Time to Make Myself a Priority Again

The view from our front porch today after a school canceling snow storm.

The view from our front porch today after a school canceling snow storm.

“We inhabit ourselves without valuing ourselves,
unable to see that here, now,
this very moment is sacred;
but once it’s gone –
its value is incontestable.”

–Joyce Carol Oates

Snow day #3 today in schools across the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and I am making time on my day off to write. Blogging is a delicate activity of knowing what exactly to put-out-there. It is a confessional business – especially when one of the reasons that I started this blog was to stay accountable to my healthy goals. Sure I could just post recipes, but it goes much deeper than that for me. Writing helps me think out loud and my posts become a time capsule that I can look back on and ruminate where I have come from and where I am going. Reading what I have written helps make my thoughts tangible.

In spite of the snow and cold, our days are getting longer and our plants are flourishing from the increase in light.

In spite of the snow and cold, our days are getting longer and our plants are flourishing from the increase in light.

Reflecting on events of the past year I am blown away by the lifestyle changes I have made. A new marriage and motherhood being the most significant. Over the past year I have been told by numerous people that being a stepmother is one of the hardest and most thankless jobs in the world and that I really had my work cut out for me. I smiled politely and felt my stomach lurch. Unfortunately, in many ways, I have learned that all of those people were right. Yet, I am learning important lessons on this journey that make me a better mother, wife, teacher, and human being. It reconfirms my belief that I need to focus my energy on the positive things and that it is truly the simple things that make our lives rich. When I feel frustrated I need to remember that when my stepson saw the calendar on the refrigerator that I created to help us navigate the custody schedule, he thought that the F (for Father) meant Family. I have to remember that my stepdaughter loves to shop for clothes together so that we can match. I have to find joy in the fact that they both want me to tuck them in each night and kiss me before they get on the bus each morning. I need to let love lead the way and hope and pray. I will delight in the fact that I am a role model to two beautiful individuals. I will try to forgive people who will never say thank you or  I am sorry. I will continue to bestow my love. I will trust. I will believe. I will remember to breathe.

So all about this breathing business. Have you ever felt like you have been holding your breath for months? (I imagine my friends and family who are parents – will get quite a chuckle out of this. After all, I was the one who in the past could escape into the luxury of naps and hot baths to unwind. I could leave the house whenever I chose and grocery shop without little ones tossing things in the cart or misbehaving in public. I could prepare meals with exotic ingredients and never worry about fussy taste buds.) Well, things have changed in my world. Not only am I newly married, a stepmom, and a full-time high school teacher, but I am also trying to tackle an Education Specialist degree at Northern Michigan University (a precursor to a EdD program at Central Michigan University). *sigh*

The past year has been a slippery slope for all my healthy goals. My fastidious meal prep routine has been nearly abandoned and my family is less than thrilled about the abundance of fruit and vegetables and absence of refined sugar that I believe is the healthiest. Yes, we have roasted vegetables with our dinners and I try to get them to eat as much as fruit as possible. Yet, the fact remains that a lot of processed food and junk has found its way into my shopping cart because I am tired of being frustrated when they will not eat what I prepare. In addition, I would rather spend time with the kids painting, doing crafts, and cuddling on the weekends instead of cooking/prepping the week’s meals for hours. But there is a price to pay and I am ashamed to say that I have consumed more boxed macaroni and cheese, tater tots,  and processed veggie burgers in the last few months than I care to admit.

Another decision that has impacted my healthy goals was giving up my role as a Weight Watchers coach. We live thirty miles away from the WW center and my husband, who is a police officer, works weekends (though his schedule changes next month 🙂 ) It was a heartbreaking decision but it made more sense for me to spend time with Avalon and Lukas instead of finding childcare. While I do not regret this decision at all, I do miss my WW friends and the accountability that we give each other. (My plan in the next couple months is to start attending meetings, even if it is just on a monthly basis at first.)

To make this post extra whiny – I am feeling the February blues and hormones that come chasing after women in their 40s. My energy levels are depleted, my skin looks dull, and my pants are tight. This Thanksgiving I got sick for the first time in over seven years. Sick. Stay in bed for three days sick. Something that I know would not have happened if I would be taking better care of myself.

At what point do we tell ourselves enough is enough? For me it was the other day in my classroom. Since the kids take a bus from their elementary school to the high school I teach at, I keep a stash of snacks for them in my cabinet. Without even thinking of what I was doing I ate a small bag of Cheese Its and a Rice Crispy treat. Instead of snacking on fresh fruit or raw vegetables and hummus (which would have normally been in my classroom mini-frig) I was resorting to food void of nutrition. I also have noticed that I am turning to caffeine by grabbing a *gasp* Diet Coke in the afternoon and making myself a cup of coffee at the end of the school day. Last week I have +150 new likes on my Facebook page and I feel like a fraud. I have over a hundred healthy recipes on this blog and I share the photos and recipes every day – but I am not making them at home like I should be.

My husband John is an incredible man and he gives me many pep talks. He tells me endlessly that I am beautiful that I look amazing for forty-four.  He loves my curves and makes me feel beautiful. Yet, I do not feel like myself and the way I am feeling reaches far beyond vanity – I want to be healthy! I had a long talk with John about how I need to make changes and I received his support 100%. While I will still buy my family the indulgences that they enjoy, the kids and I will try to make more sweets from scratch (instead of buying those with processed ingredients). I will encourage them to try more of a variety of fruit and vegetables (I have found when they cook with me they are more apt to eat what we make) and I will expand our menu to include some new foods that they have never tried.

This weekend when I shop I am going to fill my cart with fresh produce and John and I are going to start drinking green smoothies again (our goal is at least five times a week). I am going to commit to drinking more water and prepping Mason jar salads for my work week lunches along with prepping fruit and vegetables to keep in our refrigerator for convenient and healthy snacks. I will make sure that I have homemade veggie burger patties in the freezer and I will work more exercise into my schedule (there is nothing stopping me from strapping on snowshoes and taking advantage of the gorgeous views on our property (I promise to share photos).

This is what our counter looked like last spring, I need to get back to this.

This is what our counter looked like last spring, I need to get back to this.

Friends, thank you for taking the time to read my confession. While some may disagree with me putting it all out there – my guess is that there are others struggling too. We owe it to ourselves (and our families) to put our health first. I know that I will be a better wife, stepmom, teacher, and student when my energy levels increase and I feel great in my own skin. Please join me and post your confessional we will keep each other accountable. Feel free to post a comment here, send me an email at producewithamy@gmail.com, or leave a post or message at my Facebook page. It feels liberating to be honest and I cannot wait to implement these changes. Thank you for joining me on this journey to eat more fresh fruit and vegetables – imagine how productive we will be!

A weekend shopping trip brimming with fruit and vegetables helps me make healthy choices all week.

A weekend shopping trip brimming with fruit and vegetables helps me make healthy choices all week.

John, Lukas, and I shoveled the deck last week and it is drifted over after last night's storm. We just bought a new motor for our hot tub so we will be enjoying the deck again next week. Shoveling = exercise.

John, Lukas, and I shoveled the deck last week and it is drifted over after last night’s storm. We just bought a new motor for our hot tub so we will be enjoying the deck again next week. Shoveling = exercise.

I love the view from our front porch. Though I prefer to be sitting in one of the rocking chairs enjoying an iced green tea with fresh mint from the garden.

I love the view from our front porch. Though I prefer to be sitting in one of the rocking chairs enjoying an iced green tea with fresh mint from the garden.

Photo courtesy of Alesia M. Bachman of Superior Treasures Photography (make sure you check out her Facebook page)

John and I chaperoning the Winter Homecoming dance. We matched without even trying. Photo courtesy of Alesia M. Bachman of Superior Treasures Photography (make sure you check out her Facebook page)

 

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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

 

Fierce Green Smoothie with Blueberries and Kiwi

Fierce Green Smoothie by Produce with Amy“Thriving. That’s fighting… Surviving is barely getting by.”
― Jillian Michaels

Since August of 2007 I have been a Weight Watchers Coach and I have experienced my own challenges with my weight management. Now that I am in my forties I have found that I must fight harder than ever to maintain a healthy weight. Though, I accept the challenge, because I believe that my health and my self-concept are worth the battle. This fall I was facing a mountain of stress in my personal life and the scale started to climb beyond the top end of my WW recommended healthy weight range.  I was concerned and frustrated. Unfortunately, the chaos continued to mount – the scale would not budge – and I felt helpless, angry, anxious, and out of control of my life.

I will be honest, at times I considered walking away from my position at Weight Watchers, because I felt overwhelmed and as if I was a fraud. How could I stand up in front of my members helping be their weight loss guide when I could not even manage my own weight? Yet, I could feel my members support and I heard a loud voice in the back of my head telling me that I could thrive once again. I knew what I needed to do. In 2006, Weight Watchers gave me the tools and the courage to believe that I can succeed. While things may feel out of control in my life – ultimately, I was in control of the food that I consumed. I took a closer look at portion control and started to be faithful to tracking once again. The scale started to move in the right direction and I am happy to report that by December I was back to my goal weight.

My employment with Weight Watchers has brought me face-to-face with many individuals who also face stressful challenges in their lives. I always remind members that we must first take care of ourselves and that during times of crisis – being On Program helps us feel that we are in control. I know that focusing on Weight Watchers Power Foods, staying hydrated, and eating healthy portions have helped me manage my stress. Getting back to my goal weight has been a boost in my self-esteem and has empowered me to have a positive outlook, even when things feel grim.

Before I joined WW, I may have been tempted to feed my emotions with sugary and high fat foods. However, I know how those foods make me feel (and look). I profoundly believe that a diet that focuses on fresh fruit, vegetables, and non-processed whole foods helps us navigate stress and have the energy we need to have a positive attitude and be productive.

In the coming weeks, I will continue to nourish my body with healthy food and my goal is to incorporate more greens into my meals. I really notice a difference in my energy level when I start my day with a green smoothie. They are also great as a snack because they help curb starchy carbohydrate cravings.

If you are new to green smoothies you may want to check out my New Year’s Green Smoothie Challenge post where I share information and tips.

The green smoothie recipe that I am going to share with you today is one of my favorites. The combination of blueberries and cinnamon is incredible and I love that you can fit so many health benefits into a glass. Kiwi is higher in Vitamin C than an equivalent amount of orange and it will help your body absorb the iron in the spinach. The antioxidants in blueberries help improve memory and are low on the glycemic index and help regulate blood sugar. (Therefore, I thought that Fierce was the perfect name!)
Kiwi and Blueberries

FIERCE GREEN SMOOTHIE
(My smoothie recipes will yield 3-4 cups. I often drink 1/2 for breakfast and reserve the other half for a snack on my 1/2 hour commute home from work or for an evening snack. If you want to make less – reduce the ingredients that you add. Green smoothies will keep for several days in the refrigerator but they may separate)

  • 3-4 cups of spinach (more or less for one’s personal taste.)
  • 1 cup of blueberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 2 kiwis (reserve a piece for garnish)
  • 1/2 frozen banana (if you like your smoothie sweeter you may want to add more banana)
  • Juice and zest of one lemon (if using bottled juice you can add 1/4 cup)
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon (to taste)
  • 1 cup of coconut water (or regular water)
  • *Optional ~ 1 Tablespoon Chia Seeds (I add one Tablespoon per green smoothie that I am making. It is recommended to soak chia seeds. I do not soak mine since I have a high-powered blender and my smoothie often sits for  5-10 minutes before drinking. You could also stir into your smoothie before blending
  • *Optional ~ sprig of fresh mint

BlenderSmoothieBlend well and garnish with a kiwi slice and sprinkle of cinnamon. Because of the addition of blueberries – your smoothie will turn more purple than green.

If you are interested in checking out more green smoothie recipes, make sure you check out my Green Smoothie tab.

Pin this recipe HERE.

My goal for the new year is to continue to nourish my body with fresh fruit and vegetables so I can manage stress. I am determined to maintain my weight so I can look fierce this summer and feel the best that I can.

I challenge you to pick a goal and strive to reach it. Sip a green smoothie and reflect on what you want to achieve. If you (like I am) are facing a lot of stress in your life – you owe it to your body to eat clean and eradicate excuses. I raise my glass to you. Cheers to embracing a healthy lifestyle and thriving!

Light

blueberries

Spicy Peanut Dressed Vegetables

Spicy Peanut Dressed Vegetables by Produce with Amy

“You are what you eat. What would YOU like to be?” ― Julie Murphy

With the first week of 2015 in the near distance, I keep reminding myself to stay true to my healthy goals and to keep progress over perfection my mantra. I have been navigating a personal struggle and I have to remember that nourishing my body with fruit and vegetables will help me keep my immune system strong and help me find the balance in my life that I am craving. When I feel like too many things are out of my control  – I need to find a way to manage stress in a healthy way. Therefore, I often turn to the produce section of the supermarket and make sure that I am properly feeding my body.

One of my goals this year is to post a weekly recipe. Today I find myself perched on a chair at a local Starbucks doing just that. I posted photos of this recipe on my Facebook page on December 2nd and I am finally making the time to share it with you.

I am always looking for new ways to reinvent my favorite flavors and I tend to like food with a spicy flair. When I get tired of Mason jar salads for lunch, I like to come up with different options. These Spicy Peanut Dressed Vegetables combine spiralized butternut squash, roasted broccoli, black beans, tomato, and cilantro. Can you imagine anything more perfect?

SPICY PEANUT DRESSED VEGETABLES
(I made five servings in 3 cup Pyrex glass dishes, but you can adapt to your individual needs)

Spiralized Butternut Squash*1 – 1/2 cups of cooked black beans 
*1 pint of halved grape tomatoes
*1 large head of broccoli – roasted (you can also roast frozen broccoli.  I chopped, drizzled with a little olive oil, and roasted for approximately 40 minutes (turning at the 20 minute mark) at 400 degrees.Times may vary depending on your oven)
*Spiralized butternut squash (approximately 1/2 cup per serving. The spiralizer that I use can be found HERE.)
*1 teaspoon of cinnamon
*1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
*1/2 cup of vegetable stock

*1 bunch of chopped green onions
*1/2 cup of fresh chopped cilantro
*Oil 
(2 teaspoons per serving. I used flax oil)

SPICY PEANUT DRESSINGChili Sauce

*1/2 cup of rice vinegar (or to taste. I like my dressings tangy. You could reduce the amount of vinegar and use water)
*1 Tablespoon of garlic chili sauce (or to taste)
*2 Tablespoons of lime juice
*2 Tablespoons of peanut butter
*Optional – teaspoon of fresh ginger

After spiralizing the butternut squash, heat the vegetable broth in a pan with the nutmeg and cinnamon until it starts to boil. Add the squash, reduce the heat to medium, cover, and allow to cook for approximately five minutes. Toss at the halfway point and remove from heat.

I ate this cold but I imagine it would also be terrific warm. It would also be wonderful layered in a Mason jar.
Divide the ingredients in individual containers and dress with the Spicy Peanut Dressing (I used all the dressing). Drizzle each serving with 2 teaspoons of oil. Sprinkle the top with the chopped green onions and cilantro.
Spicy Peanut Dressed Vegetables

 

The vibrant colors of this dish speak for themselves and the flavors and textures work well together. This recipe would also work well with roasted Brussels sprouts, cabbage, or cauliflower and a variety of beans. Sweet potato would also make a great swap for the butternut squash.

I hope you enjoy this meal as much as I did. Please make 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 the tweaks and additions that others make to my creations to fit personal tastes. Together we can thrive and embrace a healthy lifestyle.  Thank you for reading and I look forward to sharing more recipes with you.

 

 

 

 

Top Ten Recipes of 2014

 

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

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

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

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

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

Glowing Green Mason Jar Salad with Creamy Avocado Vinaigrette

#1 Glowing Green Mason Jar Salads with Avocado Vinaigrette Dressing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Harvest Rainbow Mason Jar Salads

Harvest Rainbow Mason Jar Salads

#5 Harvest Rainbow Mason Jar Salad with Creamy Pesto Dressing

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Italian Hummus Spread with Sun-dried Tomatoes, Capers, and Olives

Italian Hummus Spread with Sundried Tomatoes, Capers, and Olives by Produce with Amy

“May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art — write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.”
― Neil Gaiman

Happy New Year and I hope that today finds you full of hope and commitment for a productive 2015. I always love the positive energy that ushers in a new year and this year is no exception. A fresh calendar provides us with the opportunity to dream and live our days with intention.

Today holds a very special place in my heart (and not just because it is the first of the year). Today marks the two-year anniversary of Produce with Amy and I am thrilled to celebrate it with a brand new recipe. I am thankful for the opportunity to share my passion for healthy food with my on-line community and I could not do it without the inspiration, feedback, and comments from my readers.  I cannot begin to explain how much your support means to me. Thank you!

One of the things that I love about blogging is the connections that I make with people across the globe. Living in the rural Upper Peninsula of Michigan it is easy to feel isolated and I love that when I click publish on a post all distance is erased. Instantly I can unite with other health enthusiasts and share ideas as we inspire each other to make positive choices in our lives.

HummusDuring the holiday season I received many inquiries about plant-based dishes to pass at a party. Since I try to follow a plant-based diet, social gatherings can be tricky. I have found that it is important to go beyond the standard fruit or vegetable tray and bring something that is filling.

While protein packed hummus is often my go-to choice – it can get a little bland and boring – so I try to give it a boost with a variety of ingredients. If your hummus needs a little interesting nudge, I think you will enjoy this recipe.

Hummus dip with olives and capers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ITALIAN HUMMUS SPREAD WITH SUN-DRIED TOMATOES, CAPERS, AND OLIVES

*Hummus (you can use store-bought or find the recipe that I use here)
*1 teaspoon of dried oregano
*1/2 cup of chopped sun-dried tomatoes
*1/2 cup of chopped Kalamata Greek olives
*1/2 cup of chopped Italian parsley

*1/2 cup of chopped artichoke hearts
*1/4 cup of finely chopped red bell pepper
*1/4 cup of chopped green olives
*3 Tablespoons of capers
*3 Tablespoons of olive oil
*3Tablespoons of pesto
(store-bought or homemade. In place of pesto you could also use finely chopped fresh basil)
*Loaf of crusty bread (you can also use crackers, pita bread, tortilla chips, or raw vegetables for dipping)

Artichoke Hearts and PestoStir in oregano, sun-dried tomatoes,Greek olives, and parsley to hummus.

*Note – in place of raw garlic I added one head of roasted garlic to my hummus.

Spread hummus evenly on platter. Sprinkle on artichoke hearts and bell peppers. Drizzle with pesto and add the green olives and capers.

Slice bread, brush with olive oil, and toast in the oven or broiler until crisp. Serve and enjoy!

 

Pin this recipe HERE.

Toast

Hummus Spread

If you are looking for other ideas to bring to a gathering you may be interested in my recipes for Layered Greek Dip with Hummus & Tzatziki Sauce and Layered Refried Bean and Guacamole Dip.

I hope that you join me in celebrating Produce with Amy’s two-year anniversary with a burst of productivity and healthy choices. Make sure you stay up to date with my recipes by following my posts by email, by liking my Facebook page, and connecting with my other social media links on the right of this page.

I wish you health, peace, and plenty of laughter. Let’s thrive together in 2015!

Hummus and BreadHomemade Bread

 

 

 

 

 

Mediterranean Wrap with Greek Olives & Tzatziki Sauce

Mediterranean Wrap by Produce with Amy“You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”
― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations 

Since I try to fully embrace a healthy lifestyle, I do wait until the beginning of month to start new if I have slipped up. I truly believe that each day presents an opportunity for a fresh start (or as one of my Weight Watchers members always says – when it  comes to food – each meal). I think that the healthy routines that I have in place help me brush myself off when I stumble and fall.

November started strong but some of my healthy goals fell to the wayside (exercise, tracking, sleep) due to massive snowfall, rescheduled parent teacher conferences, and major stress in my personal life. However, I still managed to maintain a four pound loss. I attribute this to my obsessive food prep and the fact that I eat clean, plant-based foods. Even when my life feels “out of control” I make sure to nourish my body with the proper foods.
November GoalsFor December I decided to continue my November goals and will add in a daily green smoothie. I commit to a minimum of three days at the gym (two of the day attending a Strong Bodies group exercise class) and two other days of formal activity. Even though I was not able to meet my goals in November each week, I still feel it is realistic to do so in December.

Last week I had some personal stresses that made me feel completely out of control with my life and everything was turned upside down. I am thankful for Thanksgiving break to pause, breathe deep, and allow things to settle and seek balance again. I have had a lot of time to think about what I want to happen in the next few months and I am sending out positive vibes. The cardinals in this collage represent the angels in my life – I believe. I have witnessed and felt the fluttering of wings.

December Goals by Produce with AmyWhat are your healthy goals for December? If you are having a hard time setting or keeping goals, check out my post Fall Forward Healthy Lifestyle Challenge for some ideas.

In my last post, Layered Greek Dip with Hummus & Tzatziki Sauce, I shared my recipe for homemade Tzatziki Sauce. Today I thought I would share another recipe that incorporates the sauce.

Seeding the cucumbers by running a spoon down the middle will keep the sauce from getting runny.

Seeding the cucumbers by running a spoon down the middle will keep the sauce from getting runny.

This wrap is one of my husband Mike’s favorite and I make his with chicken breast. Since I do not eat meat, I add a veggie burger patty or white or garbanzo beans, or hummus for myself. If I am using whole beans, and not hummus, I mash the beans and lightly saute with garlic, oregano, and lemon juice. While I try to avoid processed food, I sometimes buy store bought veggie burgers. For this wrap I used MorningStar Farms Roasted Garlic and Quinoa Burger. 

MEDITERRANEAN WRAPS WITH GREEK OLIVES & TZATZIKI SAUCE

  • Med Wrap Tortilla
  • 1-2 Tablespoons of Tzatziki Sauce
  • Tomato (I used 6 grape tomatoes)
  • Handful of spinach
  • 6 chopped Kalamata olives
  • Veggie burger (hummus, beans, or protein of choice)
  • *optional – herbed tofu or feta cheese if you eat dairy

Lightly heat tortilla on griddle until it starts to brown. Layer with ingredients and wrap tightly.

Today I prepped extra ingredients and stored in the refrigerator. This will be our go-to dinner for the week.

Pin this post HERE.

Med Wrap I also made a large batch of Greek potatoes. I scrubbed the potatoes well, sliced, and drizzled with olive oil, minced garlic, finely chopped onion, dried dill, dried oregano, salt, and pepper. I roasted at 400 for 40 minutes (tossing at 20 minutes). I heat them up and squeeze fresh lemon on them before serving.

Thank you for stopping by my blog and I look forward to sharing more healthy and plant-based recipes with you.   I encourage you to sign up for email updates, stop by my Facebook page, and check out my other social networking links at the right hand side of the page. I love being part of a healthy community and together we can maximize our potential. May December be a wonderful month and let me know what your healthy goals are. I would love to keep each other accountable.

Mediterranean Wrap by Produce with Amy