Zucchini Noodles with Lemon, Capers, Tomato, and Dill


Zucchini Noodles with Lemon, Capers, Tomato, & Dill by Produce with Amy

“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”
― Maya Angelou

Last week I proclaimed that perhaps my husband Mike and I needed an intervention because we were obsessed with zucchini noodles. At least it is a healthy addiction. We love them raw, lightly sautéed and topped with marinara sauce, mixed with my bruschetta topping (future post), tossed with pesto, and simmered in soup. The combinations are endless. Summer is the perfect time to experiment with different zucchini noodle combinations because I have fresh herbs in my garden which really enhances the taste of sauces and other dishes.

I purchased my spiralizer from Amazon and have had it for a year now. Even though I am a food blogger, I am not a huge fan of kitchen gadgets but a spiralizer is an exception. I wash the zucchini and leave the peel on and within less than a minute I have piles of 0 Point Plus zucchini noodles.  They are a healthy substitute to pasta and if you try them, I bet you will be hooked! You can even mix in a small amount of whole wheat spaghetti if you so desire.

The recipe that I am sharing today is unbelievably quick to make and delicious. My husband and I are both of Finnish heritage and we LOVE dill.

Produce with Amy

DillZUCCHINI NOODLES WITH LEMON, CAPERS, TOMATO, & DILL

*3 ribs of chopped celery
*2 small chopped tomatoes
*2 Tablespoons of capers
*1 medium spiralized zucchini
*1 small chopped onion
*1 large minced clove of garlic
*1 lemon (juice and zest)
*1 Tablespoon cooking oil of choice (I used coconut)
*1/4 cup vegetable broth (white wine would also work well)
*Kalamata olives (I was out but I will be adding them next time)
*Fresh chopped dill (to taste. I added approximately 3/4 cup)

Sautee the onion, garlic, and celery in the oil for a couple of minutes. Add the vegetable Lightly Sauteebroth, tomatoes, lemon juice and zest, capers, olives, and simmer for a couple of minutes. Add the zucchini and cook for a couple of minutes tossing the noodles in the sauce the whole time. I like the noodles Al dente and make sure that I do not over cook them or they will get mushy.

Printable Recipe: ZUCCHINI NOODLES WITH LEMON, CAPERS, TOMATO, & DILL

Pin it HERE.

 

Zucchini Noodles, with Lemon,  Capers, Tomato, and Dill

I hope that you enjoy this recipe and if you do try it, let me know what you think. You may be interested in these other zucchini noodle recipes:

 Raw Zucchini Noodles with Lemon Basil Pesto

Zucchini Noodle Soup

It is not too late for you to join me in the Summer Green Smoothie Challenge. Today is day #6 but you can jump in anytime. Thank you for stopping by my blog and I hope that you are having a healthy and happy August. I promise to keep the recipes coming!

 

Summer Green Smoothie Challenge

Summer Green Smoothie Challenge by Produce with AmyRoutine is liberating, it makes you feel in control.”
― Carol Shields

On the eve of August you may find yourself scratching your head wondering how you are going to savor the remaining days of summer. I know that one of the things that I will be sad to say goodbye to – is summer fruit. The fruit bin in our refrigerator is always full of fresh peaches, nectarines, plums, and cherries. I figured what would be a better way to enjoy fresh produce then a green smoothie challenge? Thank you for joining me! The goal of this challenge is to have one green smoothie a day (either for breakfast or another time during the day). We will be incorporating more nutrients into our diet and together we will stay accountable and share recipes and ideas. This is not a fast but a way to increase our intake of greens and fruit. All you need is a blender (I used a regular blender for three years before I invested in a Vitamix) and the desire to be healthy.

To those who are new to green smoothies, my recommendation is always to start simple. My first one was spinach, banana, strawberry, and water. Spinach is naturally sweet and you won’t believe how good it tastes. When I first started drinking green smoothies I found that a frozen banana was key because it gives the smoothie sweetness and makes it creamy. I would buy a couple of bunches of bananas a week and when they got ripe I would peel and toss into a bowl or bag in the freezer. Now I find that I often do not need the banana because I tend to like more greens and less fruit. I suggest that you experiment with your favorite fruit. Over the years I have tried every imaginable combination and often toss in what I have on hand. Frozen fruit works well and makes the smoothie cold (though you can add ice as well). Brenda, my friend and Weight Watchers receptionist often encourages people to throw their greens in the freezer. She says that since she started drinking green smoothies and freezing her greens and fruit she no longer ends of throwing out expensive produce.

If you are interested in my green smoothie story, and how my husband and I started incorporating them into our meal plan after my husband suffered a sudden brain hemorrhage, you may want to read this post. 

I’m a green smoothie “purist” and normally stick with water, fruit, chia seeds, and greens. The chia seeds make it filling and are a great source of calcium, protein, and Omega-3.Though, many of my Weight Watchers members add yogurt, milk and dairy-free milks, and even healthy oils to their green smoothies to help meet their Good Health Guidelines. I do sometimes add hemp seeds, spirulina, and aloe vera juice to give an additional nutritional boost.

Green Smoothie by Produce with AmyThe smoothies are a great way to fortify your iron and since the blender breaks down the cell walls of the greens, it makes it easier for our bodies to absorb the nutrients. My husband Mike and I like to drink one for breakfast and find them  filling and satisfying.They give us an important boost of energy in the morning!

If you do not have a high-powered blender I recommend blending up the greens and liquid first and then adding the fruit (cut up in small pieces) a little bit at a time. When you freeze your bananas you will want to slice or break them into small

I love my Vitamix!

I love my Vitamix!

chunks. This may not be as easy as dumping cold cereal and milk in a bowl, but I promise that it is worth your labor! 🙂 Though, trust me, you may find yourself wanting to upgrade to a Vitamix blender. Many of my friends and Weight Watchers members have been convinced to do so after reading my posts. I saved up for a year to buy mine by wearing a pedometer and putting $1 in an envelope each day that I met my step goal of 14,000 steps. Not only did I work on building a healthy routine in the process, but my Vitamix blender is no an important anchor, or daily reminder, of what I can achieve when I put my heart to it. 

Weight Watchers members may wonder how to count the PP for the green smoothies. Personally, I do not count the PP of the fruit in my smoothies and only count the things I add that would carry a PP value (chia seeds, coconut water, avocado). Though, if you run the smoothie through the Recipe Builder, it will give you a PP value (once a fruit or vegetable is not in its natural state it is easier to over-eat). I always like to mention at my meetings that the danger of smoothies are that they may bypass our bodies hunger signals. However, I do not have this problem with green smoothies. I take a long time to sip my smoothie in the morning and it really satisfies me until I can have a morning snack at around 10:00-10:30. I attribute this to the fact that the smoothies are full of fiber and the chia seeds make them especially filling.

In my shopping list I have included spinach, kale, and turnip greens. I do warn that kale tastes much stronger and more “grassy” than spinach, so I recommend that you a little at a time. Also, if you enjoy the taste of fresh ginger root (I personally could add it to every smoothie I make).

When I started drinking green smoothies five years ago I read all that I could about green smoothie guru, Victoria Boutenko.  I highly recommend her books Green for Life and Green Smoothie Revolution. In her books, Victoria Boutenko stresses the importance of rotating our greens because of the alkaloids found in them. Read more about it here.

11When you drink green smoothies for weeks-on-end it is important to rotate your greens. While spinach is my favorite ~ I also enjoy kale, carrot tops, beet greens, radish tops, spring mix greens, dandelion greens, and turnip greens. If you look in the produce section of your local market you will be surprised how many varieties of greens there are. While in the summer I enjoy growing my own, during winter months I will often purchase bunches of beets, radishes, and carrots and lop off the tops to use in my smoothies. (Tip: if they are wilted when you purchase them you can immerse in cold water and they will perk right up).

In this post I will share four weeks of shopping lists and recipes (printable lists at the bottom of the page). I have tried to keep the lists as simple as possible, while utilizing seasonal fruit. The shopping lists (and recipes) are a guide to green smoothie flavor combinations. The amounts of fruit and greens you purchase depends on your personal taste and how many smoothies you will be creating. I would love to hear what your favorite combinations are.

Before I share the recipes that I came up with, I wanted to share the favorite green smoothie recipes of four of my readers who sent their favorite recipes for me to share with you. Maybe you will do the same after our challenge – I would love to do a follow-up post in September featuring reader’s favorites.

Brenda Aldrich

Brenda Aldrich

Brenda Aldrich is my Weight Watchers receptionist and she has been at goal Lifetime since May of 2011. She lives in Skandia, with her husband, their dog Winston and 3 cats. Winston is always willing to accompany Brenda on her walks as exercise has become essential to helping her maintain her goal weight.

Brenda heard about Green Smoothies for months before finally deciding to try them. While she loves fruits and vegetables, she just couldn’t imagine liquid greens. After hearing from some fellow Weight Watchers members how a green smoothie tamed cravings for them, she decided to try a simple one with spinach, banana, strawberries, blueberries and water and has been hooked ever since. Brenda likes to freeze excess fruit and dark greens. Frozen greens and fruit are perfect for smoothies. This method is helpful when the fruits are not in season ,and she is craving the taste of watermelon in the winter, or when avocados are not on sale.

Brenda’s favorite green smoothie recipe:
*Spinach
*1/2 banana
*1/2 avocado
*1/2 cup blueberries
*1/2 cup pineapple
*8-10 oz cooled Green tea
*Chia seeds
(Brenda said she uses frozen fruit so the smoothie is cold)

Sherene Lehman

Sherene Lehman

Sherene Lehman said this: ” I live in Mt. Pleasant, MI, where we have a small, but wonderful farm market. It is a great source of the freshest ingredients for my smoothies. The best smoothies are made Thursday mornings when I get home from the market. Ideally in a University of Michigan large Tervis Tumbler!

Sherene’ favorite green smoothie recipe:

Green Goddess Smoothie
*1/2 container Key lime yogurt
*1 cup apple juice or pineapple juice, white grape, etc. (something light-colored)
*Few handfuls kale or spinach, or both
*2 cups assorted fruit, including kiwi, honey-dew, pineapple,
*1 Tbs. agave or honey
*Scoop whey protein (optional)
*Ice to thicken
*Blend all and serve.

Heather Nayback

Heather Nayback

 

Heather Nayback lives in the U.P. of Michigan where she is a teacher.

She said this about green smoothies:
“I found out about green smoothies from Amy. As a colleague of hers through the Upper Peninsula Writing Project, we attended a training about Holocaust Education together. I was intrigued by her enthusiasm for a Vitamix and her smoothie recipes. I began that same summer using greens from my own garden. Green smoothies are my summer treats, and I try to have them year around now!”

 

Heather’s favorite green smoothie recipe:
*Coconut milk
*Sun butter
*Banana
*1/2 an avocado
*Cinnamon
*Bee pollen
*Kale or romaine
*Handful of ice
(Heather is allergic to peanuts and to spinach, so this is her variation on the Chunky Monkey Green Smoothie from A Journey to Thin. She said that her daughter used to turn up her nose to green smoothies but now demands that Heather shares. Her daughter like the addition of cacao nibs to hers.)

Heather had her favorite green smoothie today for lunch. Here is a photo that she sent me. What a relaxing spot to enjoy a green smoothie and read in the sunshine.

Heather had her favorite green smoothie today for lunch. Here is a photo that she sent me. What a relaxing spot to enjoy a green smoothie and read in the sunshine.

Kristin Smith

Kristin Smith

Kristin Smith discovered green smoothies on her quest for better health and wellness last fall. She loves trying new recipes and incorporating local produce into her menus whenever possible. Kristin and her husband live in Milwaukee, and they enjoy hiking, camping, and traveling. When not busy with work as a child psychologist and college instructor, Kristin spends time running, reading, and singing with a community choir.

Here is Kristin’s favorite green smoothie recipe:
*Spinach
*White nectarine
*Banana
*Spinach
*Coconut water
*Flax seed

Ladies, thank you so much for sharing your favorite recipes. I cannot wait to try them. If you try their recipes make sure you give them a shout-out in the comment section or on my Facebook page. 
Cover Photo August Green Smoothie Challenge

SUMMER GREEN SMOOTHIE CHALLENGE SHOPPING LISTS

(Printable lists below)

*If you do not enjoy the listed fruit or berries, substitute with your favorite. The amount of fruit and greens you put into each smoothie will vary depending on your personal taste. I recommend that those who are new to green smoothies add a small amount of greens at first and go heavy on the fruit. You will find that the more smoothies you drink the more greens and less fruit you can start blending. If you prefer more fruit in your smoothies, you may find yourself running out during the week and other may find some left that you can incorporate into the next week’s green smoothies.

I suggest that you choose the ripest bananas that you can find. Peel and cut into pieces and toss in the freezer in a bag or bowl. You may also to choose to freeze the other fruit as well.

Week One:

  • Spinach (3 ~ nine ounce bags of spinach)
  • Bananas (5-7)
  • 1 peach
  • 1 nectarine
  • 1 fresh pineapple
  • 1 avocado
  • 2 limes
  • 1 ~ twelve ounce bag of frozen raspberries (or 2 containers of fresh)
  • 1 ~ bag of fresh or frozen cherries
  • 1 bunch of parsley
  • 1 bunch of cilantro
  • 1 bunch of fresh basil
  • Fresh ginger root
  • Coconut water (optional ~(regular water works fine but there are many health benefits to drinking coconut water. It can often be found in the Latin food or heath food section of the supermarket. I usually buy one large can per two green smoothies…or a couple liter containers).
  • Chia seeds (you may also use flax or hemp seeds)

Week Two:

  • 2 (9 ounce bags) of spinach
  • 1 bunch of kale (or an alternate green.)
  • 1 bunch of cilantro
  • 5-7 ripe bananas (peel and freeze)
  • 1 pineapple (unless you have some left from last week. You will need 2 cups)
  • 1 bag green grapes
  • 1 plum
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 lime
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 Granny Smith apple
  • Frozen mixed berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries ~ or similar mix)
  • Fresh ginger root
  • Cinnamon
  • Nutmeg
  • Vanilla extract
  • 1 can of light coconut milk (often found in the Asian food section.) Divide the coconut milk into 3 servings. I freeze coconut milk to use in green and dessert smoothies and curries.

*Optional Ingredients

  • Molasses (used as flavoring in one of the smoothies)
  • Coconut flakes (used as a garnish for couple of the smoothies)
  • Chia seeds (some people add hemp seeds or flax-seeds)
  • Coconut water

Week Three:

  • 2 bunches of kale, 2 bunches of turnip greens (or greens of your choice)
  • 1 bunch of parsley
  • 1 bunch of cilantro
  • 1 peach
  • 1 nectarine
  • 1 carton of fresh blackberries
  • 1 bag of frozen raspberries (or fresh)
  • 1 bag of frozen blueberries (or fresh)
  • 5-7 ripe bananas (peel and freeze)
  • 2 plums
  • 2 avocado
  • 2 lemons
  • 3 limes
  • Fresh ginger root
  • Cinnamon
  • Vanilla extract

*Optional Ingredients

  • In place of the banana to sweeten the smoothie you may opt for medjool dates (or even chopped dates) or raw honey (or rotate sweeteners day-to-day)
  • Coconut flakes (used as a garnish for couple of the smoothies)
  • Chia seeds (I add these to my smoothies each day. Some people add hemp seeds or flax-seeds)
  • Coconut water (regular water works fine but there are many health benefits to drinking coconut water. It can often be found in the Latin food or heath food section of the supermarket. I usually buy one large can per two green smoothies…or a couple liter containers).

Week #4:

  • Greens (I suggest a combination of greens ~ spinach, turnip greens, kale, chard, carrot tops, beet greens, or spring mix and dark green lettuces) Since the week #4 recipes are for 10 days, you may want to buy enough for the first five-7 days and purchase more mid-week.
  • Bananas (plan for ½-1 banana per smoothie, unless you plan to sweeten with honey, dates, or another sweetener)
  • Strawberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 bag frozen mango (or 2 fresh)
  • Watermelon (you will need a few cups)
  • 3 kiwi
  • 1 red apple
  • 1 green apple
  • 1 peach
  • 2 avocado
  • 4 limes and 1 lemon
  • Parsley and/or cilantro
  • Fresh mint
  • 1 can light coconut milk (divide in thirds)
  • Almond extract (optional)
  • Vanilla extract
  • Cinnamon
  • Nutmeg

*Optional ~ chia, hemp, or flax seeds and coconut water

Summer Green Smoothie Challenge

SUMMER GREEN SMOOTHIE RECIPES

*If you plan on drinking your smoothies in the morning you may prep your smoothies the night before. Sometimes when I know I am going to be in a time pinch in the morning I blend the night before. Each recipe should render  3-4 cups (depending on how much greens and fruit that you add). I often make to make extra (or leave a little) for a mid-day snack. If you are using fresh, and not frozen fruit, I suggest adding a few ice cubes or chill your smoothie in the refrigerator.

WEEK ONE:

Summer EnergizerDay #1: Summer Energizer Smoothie 

  • 3-4 cups of spinach(more or less for one’s personal taste.)
  • 1/2 a nectarine
  • ½ cup of cherries
  • ½ cup of raspberries
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley
  • 1 frozen banana (optional. I find that I do not need the sweetness of the banana with the nectarine and cherries)
  • 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)
  • 1 inch piece of peeled fresh ginger(since ginger has a strong taste you might try to add a little at a time)
  • 1 cup of coconut juice (or water)

Day #2: Summer Sensation Green Smoothie Summer Sensation

  • 3 cups of spinach or greens of choice
  • 1/2 cup of pineapple
  • 1/2 peach
  • ½ avocado
  • Juice of 1/2 a lime
  • 1 Tablespoon of chia seeds
  • 1 cup coconut water

(I find that the pineapple is so sweet that I do not add a banana. However, you could add one or 1/2 a banana)

Cherry LimeadeDay #3: Cherry Limeade Green Smoothie 

  • 3 cups of spinach
  • 1 lime (juice & zest)
  • 1 cup of cherries
  • 1/2-1 frozen banana(more if you want the smoothie sweeter)
  • 1 Tablespoon chia seeds
  • Fresh peeled ginger root to taste.
  • 1 cup of coconut water or regular water

 

 

Day #4: Nectarine and Basil Green SmoothieNectarine and Basil Green Smoothie

  • 3 cups spinach
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1/2 nectarine
  • 1/8 – ¼ cup basil (add a little bit of time. I really enjoy the flavor combination of basil and nectarine. This summer I grew cinnamon basil just to eat with nectarines and put in my smoothies)
  • Banana(optional)
  • 1 Tablespoon of chia seeds
  • 1 cup of coconut water or regular water

Cherry & Pineapple Mint Green SmoothieDay #5: Cherry & Pineapple Mint Green Smoothie

  • 3 cups spinach
  • 1/2 cup of cherries
  • 1/2 cup of pineapple
  • 1/2-1 banana
  • ¼ cup of fresh mint
  • 1 Tablespoon of chia seeds
  • 1 cup of coconut water or regular water

 

 

Day #6: Raspberry Blast Green SmoothieRaspberry Blast Green Smoothie

  • 3 cups spinach
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 3/4-1 cup of raspberries
  • 1/2-1 banana
  • ¼ cilantro
  • Fresh peeled ginger root to taste
  • 1 Tablespoon of chia seeds
  • 1/2 lime and zest
  • 1 cup of coconut water or regular water

 

Just Peachy Green SmoothieDay #7: Just Peachy Green Smoothie (or “Leftovers” Green Smoothie)

  • 3 cups spinach
  • 1/2 peach
  • 1/2 – 1 banana
  • 1 Tablespoon of chia seeds
  • Parsley or cilantro or mint or basil (or all) depending what you have left
  • 1 cup of coconut water or regular water

 

 

WEEK TWO:

Day #8:  Caribbean Dream Green SmoothieCaribbean Dream Green Smoothie

  • 3-4 cups of kale
  • 1/2 – 1 banana
  • 1/2 cup of pineapple
  • ½ avocado
  • light canned coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 Tablespoon Molasses (since molasses has a strong taste you may want to add a little at a time)
  • Garnish with shredded coconut, cinnamon, and nutmeg
  • 1/2 – 1 cup of coconut water (or regular water)

Berry Blast Green Smoothie Day #9: Berry Blast Green Smoothie

  • 1/3 bunch of kale
  • 1/2 – 1 banana
  • ½ cup of grapes
  • 3/4 cup of mixed berries
  • 1/2 bunch of cilantro (to taste)
  • Fresh ginger root to taste (peeled)
  • 1 cup of water (or coconut water)

 

 

 

Day #10: Lean & Green SmoothieLean & Green Smoothie

  • 2-3 cups of spinach
  • 1/2 cup of grapes
  • 1 Granny Smith Apple (if it is organic, leave on the peel)
  • 1/2 avocado
  • Juice and zest of one lime (1/2 if you want it less tart)
  • 1/2 bunch of cilantro (to taste)
  • Optional ~ banana (if you want it more sweet. I leave it out. You could also add another 1/2 cup of grapes or pineapple for sweetness)
  • 1 cup of water

Berry Bliss Green SmoothieDay #11: Berry Bliss Green Smoothie

  • 1/3 of a bunch of kale
  • 1/2-1 banana
  • 1 cup of mixed berries
  • Light coconut milk
  • *Optional ~ ginger root to taste
  • 1/2 – 1 cup of water

 

Summer Harvest Green Smoothie
Day #12: Summer Harvest Green Smoothie

 

  • 3-4 cups of spinach
  • 1 plum
  • ½ cup of mixed berries
  • Ginger root (to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • ½ – 1 cup of water
  • *Optional ~ banana (depending on how sweet you want it to be)

 

Pina Colada Green Smoothie

 

Day #13: Pina Colada Green Smoothie

  • 3-4 cups of spinach
  • 1 cup of pineapple
  • ½ – 1 banana
  • light canned coconut milk
  • ½ cup of coconut water or regular water
  • Garnish with coconut

 

 

Lemon Berry Green Smoothie

Day #14: Lemon Berry Green Smoothie

  • 1/3 bunch of kale
  • 1 cup of mixed berries
  • 1 lemon (juice and zest)
  • 1/2 – 1 banana
  • 1/2 – 1 cup of coconut water or regular water

 

WEEK THREE:

Blue Boost Green Smoothie         

Day #15: Blue Boost Green Smoothie

  • 3 – 4 – cups of your greens of choice
  • 1/2 – 1 cup of blueberries
  • 1/2 – 1 avocado
  • Raw honey/dates/ or banana for sweetness
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon (or to taste)
  • 1 cup of coconut water/or water
    *Optional ~ 1-2 Tablespoons of chia seeds
    *Garnish with shredded coconut

Day #16: Peach-Raspberry Zinger Green SmoothiePeach Raspberry Zinger Green Smoothie

  • 3 – 4 cups of your greens of choice
  • 1/2 cup of raspberries
  • 1/2 peach
  • Juice and zest of 1 lime
  • Cilantro (to taste)
  • Fresh ginger root, peeled (to taste)
  • Raw honey/dates/ or banana
  • 1 cup of coconut water or water
    *Optional ~ 1- 2 Tablespoons of chia seeds

Blueberry Twist Green Smoothie

Day #17: Blueberry Twist Green Smoothie

 

  • 3 -4 cups of your greens of choice
  • 1 cup of blueberries
  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • Raw honey/dates/or banana
  • 1 cup coconut water or water
    *Optional ~ 1-2 Tablespoons of chia seeds

 

Day #18: Plum-Berry Green Smoothie

  • 3 -4 cups of your greens of choice
  • 1/2 cup of raspberries
  • 1/2 cup of blueberries
  • 1 plum
  • Fresh ginger root, peeled (to taste)
  • Cinnamon (to taste)
  • Parsley or cilantro (to taste)
  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • Raw honey/dates/or banana
  • 1 cup coconut water or water
    *Optional ~ 1-2 Tablespoons of chia seeds

  19Day #19: Blackberry Charmer Green Smoothie

  • 3 -4 cups of your greens of choice
  • 1 container of blackberries
  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup coconut water or water
  • Optional ~ 1-2 Tablespoons of chia seeds

 

 

 

Day #20: Plum & Blue Blue Blossom Green Smoothie

  • 3 -4 cups of your greens of choicePlum & Blue Blossom Green Smoothie
  • 1/2 cup of blueberries
  • 1 plum
  • Raw honey/dates/or banana
  • Cinnamon to taste
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup coconut water or water
    *Optional ~ 1-2 Tablespoons of chia seeds

 

 

Flourishing Green Smoothie

Day #21: Flourishing Green Smoothie

  • 3 -4 cups of your greens of choice
  • 1/2 cup of peaches
  • 1/2 – 1 avocado
  • 1 kiwi
  • Parsley or cilantro (to taste)
  • Fresh ginger root, peeled (to taste)
  • Juice and zest of 1 lime
  • Raw honey/dates/or banana
  • 1 cup coconut water or water
    *Optional ~ 1-2 Tablespoons of chia seeds

WEEK #4:

Day #22: Tropical Dream Green SmoothieTropical Dream Green Smoothie

  • 3 – 4 – cups of your greens of choice
  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup of watermelon
  • 1/2 cup of strawberries
  • Cilantro or parsley to taste
  • 1 lime (juice and zest)
  • 1 cup of coconut water/or water
    *Optional ~ 1-2 Tablespoons of chia seeds/flax seeds/or hemp seeds

Apple Pie Green Smoothie

 

Day #23:  Apple Pie Green Smoothie

  • 3 – 4 cups of your greens of choice
  • 1 apple
  • ½ avocado
  • 1 banana
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • light coconut milk
  • ½ cup of coconut water or water
  • Cinnamon & nutmeg to taste
    *Optional ~ 1- 2 Tablespoons of chia seeds/flax seeds/or hemp seeds

Day #24: Watermelon Mint Green SmoothieWatermelon Mint Green Smoothie

  • 3 -4 cups of your greens of choice
  • 1 cup of watermelon
  • Fresh mint
  • Juice and zest of 1 lime
  • Raw honey/dates/or banana
  • 1 cup coconut water or water
    *Optional ~ 1-2 Tablespoons of chia seeds/flax seeds/or hemp seeds


Strawberry Kiwi Green Smoothie

Day #25: Strawberry Kiwi Green Smoothie

  • 3 -4 cups of your greens of choice
  • 1 cup of strawberries
  • 2 kiwi
  • 1 lime (juice and zest)
  • Fresh ginger root, peeled (to taste)
  • Raw honey/dates/or banana
  • 1 cup coconut water or water
    *Optional ~ 1-2 Tablespoons of chia seeds/flax seeds/or hemp seeds

Day #26: Peach Cobbler Green SmoothiePeach Cobbler Green Smoothie

  • 3 -4 cups of your greens of choice
  • 1 peach
  • ½ avocado
  • Fresh ginger root, peeled (add just a little bit)
  • Raw honey/dates/or banana
  • Almond extract
  • Light coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup coconut water or water
    *Optional ~ 1-2 Tablespoons of chia seeds/flax seeds/or hemp seeds

Mango Madness Green SmoothieDay #27: Mango Madness Green Smoothie

  • 3 -4 cups of your greens of choice
  • 1 cup of mango
  • Raw honey/dates/or banana
  • 1/2 cup coconut water or water
    *Optional ~ 1-2 Tablespoons of chia seeds/flax seeds/or hemp seeds

 

 

 

Day #28: Sip of Summer Green SmoothieSip of Summer Green Smoothie

  • 3 -4 cups of your greens of choice
  • 1/2 cup of strawberries
  • 1/2 cup of mango
  • Parsley or cilantro (to taste)
  • Raw honey/dates/or banana
  • 1 cup coconut water or water
    *Optional ~ 1-2 Tablespoons of chia seeds/flax seeds/or hemp seeds

 

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Day #29: Strawberry Lemonade

  • 3 -4 cups of your greens of choice
  • 1 cup of strawberries
  • 1 lemon (juice and zest)
  • Raw honey/dates/or banana
  • 1 cup coconut water or water
    *Optional ~ 1-2 Tablespoons of chia seeds/flax seeds/or hemp seeds

Day #30: Glistening Green Smoothie

  • 3 -4 cups of your greens of choice
  • 1 kiwi
  • 1 green apple
  • ½ avocado
  • 1 lime (juice and zest)
  • Parsley or cilantro ~ or both (to taste)
  • Ginger root (to taste)
  • Raw honey/dates/or banana
  • 1 cup coconut water or water
    *Optional ~ 1-2 Tablespoons of chia seeds/flax seeds/or hemp seeds

Day #31: Strawberries & Cream Green Smoothie

  • 3 -4 cups of your greens of choice
  • 1 cup strawberries
  • 1/2 avocado
  • Ginger root to taste
  • 1 teaspoon of almond extract
  • Cinnamon to taste
  • 1/2 cup of light coconut milk
  • Raw honey/dates/or banana
  • 1/2 cup coconut water or water
    *Optional ~ 1-2 Tablespoons of chia seeds/flax seeds/or hemp seeds

Printable Shopping Lists: Summer Green Smoothie Challenge Shopping Lists

Printable Recipes: Summer Green Smoothie Challenge ~ 4 Weeks of Recipes

Pin the post HERE.

Make sure you stop by my Produce with Amy Facebook Page to let me know you what your favorite green smoothie combination is (either my recipe or your own). I would love to hear what it is and I would love to feature you in a follow-up post. If interested, please send me brief biographical information about yourself, a photo, and your recipe (if your recipe comes from a blog – please include the address so I can link it here). You can private message this information via Facebook or email it to me at amyslatinen@gmail.com

During the month of August if you are on Instagram – make sure you use the hashtag #gscproducewithamy to tag your green smoothie creations.

Sign up to receive email updates of my posts, follow me on Twitter Tumblr, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Thank you for joining me in the Summer Green Smoothie Challenge. I lift my green smoothie glass up to yours ~ cheers to thriving together!

Greem Smoothies 3August Green Smoothie Challenge by Produce with Amy

 

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Vegetable Herbed Pasta Salad with Homemade Dressing – Fresh and Versatile

Vegetable Herbed Pasta Salad “I want every day to be a fresh start on expanding what is possible.”
― Oprah Winfrey

It has been a challenging summer on many levels. Not only has the weather been cool in the U.P. of Michigan, but I have been facing many personal stresses. Unfortunately, I have allowed myself to make excuses and have abandoned many of my healthy routines. Instead of waiting for the 1st of August to make changes – my husband and I hit the reset button yesterday. We are starting each morning with a green smoothie, reducing our caffeine to one cup of coffee or green tea, eliminating adult beverages, engaging in more strenuous exercise, and are sticking to clean meals. While we are healthy eaters in the past couple months – I have slipped into cooking unhealthy meals for my husband. This means that I find myself also munching on homemade fries or breakfast potatoes, chips, and other things that have zero nutritional value. Once we eliminate these foods – we do not miss them.

In addition to a healthier lifestyle, I have many blog posts in the works. This post includes a recipe that I shared on my Facebook page in May. It is for a vegetable and pasta salad recipe. Forget dressing your salad with bottled dressing – because homemade dressing is simple to make from your pantry. You can follow my basic recipe and toss in whatever vegetables you have on hand. Roasted or grilled vegetables make a great addition to this salad – zucchini, eggplant, mushrooms, asparagus, and Brussels sprouts are some of my favorites. In the summer I like to grill vegetable kabob and I make a few extra skewers to toss into salads. The flavors in this salad improve as it sits. I portion into individual containers and add a splash of extra vinegar to the top (aged balsamic vinegar adds a lot of flavor). If you are a Weight Watchers member, this salad works perfectly for Simple Start or the Simply Filling Technique since it is made up of Power Foods. For additional points olives are great in this salad and you can add your favorite protein for a complete meal. This week I am going to make a version of this salad and I will swap out the whole wheat pasta with quinoa and brown rice for something different.
Pasta salad

VEGETABLE HERBED PASTA SALAD

*1 package of cooked whole wheat pasta (sometimes I do not use the whole package depending on how much pasta I want in the salad)
*1 quart of halved grape tomatoes
*1 chopped cucumber,
*5 peeled and chopped carrots
*4 ribs of chopped celery
*1 bunch of fresh, chopped parsley
*1/4 of a medium, chopped onion
*2 cloves of minced garlic
*juice and zest of one lemon
*1/4 cup raw apple cider vinegar
*1 teaspoon each of dried dill, oregano, basil (in the summer I use fresh garden herbs and I also add fresh chives)
*pinch of salt and pepper.
*I add 2 teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil to each serving for portion control.

Printable recipe: VEGETABLE HERBED PASTA SALAD   

Pin the recipe HERE.

Make sure that you check out my Salad tab for other recipes.

Today I am working on recipes for an August Green Smoothie Challenge. If you have a favorite recipe, let me know and I will feature it in my post (I will give you credit). You can send me an email at amyslaitinen@gmail.com or message me on my Facebook Page. If you would like, please include biographical information about yourself and even a photo. Thank you! I am looking forward to drinking a month’s worth of green smoothies with my friends. Cheers to our health!
New Year Green Smoothie Challenge

Chilled Green Soup – A Summer Staple

Raw - Chilled Green Soup by Produce with Amy“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.”
― Julia Child

Often I am told that I am fortunate to be married to a man who is flexible with meals and will eat anything that I cook. While I do often prepare a different dinner for each of us (since he does eat meat and I do not) Mike does enjoy eating an abundance of fruit and vegetables. He will try anything that I make and loves to eat healthy. I agree that I am lucky –  but his eating habits are one of the reasons that I fell in love with him in the first place. Right from our first few conversations I could tell that he cared about nutrition and fitness. When we first started dating he purchased a cookbook (which just so happened to be a Weight Watchers cookbook) and we would select dinners from it to prepare together.

VitamixTwo summers ago when Mike and I invested in a Vitamix blender, I had a marvelous time experimenting with different recipes. One of our favorite summer recipes is a raw, cold, green soup. I suppose it could be called a green gazpacho – or a savory green smoothie – and I never make it the same way twice. I love to add whatever produce that we have on hand and toss in a variety of fresh herbs from our garden. The result is a refreshing, filling, and healthy soup that serves as a great lunch or opening course for dinner. I normally make a bowl for each of us but I think that one could make a large batch of this soup and it would keep well in the refrigerator for a few days. Not only are cold soups refreshing on a warm summer day but there are loads of health benefits from eating raw vegetables. One of the advantages of blending greens is that the blender breaks down the cell walls of the kale and spinach and the nutrients are easily absorbed by our body. In my Weight Watchers meetings we are always discussing new ways to consume more fruit and vegetables and a cold soup is a light and delicious way to do so.

In this post I will share the recipe for the soup that I made for tonight’s dinner so you can create it yourself or tweak the recipe based on your personal tastes and what you have on hand.

Produce

CHILLED GREEN SOUP
(Makes 2 bowls.  Approximately 3 cups)

*2 cups of fresh spinach
*3 large kale leaves
*1 cup of vegetable broth (I have also used water)
*Juice and zest of one lime (lemon works well too. If you are using bottled citrus juice, use 1/4 cup)
*1/2 cup of fresh cilantro (chop and reserve 1/2 for garnish)Garnish
*1 cucumber (chop 1/2 into small pieces and reserve to add to soup after blending)
*1 avocado (cube 1/2 and reserve to the soup after blending)
*1 medium tomato
*1 seeded jalapeno
*1 carrot
*1 red bell pepper (you can also use orange, yellow, or green)
*1 clove of garlic
*1 Tablespoon of onion
*1 Tablespoon of fresh chives (optional. Since I have chives in my garden I add them to everything in the summer)
*Pinch of salt and pepper
*Extra virgin olive oil to drizzle on top
*Optional – if you are eating this soup as a main course you can add raw nuts or beans to the top for protein

Add all the ingredients to the blender and blend until all ingredients are smooth. I have a high power Vitamix blender and do a quick blend for 45 seconds.

Pour the soup in a bowl (if my ingredients are room temperature I like to let the soup chill in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes before serving). Add the cucumber, bell pepper, avocado to the top and drizzle with olive oil. I also like to sprinkle on a little coarse sea salt. The color will be bright green and beautiful and it tastes as fresh as it looks.

Printable recipe: CHILLED GREEN SOUP by Produce with Amy

Pin the recipe HERE.

Raw Green Soup by Produce with Amy

Chilled Green Soup by Produce with Amy

Cold soup is so simple to make and it is a great way to add more vegetables to your meal plan.  Please let me know if you are interested and I will gladly come up with more flavor combinations. Think about a raw tomato, spinach, and basil soup with grilled corn added after blending. How about turnip greens with avocado, cucumber, and marinated mushrooms? Or spinach and garden peas with fresh mint and dill? Maybe you have a favorite cold soup combination that you would like to share!

Over the next couple days I will be sharing weekly recipes and shopping lists for an August Green Smoothie Challenge. My hope is to have the recipes posted this weekend so that you can be prepared. You can use my recipes, or come up with your own. The goal will be to try to drink at least one green smoothie a day (Mike and I will be drinking ours for breakfast). If you are new to green smoothies you may want to check out my post from last January: New Year’s Green Smoothie Challenge.

We can keep each other updated on our favorite green smoothie combinations during August so please make sure to stop by my Facebook Page and give it a “like”. I will create a hashtag on Instagram too. In the meantime, please sign up for email updates of my posts. Follow me on Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram, and Twitter and thank you for joining me on the journey to eat more fruit and vegetables. Cheers to our health!

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Raw Zucchini Noodles with Lemon Basil Pesto

 

Raw Zucchini Noodles with Lemon Basil Pesto by Produce with Amy

“…we opened
two halves
of a miracle,
congealed acid
trickled
from the hemispheres
of a star,
the most intense liqueur
of nature,
unique, vivid,
concentrated…
-Pablo Neruda Ode to a Lemon

If you are like me, the mere thought of both lemon and basil can make your mouth water. Coming in second to taste – is their fragrance. I have always been enamored with the scent of basil and in the summer I make sure to plant many packets of basil seeds in my container garden. I have always said that I could bathe in water perfumed with the bruised leaves of basil (and maybe I have).

Pesto by Produce with Amy

Pesto is one of my favorite flavors and I love to freeze it for a taste of summer when the temperatures outside plunge and I need a mood enhancer. Trust me, pesto has the power to transport one to a beautiful July afternoon.

The pesto recipe that I am sharing today is not a traditional pesto recipe since it does not incorporate pine nuts or parmesan cheese. While I love the addition of pine nuts,

I buy raw nuts in the bulk section of our local co-op. However, I also purchase raw nuts from Target.

I buy raw nuts in the bulk section of our local co-op. However, I also purchase raw nuts from Target.

I did not have them on hand and most of my recipes are assembled by what is in the house. Since raw nuts are one of my protein and pantry staples – I used a raw nut mix that I purchase at Target. Our local food co-op has an incredible selection of raw nuts in the bulk section but they are currently out of my price range. The nuts provide a protein boost and I love the smooth and buttery flavor they give the pesto (trust me…you will not miss the cheese).

I bought a Paderno World Cuisine Spiralizer last summer and I knew that I would love raw zucchini noodles. For years I have enjoyed making summer salads out of thinly sliced zucchini (shingled and layered on a plate) and sprinkled with extra virgin olive oil, leeks or onion, lemon juice, and fresh herbs. It was a technique that I had learned from the Food Network after watching Tyler Florence make a similar salad. He explained that you should let the zucchini sit so the acids in the lemon juice soften and “cook” the squash.

The spiralizer makes easy work of processing the zucchini and I suggest letting the salad rest at least an hour before eating. It does taste better the longer the ingredients marry so it is the perfect dish to make for a gathering.

When I made this recipe last week my husband and I ate the zucchini noodles as they are pictured but normally I add in extra produce. Some of my favorite additions are tomatoes (fresh or sun-dried), colored bell peppers,  spinach, mushrooms, olives, and even roasted or boiled red or Yukon gold potatoes (the potatoes are incredible when they are folded into the cold zucchini noodles when they are still hot. When they are warm the potatoes really absorb the pesto).

 

PestoRAW ZUCCHINI NOODLES WITH LEMON BASIL PESTO

  • 3 small zucchini spiralized
  • Fresh basil (approximately 1 cup…loosely packed. I used a combination of sweet basil and lemon basil that I have in my garden)
  • 1/4 cup of raw nuts 
  • 1 large clove of garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon of fresh chives (optional. In the summer since I have chives in my garden I add them to everything)
  • Juice and zest of one lemon (if you are using bottled lemon juice – 1/4 – 1/2 cup depending on how tart you like the pesto)
  • 1/8 – 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil (I do not add the oil to my pesto but instead add oil to the top of the dish before serving for portion control)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Add the basil, nuts, garlic, chives, lemon juice and zest, and salt and pepper to a blender and blend until smooth.

I added approximately 3/4 of the pesto to the spiralized zucchini and let it sit for a couple hours in the refrigerator. I let the bowl sit out for 20-30 minutes before serving since I like this dish closer to room temperature. The remaining pesto I will use for dinner this week.

Raw Zucchini Noodles with Pesto

Printable recipe: RAW ZUCCHINI NOODLES WITH LEMON BASIL PESTO

Pin the zucchini HERE.

These raw zucchini noodles with pesto would make a great layer for a jar salad and they make a great salad bed (in place of or with greens) or as an accompaniment to your favorite grilled items. I love to top mine with a giant grilled portabella mushroom cap or vegetable kebobs.

Raw Zucchini Pesto Noodles

If you are interested in other zucchini noodle recipes make sure you check out my Zucchini Noodle Soup.

Scarlet Salads in a Jar with Cherry Chipotle VinaigretteI also love to spiralize raw beets to use in salads, check out my Scarlet Salad recipe.

Please make sure to stop by my Facebook Page and give it a “like” and sign up for email updates of my posts. Follow me on Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram, and Twitter.

I hope that you enjoy this simple pesto recipe and I would love to hear back from you if you try it. In the next couple days be on the lookout for my favorite cold savory green soup recipe and shortly I will be sharing printable recipes and a shopping list for an August Green Smoothie Challenge. I thought that a green smoothie a day would be a great way to celebrate summer fruit and produce  and I hope that you will join me!
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Zucchini Noodle Soup

“Happiness must be grown in one’s own garden. ” 
― Mary Engelbreit

Zucchini Noodle Soup by Produce with AmyThe topic of last week’s Weight Watchers meeting was one after my own heart — “The Power of Produce”. My mom always tells me that she knew when I was growing up that I would become a vegetarian one day, because fruit and vegetables were always my first choice when it came to snacks and meals. However, I admit that when I joined Weight Watchers in 2006 – my methods of cooking vegetables were not always the healthiest. Long periods of time would pass without fresh produce in our house. Life was busy and my husband Mike and I would often go on a large grocery run once or twice a month. This resulted in limited options when fresh supplies ran low. Not to mention the obscene amount of produce that was tossed out because we did not make fruit and vegetables a priority like we do now. Currently I make at least one grocery trip a week (sometimes 2 or 3) and my cart is always full of fresh and frozen produce.

Last week at my WW meetings we discussed how bulking up meals with fruit and vegetables not only helps you stay full (due to the fiber, water, vitamin, and mineral content in produce) but it also has a psychological impact by visually making your plate look full. When I joined WW, I found that adding a side of raw carrots and celery to a sandwich made me feel more satisfied and did not make me feel deprived. Before I joined WW my husband and I always had rice, pasta, or potatoes as a side to dinner entrees and when I learned about the Points system, I started preparing 0 Points Plus vegetables instead.

Last summer I purchased a Paderno World Cuisine Spiralizer to make vegetable noodles. While I am not a fan of kitchen gadgets, this is one that I recommend.

Last week at my Monday night meeting, my friend Wendy, shared that she bought a Veggetti. She said that her sister makes zucchini noodles daily and that she makes them into a soup with broth. What a great idea! While most of my soup recipes make 10-12 cups of soup (I like to have extra to freeze) in a post from the winter of 2013, I shared how I am known to assemble a bowl of spontaneous soup. After hearing about Wendy’s sister, I decided that I would make a bowl of Zucchini Noodle Soup.

Yesterday was the perfect day for healthy comfort food. I subbed a WW meeting in the morning and when I left the house it was 49 degrees. Spotty rain and gray skies made it a day of napping with our cats, taking a hot bath, reading, and soup. From start to finish this bowl of soup took fifteen minutes at most (including gathering and prepping the ingredients). I did not purchase special ingredients but selected what I had on hand.

ZUCCHINI NOODLE SOUP

  • 2 cups of vegetable broth
  • 1 cup of spiralized zucchini
  • 2 teaspoons of coconut oil
  • 5 fresh pea pods 
  • 3 thin slices of leek
  • 3 mushrooms sliced
  • 1 clove of finely minced garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon of chopped onion
  • 1 Tablespoon of chopped, fresh chives
  • 1/2 carrot peeled and chopped
I bought this chili sauce from Target. I love its heat - but be careful because it's spicy!

I bought this chili sauce from Target. I love its heat – but be careful because it’s spicy!

  • 1/2 teaspoon of chili sauce
  • 1/4 cup of chopped, fresh tomato
  • 1/4 cup of chopped cilantro (if you do not like cilantro parsley works well)
  • Splash of soy sauce
  • Splash of rice vinegar

Saute the onion, garlic, leeks, mushrooms, carrots in the coconut oil for 3-4 minutes.

Add the vegetable broth, pea pods, tomatoes, and chili sauce.

Bring to a boil.

Add the zucchini and remove from the heat (I wanted the zucchini to be al dente).

Ladle into a bowl and add the soy sauce, rice vinegar, and garnish with the cilantro.

Thank you to Wendy for the great idea of making Zucchini Noodle Soup! This week I am going to make a bowl each day for lunch or to eat with dinner.

Tonight I am planning to make an Italian version with the following ingredients:
Broth, zucchini noodles, onion, garlic, celery, fresh herbs from my garden (basil, oregano, and chives), 3 Tablespoons of marinara sauce (leftover in the refrigerator), mushrooms,  and red bell pepper.

I am also imagining a curry inspired soup with:
Broth, zucchini noodles, garlic, onion, 3 Tablespoons of light coconut milk (I have some in the freezer), sweet potato, chopped tomato, fresh ginger root, curry powder (to taste), a squeeze of lime juice, and fresh cilantro.

How about a Mexican inspired soup?:
Broth, zucchini noodles, garlic, onion, homemade taco seasoning, tomatoes, bell pepper, black beans, and top with fresh cilantro and cubed avocado.

Or a refreshing lemon dill:
Broth, zucchini noodles, garlic, onion, celery, fennel, fresh lemon juice and zest, spinach, and loads of fresh dill.

A lovely garden pea and mint:
Broth, zucchini noodles, garlic, onion, fresh garden peas (you could puree or leave whole), and fresh mint.

This month I celebrate my seventh anniversary of reaching Lifetime status with Weight Watchers and I believe in the power of produce. I also believe in the power of a well stocked refrigerator, pantry, and fruit and vegetables bowls on the counter. Let your imagination and what you have on hand be your guide. If you make a spontaneous bowl of soup I would love to hear the combination that you create. Social networking allows us the opportunity to learn, share, and grow in healthy ideas together.

Please make sure to stop by my Facebook Page and give it a “like” and sign up for email updates of my posts. Follow me on Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram, and Twitter.

If you want other soup ideas make sure you check out my Soup tab at the top of the page. .
In the next week I will be sharing my recipe for a raw zucchini noodle dish that features a lemon basil pesto and my favorite cold green soup (think savory green smoothie in a bowl).

Thank you for your comments, feedback, and support. As Produce with Amy nears the milestone of 100,000 views – I am thrilled and humbled.  I  feel thankful that there has been so much interest in my recipes. I love sharing my creativity and passion for healthy food. Thank you!

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Flowers from my garden.

Flowers from my garden.

 

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.

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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.

 

 

 

Vegetable Filled Pasta Salad with Artichoke Hearts, Capers, & Dill

Vegetable Pasta Salad with Artichoke Hearts, Capers, and Dill by Produce with Amy“Woods were ringed with a colour so soft, so subtle that it could scarcely be said to be a colour at all. It was more the idea of a colour – as if the trees were dreaming green dreams or thinking green thoughts.” – Susanna Clarke

Mike and Phoebe on the Heritage Trail I think it is safe to say that winter in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan is over. Today, on the 1st of June, it feels like we have been given a fresh start. To celebrate I broke open a fresh journal – clean pages – just like today’s freshly washed sky. Last week – Mike, Phoebe, and I enjoyed the blissful weather. The freshly minted leaves startled our senses, so green and new that they jolted us awake. As we hiked, the air itself appeared green. Vibrations of chartreuse permeated our vision like a green haze. It made our hearts soar and we were thankful.

GardenYesterday I started my container garden and decided that instead of buying ornamental fillers (vines and greenery) for my flower boxes,  I will use edible plants. I planted cilantro, parsley, dill, and basil. Instead of using morning glories as climbers, I planted peas and beans. I cannot wait to watch them progress over the summer. Our perennial herbs planted outside (chives, sage, oregano, thyme, mint, and lavender) are starting to flourish with the warm temperatures. I earned 5 Activity Points Plus hauling planters from the basement and did lots of squats weeding.

The school year is rushing to a close and I have six more days with my students before summer break is here. My goal for the summer is to share a minimum of two blog posts a week. My journal is quickly filling up with potential ideas and recipes. Though, I have been busy, I have continued to eat healthy and my favorite lunch or dinner for the past couple weeks has been vegetable filled pasta salad. I have been tracking Points Plus on weekends and sticking with the Simply Filling Technique on weekends. This way of eating, partnered with increased activity, has helped me lose 5 pounds in the last three weeks.

The salad that I am sharing today consists of 100% Power Foods. I am trying to reduce my intake of sugary fruit and am trying to incorporate more vegetables (I do eat fruit and am currently eating berries, green apples, and grapefruit – with small amounts of other fruit in my green smoothies).

A couple weeks ago, the topic in the Weight Watchers weekly handout was fiber. One of the high fiber foods that was mentioned was artichokes. I love artichoke hearts in salad and on pizza so I decided to incorporate some into my lunch for the week.

This photo was taken a couple years ago at my brother Jamie's on Christmas. I was making him artichoke dip...one of his favorites.

This photo was taken a couple years ago at my brother Jamie’s on Christmas. I was making him artichoke dip…one of his favorites.

Salad by Produce with Amy

VEGETABLE FILLED PASTA SALAD WITH ARTICHOKE HEARTS, CAPERS, & DILL

  • 4 cups of cooked whole wheat penne pasta (approximately 1/2 box of 13.25 ounce pasta)
  • 1 – 14 ounce can of artichoke heartsVegetables
  • 1 pint of halved grape tomatoes
  • 1 chopped yellow bell pepper
  • 3 cups of asparagus (I was going to use broccoli but our neighbor brought over wild asparagus that he picked)
  • 3 peeled and chopped carrots
  • 4 ribs of chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup of chopped onion
  • 3.5 ounces of capers (drained)
  • Fresh chopped dill to taste (I used one small clamshell that I purchased in the produce section)

DRESSING

  • 3/4 cup of red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice (1 juiced lemon and zest ~ if you use fresh)
  • 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard (spicy brown mustard also works well)
  • 1 clove of minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano 
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil (I am going to add 2 teaspoons of oil to each serving for portion control)

Chop all the ingredients and mix in large bowl. This salad makes approximately 12 cups. My husband and I will eat it all week. If you want a smaller portion you could reduce all the ingredients.

This salad would make a fantastic addition to a cook out or gathering. It takes better the longer it sits and will stay fresh for over a week (7-10 days).

Printable Recipe: VEGETABLE FILLED PASTA SALAD WITH ARTICHOKE HEARTS

Vegetable Filled Pasta Salad with Artichoke Hearts, Capers, and Dill by Produce with Amy

 

If you like this salad you may want to check out my other salad recipes.

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 would love to hear from you. 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 this summer.

Phoebe met two adorable Corgis down the street from our house.

Phoebe met two adorable Corgis down the street from our house.

Our neighborhood is bursting with spring!

Our neighborhood is bursting with spring!

My first flowers from my garden this season: Bleeding Hearts and Lily of the Valley.

My first flowers from my garden this season: Bleeding Hearts and Lily of the Valley with some of my vintage glass.

Creamy Asparagus Soup ~ 100% Plant-Based

Creamy Asparagus Soup by Produce with Amy“The deep roots never doubt spring will come.” 
― Marty Rubin

Dare I be bold enough to say that spring has arrived? Yesterday was Easter Sunday and Mike and I stole outside to walk our dog Phoebe. We remembered to go slow. Last year, in our exuberance, we pushed her too fast and too far. Her poor little hips and legs grew sore and she limped around for a couple of days. This year we made a promise to acclimate her muscles slowly with short loops around our neighborhood until she can manage longer walks.

After a long winter, we cannot help but feel the symptoms of cabin fever. Even our indoor cats jumped from window-to-window yesterday to watch the birds and feel the warm breeze on their fur.

To add to the delight, my flowers are already starting to wake-up. Shoots of tiger lilies, tulips, poppies, and bleeding hearts are starting to inch forward and tingle with life. Of course, I had my camera ready to document their growth.
Spring GrowthI wanted to make a spring dish that I could enjoy all week so I decided to make asparagus

I use my Vitamix blender to puree the cauliflower and white beans.

I use my Vitamix blender to puree the cauliflower and white beans.

soup. This soup gets its creamy body from a puree of white beans and roasted cauliflower, It was simple to assemble and tastes delicious and satisfying. Plus, the protein from the white beans makes it especially filling. If you are a Weight Watchers member, an added benefit is that it is composed of 100% Power Foods and works well with Simple Start and the Simply Filling Technique.

I always make a large batch of soup to eat for the entire week (with several servings to freeze). If you do not want as much soup you may want to cut the recipe in half.

CREAMY ASPARAGUS SOUP

  • 8 cups of vegetable  broth
  • 2 cups of roasted cauliflower (I cut the head in pieces, drizzled with melted coconut oil, spread on a baking sheet, and roasted at 450 for 30 minutes. Flip at the 15 minute mark. You could use all of the cauliflower in the soup but I reserved some to eat on salads or as a side with dinner this week)
  • 2 cups of white beans
  • 1 bunch of chopped asparagus (discard the woody ends)
  • 1 small chopped onion
  • 4 ribs of chopped celery
  • 3 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 Tablespoon of coconut oil (or your oil of choice)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Add the cauliflower and bean pureeSaute the onion, celery, and garlic in coconut oil until soft. Puree the cauliflower and white beans in a blender with a couple of cups of the vegetable stock until silky smooth. You can puree the onion, celery, and garlic too but I like to leave them whole.

Add the vegetable stock and the pureed mixture to the sautéed ingredients. Bring to a boil.

Add the chopped asparagus and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Remove from the heat.

If you prefer the asparagus to be a bit crisp, once the soup comes to a boil remove it from the heat and add the asparagus. Add salt and pepper to taste. Ladle into a bowl and enjoy.

Broccoli or kale would be a healthy addition to this soup and it would be lovely served with a fresh drizzle of lemon juice, lemon zest, and even fresh dill.

Printable recipe: CREAMY ASPARAGUS SOUP

Creamy Asparagus Soup

If you like this soup you may want to check out my other soup recipes.

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

If you try this recipe, please let me know what you think. I would love to hear from you. Thank you for joining me in the journey to eat more fruit and vegetables. Together we can thrive and embrace a healthy lifestyle. We are worth the time and energy that it takes to prepare a healthy meal. 

Creamy Asparagus Soup for Spring

Asparagus