Happy Wednesday everyone! I’m really feeling the “healthy foods” vibes this week, so I’m super excited to be doing a post about one of my favorite “inventions” in the health world. Yup, you probably have heard about these littlies already- the delicious,adorable, and fun Mason Jar Salads! If you haven’t, they’re all the rage these days. Just take a clean mason jar, pick your favorite bases and greens, and layer them until you have your very own lunch in a cute little container. It’s fast, it’s delicious, and it’s like your very own DIY project that you get to eat. ^^
When it comes to Mason Jar Salads, it’s really up to your own preference. You want the traditional salads? Throw in your kale,spinach, and lettuce. Wanna jazz it up? Add in some pasta, tofu, or Lima beans. But to those who can’t quite come up with the basics, I’ve found this handy little formula for the perfect combination to fit your own taste buds.
Earthbound Farm / Via ebfarm.com
Many people develop misconceptions when it comes to the whole “salad in a jar” idea. In fact, the image that gets conjured up by many is usually just that. Leaves in a cup. So what makes Mason Jar Salads so yummy? Well it’s the layering of flavors of course! As shown in the chart above, you want a mixture of flavors going on in the jar. Add your crunchy and salty protein, and garnish with whatever sweet/tangy ingredient you want.
So what’s the best way to layer a Mason Jar Salad?
Well it really comes down to what you like. There is no wrong or right way to do this, and I am not a health expert, so please don’t think I’m telling you exactly what to do. This is just me sharing with you guys what I know and have learned.But according to experienced Mason Jar Salad users, there is an order that will produce the tastiest salads.
Layer 1- This is your base and the bottom of the jar. The dressing should be in this layer and the very first thing that goes in. *see further post for dressing recommendations* This ensures that the rest of the contents of your jar do not become soggy and limp. And you do not want to open up your jar at lunchtime and dig out pieces of soggy spinach. Ew, right?
Layer 2-This goes right on top of your dressing layer, and it should be your grains/proteins, or the big stuff that will serve as a blockade so the dressing doesn’t gush everywhere.
Layer 3-Then goes your little toppings! *see further down for topping examples* This can include your nuts, little blocks of cheese, etc etc. All in your own preference.
Layer 4- The last and top layer! This is the most important. Your leafy greens! So why do the greens go last? Well think about it. When you turn your jar over onto your plate or bowl, the leaves will go down first, and then the rest in reverse order, until you have the greens on the bottom and the dressing drizzling down from the top. *See below for greens recommendations*
So I have some recommendations of the ingredients I would personally love, and also healthy alternatives so you don’t end up piling things in your salad that would actually make it unhealthy. Yep, it’s true. Did you know salad can end up containing more fats and calories than the Big macs and fries you order at McDonald? It’s all in what you add.
Dressing: So what usually turns a fresh, healthy salad into a fat bomb is the dressing.You want to avoid cream-based dressings such as ranch. For example, Ken’s Buttermilk Ranch contains a whopping 180 calories and 20 g of fat in just two tbsp s. Just that is more than what’s in a cheeseburger. Another example is the Pfeiffer Zesty Garlic Italian. It contains less calories than the Ranch with 100 calories and 10 g of fat, but it contains 600 mg of sodium. Which, if you didn’t know, is ALOT of sodium.
So what kind of dressing should you add?
Natural, oil-based dressings are what you should use for a healthy alternative. They’re light, and you can easily whisk up your own at home. Coming from an Asian family, we always make our own salad dressing. Just add soy sauce, white vinegar, olive oil, dice some garlic, and your good to go! Balsamic vinegar is really good too, but remember not to overdo it as it does contain 133 calories. Any sort of vinaigrette is a good alternative as well. So when you’re browsing through salad dressings, remember to stay away from the fatty cream dressings!
Grains/Proteins: This is where you can start to be creative! You decide how savory you want your salad. Want to turn it into a full on meal? I recommend:
- pieces of steamed/baked, organic chicken breast
- small pieces of smoked salmon
- steamed anything ( meat, vegetables)
- brown rice/quinoa
- boiled egg
- avocado slices
- baby tomatoes
- bell peppers
- cooked bean sprouts
- grated carrots
- sunflower seeds
- dried cranberries
- dried fruit
- blocks of cheese
- sliced fruit
And that’s all I have to say about assembling your very own Mason Jar Salad! Below I’ve found some images of already assembled ones, in case they inspire you to recreate them. (All photos from Buzzfeed)