Mason Jar Salads

10 Nov

Lunch at my workplace is somewhat convenient but not at all healthy. I have been working for almost three and a half months there and have eaten their lunch maybe 3 times at the absolute most. Salads are considered to be a concoction of iceberg lettuce, shredded cheese, croutons, and bacon bits, with a heaping side of ranch! Yes, years ago this would have sounded so “healthy” to me, and now I cringe at the thought of it! I truly feel that when it comes to nutrition, I know my stuff really, really well. I feel that my friends around me think I’m the healthiest eater and don’t enjoy going out to eat with me or coming over to eat. I have been explicitly told that my food is “too healthy” to “really eat, eat!” I laugh because I know that in most of our minds, that’s the way we think. We’re so addicted to highly processed foods full of additives and chemicals that literally trigger satisfactory sensors in our brain that make us feel satiated. It took me a bit to change my eating habits and even now I struggle A LOT with binging. I’ve always have had the appetite of a grown man- and sometimes I eat (and can drink) more than a lot of men I know. Ask my husband and the 4 grown men I have lunch with every single day at work! haha! Because of my heavy appetite and rushed schedule, I eat a lot- and rather quickly. My goals are always to eat slower and pace myself. It’s so hard!! Anyway, I really pride myself in all my cooking- super healthy or super indulgent- and think that it’s pretty damn good, haha! If I can change my husband’s mind on nutrition, I feel that I can motivate pretty much anyone as long as they are committed. He used to hate veggies and pretty much anything “healthy.” If he didn’t have his meat and cheese everyday, he was grumpy and unsatisfied. Now, he craves greens and orders only the cheese- true story! We still absolutely indulge and enjoy fast food, junk food, and all things meaty/cheesy; if you ask anyone who knows me well, they know to keep Spicy Doritos away from me because I can finish a family bag in one sitting. Add a Coke from a can and I melt. Even worse, nachos is probably my favorite cheat food in the world….however, we love leading healthy lifestyles that include regular exercise and nutrition.

I am currently a few days away from my first (and probably only) half marathon. I have been training with my girlfriend since the summer. We definitely have overtrained and are really over running at this point. I also need an MRI for my hip area as I have a strain or tear that has spread from my hip –> groin–> quad–>knee. Running is not enjoyable when I only have a full stride on one leg and the other kinda drags! :/ I saw a chiropractor and a Physical Therapist. The former said one leg is shorter than the other and my hip muscles can’t compensate for it so they tense up too much. The PT said it was a tear/strain and I should immediately stop running. Well, that’s not an option for me, so I continue through the pain and hopefully I’ll reach my goal. I want to come in at 1:59 for my 13.1 mile run! The most and fastest I’ve ran was last weekend: 10.7 miles at 1:34. I’m almost there- just hope my leg, mind, and weather changes cooperate. I’ve been training in AZ’s extreme heat- and my half is in SD by the beach! haha! AND it’s supposed to rain- yay! Except not, because I don’t like rain (see my wedding day)!

Anyway, back to food! I was on Pinterest a few weeks ago and found this link to an awesome idea: salads in a vacuum sealed jar! I thought it was amazing but don’t own a vacuum sealer for food. A few days later, I ran into a pin doing the same thing with mason jars! We have a ton of jars at home that we collect and drink out of (G’s mom & gma have given us a bunch over the years and we love keeping them; his gma keeps ones from food, too) but hardly any have jars. I kept some lettuce in one that had a lid, after seeing the post and the next day it seemed just as crispy. So away we went. Geoff left to the grocery store and bought a dozen 32 oz. mason jars (ours were a lot smaller), and all the fixings for salads! We’re on our second week of doing them and are loving it so much. Everyone at both of our jobs is so impressed and two of the guys are talking about doing it too (I work mainly with men, lol). We made one for one of G’s coworkers who also wanted to try it, too! Another girlfriend of ours started the same week we did and absolutely loved it!

Week Two’s Jars

The main “trick or tip” to it is to made sure that your greens are away from your dressing. & to truly make it healthy, you have to be careful what you add to your salad, including the dressing. We have made mainly our own (balsamic + EVOO- extra virgin olive oil) or sometimes just use lemon.

I don’t follow recipes at all, just go with whatever we have on hand. However, our regular salads are pretty typical for us now and we layer them the same way:

-dressing (approx. 2 tablespoons- you don’t need a lot)

-corn

-beans (pinto, black, or whatever you like)

-tomatoes

-carrots

-mushrooms/olives/cauliflower/bell peppers or broccoli

-romaine lettuce

-almonds/pecans

-slice of lemon on top!

They’re SO versatile!

We also love our take on Greek salads:

-balsamic dressing

-hominy/garbanzo beans

-tomatoes

-cucumbers

-carrots

-feta cheese

-spinach

-almonds

We have also done strawberry salads and pomegranate salads:

-dressing

-pomegranate seeds or strawberries

-nuts

-feta cheese

-tons of spinach

SO yum!

It’s so simple and you can’t go wrong. Think about what veggies you have on hand and which ones you love to typically eat. For example, this week we decided we’d love hard-boiled egg in them so we did! We also were craving some chicken so we bought a rotisserie chicken and shredded some of the breast into the salad that I first posted about! It just really depends on your tastes! You can see the layering in this picture a bit clearer!

Mason Jar Salad Detail Β (from Week 1)

TIPS:

*These salads are pretty huge! The more you pack in the most you’ll have- I have a huge appetite so I take these down like nothing. But you can pack less, shake it all up in the jar and have your salad like that, too!

*Also, these keep in your refrigerator about a week! We actually had one for almost a week and a half and it kept great!

*Pre-wash your produce before using it! Makes it SO much easier when you use it!

*Here is a basic list of veggies to help you get started [but remember to start with the things you already like! It’s YOUR salad:

*romaine lettuce; spinach; bell peppers; tomatoes; carrots; cucumbers; feta cheese; mushrooms; eggs; [chicken, if you’re inclined]; cauliflower; broccoli; strawberries/tangerines/pomegranates and canned beans- pinto/black/white/kidney/etc. [make sure you drain them…rinse for less sodium]! We find that beans make us not miss any meats in our salads!

*Be CAREFUL when shopping for pre made dressings- read your labels- check for sugar, hydrogenated oils, vegetable oil, sodium, carbs and calories. We use balsamic vinegar with extra virgin olive oil and infuse it with the juice from sweet fruit. The last thing you want is to THINK you’re eating healthy, only to realize that your salad is loaded with up to/more than 1000 calories! :/

*I also saw someone using smaller mason jars to make their own yogurt parfaits. That will be my next one! Fresh chopped fruit at the bottom of a mason jar, greek yogurt in the middle, and homemade granola on top! Yum! I currently make my own oatmeal packets every Sunday night so that I have them ready to go every week! In a ziplock bag I put half a cup of oatmeal, a couple of tablespoons of flaxseed and one of cinnamon. In the mornings, I throw it all in the microwave for 2 minutes with a cup of almond milk. While it’s cooking, I chop up whatever fruit we have on hand and take it with me for breakfast! It’s filling, gets my metabolism going, and is so nutritious! I also pack snacks for during the day when I get hungry. I have oatmeal for breakfast, a snack, my mason jar salad, a snack, workout, eat dinner, then have another snack, if I’m tempted to do so!

*I also only drink water most of the day- a lot of it, too! There is such a thing as drinking TOO much water, but my body is used to it. When I first moved to AZ, the most I could drink is a water bottle a week- yes, A WEEK! Now I drink over a gallon a day…lol! & mainly through a straw! I carry my reusable Starbucks venti everywhere I go!

*ENJOY your cheat days! I have the type of personality that obsesses over things that I can’t have! haha! So if I deny myself from what I really want, I am not happy and it becomes all I think about! Of course, I say all things in moderation, but being the binger that I am- I have had a muffin two nights in a row and a 1/4 of the cake both nights, as well. I’m going to freeze one for after this weekend though! lol!

This has been my #1 craving! My husband spoils me!

*and finally, look at the fast food you love and try to recreate it at home. It’s almost a guarantee that if you really put effort into it, you can enjoy it without having to consume major fat/calories. Tonight, we made nachos. Our version that is actually pretty freakin healthy and pretty freakin delicious! :]

“Guiltless Blue Corn Chips,” pinto beans, homemade green salsa, fresh tomatoes, remainder of rotisserie chicken breast, bit of avocado, and a teeny amount of cheese!

ENJOY!!!

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3 Responses to “Mason Jar Salads”

  1. Christie Cisneros November 10, 2011 at 3:57 am #

    Jeanette!!! Thank you so much for posting this!! I have been looking for healthy recipes, I got diagnosed with thyroid disease a couple of months ago, therefore it’s best if I eat healthy! I am sorry to hear about your hip problem. Hopefully all will be ok. I read your other blog entries, and I am going to try some of your recipes!! So exciting!! Again, thank you and I look forward to reading you future blog entries!! πŸ˜‰

    • cooklovelaugh November 10, 2011 at 5:26 am #

      Christie, I am SO sorry to hear about your thyroid! That’s insane!!! If there is anything i can do to help, please let me know! I’ll look up some recipes that may be helpful for you, too! πŸ™‚

      • Christie November 10, 2011 at 4:37 pm #

        Jeanette, yeah the thyroid diseases took a toll on my body. I am slowly gaining energy and feeling a little bit better with the meds, but it sucks! Thank you so much for your kindness J, you are such a thoughtfull person. πŸ˜‰ Girl, I don’t know how you do it! Running with pain! You are such a champ!! Let me know if you need anything too! I know it’s not the same, but I broke my knee cap about 3 years ago, so I feel your pain. Can’t wait for your next blog entry!! Have an amazing day J!!! ❀

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