinara over whole wheat pasta.

In February I pinned a recipe for a Vegan Split Pea Soup from Healthy. Happy. Life. on Pinterest and in the past week 180 people repinned the recipe and it received 23 likes. I figured that it was time that I tried the soup recipe. It is delicious and I am thankful that I did. It will serve as this week’s dinner with a large green salad that is topped with my homemade plant-based creamy dressing.

I let the peas soak over-night.

I let the peas soak over-night. There still is a chill in the air and this soup will be my dinner along with a large green salad.

As we head into the summer I am anxious for break so I can get back on pace with my weekly blogging. While it will fill me with sadness to say goodbye to my students for the summer, I am ready to garden and spend some time in the sun. Cheers to sunshine, productivity, and healthy plant-based eating!

Layered Refried and Guacamole Dip