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Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Mason Jar Meals Make Easy Lunches with 3 Healthy Recipes!

One of the questions I get asked often is 'What are healthy lunch ideas?' Most people want something that is fun, quick and easy to take to work, and mostly healthy too! While there is nothing easier than taking 10 bananas or 2 lbs of grapes to work for lunch, my advice is usually to take a big green smoothie in a mason jar. Mason jars are great for hauling your water and smoothies around but they are also a part of a fun new lunch trend called Mason Jar Meals. They became really popular this summer and now you can find tons of ideas for healthy and tasty mason jar meals on websites like Pinterest. These self-contained entire meals are way healthier and tastier than a frozen dinner and won't get soggy like a sandwich. The key is in the layering. Dressing on the bottom, with layers going up from more dense to less dense. Example: Dressing, chickpeas, carrots, red pepper, leafy greens. Most recipes tend to yield 4-6 meals so you can make your lunches for the week ahead of time and store them in the refrigerator.  Just grab and go in the morning!

Tips For Making Mason Jar Meals:
  • Be sure there is no gap between the lettuce and the jar lid or the lettuce might go bad (when prepping for more than a day or two in advance). 
  • If it's a meal that needs to be mixed and eaten in the jar, leave some room at the top for mixing. 
  • Make sure the dressing is at the bottom to keep the veggies crisp.
  • Take a bowl (and a fork) to dump the salad in. You can easily wash the bowl and keep it at work.
  • Turn the jar upside down 10-15 minutes before lunch time.  This helps get dressing out of the jar if you do not have a spatula or a spoon to scoop it all out. 
  • You can mix the dressing with cooked quinoa before adding it to the jars. 
  • Use quart size jars for meal-sized salads. (I could personally take 2-3 for one meal! I eat a lot of greens!) 
  • For recipes that call for tomatoes- use cherry or grape instead of chopped! 
  • Red leaf lettuce wilts more quickly than Romaine and green leaf.
  • Wash and DRY the ingredients before filling your jar. 
  • If you can find them, get the large mouth jars. They will make it easier to fill and remove your meals. 
I love mason jars is because they are relatively cheap. You can usually buy them at Superstore here in Canada and get a case of 12 for around $10. That's less than $1 a jar. I bet your fancy tupperware and glass containers cost at least $5 or more.  Also, mason jars are made of glass so no chemicals leaching from the plastic. The lids also fit on securely so you do not have to worry about leaks in your bag. (If you find that your lids start to rust there are plastic lids you can purchase online at 

Pictured from left to right:
-Mango Curry Kale Salad 
-Black Bean Fiesta Salad
-Mediterranean Chickpea Salad


Mango Curry Kale Salad

Mango Curry Dressing:
1 cup mango cubed (Defrost if using frozen)
1/2 pint whole cherry tomatoes
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp chili powder
a tiny chunk of ginger, pinky finger size
*Blend all ingredients together in a food processor or high speed blender.

Layer in Mason Jar in order:
1. Mango Curry dressing (use as much as you like in the bottom, I like my salads saucy!)
2. 1/2 pint whole cherry tomatoes
3. Red Onion, Red peppers
4. Chopped Kale
5. Small handful of fresh cilantro

Black Bean Fiesta Salad 

1/2 cup salsa
1/2 can black beans
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1/2 cup chopped red pepper
3/4 cup organic corn
Romaine lettuce
1/4 cup chopped Cilantro
1/2 Avocado or 1/2 cup fresh guacamole
Tortilla chips

Layer in Mason Jar in order:
1. 1/2 cup of fresh salsa (or organic store bought)
2. 1/2 can of black beans
3. Red onion, and a handful of red pepper
4. 3/4 cup of organic corn (I use fresh raw if I can, if not you can find organic corn in the frozen section) You can heat it up in a pan to get rid of any moisture before adding to the jar.
5. Top with chopped romaine lettuce and chopped cilantro
6. Bring 1/2 an avocado with you to slice into your salad for extra yummyness. You can also add crushed tortilla chips or fresh guacamole. <Click here for fresh tortilla chips and guacamole recipes>

Mediterranean Chickpea Salad 

1 garlic clove chopped finely
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1/2 can chickpeas
1 large lemon
1 cup red pepper chopped
1 cup cucumber chopped
1/2 cup black olives
handful of raisins or chopped dates

Directions for chickpea marinade:
1. Cut the lemon in half and juice one half
2. Mix chickpeas, garlic, lemon juice and red onion in a bowl

Layer in Mason Jar in order:
1. Marinated chickpeas
2. Red pepper and cucumber
3. Olives
4. Raisins or dates
5. Spinach
Bring the other 1/2 of lemon to squeeze on salad at lunch.

Don't forget to bring a bowl to work and enjoy these yummy recipes! 


Lots of Love and Fresh Squeezed Hugs!


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