New Year, New Routine

Hey, y’all!  I’ve been busy getting my life in order and finishing up Christmas projects that are, as of this writing, only three weeks late.  Blurgh. I’ll never learn that one person’s “weekend knitting project” is my “two-week-long-project-because-I-can’t-stop-looking-for-new-things-to-make-and-chasing-my-pets-around-trying-to-keep-them-from-eating/licking/destroying-everything-in-my-apartment” project.

One thing I have taken time to do is to work on eating better now that I’m settled in and happy.  My body type belies my love of vegetables.  They are, really, my favorite thing.  I could eat lima beans for EVERY meal and be okay.  Seriously.  So, I made a plan to get just organized enough to ensure a healthy dose of fibrous greenery (and orangery and redery) in my life on the daily basis.  Bonus is, it’s Pinterest-approved eating.  And, by that I mean, I got the idea from Pinterest, and as it turns out, it wasn’t my typical Pinterest-fail.  I actually got this one — these salads in a jar — right.

5 little salads, sitting on a shelf.  I will eat them all myself.
5 little salads, sitting on a shelf. I will eat them all myself.

Because I was new to the experience, I didn’t go too crazy experimenting, just stuck to what I know I like — Greek Salad, Buffalo Chicken Salad, and a Thai-style salad. I’ve had all three so far, and can say that they keep really well — I had one today that’d been jarred up since Sunday and it was as crisp and fresh as when I made it.  I think the canning jars do a great job of keeping moisture out, at least better than a plastic tub would.  My favorite so far is the Greek salad, but they’ve all been good.  I’m going to try some new ones (keeping the Greek, though) this weekend.

Since a couple of you asked me, here are the recipes I used, all using quart-sized Ball Canning jars.  That sounds big, but it’s mostly lettuce which has negative calories, as far as I’m concerned.

GREEK SALAD IN A JAR:

Ingredients:

  • 1-Quart Canning Jar (do not eat this, though)
  • Marzetti’s Simply Dressed Lemon Vinaigrette (you could use something else, but this was terrific)
  • Romaine lettuce (chop it up!)
  • Shredded carrots
  • Chopped celery
  • Chopped red onion
  • Chopped cucumber (seeded, skin-on)
  • Sliced kalamata olives packed in oil (get them­­ from the grocery store olive bar if you have one)
  • Shredded/pulled chicken (I used chicken breast because it came already shredded and I am lazy, but you could use light and dark meat) I bought the equivalent of 1.5 chicken breasts and used that to make 5 salads. You don’t need a lot.
  • Low-salt Feta cheese

The fun is that you don’t really have to measure anything, just use your eyeballs. The work that you have to is:

  • Slice up the olives if they’re not already sliced
  • Chop up the chicken – this helps a little go a long way
  • Chop up the romaine – which is fun and a stress reliever
  • Chop up the celery
  • Chop up the cucumbers and be sure to remove the seeds — lots of liquid there!

Build your salad:

  • Put 2-3 tablespoons of dressing in the bottom of your jar. Swirl it around so it covers all the bottom of the jar.
  • Put in the hearty vegetables first, like this:
    • A handful of celery first. Spread it around in the bottom so it’s all in contact with the dressing.
    • A handful of the shredded carrot next
    • Then the cucumber
    • Then, the chopped red onion – you don’t have to chop it, but it makes it easier to layer if it’s small
  • Then, I put the chicken. About ¼ of a cup at most
  • Then, the olives
  • Then, the feta
  • Then as much lettuce as you can smush up in that jar.

It was DELICIOUS:

Day 1 Lunch!
Day 1 Lunch!

BUFFALO CHICKEN SALAD IN A JAR:

Ingredients:

  • 1-Quart Canning Jar (do not eat this, though)
  • Marie’s Yogurt Bleu Cheese Dressing (again, pick your favorite, but use a yogurt based one if you want to cut down on the calories)
  • Romaine lettuce (chop it up!)
  • Shredded carrots (you can buy this bagged)
  • Chopped celery
  • Chopped, seeded celery, skin on
  • Frank’s Red Hot Sauce (or some other, but Frank’s is THE BEST!)
  • Shredded/pulled chicken (see previous)
  • Bleu Cheese crumbles (or, buy a block and crumble it yourself, but a block of cheese in the house is dangerous in my world, so …)

Again, you don’t really have to measure anything, just use your eyeballs. The work that you have to is:

  • Chop up the chicken – this helps a little go a long way
  • Chop up the romaine – which is fun and a stress reliever
  • Chop up the celery
  • Chop up the cucumber (see previous re: seeding that sucker!)

Build your salad:

  • Put 2-3 tablespoons of dressing in the bottom of your jar and add hot sauce – I shook that jar of sauce a bunch of times, maybe for a teaspoon’s worth, but you do what you feel comfortable with.) Use a knife or a chopstick to mix up the hot sauce and the dressing, taste it and when you’re good, swirl it all around so it covers all the bottom of the jar.
  • Put in the hearty vegetables first, like this:
    • A handful of celery first. Spread it around in the bottom so it’s all in contact with the dressing.
    • A handful of cucumber next
    • A handful of the shredded carrot next
  • Then, I put the chicken. About ¼ of a cup at most
  • Then, the bleu cheese
  • Then as much lettuce as you can smush up in that jar.

THAI-STYLE CHICKEN SALAD IN A JAR:

Ingredients:

  • 1-Quart Canning Jar (do not eat this, though)
  • Maple Grove Sesame Ginger Dressing (again, pick your favorite if you don’t like/can’t find this one)
  • Romaine lettuce (chop it up!)
  • Shredded carrots (you can buy this bagged)
  • Chopped celery
  • Chopped cucumber (see previous – no seeds!)
  • Slivered almonds or chopped peanuts, whichever you can find/prefer
  • Shredded/pulled chicken (see previous)
  • Shredded cabbage

Once again, your eyeballs do the measuring. The work is that you have to:

  • Chop up the chicken – this helps a little go a long way
  • Chop up the romaine – which is fun and a stress reliever
  • Chop up the celery
  • Seed and chop up the cucumber

Build your salad:

  • Put 2-3 tablespoons of dressing in the bottom of your jar
  • Put in the hearty vegetables first, like this:
    • A handful of celery first. Spread it around in the bottom so it’s all in contact with the dressing.
    • Then the cucumber
    • A handful of the shredded carrot next
    • Then, the shredded cabbage
    • You could add onion, too, if you want, as I think it would be good in this, but I ran out of onions (or, to be honest, I didn’t feel like cutting any more) and it was fine without.)
  • Then, I put the chicken. About ¼ of a cup at most
  • Then, nuts
  • Then, of course, as much lettuce as you can smush up in that jar.

NOTE:  You can assembly line these if you’re not making more than three types at once.  It only took me about 30 minutes to make lunches for 5 days.  Also, I don’t like my salads to be super cold, so while I take one and put it in the fridge at work in the morning, I take it out about 20 minutes before lunch so it can get to room temperature. It also makes it easier for the dressing to “loosen up” and I can shake the jar up to distribute it.

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