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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

One Hour, FIVE delicious Salads!

With a new school year just around the corner, I'm realizing that my calm, easy morning routine is about to explode!  No longer will I have time to sip my morning green juice while I surf pinterest for dinner recipes... and certainly no time to make my lunch for the day!  I find that the most challenging part of sticking with my healthy eating lifestyle is planning.  If I zip home for lunch without a plan - and with limited time, I'm likely going to make a less than healthy choice, simply out of convenience.  That is why I make jar salads for the work week!  One mess, one hour, FIVE delicious, healthy, fresh salads!

I've documented my process here for those of you who are visual (like me!) 


Step one:  Prep any and all potential salad ingredients!  You could pull some good salad recipes and be very methodical about your salad creations.  I'm more of a "wing it" gal.  I've prepped a good variety of typical salad ingredients, and not so typical ingredients.

GREENS!  Romaine (organic!) is very receptive to "salads in a jar".  This method of preserving will keep your greens very green and fresh and crisp!  To make 5 salads, I chop up 3 heads of Romaine.  I also use about 3 cups of baby spinach (also organic!)  I toss these all together to rinse and then I spin them in my salad spinner to reduce the moisture.


The Usual Suspects:  
Cucumber
Onion,
Mushrooms,
Peppers
Tomato

The not-so usual Suspects:
Black Beans
Garbanzo Beans
Roasted Red Peppers
Artichoke hearts
Hearts of Palm
Corn
Quinoa
Sprouts
Nuts and seeds
Fruit! (ALL kinds!)

I eat a plant based diet, so you won't find cheese or eggs in my salads.  But if those are in your plan, go for it!

DRESSING!  The nice thing about jar salads is that you can incorporate your dressing without risk of your greens getting soggy.  The trick is putting the dressing in first - in the bottom of the jar.  I used to use bottled dressings, but I've found so many amazing recipes that I now make all of my own dressings!  Most of mine are oil free - but occasionally I'll use a little olive or grapeseed oil.  My FAVORITE is just tossing a couple of tomatoes into my blender with a handful of basil.  Zip it up and you're done!  I also tend to use fruit in place of dressing.  Watermelon is my FAVORITE!  Although, tomatoes and mango blended together are amazing!!!  (who knew?!)

Assembly:
Like I said, I'm a "wing it" gal, so I pour some dressing in the bottom of the jars and then I just start building.  A little of this... a little of that.  OH!  How about a Southwestern Salad for this jar :)  Yes, please!  Some beans, corn, roasted red peppers, cilantro ....  When you're satisfied with your ingredients, start shoving in the greens.  I stuff them as tight as I can!  (I like a BIG salad!)







Seal them up!:
To get a seal that allows you to make salads 5-7 days ahead of when you're going to eat them, you really need access to a food saver.  You'll also need a special attachment that goes over the mouth of the jar.  http://www.amazon.com/FoodSaver-T03-0006-02P-Regular-Mouth-Jar-Sealer/dp/B000UQ428A/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1377711469&sr=8-3&keywords=food+saver+mason+jar+sealer



Put the flat canning jar lid over the mouth of the jar (make sure the rim is clean and dry).  Slide (more like shove!) the attachment over the top and then vacuum the air out.  You'll be able to see the liquid at the bottom bubbling up a little bit.



When the vacuum stops, pull the sealer off and screw on your threaded jar top.
Voila!  Salad in a jar!


EAT IT!!!  When you're ready to eat, just pop open a jar (you'll need to pry the vacuum sealed lid off), and dump the contents into a bowl.  You'll need a larger bowl than you think!  You stuffed a lot of delicious goodness into that jar.  Once freed from the jar, you'll see that it is the perfectly assembled salad, with the lettuce on the bottom, then the myriad of other ingredients, topped with dressing.  If I want fruit or avocado on my salad, I add it now - rather than include it in the jar.  (I don't want the perfect flavor of the fruit mixing too much with the rest of the salad ingredients.. And avocados just don't last long once you open them up.)

 That's it!  Super easy - and so convenient.  You will LOVE the freedom you feel at lunch time when all you have to do is open the jar and dig your fork into your beautiful luscious salad!!

Enjoy!!



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