My name is Nikki, and I am a Mason Jar Enthusiast! Why you ask? Many reasons: jars

Airtight Seal: Once the lid is screwed on tight, it creates an airtight seal. This ensures a) freshness as well as b) a no-leak guarantee

Easy To Clean: Pop these babies in the dishwasher, or wash in hot water. Oils and food residue are removed easily.

Non-porous: Glass doesn’t absorb your food, and unlike plastic, tin, or aluminum, nothing from your glass container will leach into your food. It’s a win-win situation. Everything stays where it belongs. Glass being non-porous also means that it can be fully sterilized properly. Three cheers for germ-free!

$: Mason Jars are not expensive. Plus they’re reusable! They also keep your food fresher for longer, so it lessens the chance of food spoilage/waste.

Quick & Easy: You can make several jar meals (especially salads) at once. I make a week’s-worth on a Sunday, and I’m set for work for the next five days. I just grab & go. This jar meal concept has saved me time, energy, and money. Can I get a three cheers once more? Hip Hip Hooray! Hip Hip Hooray! Hip Hip Hooray!

Portion Control: If you are at all concerned with over eating, the Mason Jar Meals are for you. They make it easy to control the size of your meals as the portions allowed in a Mason Jar are set. You just have to be sure to choose the appropriate jar size. No desserts in quart jars ladies & gents …. haha.

Photo_2Ok, on to the RULES (and we all know how much I like rules! and if you don’t, I like rules A LOT, haha!) With this post I am going to focus on making Jar Salads. You can store pretty much any meal in a Mason Jar, but there is an art to the perfect Jar Salad. Here are some tips on how to fully maximize the benefits of this meal storage genius (which happens to have been around FOREVER by the way!) …

The key to a successful Jar Salad is LAYERING. Packing the ingredients in tight layers ensures freshness, crispness, and flavour maximization.

I use 500 ml (2 cup) Wide Mouth Mason Jars. I recommend Wide Mouth Mason, because the extra width makes it much easier to put items into the jars, and take them out.

Now. Onto the art of LAYERING:

1) Add 2 tablespoons of dressing of choice to the bottom of the jar. I like to add the spices here as I usually only use cold-pressed olive oil and wine vinegar or raw apple cider vinegar as my dressing. I like to mix up the spices and dried herbs, so each day has a different flavour. Some of my favourites are: fennel, rosemary, dill, smoked paprika and onion powder. I also like to add a sprinkle of sea salt and either freshly cracked black pepper or lemon pepper to my dressings. Mood and ingredients depending of course 🙂

2) If using, this is where you add your raw onions and garlic. Having them soak in the dressing actually dulls the potency of these allium Photo_3vegetables (species of onions, garlic, etc.) lessening the risk of bad breath. In other words, “garlic breath” for example, won’t be a worry if you place your raw garlic at the bottom of your Mason Jars, soaking in dressing.

3) Next you want to layer your hard vegetables. Carrots, bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, chickpeas, etc. This ensures that your softer vegetables, grains, legumes and greens, are not exposed to the dressing, and in turn, won’t become soggy as a result.

Photo_14) Continue to layer in your ingredients of choice, packing the layers as tight as possible. You don’t want any excess air in between layers, as it will affect the freshness of your Jar Salad. I like to pack down each layer with a spatula to ensure each one is nice and tight.

5) Greens and fresh herbs should be layered last and furthest away from the dressing. If you would like to add nuts, seeds, or firm nut-cheese, you can sprinkle them on top. Softer nut-cheeses can be layered in the middle.

 

6) When ready to eat, just empty into a bowl, give it a quick stir, then chow down!

I like to use grains and legumes in every Jar Salad to ensure I am getting an adequate amount of calories, protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats. My grains of choice are: quinoa, whole grain couscous, Israeli couscous, barley, bulgar and brown rice. You can actually add any pasta or noodle instead as well. I’d opt for a buckwheat (complete protein as well as gluten-free) or vermicelli (gluten-free). Organic corn and quinoa pastas would also be healthy choices 🙂  Photo

As for legumes, let’s talk a bit about them before I reveal my favourites. Legumes are a class of vegetables made up of beans, peas, and lentils. They are super versatile and ultra nutritious. They’re high in “good” fat and low in “bad” fat, cholesterol-free, and are packed full of micronutrients such as folate, potassium, iron and magnesium. Always be sure to soak your legumes!  Why you ask?To make them easier to digest, that’s why! And easy digestion makes for a happy camper! None of this Beans Beans the Musical Fruit nonsense!

legumesSoaking legumes for many hours before cooking them will produces a lot of scum, which is course, is rinsed and drained away when the soaking is complete. (If using canned legumes, be sure to rinse THOROUGHLY before use to avoid any adverse digestive issues later on.)

What is all that scum anyway?  Anti-nutrients, that’s what!  And those anti-nutrients such as phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors are going to be in your gut possibly causing you gas, heartburn, and even reflux (here are the 12 most typical silent reflux symptoms). So let’s avoid that possibility, and SOAK SOAK SOAK! My legumes of choice: split peas, chickpeas, lentils and haricot beans.

So there you go! Easy Peasy! Now go and experiment with your own Mason Jar Meals. There are SO MANY VARIETIES to work with, and that makes it FUN and never BORING. WOOOOT! 

Note: if you choose to add meat of any kind, do so the day of, and place on top to ensure freshness and avoid spoilage.

Other Mason Jar Meal ideas include: oats

– overnight oats 

– smoothies

– fresh juice

– leftovers

You can even HEAT your Mason Jar meals! Just remember to remove the lids first before you microwave. If you are not a fan of the good ol’ microwave (I use mine very sparingly), you can empty contents into a pot and heat on the stove instead.

 

 

 

 

References: Mason Jar Salads by Julia Mirabella and also thehealthyhomeeconomist.com