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! ❤

 

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Quadruple Berry Salad with Caramelized Pecans and Raspberry Vinaigrette

Quadruple Berry Mason Jar Salad“Do stuff. Be clenched, curious. Not waiting for inspiration’s shove or society’s kiss on your forehead. Pay attention. It’s all about paying attention. Attention is vitality. It connects you with others. It makes you eager. Stay eager.”
― Susan Sontag

As an English teacher, I make a living out of helping my students find connections to the world around us. I serve as their guide in helping them to think critically and to use writing as a tool to make their thoughts, ideas, and dreams tangible. We use narratives, poems, articles, novels, and videos as a touchstone to connect with other lives, time periods, and cultures. Our writing becomes a mirror that we can hold up to our ambitions and possibilities. I always tell my students to examine the world with the astute eye of a writer. It makes us pay attention to things that may otherwise slip by.

As a new mother, I try to help my step-children make connections as well. The kids spend the majority of time with us and we try to make the most of our family time together. Since my husband John is a police officer his job often entails the challenge of shift work. However, he currently is on day shift which means that he is home for dinner every night. Last week he cashed in some very precious vacation time so he could accompany as a chaperone for the Winter Homecoming dance. After fall Homecoming, I promised Avalon that if she had high grades, strong attendance, and positive behavior that I would buy her a new dress and let her attend the Homecoming dance. She met and exceeded our goals and expectations – and I think it is fair to say that she felt like a princess dancing the night away.

Avalon posing in her Homecoming dress. What a beauty!

Avalon posing in her Homecoming dress. What a beauty!

John and Avalon. Oh, how I love them both!

John and Avalon. Oh, how I love them both!

How thankful I am that I work in such a family friendly environment. I think that it is a wonderful experience for Lukas and Avalon to interact with high school students and develop relationships and make connections with teachers, administrators, and others that will be stakeholders in their education through elementary, middle, and high school.

Lukas and Lorraine work on creating the yellow brick road in the hallway.

Lukas and Lorraine work on creating the yellow brick road in the hallway.

Avalon and Kori decorating the hallway for Homecoming.

Avalon and Kori make a great team.

As a teacher, I see firsthand the difference it makes in a young person’s life when their parents are actively involved in their education both inside and outside of school. Our first teachers are our parents, and I do not take my new role of mother lightly. I share John’s responsibility to help raise productive individuals that are kind, thoughtful, and independent. One of our family goals in the next couple of years is to construct an addition on to our house. In order to make this dream a reality, we are

Avalon and Lukas wearing their hats for Spirit Week.

Avalon and Lukas wearing their hats for Spirit Week.

trying to save money and stay financially healthy. I am teaching the kids how we can stretch our resources by grocery shopping (instead of dining out all the time) and by appreciating things that are homemade. John models hard work for his children and is a wonderful example of how much value things have when they are made from your own hands. John is extremely resourceful and can build anything. This weekend he put down new flooring in the kids’ room and he is currently building us

Sibling sweetness.

Sibling sweetness.

a sauna from a shed that we purchased from the Gwinn High School building trades class.  Since we live out-of-town we want to maximize our beautiful property and create our own personal paradise.

Last weekend I promised the kids that we would make Valentine’s crafts. We recycled jars and used Mod Podge and tissue paper to make “stained glass” candle luminaries. They loved being creative and suggested that we make more for every holiday. Setting a pretty table is important to me and I love that our Valentine’s centerpiece was created from Avalon and Lukas’ handiwork. I think that they will make our February family dinners even more special.

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Avalon bought me the beautiful family candle holder/plaque for Christmas.

Avalon bought me the beautiful family candle holder/plaque for Christmas.

Speaking of beautiful table settings, I recently became enamored by The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond’s gorgeous table wear collection. Since John and I merged households (I moved into his cozy log home) we feel it is important to acquire some new items together to help tell our story. We have kept quite a few of things we both had (for practical purposes) and slowly are buying a few new things. I wanted new every day dishes, but I am extremely picky. I could envision vintage plates and bowls, or at least a vintage feel, and Ree’s collection went perfectly with our red, yellow, and aqua theme. I love how bright and cheerful they are –  elegant  – with just the right amount of country charm! Not to mention that they are extremely affordable (which works with our goal to not squander our resources).

This weekend, after sleeping in from our late night at the dance and a huge breakfast, John took Lukas ice fishing and Avalon went grocery shopping with me. I told her with all the money that we saved with coupons and smart shopping I would treat her to Starbucks. She is a wonderful shopper and helps me remember the items on our list and she’s a huge helper in the kitchen. In fact, the recipe that I am sharing with you today was one of the first meals that Avalon helped me assemble last spring.

We take breakfast very seriously in our house. The eggs are from our hens and John and the kids had sausage from the pork that he raised last summer. Of course I sautéed lots of vegetables for my plate.

We take breakfast very seriously in our house. The eggs are from our hens and John and the kids had sausage from the pork that he raised last summer. Of course I sautéed lots of vegetables for my plate.

imageWhen I first started dating John, the kids (especially Lukas) were obsessed with the fact that I was a vegetarian. While they tend to be picky eaters and do not have a fondness for fruit and vegetables, I think they have made great strides in eating healthier. They love broccoli and green beans and for dessert they often will choose Greek yogurt and fruit. John, like the kids, has quite a sweet tooth but he loves to take a green smoothie to work and he enjoys my Mason jar salads. The combination that I am sharing with you today is his ultimate favorite. The caramelized pecans are a favorite snack of both John and Avalon and I often say that they are my way of “tricking” John into eating salad. While I do have a recipe for homemade Raspberry Vinaigrette, John prefers a sweeter store-bought version. I usually purchase Paul Newman’s Raspberry & Walnut dressing or Target’s Archer Farms Raspberry Vinaigrette – though I recommend that you give my recipe a try!

If you are new to jar salads, I recommend that you check out this link for helpful tips and tricks.

QUADRUPLE BERRY SALAD WITH CARAMELIZED PECANS & RASPBERRY VINAIGRETTE

I layer the following ingredients in this order – into wide-mouthed, one quart Mason jars. I usually make 7-10 salads. I do not have exact amounts of berries for the salads. I usually buy a quart of strawberries and blueberries and a couple pints of raspberries and blackberries and divide them up into each jar (the more berries the better!)

*If you do not eat dairy you might want to try this Herbed Tofu, from Vegan Yak Attack which makes a great feta cheese substitute.

*3-4 Tablespoons of Raspberry Vinaigrette Dressing (depending on how much dressing you like. John likes a lot of dressing. I usually add extra vinegar or lemon juice at the bottom to mine since I like my dressing extra tangy)
*Sliced carrots
*Snow Peas
*Sliced cucumbers

*Strawberries (I use fresh berries. Once in a pinch I used frozen raspberries and they worked out – though they were not quite as good as fresh)
*Raspberries
*Blackberries
*Blueberries
*Feta Cheese
*Blue Cheese
(or gorgonzola)
*A handful of caramelized pecans (link to recipe HERE)
*Spring mix lettuce
*Alfalfa sprouts

This combination has turned John into a salad fan and I hope that you enjoy it too! While life is busy, we are never too busy to make healthy choices. Mason jar salads are a real game changer when it comes to meal prep. I got out of the habit this fall when my schedule got tight and my goal for the coming month is to make jar salads each week for work. I also want to bring back my weekly blog posts. I miss sharing with you, and since I use my blog as a teaching tool, I miss sharing my writing goals with my students. As always, I would love to hear from you. I hope you are meeting your healthy goals and intentions for the new year. Remember, we are worth it!

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John’s mom made us cooking aprons for Christmas.

One of my students Kori and I at Homecoming. I love her!

One of my students Kori and I at Homecoming. I love her!

The kids had so much fun dancing the night away. Jordan, one of my students, made their evening extra special. She is such a sweetheart! Love her!

The kids had so much fun dancing the night away. Jordan, one of my students, made their evening extra special. She is beautiful inside and out – love her!

Miss Avalon enjoying her Starbucks treat.

Miss Avalon enjoying her Starbucks treat.

Top Ten Recipes of 2014

 

Top 10 Recipes of 2014 “I love the dark hours of my being.
My mind deepens into them.
There I can find, as in old letters,
the days of my life, already lived,
and held like a legend, and understood.”
― Rainer Maria Rilke

As an English teacher, I always tell my students that when we write we make our thoughts tangible. Our words become our fingerprints and as we embroider paper, or the blinking computer screen, with our insight – our labor is a true act of creation. “Make sure you put the date on your manuscript,” I relentlessly remind them. Our writing serves as a time capsule and helps us chart our personal, academic, and professional growth.

Scrolling through the statistics for my blog, I am given insight into which of my posts have received the most traffic. I can see which links received the most clicks, shares, and various sites that have featured my recipes. I spend my morning reflecting on what my readers want and value and what potential recipes I can shape in 2014.

Yesterday was the two year anniversary of Produce with Amy and there are over one hundred posts that contain recipes crafted from vibrant fruit and vegetables – however, my posts also contain moments of reflection from my personal life. Truth-be-told, some of my ruminations leave me feeling melancholy because of events that have occurred in the past few months. 2015 will prove to be a year of change, growth,  and transformation. At the risk of being cryptic, I will leave it at that.

2014 was similar to 2013, in the fact that my recipes for Mason jar salads were the most popular. To reflect on the past year, and welcome a new year of discovery and health, I thought that I would share them again here.

Glowing Green Mason Jar Salad with Creamy Avocado Vinaigrette

#1 Glowing Green Mason Jar Salads with Avocado Vinaigrette Dressing

Sometimes when I get to the top there is not much room for lettuce. :) Yet, that is fine with me!

Sometimes when I get to the top there is not much room for lettuce. 🙂 Yet, that is fine with me!

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

Mediterranean Mason Jar Salads with Greek Vinaigrette#3 Mediterranean Mason Jar Salads with Greek Vinaigrette

Apple-a-Day Mason Jar Salads with Pumpkin Vinaigrette Dressing

Apple-a-Day Mason Jar Salads with Pumpkin Vinaigrette Dressing

#4 Apple-a-Day Mason Jar Salad with Pumpkin Vinaigrette

Harvest Rainbow Mason Jar Salads

Harvest Rainbow Mason Jar Salads

#5 Harvest Rainbow Mason Jar Salad with Creamy Pesto Dressing

Garden Fiesta Mason Jar Salads#6 Garden Fiesta Mason Jar Salad

Israeli Feast Mason Jar Salad#7 Israeli Feast ~ Mason Jar Salad (with Tabouli, Hummus, and Olives)

Confetti Salad in a Jar with Creamy Chipotle Dressing#8 Confetti Salad in a Jar with Creamy Chipotle Dressing

January Green Smoothie Challenge#9 New Year’s Green Smoothie Challenge ~ 31 Days of Printable Recipes and Shopping Lists

Sunshine Mason Jar Salad  with Mango Dressing#10 Sunshine Salad in a Jar with Kicky Mango Vinaigrette 

As I contemplate the hope and potential of a brand new year, I cannot help but be thankful for every one that has been reading and following my blog. Starting this blog has helped me stay accountable to a healthy lifestyle and I am thrilled that I can help encourage others to do the same. Thank you for sharing this journey and remember that we are worth all the hard work it takes to shop, prep, and prepare fresh meals made from whole foods. I look forward to sharing more recipes with you.

 

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!

Tangy Jarred Salads with Sauerkraut, Hot Peppers, Pickles, & Mustard Dressing

Tangy Jarred Salads with Sauerkraut, Pickles, Hot Peppers, and Mustard by Produce with Amy“In matters of healing the body or the mind, vacation is a true genius!” 
― Mehmet Murat Ildan

The glory of spring break stretches before me in the beauty of a week with few obligations. Even my normal weekend marathon of food prep has come to a delicate halt. I made a loaf of bread and will make dinner salads from scratch this week (I may prep a few jarred salads tomorrow to grab for a quick-lunch or dinner. Mid-week I will make soup and get a jump on next week’s food prep to free up time on the weekend). However, my main focus this week will be posting all of the new recipes that have been building up for the past couple months that I have not had the luxury of time (or energy) to post.

A few weeks ago as I was contemplating the Mason jar salads that I bring to work each Tangy Jarred Salads with Sauerkraut, Peppers, and Pickles by Produce with Amyday for lunch, I decided that I wanted a very non-traditional salad. At the time I was fiercely craving sauerkraut. I love the combination of hot peppers, pickles, and mustard with sauerkraut and my affinity for tart and tangy gave rise to this delicious salad creation. I confess that it may not be for everyone, but I really enjoyed it and will be making it again soon.

If you are not familiar with Mason jar salads you may want to read this post where I give some tips and information about making jarred salads.

MUSTARD DRESSING

  • 1/2 cup of raw apple cider vinegar (Or your vinegar of choice. Since homemade dressings can be made to suit Tangy Mustard Dressingindividual tastes, I always recommend that you add vinegar to meet the level of tartness that you enjoy.)
  • Juice and zest of one lemon
  • 1 Tablespoon of Dijon mustard (I have also used plain yellow mustard or spicy brown)
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 Teaspoon onion
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil (You can add more depending on taste. You could also skip the oil and add the oil directly to each salad, or to the jar, to maintain portion control. I usually make my dressing without oil and add 2 teaspoons to each jar or to the salad if it is plated.)
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
    Tangy Jarred Salads by Produce with Amy

TANGY JARRED SALADS WITH SAUERKRAUT, HOT PEPPERS, PICKLES, & MUSTARD DRESSING

3I added the following and divided into five ~ 1 quart Mason jars:

  • 3 Tablespoons Mustard Dressing (per jar)
  • 4 chopped carrots
  • 1 large sliced cucumber
  • 1 chopped green bell pepper
  • 10 sliced radishes
  • 1 can of sauerkraut
  • Chicago Style Hot Peppers (I added a couple of Tablespoons per jar. 1Banana peppers or jalapeno also work well)
  • Dill pickles (A couple TabIespoons per jar. I used my mom’s should-be-world-famous dill pickles)
  • 1 quart of halved grape tomatoes
  • 1 container of alfalfa sproutsPrintable Recipe: Tangy Jarred Salads with Sauerkraut, Hot Peppers, Pickles, & Mustard Dressing

This salad would make a wonderful side for summer picnics and I cannot wait to try it with homemade sauerkraut. This salad may be very taste specific, but you can alter it meet you own personal tastes. Mason jar salads have really changed the way that I look at salads and I love the creativity that coming up with new combinations affords me. Make sure that you check out my Salad Tab for other ideas.

Make sure you subscribe to my blog via email to receive notification of new recipes. Please let me know if you try a recipe. If you have stumbled across my blog please leave a comment here or on my Facebook page and let me know where you are from. 🙂  It really thrills and inspires me to know that my posts and recipes are helping others maximize their health and productivity by eating more fruit and vegetables. Cheers to thriving together!

86Sauerkraut Salads

Dijon Mustard Dressing by Produce with Amy

 

Blue & Purple Passion Jarred Salads with Tangerine Vinaigrette

Blue & Purple Passion Jarred Salads with Tangerine Vinaigrette by Produce with Amy“Your beliefs become your thoughts, 
Your thoughts become your words, 
Your words become your actions, 
Your actions become your habits, 
Your habits become your values, 
Your values become your destiny.” 
― Mahatma Gandhi

In what feels like a blink of an eye the weekend is nearly gone and we were just starting to get acquainted (to make it even more unbelievable, I had a three-day weekend and still it felt short). Last week’s Weight Watchers topic was weekends. I posed the question to my members, “What do you like to do on the weekends?” and “What do you need to do?”

I feel fortunate to be a WW leader because in addition to helping others learn, or reclaim, healthy habits — it keeps me accountable to my own weight management goals. Over the years I have learned to use the weekend to reflect on my progress and prepare for the week ahead. The majority of my weekend, during the school year, is dedicated to preparing lessons/grading and food prep. While I would love to be completely leisurely, I know that I have a much better week when all of our meals and snacks are cooked and prepped.

Over five years ago when my husband Mike and I made the commitment to eat whole foods we decided that we would keep processed food to a minimum and spend our money on quality ingredients. This means that we do not rely on takeout meals. This weekend we discussed going out to dinner but decided that I would prepare our favorite restaurant meal instead and save money. While sometimes we do treat ourselves for lunch or an evening out, the savings in opting out of restaurant fare makes purchasing fresh produce feel more affordable. Therefore, I never feel guilty when my grocery cart is full of fresh food. The time that I spend in the kitchen each week is essential to our health and weight management ~ and I believe that Mike and I are worth the hours that I labor over wholesome meals.

When I came up with the name for the jarred salad that I am sharing in this post, I was thinking about my passion for fresh and vibrantly colored vegetables. Food for me goes beyond taste ~ presentation, along with the nutritional value of ingredients, is important when I select meals and come up with recipes.

Did you know that blue and purple fruit, berries, and vegetables are high in anthocyanin? These compounds are believed to lower blood pressure and lower cholesterol. Anthocyanin is a powerful antioxidant that is also believed to promote brain health, memory, and have cancer fighting properties. So not only are blue and purple produce beautiful, but they help us thrive.

Purple cabbage, blackberries, and blueberriesMost of my jarred salad recipes serve as entrée (I include raw nuts, beans, or quinoa etc. for protein) so I wanted to come up with a salad that I could eat as a side. Of course, if you want this salad as a filling meal you can add your choice of protein to bulk it up.

Instead of lettuce I decided to add red/purple cabbage. I love the crunch that cabbage brings to a salad and I find its sweetness a wonderful compliment to fresh berries. I have also found that cabbage holds up really well in the Mason jar salads and that salads made with cabbage will last for well over a week (in fact I had one on day ten and it tasted just as fresh as the first day). The fiber in cabbage make it filling and I find that it takes me a bit longer to eat than lettuce which is also an important factor in satiety. As discussed in Weight Watchers meetings a few weeks back, it takes our bodies twenty minutes to register feelings of fullness (since our brains must send this message to our body) and that, on average, a person overeats by twenty bites.

I also decided to make one dressing and add ginger to 1/2 and rosemary the other 1/2 to add variety.

If you are new to jarred salads you may want to check out this post for tips and suggestions.

Tangerine Vinaigrette DressingTANGERINE VINIAGRETTE DRESSING

  • 1 tangerine (juice and zest)
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon of onion
  • 1/4-1/2 cup of white balsamic vinegar (I suggest adding vinegar a little at a time. I enjoy a tart dressing so I am generous with the vinegar)
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil (I leave the oil out and add 2 teaspoons of oil to each jar)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Blend all of the ingredients. I split the dressing in half and added fresh ginger root (since ginger is spicy I suggest adding a bit at a time if you are not accustomed to the taste) to 1/2 and to the other 1/2 I added a teaspoon of dried rosemary.

Blue & Purple Passion Jarred Salads

PURPLE PASSION JARRED SALADS

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

  • 2-3 Tablespoons of Tangerine Vinaigrette
  • Colored bell peppers (2-3 peppers)
  • Shredded carrots (one bag)
  • Blueberries (2 quarts)
  • Blackberries (one quart)
  • Purple/red cabbage (one small head)

Tangerine segments would also be a great addition to this salad.

Pin the recipe HERE.

Blue & Purple Jarred Salads with Tangerine Vinaigrette

The simplicity of these salads makes them quick to prepare and they are brimming with healthy nutrients. They will help fuel your week and the vibrant color may even help chase away the winter blues.

Please stop by my Facebook page and feel free to share my recipes with others. Make sure that you check out the salad tab at the top of this page for other Mason jar salad recipes. Check back often because I have three more jarred salad recipes and a soup recipe to share in the next couple weeks. Even though my schedule is full, I promise to make time to post because we are worth it. Together we can make fresh produce the cornerstone of our meals and thrive with health and energy. 🙂

Blue & Purple Passion Jarred Salad with Tangerine Vinaigrette

Tangerine Dressing by Produce with Amy

Citrus Berry Slaw Jarred Salad with Strawberry Basil Balsamic Dressing

Citrus Berry Slaw Jarred Salad  with Strawberry Basil Balsamic DressingWhen baking, follow directions. When cooking, go by your own taste.
 – Laiko Bahrs

Today has been a mellow day in the kitchen. Normally my Sunday routine is to engage in a cooking marathon, but since I have been tackling cabin fever by cooking, our freezer is stocked with individual homemade frozen meals, soup, chili, and I still have a few Mason jar salads in the refrigerator. It has been nice to have a relaxing Sunday.

I did roast a chicken and make homemade bread for Mike’s lunch. While some who embrace a plant-based meal plan may take issue with this, I must say that I have to honor my husband’s food choices. I was a meat-eater when we met and I cannot ask him to change because I have altered what I eat. As a Weight Watcher leader I hear this complaint often from my members. When we decide to follow the Weight Watchers program it does not mean that all of our loved ones do the same. Of course, we hope that our healthy lifestyle choices impact their lives but we all must make our own choices. Ultimately, we are the only ones who control what we consume (even when there are tempting foods in the house).

Mike is a healthy eater (he loves fruit and vegetables) and he will eat many meat-free meals. His lunches are important to me because I like to take care of him like he takes care of me (he does the majority of cleaning, maintains our house and our vehicles, and is always going out of his way to make my life easier). He started a new career in July and this meant having to make a switch in his lunches. Before he could take leftovers or even jarred salads (he may not admit this now 😉 ) but with his current job he does not have access to a microwave and only has time for a sandwich (he does also bring raw nuts, fresh fruit, a granola bar and Greek yogurt). However, sometimes he comes home with his lunch fully intact because he worked through lunch.

I promise you that I did try. I tried to convince Mike that peanut butter or hummus makes a satisfying sandwich filling. Yet, he gave me that look. So I agreed…only after trying to seduce him with the prospect of peanut butter AND banana. I realized that I was not going to win and decided that instead of feeding him store-bought lunch meat or deli meat packed with nitrates, that I would roast a chicken each week and make sandwiches and soup along with homemade bread. I admit that I have zero experience with baking but after finding a couple of slices of bread that were stuck in the back of the refrigerator after a couple of weeks (without a speck of mold) I decided this week to make my own. I am sure my homemade bread adventures will spur future blog posts.

In the meantime I have a new jarred salad recipe to share. My latest obsession in my salads is cabbage. I love its heartiness and the way it holds up longer than lettuce in salads. I think that the Citrus Berry Slaw that I have created would work well on its own and could be made with any berry and your choice of ingredients. This salad reminds me of summer and in the heart of winter that is a good thing. While the groundhog may have predicted this weekend that there will be six more weeks of winter ~ in Michigan we know what that means!
Strawberry Basil Balsamic Dressing by Produce with Amy

STRAWBERRY BASIL BALSAMIC DRESSING

  • 1 cup of strawberries (I used frozen)
  • 1 orange (juice and zest)
  • 1/8 cup of aged balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ cup of white balsamic vinegar
  • ½ cup of basil
  • 1/8-1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (I often leave the oil out of salad dressing and add 2 teaspoons to each jar for portion control)
  • 1 Tablespoon onion
  • 1 clove garlic

Citrus Berry Slaw by Produce with AmyCITRUS BERRY SLAW JARRED SALAD WITH STRAWBERRY BASIL DRESSING

strawberry slawI layered these ingredients, in the following order, in one quart Mason Jars:

  • 2-3 Tablespoons of Strawberry Basil Balsamic Dressing
  • 2 colored bell peppers (cut in chunks)
  • Radish (sliced)
  • ¼ cup of white beans
  • 1 quart of halved cherry tomatoes
  • Cauliflower (one head)
  • ¾-1  cup of Citrus Slaw (recipe below)

CITRUS BERRY SLAW

Citrus Berry Slaw Ingredients

  • 2 cups of chopped green cabbage (I did find that the cabbage really shrunk and the next time I will add a couple more cups of cabbage to the slaw)
  • 1 thinly sliced apple (your favorite variety)
  • 3 cups of fresh strawberries
  • ¼ cup of white balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ cup of sliced celery
  • ¼ cup of chopped colored bell pepper
  • 1 bunch of thinly sliced green onion
  • 1 clove of minced garlic
  • 1 lime (juice and zest. For a sweeter slaw you may use an orange or tangerine instead)
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Optional ~ Extra Virgin Olive Oil (if you are watching your fat you may choose to leave out)
    Citrus Berry Slaw Salad by Produce with AmyI promise that this salad is as flavorful as it is pretty. Make sure you check out my Salad Tab for other healthy and vibrant salads.Pin this recipe HERE.

As winter continues I promise to keep sharing my healthy recipes. It may not be strawberry season but we can fool Mother Nature by creating our own gardens. To me nothing tastes more like summer than strawberries and basil and I hope you enjoy this combination. Keep me posted and let me know what you think.
Citrus Strawberry Slaw Mason Jar Salads

 

Citrus Berry Slaw

Confetti Salad in a Jar with Creamy Chipotle Dressing

Confetti Salad in a Jar with Creamy Chipotle Dressing by Produce with Amy

“We are indeed much more than what we eat, but what we eat can nevertheless help us to be much more than what we are.” ~ Adelle Davis

I am sitting on the sofa wrapped in a blanket with a steaming cup of Egyptian Licorice tea and taking advantage of another spontaneous day off of work to blog. Nearly every school in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (aside from Michigan Technological Universty which never seems to close) has been cancelled because of  blizzard conditions and dangerous wind chills (this morning’s windchill dipping to -40 in some areas). Tonight it is predicted that the wind Phoebe chill will be even more severe. I refuse to let the looming winter dampen my spirits. As I said in a Facebook post this weekend, “I love to re-frame my misery over the weather and imagine how much more poignant the beauty of my summer flowers will be. The water will be that much more refreshing and the sky will ache even more blue. Positive thinking will reshape your world.”

This is day #6 off in our school district because of inclement weather. This means that any additional days (and I am sure there will be more) will have to be made up. I guess that the fierce winter weather is an opportunity cost for living in such a wild and beautiful place. Even our pup Phoebe is feeling the cold pinch and we had to buy her little booties to protect her feet from the icy conditions. She does not seem to mind them one bit and frolics around in the snow when they are on her feet.

As winter progresses I think that I am tackling a case of cabin fever by cooking up a storm.Jars Our freezer is fully stocked with a wide selection of soups, chili, and individually portioned meals. We have a dozen Mason jar salads in our refrigerator and my husband Mike suggested that perhaps I needed an intervention. In fact, we can barely open the freezer and I think that next week I will only make jarred salads (and maybe a small batch of soup) so that we can make a dent in our frozen supply. 

Planning and prepping meals is the #1 most valuable lesson that I learned when I joined Weight Watchers seven years ago. This routine not only helps me with my weight management but it also reduces stress and is kind to my pocketbook. Mid-week I figure out what our meals will be and write out my shopping list and go shopping either Friday night after work or Saturday after my WW meeting. I would like to bring back my routine of shopping mid-week but Friday evening seems to work well and it saves me valuable time on the weekend. 

While I do not think that it is necessary to eat salads when you follow the Weight Watchers plan, since I try to stick to a plant-based meal plan, salads are an obvious choice for me. The combinations for salads are endless, and since I constantly rotate my ingredients and dressings, I never get tired of them. I am thankful that my salad posts have been popular because it encourages me to keep coming up with new variations. So thank you for all of your comments and feedback! Please keep them coming. It inspires me when I know that people are reading and trying my recipes. 

If you are new to Mason jar salads you might find this post helpful. I make my salads in one quart wide-mouthed jars and they are filling enough to serve as a meal. They last over a week in the refrigerator and they display the salad so beautifully that I always look forward to eating them. My recent salad addiction is cabbage. I enjoy its crunch and the multiple health benefits it offers. While I love cooked cabbage, studies show that lightly steamed or raw cabbage offers up more nutrition. Read more HERE

Chipotle in Adobo SauceA couple of weeks ago I made Scarlet Salads in a Jar with Cherry Chipotle Vinaigrette. Since I froze the remaining chipotles, and have an affinity for their smoky and spicy flavor, I decided to incorporate them in another salad dressing recipe. I also wanted to impart a flavor burst with a marinated bean salad. Many people commented on photos that I posted that my bean salad looked like Cowboy Caviar and I am certain that this salad would work well as a dip for chips (though I am trying to ignore that thought since tortilla chips are one of my biggest weaknesses). 

Creamy Chipotle DressingCREAMY CHIPOTLE DRESSING (printable recipe below)

  • 1/2 cup of unsweetened organic soy milk (I also use unsweetened almond milk for creamy dressing. You could also use soy yogurt or if you eat dairy, Greek yogurt)
  • 3 Tablespoons of vinegar (I used raw apple cider vinegar)
  • 1 lime (juice and zest)
  • 1 chipotle pepper (be warned, a little goes a long way. If you want the dressing extra spicy add more but taste as you go)
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon of onion
  • Fresh Cilantro (I grabbed a handful or approximately a 1/4 cup)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

(Next time I make this dressing I am going to stir in some salsa.)

Blend well and store extra dressing in a cruet or jar in the refrigerator.  I have found that my homemade dressings last for over a month because the citrus and vinegar help to act as a natural preservative. I made a batch of Pumpkin Vinaigrette for a family gathering on Christmas Eve and my mom said that she had some the other day and it was still fresh.
Confetti Salad in a Jar with Creamy Chipotle Dressing

CONFETTI SALAD IN A JAR WITH CREAMY CHIPOTLE DRESSING

I layered the following ingredients in 5 ~ one quart Mason jars:Creamy Chipotle Dressing

  • 2-3 Tablespoons of Creamy Chipotle Dressing (since the confetti salad is marinated you may find that you need less dressing but I added 3 generous Tablespoons)
  • Green bell pepper chopped or in strips (1 used two peppers)
  • Cherry tomatoes halved (I used one and 1/2 pints)
  • Avocado (I used three avocados) Update: after eating the salads I will put in more avocado next time. The avocado stays fresh and is so delicious with the Confetti Salad.
  • 1 cup of Confetti Salad (recipe to follow)
  • Chopped kale
  • Chopped cabbage (do not be afraid to push down so you can fit more cabbage in the jar)Confetti Salad

CONFETTI SALAD (This recipe made exactly enough for five salads. However, it is so good, next time I will make extra to eat as a snack or side.)

  • 1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup black beans
  • 1/4 cup white beans
  • 1/4 cup edamame
  • 1/4 lentils
  • 1/4 cup corn
  • 1/4 cup chopped cucumber
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 limes (juice and zest)
  • 1 jalapeno (finely chopped)
  • 1 large clove of minced garlic
  • 1 bunch of 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 taste

Confetti Salad

Printable Recipe: Confetti Salad in a Jar with Creamy Chipotle Dressing

Pin this post HERE. 

Confetti Mason Jar Salad in a Jar with Creamy Chipotle Dressing

Every week when I make a new jarred salad I think that it is my favorite one. That is exactly what I thought this morning when I had one of these salads for breakfast. Yes, that is right, I love to eat salad for breakfast. A couple of years ago when I was in Israel I really enjoyed the wide-array of raw vegetables and salad fixings that were served for breakfast at the hotels we stayed at. Now a salad is often my breakfast of choice. Today this salad really hit the spot today and I will be making the Confetti Salad at the next gathering I am invited to (it will give me the excuse to nibble on some tortilla chips 😉 )

Garden Fiesta Jarred SaladIf you like Mexican inspired food as much as I do you may also be interested in the Garden Fiesta Mason Jar Salad that I created in September.

Make sure that you check out all my other Salads and Salad Dressing recipes too.

If you try one of my recipes please make sure to let me know what you think. I love when people stop by my Facebook page and leave photos and feedback. It is also interesting to hear what tweaks individuals add to my recipes to make them their own.

Winter can be a challenge for meal choices and I find that making jarred salads really helpConfetti Salad in a Jar with Creamy Chipotle Dressing streamline my work week and keeps me on the healthy path. I do not have to think about what I will be eating for lunch and I end up getting in a variety of fruit and vegetables that I would not normally eat if I was just throwing together a salad on the spot. I am also mindful of rotating my fruit and vegetables to make sure that I am meeting my bodies nutritional needs. While the salad makes a meal on its own, I find that I can share one with my husband Mike as a side-salad with dinner.

I will be posting more jarred salad recipes so make sure you check back often. An upcoming post will feature a salad with a layer of Citrus Berry Slaw and a Strawberry Basil Balsamic Vinaigrette. Take care, stay warm, and fill your plate with the rainbow. Your immune system, skin, waistline, and energy levels will thank you!

Confetti Salad in a Jar with Creamy Chipotle Dressing

Confetti Salad

Scarlet Salads in a Jar with Cherry Chipotle Vinaigrette

Scarlet Salads in a Jar with Cherry Chipotle Vinaigrette

“Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.” 
― Michael Pollan

Food. It seems simple enough, right? We should eat to live. Yet, we have an intimate connection to the food that surrounds us. Food is comfort, culture, community, family, and a way to celebrate and nurture others. Food is smell, taste, and texture. It even has socio-economic implications. While there are many emotional associations with food, I try to remember that the bottom line is that food is sustenance and fuel.

As a Weight Watchers leader I try to be sensitive to all of my members food and lifestyle choices. The truth is that when I joined WW, I ate very differently than I eat now. Artificial sweeteners, processed snacks, and packaged frozen meals were tossed in my shopping cart as part of my WW meal plan. In short, I was eating “diet” food. Yes, I lost weight and made my goal weight, but was I nourishing my body to the fullest potential?

While vanity came into play and I wanted to feel attractive in my clothes again, my pride in my appearance did not push me through the WW doors. It was my health. At thirty-five I experienced a pulmonary embolism (a blood clot was lodged in each of my lungs). A couple of years later my husband Mike suffered a spontaneous brain hemorrhage.

After Mike’s health scare, I started a quest to investigate the healing powers of food The power of red fruit and vegetablesdeeper. I spent hours on the computer trying to learn more about brain injuries. I stocked our house with whole non-processed food. One of Mike’s doctors gave him a myriad of tests and declared him a walking-and-talking miracle after he showed no cognitive damage. I told her about the foods that I was feeding him and she told me to keep doing what I was doing. This transformation in our kitchen and lifestyle paved the way for this blog and my passion to share what I have learned with others.

What have I learned? Taste does not need to be compromised when you eat non-processed food. In fact, I have found that once I eliminated artificial sweeteners, cut down on refined sugar, stopped buying processed snacks, and started to eat cleaner, my food cravings changed.

Sometimes in my WW meetings or in social situations, people will wrinkle up their nose when I mention a recipe or food that I enjoy. I do acknowledge that I have learned to embrace food for more than just its flavor. Food provides nutrients and fuel for my body. Adding Spirulina to my green smoothies does alter the flavor and make it more “grassy” but the boost of nutrients that I get make it worthwhile. While I do not eat 100% clean at all times, my hunger attempts to put nutrition first. While it may be easier to open up a can of soup for lunch or dinner, to me there are not shortcuts to health. I am willing to spend time chopping vegetables and experimenting with new flavor combinations. When planning my menu it is important that I rotate the food that I eat so I do not experience boredom or get in a food rut and so that I am getting a wide-range of nutrients.

I have really been enjoying coming up with new salad and dressing recipes and last weekScarlet Salad in a Jar the theme for my jarred salads were RED. Red fruit and vegetables are loaded with antioxidants, such as lycopene and anthocyanins, and nutrients (folate, fiber, vitamin C and A) that help nourish our bodies. They help us fight heart disease and macular degeneration, help regulate blood pressure, and soak up damaging free radicals.

This salad works well with the WW Simple Start and Simply Filling Technique.
Red fruit and vegetables

I really wanted to incorporate beets into my salads but wanted them raw instead of roasted so I took out my spiralizer and within minutes had vibrant red curls to add to my salad. They made a fresh addition and I loved the flavor they impart. I am not big fan of kitchen gadgets but I love my spiralizer/slicer to make quick work of making zucchini ribbons for “pasta” and for adding squash and other vegetables to salads, soup, and other dishes.
BeetsVegetable Slicer/SpiralizerSpiralized beetsBeetsBeets are messy to work with but I promise you they are worth the effort.

Cherry Chipotle VinaigretteCHERRY CHIPOTLE VINAIGRETTE DRESSINGChipotle Pepper in Adobo Sauce

  • 1 cup of cherries (I used frozen but I cannot wait until summer to try fresh)
  • 1/2 cup of vinegar (I used white balsamic but use your favorite. I recommend adding the vinegar a little at a time to achieve your desired tartness)
  • 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil (I left out the oil and instead Chipotle in Adobo Sauceadded 2 teaspoons to each jar for portion control)
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon of onion

Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (I added three peppers and it was VERY spicy. Next time I will add one and do a taste test before I add more. I froze the rest.)

Blend dressing well. This dressing made exactly enough for eight Mason jar salads but it would keep well in the refrigerator for over a month.

Scarlet Jarred Salads with Cherry Chipotle Vinaigrette 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.

SCARLET SALADS IN A JAR A CHERRY CHIPOTLE VINAIGRETTE

I layered the following in this order into 8, one quart, Mason jars.

  • 3-4 Tablespoons of Cherry Chipotle dressing
  • Red bell pepper (two peppers)
  • Cherry tomatoes (one pint)
  • Raw beets (I used one bunch of four. Do not forget to save the beet tops to throw into soup or your green smoothies)
  • Radishes (I used one bag because I could not find any bunches with the tops still on them. I love radish greens in smoothies)
  • Red apples (I used two)
  • 2 cups of kidney beans (1/4 cup per salad)
  • Pomegranate (I had a 1/2 in the refrigerator)
  • Red lettuce (I used one head)

Printable recipe: Scarlet Salads in a Jar with Cherry Chipotle Vinaigrette
Pin this recipe HERE.
Check out my other salads in a jar on my Salads Tab.Scarlet Salads in a Jar with Cherry Chipotle Vinaigrette

I really enjoyed this flavor combination and I still have a couple left in the refrigerator. One salad is a meal in itself and I find that it’s the perfect size for my husband and I to split as a side-salad for dinner. The taste of the raw beets is fresh and juicy combined with the smoky and spicy taste of the dressing. The peppery radishes combined with the sweet apples, the sweet tart taste of the pomegranates, and the crunch of peppers with the creamy beans was terrific. Plus, just look at that vibrant color! What is there not to love?

Today I challenge you to reflect on your relationship with food. Food may be a way to bridge our past to our future and helps us gain valuable insight about ourselves. I am thankful that I have made the steps that I have to eating whole, non-processed food and I always encourage my Weight Watchers members to do the same. However, I do understand that we all have different lifestyles and that we all must do what we feel is best for ourselves and our families. I continue to make baby steps on my journey to maximizing my health and productivity.

I have been sharing my recipes on this blog since January of 2013 and the support and feedback that I have received has made me commit to continue writing. I want to thank you for sharing this journey with me. Profoundly I believe that we are all teachers and students and we must continue to grapple and learn lessons along the way.

I end with a compelling quote that I found last week that continues to impact me as I reflect on my own relationship with food. Have a healthy and energy-filled  week my friends! Please continue to share my posts and drop by my Produce with Amy Facebook page and say hello.

“We can, and must, develop dialogue and relatedness with our body because it’s talking to us all the time. And please remember, your body loves you. It does everything it can to keep you alive and functioning. You can feed it garbage, and it will take it and digest it for you. You can deprive it of sleep, but still it gets you up and running next morning. You can drink too much alcohol, and it will eliminate it from your system. It loves you unconditionally and does its best to allow you to live the life you came here for. The real issue in this relationship is not whether your body loves you, but whether you love your body. In any relationship, if one partner is loving, faithful and supportive, it’s easy for the other to take that person for granted. That’s what most of us do with our bodies. It is time for you to shift this, and working to understand your cravings is one of the best places to begin. Then you can build a mutually loving relationship with your own body.”

― Joshua Rosenthal, Integrative Nutrition: Feed Your Hunger for Health and Happiness
Scarlet Jarred Salads with Cherry Chipotle Vinaigrette Dressing

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.