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

Advertisements

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

Winter Citrus & Fennel Mason Jar Salads with Green Apple Vinaigrette

This afternoon our living room was bathed in sunlight and our cat Athena basked in the glow.

This afternoon our living room was bathed in light and our cat Athena basked in a puddle of sunshine. How quickly the weather turned…it’s now a frenzy of snowflakes outside.

“Complacencies of the peignoir, and late
Coffee and oranges in a sunny chair…”
~Wallace Stevens from “Sunday Morning”

It is the week before Christmas break and I cannot believe how fast time rushes by. Today was Day #15 of the December Green Smoothie Challenge and I am enjoying sharing my recipes and being artful by capturing a photo each morning to share on my Facebook page.

Mike and I enjoyed a quiet weekend at home and last night watched, Broadcast News. It reminded me of high school when I had aspirations of being a television journalist. While I do have a broadcasting degree from Marquette University, life had other plans for me and I am thankful that I heard my calling to be a teacher. As I type this, I am hoping that the blizzard conditions outside cease. I do not want a snow day tomorrow ~ I have too much to accomplish with my students. Though, if we do, I will make sure to be productive and may find time to share a recipe for the soup that is bubbling in my Crock-pot.

Yesterday afternoon, after my Weight Watchers meeting, I went grocery shopping (I wouldWinter Citrus & Fennel Mason Jar Salads with Green Apple Vinaigrette Dressing really like to bring back my routine of shopping mid-week) and in addition to green smoothie ingredients I bought fresh produce for Mason jar salads. Often we associate salads with summer but, like soup, I think that salads are seasonless. I brainstormed what I thought would constitute the perfect winter salad. Of course, what came to mind was juicy oranges and grapefruit. I thought that the perfect accompaniment to both would be fennel and pomegranate. But what about the dressing? I knew that the citrus salad needed something both sweet, tart, and savory. How about green apple? I have to say ~ the result was pleasing and I am almost as excited to share these gorgeous salads with you as I am to eat them this week.

Green AppleGREEN APPLE VINAIGRETTE DRESSING

  • 1 cup of vinegar (I used 1/2 cup raw apple cider vinegar and 1/2 cup white balsamic)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 Granny Smith apple (I left the peel on)
  • 1 orange (juice and zest. This gives the dressing sweetness without adding refined sugar)
  • 1 clove of garlicHomemade Green Apple Vinaigrette Dressing
  • 1 teaspoon of onion
  • Salt & pepper to taste

If you want to control the amount of oil that goes into your dressing you can leave it out and add the oil to each individual salad. Lemon juice or lime juice would work well in place of the orange and you could add honey or sweetener of choice to make it slightly sweet. I always recommend that you taste as you go when making homemade dressings. I like dressing tart so I am in generous when I add in the vinegar.
Winter Citrus & Fennel Mason Jar Salads with Green Apple VinaigretteWinter Citrus & Fennel Mason Jar Salads with Green Apple VinaigretteIf you are new to Mason Jar Salads you may want to read one of my previous posts that shares many tips for jarred salads: Mason Jar Salads: Fresh, Visually Appealing, and Versatile.

WINTER CITRUS & FENNEL MASON JAR SALADS

I made six jarred salads and layered the following in each one quart sized Mason jars. Layer the dressing first, followed by hearty fruit/vegetables. Layer the lettuce/greens last.

  • 3 Tablespoons of Green Apple Vinaigrette DressingWinter Citrus & Fennel Mason Jar Salads with Green Apple Vinaigrette
  • Red bell pepper (I used one pepper)
  • Sliced fennel (I used one bulb)
  • Grapefruit (I used one. Peel like an orange and cut in slices)
  • Oranges (I used two)
  • Pomegranate
  • Celery (three ribs)
  • Raw pumpkin seeds and almonds (2 Tablespoons per salad)
  • Chopped kale
  • Chopped romaine lettuce

I am so thankful to the weekends and time to recharge and prepare for a busy week. Mason Jar Salads are a huge time saver since they only take about a half an hour to prepare and they stay fresh all week.

If you are interested in other salad and dressing recipes, make sure you check out my Salad Tab and my Salad Dressing Tab. I hope that you enjoy this recipe and that it makes your life a little less hectic and a lot more healthy. There are only a couple more weeks left in 2013 so let’s make them the best that we can. I look forward to a new year and sharing this journey with my health-minded friends. I promise many more recipes in the days to come.
Winter Citrus & Fennel Mason Jar Salad with Green Apple VinaigretteGreen Apple Vinaigrette Dressing

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

“Lettuce is like conversation; it must be fresh and crisp, so sparkling that you scarcely notice the bitter in it.”
~Charles Dudley Warner

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

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

Regardless of the season, salads are a go-to meal in our house. I am fortunate that one of Mike’s favorite meals is a dinner plate of greens, with whatever fruit and vegetables we have on hand, and some sort of protein (salmon is his favorite). If I want to receive an extra hearty, thank you, I include a generous amount of gorgonzola cheese and he is a happy husband. We both love the addition of olives and since I try to maintain a plant based diet my favorite way to add protein to a salad is a dollop of hummus and a sprinkling of raw nuts.

I like to make my own salad dressings. This is especially the case in the summer when I have an abundance of fresh herbs available in my garden. My favorite combinations tend to be a vinaigrette where I start with a very basic recipe: olive oil, spicy mustard, minced onion and garlic, and vinegar. I love fresh dill with orange (zest and a touch of juice) and oregano with lemon. I find that store-bought dressings often contain chemicals, preservatives, artificial sweeteners (and since I like a tangy dressing) are often too sweet for my taste buds. Growing up in my family we took our consumption of vinegar seriously. Ask any of my cousins what they loved to eat as children at our grandparent’s house, the late Thomas and Hilda Puskala, and I guarantee they will immediately say, “cucumbers and vinegar.” I fondly remember Grandpa serving my aunt Christina and I cucumbers straight out of his legendary garden with vinegar, salt, and pepper for breakfast. Yes, breakfast, and we savored every crunchy bite!

While I tend to like vinegar and oil based dressings, this winter (yes, it is still winter in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan) I have really been craving a more creamy, ranch styled dressing. However, many contain dairy, and like I mentioned earlier ~ a cocktail of chemicals. So, I have been experimenting with my own concoctions and have settled on two recipes that I really enjoy. I used raw nuts to give the dressings some body and a kick of protein.

Tangy Ranch (Plant Based Dressing)

  • 1/2 cup raw cashews
  • 1/2 cup dairy substitute (unsweetened coconut or almond milk, soy milk, or hemp milk) I used almond
  • 1/4 cup of lemon juice
  • 3 Tablespoons of rice vinegar
  • 3 green onions (could use a couple tablespoons of regular onion)
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dill
  • 1/2 teaspoon basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (I used pink Himalayan salt)
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Blend well. I did use dried herbs but plan to use fresh this summer. I used recycled spaghetti jars to store the dressing. As the ranch sits in your refrigerator it will thicken and may need to thinned out with water or extra vinegar or lemon juice (if you like your dressing tangy like I do). Weight Watchers PP = 2 PP per 2 Tablespoon Serving.

I buy raw cashews in the bulk section of our local co-op. If you don't have a high powered blender, I recommend soaking the nuts in water for at least a half hour.

I buy raw cashews in the bulk section of our local co-op. If you don’t have a high powered blender, I recommend soaking the nuts in water for at least a half hour.

I always have rice vinegar on hand. It really perks up the flavor of Asian soups, salads, and steamed vegetables.

I always have rice vinegar on hand. It really perks up the flavor of Asian soups, salads, and steamed vegetables.

This dressing is so simple and contains ingredients that those with a well stocked pantry already have on hand.

This dressing is so simple and contains ingredients that those with a well stocked pantry already have on hand.

I used bottle lemon juice but fresh would be even better.

I used bottle lemon juice but fresh would be even better.

Zesty Avocado (Plant Based Dressing)

  • 1/2 cup raw almonds 
  • 1/2 cup dairy substitute (unsweetened coconut or almond milk, soy milk, or hemp milk) I used almond
  • 1/4-1/2 cup of water
  • 1/2 medium avocado
  • 1/4 cup of lime juice
  • 3 Tablespoons of raw apple cider vinegar
  • Red onion (couple teaspoons)
  • Handful of cilantro
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 teaspoon parsley
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (I used pink Himalayan salt)
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Blend well. This dressing came out quite a bit thicken than the ranch so I added water to the blender. It will also thicken as it sits in the refrigerator and can be thinned out with additional vinegar, lime juice, or water. Weight Watchers PP = 2 PP per 2 Tablespoon Serving.

Raw, Unpasteurized vinegar has a lot of health benefits and I always keep a bottle on hand.

Raw, Unpasteurized vinegar has a lot of health benefits and I always keep a bottle on hand.

Cashews would work in this recipe as well.

Anything with avocado in it is a winner in my book. Cashews would work in this recipe as well.

Pretty and they pack a flavorful punch in this recipe.

Pretty spices that pack a flavorful punch in this recipe. You could add more or less of the red pepper flakes depending on your tolerance for heat. Hot sauce could also be added or even fresh jalapenos.

Ready to blend.

Ready to blend.

I would be lost without my VItamix. <3

I would be lost without my VItamix. ❤

I use recycled spaghetti sauce jars over-and-over.

I use recycled spaghetti sauce jars over-and-over.

My afternoon feast. A gorgeous array of fruit and vegetables with the Zesty Avocado Dressing.

My afternoon feast. A gorgeous array of fruit and vegetables with the Zesty Avocado Dressing.

I think the dressing would make a fantastic dip for vegetables as well.

I think the dressing would make a fantastic dip for vegetables as well.

As we move into summer I know that I will keep a steady supply of homemade dressings in my refrigerator. I promise to post more recipes as I experiment with new flavor combinations. Have fun experimenting with homemade dressings which are so easy, quick, and can be made to suit your personal taste. If you prefer sweeter varieties over a tangy dressing you can puree up berries or fruit to give your dressing a juicy infusion of flavor. One of the pit falls avoid with healthy eating is falling into a food rut. As long as we remember to switch things up often, salads will remain a healthy staple and we will never grow tired of them. The combinations are endless and it is so important to fill our plates with a rainbow of fresh produce.

Rainbow Plate