salad jar shenanigans (happy blogiversary!)

Blogiversary

Today marks one year since my first blog post!! My one year blogiversary. Can you tell I’m excited?!
I’ve come a long way as a blogger in the last year. I started this site to share my recipes and all the fun stuff I create in my kitchen, and it’s been a total learning experience for sure. Of course, not everything came out perfect on the first try, and some recipes I’ve tested and then held back from the blog because I wasn’t fully satisfied with them. I’ve pushed the boundaries of my creativity and had a blast doing it. I hope you have enjoyed reading everything, and I hope you’ve been inspired by my creations! Here’s to another awesome year of pretty, tasty food. I have lots of ideas for 2014, and I hope you’ll enjoy what my brain dreams up.

It’s a new year, and in that relatively small window from January 1st through, say, February 13th, most people have at least a partial goal in mind to lose weight/eat healthier/get more active, or any combination of the three. Whether I verbalize it or not, I usually have some plan in mind to be a better version of myself as the year begins. Those aspirations are so easily shattered, especially once Valentine’s Day rolls around and every store is chock-full of heart-shaped, chocolate-coated everything. Basically, I have zero willpower when it comes to sugar.

Even if I can’t lose 20 pounds or run a marathon by the time this year is out, I can make little changes. Working in a bakery as I do, I’m not only constantly surrounded by sugary, fatty temptation (it’s mostly organic, so there’s that, anyhow), but I also don’t have a scheduled lunch break. I’m free to sit down and eat something whenever I have the time but more often than not, I simply don’t make the time. I feel much more productive in my work if I can just keep going straight through my 8 hour shift without much distraction. If I sit down and eat something for lunch, I have a hard time getting back to the same head space I was in before. It majorly derails my concentration, and ain’t nobody got time for that.

I realized that this was a poor excuse for basically allowing myself to have a shitty diet. The less nutrient-dense and filling foods I eat, the more likely I am to binge on the stray day-old cupcake or vegan donut. Occasionally this is okay, but for a while, I was literally eating at least one cupcake a day. That’s not gonna be good for anybody. I’ve been making a concentrated effort to eat three meals a day, instead of maybe 1 or two plus lots of sugary goodness. The breakfast part has been really easy to incorporate, but I was getting tripped up on lunch. What’s a girl to do for lunchtime inspiration? Why, search Pinterest, that’s what!

Food in jars seem to be all the rage lately, and some of it I don’t really understand. Cupcakes in a jar? Why? At this point, it just becomes a miniature full-sized cake that you have to eat with a spoon from a little glass jar. For all the silly reasons that people have found to put food in jars, there are some good ones, too. Salad in a jar is especially useful! I love me a good, crunchy salad full of interesting stuff, but they’re difficult to make ahead of time because the lettuce wilts and things head toward soggytown. This doesn’t happen when you layer the ingredients in a jar in a very specific way. The dressing goes on the bottom, topped with heavier/wetter ingredients, then lighter/crunchier ingredients on top of that, and the greens go on the top so that they avoid contact with the dressing. No soggy salads here! Apparently, these salads in jars can keep perfectly well for several days without any loss in flavor or texture.

It took me a few hours of prep work to get the ingredients ready for these two varieties of salad, but it’s worth it to know that I’ll have a freshly prepared and perfectly crisp salad when lunchtime arrives! Oh, and rather than going the standard Mason jar route, I decided to use these super handy (and unbreakable!) plastic quart-sized food storage containers with screw-on lids. I’m a little prone to clumsiness, so the idea of toting around a glass jar full of food from home to work without incident struck me as potentially dangerous.

I wanted a little variety with my two salad options, since I plan on alternating them every other day so that I don’t get too bored. I settled on a brussels sprout BLT salad with avocado ranch dressing, and a tex-mex salad with roasted corn and salsa dressing. I made three jars of each salad, so that I can have enough for the whole work week, plus one extra.

When making salads in jars, you can create anything your mind dreams up, as long as you stick to the portioning order mentioned above. Chop up and wash your salad ingredients, do any cooking of meats or blending of dressings, and then the sky’s the limit! They’re colorful and delicious, and best of all, you made it all yourself. Nothing beats a home-cooked lunch, especially if it travels as well as these salad jars do! Warning: your coworkers might be jealous of your pretty salad. Maybe you can share that random 6th jar if you’re feeling particularly generous?

2014-01-12 12.11.05

brussels sprout BLT salad in a jar:
shredded raw brussels sprouts
garlic + cheese croutons
crispy bacon
swiss cheese
baby tomatoes
avocado ranch dressing

avocado ranch dressing
(yields 1 1/2 cups dressing)
1 cup avocado chunks (from one whole medium avocado)
1 cup buttermilk
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbs dried dill (or 4 Tbs fresh)
2 Tbs fresh parsley
2 Tbs fresh chives
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp cider vinegar, or more to taste

This dressing is super easy and infinitely better than the bottled junk. In the bowl of a food processor, puree the avocado with the buttermilk until it’s totally smooth. Add the minced garlic, dill, parsley, chives, pepper, salt, and vinegar and process until everything is well blended. Scrape the bowl if necessary, and pulse a few times to get everything well incorporated, and add a little water if needed, to thin things out. This dressing is super tasty when it’s freshly made, but it’s even better after a day or so in the fridge. Use 1/4 cup per salad jar.

2014-01-12 12.12.29

tex-mex salad in a jar:
romaine lettuce
multigrain tortilla chips
toasted pumpkin seeds
sharp cheddar cheese
roasted corn
green bell pepper
black beans
baby tomatoes
oven roasted chicken
creamy salsa dressing

roasted corn
(yields about 2 cups)
three ears fresh corn, shucked and cleaned
olive oil
kosher salt and black pepper, to taste

Place one ear of corn on its end, resting on an ungreased sheet pan. Holding the top firmly, use a serrated knife and cut the kernels off the cob as close to the cob as you can. Repeat with the remaining two ears of corn until you have a big pile of corn on the sheet pan. Drizzle the corn with olive oil, and sprinkle on some salt and pepper. Place the pan under the preheated broiler of your oven, and let roast for 15 minutes, or until the corn is starting to turn dark brown on top. Remove from the oven, stir the corn around and broil for another 5 minutes or so, until the corn is mostly browned on top with some charred bits. Taste for seasoning, and add more salt and pepper if you wish. Let cool before using on your tasty salad!

HashtagOvenandApron

With these easy to prepare, convenient salads in a jar, anyone can fit in a nutritious and awesome lunch, no matter how busy their day is! Just dump the jar into a bowl, toss around, and BOOM, nearly instant lunch! I hope that the rest of you are able to adopt healthier choices and find ways to improve your day as the year progresses :)

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6 Comments

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  1. Love the Photo section and the latest post. i’ll definitely be taking salads to work when i finally get to work more than a 4-hour shift.

  2. Marianne Warneke January 17, 2014 — 6:27 am

    Congrats on your first year! Reading your blog is fun, glad to see it doing well

    Paella recipe??

  3. Congrats on 1 year! Salad jars are novelties and if novelty encourages healthier habits, then fill your life with novelty I say! I have a gorgeous glass bottle that I drink water from. It’s so beautiful that I find myself picking it up and drinking from it a lot. That’s one way to be more healthy.

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