Paradise in a Jar Salad with Blueberry Lemon Dressing

Paradise in a Jar Salad with Blueberry Lemon Dressing by Produce with Amy“In his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars.” 
― F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

Our Phoebe is confused as to why I am home and my presence seems to be interrupting her beauty sleep. She is wary to sleep too deeply because she may miss something exciting.

Our Phoebe is confused as to why I am home and my presence seems to be interrupting her beauty sleep. She is wary to sleep too deeply because she may miss something exciting.

Maybe I am in denial. Yet, a little denial cannot hurt, right? A blissful week off for spring break stretches before me and I am enjoying every moment of this morning as I lounge around in my bedclothes.

While I watch the smiling faces of my friends on holiday in Florida glow across my social network news feeds, I am genuinely happy for them. While I would love to gaze at palm trees against a turquoise backdrop of water, feel the sun kiss my bare shoulders, and dig my toes into warm sand ~ deep down I am thankful that I am tucked away quietly at home in the chilly north. The truth is that I need time to decompress and soak up the quiet of our house. Right now I am all about hot tea, relaxation, furbabies, and being soothed by the gentle click of my keyboard.

Yesterday I was thrilled when my friend Kara at Running From Perfect gave me a shout-out and recipe review of the last jarred salad recipe that I shared. Kara, like many others, felt trepidation in trying the Mason jar salads but learned that they are as great as they sound. Read Kara’s post,  Mason Jar Salads…I’m Obsessed and make sure you follow her blog, and find her on other social networking avenues, because she is one busy and inspiring lady.

If you are new to Mason jar salads you might want to read one of my first jarred salad posts for tips on making these fresh and colorful creations.

So back to my denial meanderings. I am not in denial about needing time to reflect and take a deep breath from  the urgency of my teaching career, but perhaps I am in denial about the weather forecast that predicts more snow on Friday in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. While we all hope it is a cruel April Fool’s joke, it probably is not.

Paradise Salad with Blueberry Lemon DressingWith gray skies looming outside I thought that today was the perfect time to post my Paradise in a Jar Salads with Blueberry Lemon Dressing. The brilliant colors remind me of the feathers of a tropical parrot and what could speak warm weather more than lush kiwi and the sweet, aromatic taste of blueberries? As I have posted before, living in a wild and cold climate one must learn how to manufacture rays of sunshine and what better way to do it than the food that we consume? We are what we eat, after all. I do not know about you, but I want to be vibrant, unique, and bursting with energy. This philosophy is what inspires me when I come up with my recipes. While I feel rooted by certain flavors that go together, sometimes I like to throw together something unexpected. From the sauerkraut, pickles, and hot peppers in my previous jar salad to the mellow undertones that the cinnamon imparts on the blueberry dressing shared today.

Blueberry Lemon Dressing

BLUEBERRY LEMON DRESSING

  • 1 cup of blueberries (fresh or frozen. I was fortunate to have wild Michigan blueberries in the freezer)
  • 1/4-1/2 cup of water (depending on how thick you want the dressing. It did thicken a bit so I recommend 1/2 cup)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (I omit the oil and add 2 teaspoons of oil into each jar for portion control)
  • Juice and zest of one lemon (for a sweeter dressing you may opt for an orange)
  • 3 Tablespoons of rice vinegar (or to taste depending on the level of tartness you desire)
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon (the cinnamon really gives this dressing an unexpected flair and depth)
  • 1 teaspoon of maple syrup (or sweetener of choice. To taste depending on how sweet the berries are and how sweet you want the dressing. If you use orange you can omit the sweetener)
  • Salt and pepper to taste.

Blend well.

Paradise in Jar Salad with Blueberry Lemon Dressing

PARADISE IN A JAR SALADS

I divided and layered the following ingredients in 5 ~ one quart Mason jars:

  • 3-4 Tablespoons of Blueberry Lemon Dressing
  • 1 quart of yellow cherry tomatoes
  • 5 cups of green cabbage (purple/red cabbage would be great too)
  • 1 1/2 quarts of fresh blueberries (I reserved the other berries for a snack)
  • 2 1/2 avocados (I saved the other half to put in a green smoothie)
  • 2 yellow bell peppers (the peppers were small so I used two)
  • 1/2 cup of raw almonds (or your protein of choice…I often use beans)
  • 2 kiwi
  • Spinach (1 bag…I really push it into the jars for a generous serving)

Printable recipe: Paradise in a Jar Salads with Blueberry Lemon Dressing

Pin it HERE

Paradise in a Jar

Trust me, this salad does taste as great as it is pretty. As long as we are daydreaming today, imagine this jarred salad with the addition of summer fruit. I can almost taste a layer of ripe and fragrant nectarines or juicy plums.

The combinations for salads are endless and presenting them in jars not only makes our greens and ingredients stay fresh (which helps reduce waste) but the salads are visually appealing. In turn, we end up eating more fruit and vegetables than if the produce was kept in our refrigerator drawers. I guarantee that the thirty minutes you spend preparing a week’s worth of salads will be time well spent.

If you try my recipes (or tweak them to fit your own tastes) let me know in the comment section or stop by my Facebook page, give it a like, and share a photo and a recipe review. I love hearing how jarred salads are transforming others’ food experiences. I know that they have encouraged my husband and I to eat a rainbow of fruit of vegetables. By the way, if you are visiting my page from someplace warm ~ please send some sunshine our way in Michigan. It will be greatly appreciated.

Blueberry Lemon Dressing by Produce with Lemon

Birds are Messengers

 

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Apple-a-Day Mason Jar Salad with Pumpkin Vinaigrette

Sunflowers from my garden.

Sunflowers from my garden.

This afternoon was the colour of water falling through sunlight; The trees glittered with the tumbling of leaves; The sidewalks shone like alleys of dropped maple leaves, And the houses ran along them laughing out of square, open windows.” ~Amy Lowell

The first day of fall. Transition. We have arrived at the half-way point of September which makes me acutely aware that changes are coming. Even though I was born and raised in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan I am never ready for the cold weather to arrive. In the mornings our house has been chilly but Mike and I cling to our stubbornness and refuse to turn the furnace on. Mike uses the phrases my parents tossed around: put on a sweatercover up with a blanket, you can’t even see your breath yet!  Monday morning he met my whine with, Do some yoga, you’ll warm up! 

I have long said that living in the U.P. gives one bragging rights and not only do we dread the heat bill, but there seems to be an unofficial contest to see who can wait the longest to turn on the heat (I know from Facebook posts that some of my Yooper friends have already lost the contest). In the same spirit of endurance the flower boxes on the front of our house still brandish geraniums and last weekend I painted my toenails with plum nail polish since I refuse to put my sandals away.

Phoebe enjoys a joyful afternoon drive.

Our sweet Phoebe enjoys a joyful autumn afternoon ride.

As the weather cools, I know that I have to be mindful of my meals and come up with healthy versions of comfort food. While I would love to wax poetic about spiced pumpkin lattes and the cinnamon tinged aroma of baking apples, I know that for myself fall translates to food and exercise related challenges. Last weekend I searched through my Weight Watchers eTools account and took a peek at my weekly weigh-ins for the last few years during autumn. I found a trend. While I started out August strong, for the past three years during November (right around Thanksgiving) I stumbled with my weight management and gained a few pounds. While I do contribute this challenge to the hectic school year and lack of energy to workout (A.K.A. excuses), I know that the weather and my mood greatly contributes to this as well. Last January (2013) I started Produce with Amy as an extra incentive to get back on track. I started drinking a daily green smoothie, made time to work out, and tried my best to stay faithful to a plant-based meal plan. This year I am determined to keep my motivation high and focus on activity and making sure that I do not get into a food rut.

Harvest Rainbow Mason Jar Salads

Harvest Rainbow Mason Jar Salads

One thing that is really helping me stay on track with my weight management is making Mason jar salads on the weekend to bring to work for lunch during the week. I can fill a one quart jar with a wide variety of fruit, vegetables, berries, grains, seeds, pasta, nuts, and protein. The glass jars keep the ingredients fresh for up to a week and I only have to prep once for a week of lunches.

A couple of weeks ago, I decided that I was going to conduct an experiment. I set a timer and prepped our lunches before bed. I made Mike’s sandwich, cut up and packaged vegetables for snacks, portioned out raw nuts, filled our water bottles, and blended up my two green smoothies (one for breakfast and one for my 1/2 hour commute home). I was shocked to see that this process took me twenty-three minutes. While I often use the excuse that I “do not have time for exercise” I decided that if I prep our lunches and make my smoothies before bed that I am making precious time in the morning for myself to workout.

This year I will embrace the cold weather induced transition into sweater dresses, tights, boots, and scarves, but I will NOT welcome wearing extra pounds this winter. Mason jar salads are helping me transition back into my full-time work schedule and I refuse to use a mountainous pile of grading, exhausting days of lecturing and managing large classroom rosters, and early mornings be an excuse to not stay committed to my weight management goals. I CAN and I WILL stay grounded, balanced, and committed to my healthy routines.

For my Mason Jar Salads this week I decided to take advantage of seasonal produce. I have witnessed tons of pumpkin and apple recipes posted on social networking sites so I decided to create my own healthy recipe. I thought that pumpkin would make a unique salad dressing and would give the salad a fall flair. 11 PUMPKIN VINAIGRETTE DRESSING

  • 1/2 cup of vinegar (I used raw apple cider vinegar. You may want to vary the amount of vinegar based on how tart you like your dressing. I recommend adding a little bit at a time and tasting the dressing as you go)
  • 3/4 cup of pumpkin (I used canned but your own freshly baked or roasted would work as well)
  • 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil (you can always leave the oil out and add it individually to your salad for portion control)
  • 1/4 cup of water (the dressing was thick so I thinned it out with some water. You could add extra vinegar. If you want to use it as a dip you could leave it thick)
  • 1 large clove of garlic
  • 1 lemon ~ juice and zest 
  • 3 green onions (you could use regular onion)
  • 1 inch of fresh ginger root 
  • 1 Tablespoon of pure maple syrup (you could also use honey)
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Blend dressing until smooth. The combination of sweet, savory, tart, and spicy ingredients in this dressing really make a pleasing combination.

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

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

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.

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

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

APPLE-A-DAY MASON JAR SALADS I layered these ingredients, in the following order, in one quart Mason jars. (I made five salads)

  • 3 Tablespoons of Pumpkin Vinaigrette Dressing (I also sprinkled a little extra raw apple cider vinegar on top of the vinaigrette since I like my dressing tart)
  • Carrots (I used four carrots)
  • Granny Smith apple wedges (2 apples)
  • Pink Lady apple wedges (or your favorite variety of red apple. I used two apples.)
  • Raw pumpkin seeds (you could use toasted pumpkin seeds. Sunflower seeds would work as well as nuts)
  • Dried cranberries
  • Chopped green onions (I used both the white and the green part of the onion.)
  • Chopped cabbage (cabbage works well in Mason jar salads and it stays crunchy and fresh. I used green cabbage but purple would be a colorful and healthy too)
  • Romaine lettuce

Thinly sliced fennel would be excellent in this salad as well as pears. Pin the recipe here.

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

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

I have been bringing Mason Jar Salads to work each day and they help fuel me through a busy day. In the past I have struggled with the temptation of working through lunch and I am finding that these salads are so satisfying and delicious that I look forward to making time to sit down and eat. The abundance of nutrients in the fruit and vegetables will help boost my immune system during the cold and flu season.

If you are interested in other Mason Jar Salads, please check out my salad tab.You can follow my recipes on Pinterest and please like my Produce with Amy Facebook page.

Apple-a-Day Mason Jar Salad with Pumpkin Vinaigrette Dressing.

Apple-a-Day Mason Jar Salad with Pumpkin Vinaigrette Dressing.

 

Fennel, Cabbage, and Apple Salad with Avocado Hummus & Ginger Vinaigrette

11Queen Anne’s Lace

Her body is not so white as 
anemone petals nor so smooth–nor 
so remote a thing. It is a field 
of the wild carrot taking 
the field by force; the grass 
does not raise above it.
~William Carlos Williams

Last week as I drove to Marquette, I marveled at the sea of Queen Anne’s Lace growing with wild abandon along the side of the highway. They catch at the slightest breeze and perform a delicate dance for those who pay attention.

Years ago when Mike and I moved into our house there was not a flower to be found in either our 12front or back yard except for a few crocus and johnny-jump-ups. When we went for walks around the neighborhood I noticed masses of Queen Anne’s Lace and hoped that one day they would grow in our yard. When we started planting a flower bed I toted a few stems home and stuck them in the dirt. Nothing. They wilted and died. I brought home more flowers that had gone to seed and shook them in violent hope. Imagine my excitement the next year when the filigree flowers appeared.

I think it’s the texture of Queen Anne’s Lace that enthrall me. It is the same reason that I10 was first drawn to fennel in the supermarket. The bright green fronds (even though I do not eat them) make for a pretty composition. If you have never had fennel before I challenge you to try it. It has a very mild anise flavor and is common in Mediterranean dishes. It can be eaten raw or cooked and I love it sliced thinly on a green salad with orange and grapefruit segments.

Last week I bought a fennel bulb and decided to use it in a cabbage salad. Fall seems like the perfect time for slaw since the local cabbage is in season. I thought the fennel and cabbage would go well with crisp and juicy fall apples.

SlawInstead of a heavy mayonnaise laden slaw, I decided to combine these fresh flavors with a ginger vinaigrette. The combinations of flavors work so well together. Sweet apple juxtaposed with the tartness of vinegar, crunchy cabbage, spicy ginger, and the faint licorice taste of  fennel sounds like a perfect marriage to me. To add even more to the flavor and texture explosion I wrapped the slaw in romaine leaves and topped them with creamy avocado hummus and a sprinkle of fresh cilantro. How much more healthy, satisfying, and flavorful can you get than that? I think this slaw makes a fantastic side dish, would be a great sandwich topping, or would stand on its own with an addition of nuts and even dried fruit (I think apricots would make a beautiful mix).

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Fennel, Cabbage, and Apple Slaw with Ginger Vinaigrette

  • 4 cups of finely chopped cabbage (depending on the texture you desire)
  • 1 cup of shredded carrot
  • 1 fennel bulb thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 1 chopped red apple (the apples that I used were organic so they were small)
  • 1 chopped green apple 

Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl.

Vinaigrette

  • 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup vinegar (depending on how tart you want the salad. I used 1/2 raw apple cider vinegar and 1/2 white balsamic vinegar)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Juice and zest of one lime
  • 1 Tablespoon of sweetener (I used local raw honey but you could use your sweetener of choice)
  • 1 Tablespoon of Tamari (soy sauce would work as well)
  • 1 Tablespoon finely minced ginger root
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 small bunch of finely chopped green onions
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Mix vinaigrette well (You could use a blender but I just used a whisk). Pour over salad and toss well. While I tasted the salad immediately after making it yesterday, the flavors really bloomed overnight in the refrigerator. Makes 10 cups.

I left the pieces of apple and even the cabbage in rather large chunks. Though you could aim for a more fine slaw and use a food processor.

I left the pieces of apple and even the cabbage in rather large chunks. Though you could aim for a more fine slaw and use a food processor.

The Romaine Lettuce Wraps with the Avocado Hummus were easy to make.

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The recipe that I use for Hummus is from the Vitamix Whole Foods Cookbook.

  1. 230 ounces of chickpeas (it says to reserve one can of liquid. Though, I always make my own from dried beans)
  2. 1/4 cup raw sesame seeds (I used jarred tahini)
  3. 1/4 cup lemon juice (again I used the zest and for this recipe I increased it to a whole lemon)
  4. 1 garlic clove
  5. 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  6. 1 teaspoon cumin

In addition to the above ingredients I added one avocado, a few green onions, and fresh1 chives.

The hummus was delicious and the perfect, creamy accompaniment to the crunchy slaw. The wraps are messy (I recommend a fork) but such a nice break from a traditional salad. Plus, if you are trying to watch your intake of bread it is a much slimmer option.

When I buy romaine I do not buy the bagged but instead buy the large heads in the produce section. I find this often a better bargain and they are more green, fresh, and I think they taste better. Other greens work well for wraps as well such as collard greens, large spinach leaves, and red lettuce.

5

I have to confess that normally I wait until I publish my post to dive into my creation, but today I had to take a break for lunch because my plate was so tempting. For the past few weeks I have been a food rut and I think yesterday’s Red Lentil Sloppy Joes and today’s Fennel, Cabbage, and Apple Salad have helped me break free!
7I hope you enjoy this salad just in time for fall’s bounty of vegetables. I eagerly await the selection of Michigan apples at the farmers market and in the stores. This recipe and others can be found at Pinterest on my Produce with Amy board. Also, please join the conversation on my Facebook page.

My summer holiday is nearly over and I will be going back to teaching soon, but blogging will help me to stay committed to my healthy lifestyle. I hope that I can help you do the same. Enjoy the last few fleeting weeks of summer and remember to stop and pay attention to the nature around you. Who knows, you might catch a spirited Queen Anne’s Lace ballet. Or whatever wild things grow in your backyard!

I found this vintage tumbler while thrifting this summer. Disappointed there was only one, I know think it is a gift. Now I will have to keep my eyes open for matching treasures! :)

I found this vintage tumbler while thrifting this summer. Disappointed there was only one, I know think it is a gift. Now I will have to keep my eyes open for matching treasures! 🙂

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Romaine Lettuce Wraps with Fennel, Apple, and Cabbage Salad and Avocado Hummus

Avocado Hummus by Produce with Amy

Fennel, Cabbage, & Apple Salad by Produce with Amy