Strawberry Mango Salsa and Black Bean Jar Salads

Strawberry Mango Salsa by Produce with Amy“April hath put a spirit of youth in everything.” ~ William Shakespeare

Even though there has been a chill in the morning air, I witnessed subtle shades of green appearing in nature on my morning commute. I will never take the promise of spring for granted. After a long winter it feels like my responsibility to soak it up and marvel in the beauty of an awakening landscape.

The spring marks a fresh start for me on many levels. I have a new name, a new Always keep fresh produce on hand.residence, and a new love (I promise to share more details in the coming months).

Over the past year I have been reminded that life sure works in mysterious ways and can take a sudden turn. While my life has taken a new direction – what remains the same is my devotion to an abundance of fruit and vegetables in my diet. Partnered with whole foods – meal preparation helps me feel good in my clothes, fuels my busy day, and helps keep my immune system strong (though this spring I am suffering from a lingering cough/cold which will hopefully be remedied with green smoothies).

In many circles, when it comes to healthy eating the first thing that comes to mind is the word salad. While I do not think that salads need to be a part of healthy meal plan, they are a great way Strawberry Mango Salsato reach a wide range of nutrients. However, there is no need to grimace over the thought of rabbit food because my salad recipes promise to never be boring. In fact, they incorporate a rainbow of fresh produce and an exotic array of flavors.

When I came up with the Mason jar salad recipe that I am sharing in this post, I decided to make a sweet and savory dressing that would also serve as a salsa. You could use it as a dip for chips or raw vegetables, to dress up wraps, served over a sweet potato, slathered on a burrito, or (if you eat meat) as a topping for fish, shrimp, or chicken.

I hope that you enjoy it as much as I did!

Fresh LimesSTRAWBERRY MANGO SALSA

*16 ounce container of finely chopped strawberries
*1 mango finely cubed
*1 cucumber, seeded and finely chopped
*1 bunch of thinly sliced green onions 
(or 1/4 cup of yellow, white, or red onion)
*1 seeded and finely chopped jalapeno
*1 large clove of garlicLime zest
*1/2 bunch of finely chopped cilantro
*Juice and zest of one lime
*Tablespoon of olive oil
*Tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
*Salt and pepper to taste

Printable recipe below. (When I made this salsa I doubled the recipe. This gave me enough salsa for five jar salads and enough to eat with tortilla chips and over bean burritos)

If you are new to Mason jar salads you may want to check out this post where I share tips and techniques for successful salads.

Black Bean Mason Jar Salads with Strawberry Mango Salsa by Produce with AmyStrawberry Mango Salsa
BLACK BEAN MASON JAR SALADS WITH STRAWBERRY MANGO SALSA

 

(I divided and layered the following ingredients in five ~ wide-mouth 1 quart Mason jars)

*1/4 cup of Strawberry Mango Salsa. I also added a drizzle of rice vinegar and a teaspoon of olive oil. *Next time I will add more salsa/vinegar/oil because the salad could have used a bit more dressing.
*1 chopped yellow bell pepper
*1 container of halved grape tomatoes
*1/4 cup of black beans
*1 sliced avocado (next time I would make sure that had more avocado on hand and put 1/2 an avocado in each jar)
*Romaine lettuce
*Alfalfa Sprouts

Other potential ingredients for this salad would be: pineapple, corn, pickled jalapenos, black olives, and any of your other favorite taco ingredients.

PRINTABLE RECIPE: STRAWBERRY MANGO SALSA by Produce with Amy

Pin it HERE

Make sure you check out my other Mason Jar Salad Recipes that all include homemade dressing.

While you are in the mood to check out delicious food combined with writing, make sure that you check out one of my creative writing student’s delightful blog called Superior Tastebuds: The Dish on Local Eating. Abbi is an incredible writer and human being. I find her mature – and always inspiring and creative. I know that her blog will be a success and I encourage her to continue posting. Don’t her Vanilla Crepes with Sauteed Apples and Homemade Whipped Cream sound and look amazing? Maybe Abbi and I will check out a restaurant this summer and write together.

Check out the dazzling visual poem that Abbi wrote in my class the past fall. I think that her poem about canning fits in perfectly with Mason jar salad recipes.
Abbi's Canning Poem

To all my faithful friends and readers, I apologize for being away from the computer for so many months. I am back and it feels wonderful to be blogging again. I have missed you and appreciate your outpouring of support! Please continue to share my recipes, post your comments, and follow me on social media (links on the right hand of the page). Together we can embrace a healthy lifestyle and thrive!

StrawberriesSalsa for Dressing in Mason Jar SaladsAlfalfa SproutsBlack Bean Jar Salads with Strawberry Mango SalsaFullSizeRender (19)Black Bean Jar Salads with Strawberry Mango Salsa

 

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Broccoli & Zucchini Jar Salads with Creamy Cucumber Dill Dressing

Broccoli & Zucchini Jar Salads with Creamy Cucumber Dill Dressing by Produce with Amy“We need space to be productive, we need places to go to be free.”
― Laure Lacornette

My promise to you, and myself, is that this post will be short and to the point. My weekend to-do list is lengthy and I have many new and healthy recipes to share.

Since I started posting Mason jar salad recipes a couple of years ago, they have been the most popular recipes on my blog. Weekly I receive comments, questions,  and messages of thanks. I love hearing from my readers and it fulfills me to know that my recipes are helping others eat more fruit and vegetables and embrace a healthy lifestyle. Believe me – you help me too!

Glowing Green Mason Jar Salad with Avocado VinaigretteIf you are new to Mason jar salads I recommend that you read this post for tips: Mason Jar Salads: Fresh, Visually Appealing, and Versatile.

I also have to give a huge shout-out and thanks to Tammy at Organize Yourself Skinny for linking my Glowing Green Mason Jar Salads on her post The Ultimate Mason Jar Salad Tutorial and Recipe Round Up. What an honor it is to be included in one of her posts.

For today’s salad I spiralized zucchini to add to the bottom layer and marinate in the dressing. While I am not a fan of kitchen gadgets, I love my spiralizer and this weekend I will be using it to cut ribbons of zucchini to incorporate into a vegetable lasagna (instead of pasta). Here is a link to the spiralizer that I purchased: Paderno World Cuisine Spiralizer.

The dressing in this salad is one of my favorites and I shared it in a previous post. The combination of cucumber and dill is one of my favorites: Creamy Cucumber & Dill Dressing.
Creamy Cucumber and Dill Dressing

BROCCOLI & ZUCCHINI JAR SALADS WITH CREAMY CUCUMBER DILL DRESSING

I divided the following ingredients in this order in 7 – one quart Mason jars:

*4 Tablespoons of Creamy Cucumber Dressing (link to recipe above)
*1 medium spiralized zucchini (you could also slice the squash)
*Sunflower seeds (I added 2 Tablespoons per jar)
*1 quart of halved cherry tomatoes
*1 head of chopped, blanched broccoli (to blanch broccoli I bring a pot of water to a boilBlanched Broccoli and immerse the chopped broccoli and cook for 3-4 minutes. I take out of the boiling water and instantly immerse in a bowl of ice water. The ice water shocks the broccoli and it is lightly cooks, turns bright green, and retains some of its crispness)
*Romaine lettuce
*Croutons (the croutons were an experiment. They did get soggy after sitting in the jars for a few days. I did not mind this since it reminded me of a panzanella salad. However, if you want your croutons crisp – I would recommend leaving them out and add them right before eating your salad)

Pin this recipe HERE.
Broccoli & Zucchini Mason Jar Salads with Creamy Cucumber Dill DressingThe dressing in this salad works well with the broccoli and zucchini and I hope that you enjoy it. I love being able to prep salads once and being able to eat healthy all week. This weekend I am creating a new jar salad recipe with an autumn theme. It will feature crisp apples and a glorious pear dressing – so stay tuned.

In the meantime, make sure you check out my other Jar Salad Recipes. Thank you for stopping by and please feel free to share my recipes with others. I would love to hear from you. Healthy food prep may take time but remember that we are worth all the hard work. Cheers to our health!

Produce with Amy


 

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

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

Rose Collage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Printable RecipeCHERRY BBQ Salad

Cherry BBQ Salad with Sweet Potatoes, Avocado, and Nectarines

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

Cherry BBQ Salads

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

Cherry Almond Coconut Shake

Cherry Limeade Green Smoothie

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

BBQ Cherry Jar Salad by Produce with Amy

Cherry BBQ Salad Dressing or Sauce by Produce with Amy

 

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

Bloom

Pink Peony

Cherry BBQ Salad Plate by Produce with Amy

Spectrum Salad with Chili Lime Dressing

Spectrum Salad with Chili Lime Dressing Three Ways by Produce with Amy “Why do two colors, put one next to the other, sing? Can one really explain this? no. Just as one can never learn how to paint.” 
― Pablo Picasso

Summer salads are here – but to be fair – salads are my favorite year round. It is not that I think that you have to eat salads to be healthy, but I love the endless variety of fresh vegetables, fruit, homemade dressing and the creativity that comes with coming up with different flavor and nutrient combinations. All school year I made jar salads for lunch  and the last couple of months I have enjoyed making pasta salads. If you like pasta salad you might want to check out my recipe for Vegetable Filled Pasta Salad with Artichoke Hearts, Capers, and Dill which I have received many positive reviews.

In May I started making bento-styled lunches in three cup Pyrex containers. Instead of making Mason jar salads a week in advance, I would use the leftovers from dinner and other vegetables that I had on hand and make a couple at a time. I would drizzle with homemade dressing, and like always, I would add two teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil to each salad for portion control.

Lunch1

Fresh cilantro, tomatoes, asparagus, cilantro, mixed vegetables, broccoli, sweet potatoes, and chili lime dressing.

Lunch

Whole wheat spaghetti with Brussels sprouts, broccoli, asparagus, grape tomatoes, cucumbers, celery, carrots, capers, green garlic olives, kalamata olives and my Greek Vinaigrette Dressing.

Lunch 2

Edamame, broccoli, tomato, and asparagus dressed with chili lime dressing over rice. Eat warm or cold.

When I make salads, I like to bulk them up with ingredients that are going to have staying power. I love to add beans or raw nuts for protein and whole wheat pasta, other grains, or quinoa. For the salad that I am sharing today, I decided to use rice noodles – because I thought they would work well with the spicy chili lime dressing. My husband Mike loves rice noodles and I usually have them on hand. They come in a variety of textures (for this salad I used a thicker noodle) but the thin strands would work well too.

When I made the salad I prepared it three ways – in a jar, plated, and in rectangular Pyrex containers – so you could see the salad multiple ways. I love to create vibrant salads, since we eat with our eyes first, and I think that taking time to artfully arrange food helps deepen our enjoyment and brings eating to a new level.

12

How much of each ingredient you use will depend on how many salads you want to create. I made two Mason jar salads, three Pyrex salads (three cups), and one plated salad with the following:

SPECTRUM SALAD WITH CHILI LIME DRESSING

  • 1 quart of cherry tomatoes halved Rice Noodles
  • 5 carrots peeled and chopped
  • 1 yellow bell pepper chopped
  • 1 head of broccoli, steamed (I used one large bag of frozen since that is what I had on hand)
  • 1 twelve ounce bag of edamame (I find mine the “healthy” freezer section. I always make sure the edamame that I purchase is organic)
  • 1/2 head of purple/red cabbage, chopped
  • Rice noodles, cooked (I used 1/2 of a 16 ounce package)

Homemade Chili Lime Dressing by Produce with Amy

CHILI LIME DRESSINGChili Sauce

  • 1 cup of rice vinegar
  • 1 lime (juice and zest. If you are using bottled lime juice, one lime rendered 1/4 cup)
  • 1 clove of minced garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons of sesame oil (sesame oil has a very distinct taste and I love to use it to stir fry vegetables as well)
  • 2 Tablespoons of tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon garlic chili sauce (I purchase this sauce at Target and many grocery stores carry it in the Asian food section. Warning — chili sauce is SPICY so you may want to add a little at a time. I like heat so I even added more after mixing)
  • 1 Tablespoon of finely chopped onion (I used red onion but green onions would be great for this dressing)
  • 1 Tablespoon of finely chopped fresh ginger root (ginger has a very strong taste and if you are not used to it, I suggest adding a little at a time)
  • Fresh cilantro, finely chopped (1 used 1/4 cup. If you do not like cilantro, parsley would work well)
  • Sprig of fresh mint finely chopped, (since I have it in my garden, I add mint to everything in the summer)
  • Fresh chives, finely chopped (the same as the mint)

Normally, when I make dressing, I use my Vitamix blender. However, for this dressing, I wanted a chunkier consistency so I added all the ingredients into a pint-sized mason jar, put the lid on and gave it a good shake. I added 4 Tablespoons of dressing to the bottom of the two Mason jars and divided the rest between the other salads.

PRINTABLE RECIPE:SPECTRUM SALAD WITH CHILI LIME DRESSING by producewithamy

Plated Spectrum Salad by Produce with AmySpectrum Salad in a Jar by Produce with AmySpectrum Salad in Pyrex Containers

I hope you enjoy this salad as much as I did. I am going to make different varieties this summer and I think it will be great with different stone fruit (especially nectarines and peaches).

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

If you try this recipe, please let me know what you think. I love hearing from other health-minded individuals and the tweaks and additions that others make to fit personal tastes. Thank you for joining me in the journey to eat more fruit and vegetables. Together we can thrive and embrace a healthy lifestyle. I look forward to sharing more recipes with you!

My poppies started to bloom this week.

My poppies started to bloom this week.

My light pink peonies loved today's rain and started to unfurl.

My light pink peonies loved today’s rain and started to unfurl.

 

 

 

Verdant Salad with Spring Green Vegetables

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

VERDANT SALAD WITH SPRING GREEN VEGETABLES

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

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

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

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

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

Printable recipe: VERDANT SALAD WITH SPRING GREEN VEGETABLES

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

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

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

The view outside my window this afternoon.

The view outside my window this afternoon.

 

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

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

 

Garden Fiesta Mason Jar Salad

Yesterday I harvested tomatoes from my garden.

Yesterday I harvested tomatoes from my garden.

“It’s difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato.” ~Lewis Grizzard

I have a confession to make. Yesterday, I bought a bag of tortilla chips. The prospect of the fresh salsa and guacamole that I was making today for my latest Mason jar salad was too tempting. As you may know from previous posts, tortilla chips are my weakness. While I grew up having a sweet tooth, I must say that fresh fruit has replaced chocolate coated sugary treats for me. Yet, I love the salty crunch of tortilla chips. The decision to buy the tortilla chips was not on impulse. It was a well thought out purchase and I will portion out each serving and carefully track in my Weight Watchers eTools account.

With week #2 of the school year in the rear view mirror I was faced with some serious self-reflection. The first week I struggled with making time to eat the lunch and snacks that I packed for work and I did much better last week. In the morning I made an extra green smoothie to sip on during my 1/2 hour commute home and this worked marvelously. However, I REALLY struggled with getting to bed early enough to wake up with the energy to exercise. My goal this week will be to get to bed between 10:00 and 10:30 and be up by 4:45-5:00. Eventually, I would like to be to bed even earlier. Baby steps.

Mason Jar Salads are the perfect lunch to take to work. I love that I can make them on Saturday or Sunday and the last one that I eat on Friday tastes just as fresh as the first. This week I wanted to make sure that my salad was hearty enough to fuel me through an intense teenager-filled-day (all my classes, with the exception of one, have over thirty students with one class roster at thirty-six).

(Click on the photo to see a larger version)

(Click on the photo to see a larger version)

When I stopped eating meat, beans became my protein staple. I found Mexican food very easy to work into a plant-based meal plan (thus, began my tortilla chip obsession). I decided that one of my go-to salads could easily be converted to a Mason Jar Salad.

Garden Fiesta Jarred Salad

GARDEN FIESTA MASON JAR SALAD
I layered these ingredients, in the following order, in one quart Mason jars:

  •  Snappy Salsa (I added extra lime juice and used 1/2 a cup. Make sure you include the juice.)1
  • 2 teaspoons of olive oil (per jar to make sure I get my WW recommended daily serving of healthy oil)
  • Yellow, orange, and green bell pepper strips
  • White beans (1/4 cup)
  • Black beans (1/4 cup)
  • Spicy Brown Rice (1/2 a cup)
  • Guacamole (1/4 cup. I added extra lime juice and left out the sour cream)
  • Black olives (5 per jar)
  • Fresh mango
  • Fresh pineapple (sadly the pineapple that I purchased was not very ripe)
  • Romaine lettuce

Pin this recipe here.

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I love the crunch and nutritional boost that bell peppers provide. They are high in Vitamin C which is so important for our immune systems.

I love the crunch and nutritional boost that bell peppers provide. They are high in Vitamin C which is so important for our immune systems this time of year.

Since I consider the Mason Jar Salads a meal, and not just a side item, I do not go skimpy on the protein and other ingredients and my jar salads are usually 7-10 Points Plus value. I do have pint-sized jars that I use to make dinner/side salads and those are usually only a couple of Points Plus each. Easily the Mason Jar Salads can be tweaked to meet your specifications.

It is amazing how much produce you can stuff inside a one quart jar and it FILLS a large dinner plate. Jarred salads are a fantastic way to meet your fruit and vegetable Good Health Guidelines.

This summer I made a plated version of this salad with homemade Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette Dressing. This dressing would be a great addition to this Mason Jar Salad but I thought that the juicy salsa and creamy guacamole would suffice.
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If you are interested in other Mason Jar Salads, please check out my other salad recipes.You can follow my recipes on Pinterest and please like my Produce with Amy Facebook page.

Now that my blog is written and I earned a sticker on the calendar for the Fall Forward Healthy Lifestyle Challenge (It is not too late to join) I am going to have a mid-day snack of salsa, guacamole, and tortilla chips. 😉 I hope you are spending your Sunday exactly as you wish ~ relaxing, watching football, or maybe checking off your own to-do list and recharging for another busy week. Remember that food is fuel and make sure you fill your plate (or jar) with an abundance of fruit and vegetables. I promise to keep the Mason Jar Salad recipes coming!
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