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Expat Life

Prepare your salad in a Mason jar

As a member of the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics, I’m privileged to have as colleagues some of the most accomplished Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs).

Today’s guest columnist is Jeanne Petrucci, MS, RDN who has shared this article from her weekly Test Kitchen Tuesday Blog.

Jeanne Petrucci, MS, RDN

Hi, I’m Jeanne, a registered dietitian nutritionist from New Jersey who is passionate about cultivating positive experiences around food while remaining true to my science-based approach to nutrition education.  I hold a Master of Science degree in Nutrition Education from Columbia University and founded the non-profit Living Plate as a place where other nutrition professionals join me in advancing my mission.  We help you define health on your own terms!  Let’s sift through the crowded universe of nutrition information together, understand what’s important to you, and translate that knowledge into delicious food through our digital meal plans.  Please visit our website to get to know our team, read more articles, and explore delicious recipes.  Don’t miss out on regular nutrition and culinary tips – follow us on Instagram.

Mason jar magic

Mason jars are having their moment that extends far beyond 15-minutes of fame. Known for use in jamming, preserving, and pickling, these inexpensive and sustainable glass vehicles are perfectly suited for a recent trend – jarred salads. Mason jar salads make packing lunch a cinch and their upright shape keeps ingredients separated enough to prevent your salad from becoming a soggy mess. They also store beautifully and are an easy solution to organizing your lunches for the week – truly grab-and-go.  Eating your salad straight from the jar can be difficult, so we recommend inverting in your favorite large salad bowl to maximize enjoyment.

Here is our guide for building the perfect Mason jar salad:
Start with a 1-quart, wide-mouth, glass Mason jar with lid

Layer #1: Start with the dressing – whether it is homemade dressing or your favorite store-bought dressing, make it the first layer of your Mason jar salad.  It is crucial that you keep the dressing on the bottom, away from the lettuce and other ingredients that have the potential to become soggy and wilt quickly.  The suggested amount of dressing for your salad is about 2 tablespoons. A simple olive oil/vinegar dressing will do or if using store-bought, we like Annie’s brand of organic salad dressings.

Layer #2: Layer hardy raw sliced vegetables on top of your dressing. This blocks the dressing from reaching the more delicate ingredients toward the top of the jar.  These veggies should hold up when marinating in the dressing, and keep the rest of your salad fresh and crisp. Examples: Cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, celery, cauliflower.

Layer #3: Place beans and other cooked vegetables on top of the raw vegetables.  These vegetables are far enough from the dressing to stay fresh, but will not weigh down the rest of the salad if placed in the jar before the more light-weighted ingredients. Examples: Cooked mushrooms, beans, green beans, beets, leftover steamed or roasted vegetables. Feel free to include fruits such as orange segments or berries.

Layer #4: Cooked grains are up next.  Whether you are using quinoa, farro, brown rice or another whole grain, keep this layer towards the center of the jar and limit the quantity to ¼ cup.

Layer #5: If you are including protein in your salad, here is where it lives. This is excellent real estate for 4-6 oz. of leftover protein from the night before. No leftovers, no problem – use canned salmon or chicken. You can also include some crumbled feta cheese, tofu, and a tablespoon of seeds or nuts.

Layer #6: Finally, the main event – this is a salad after all! Leafy greens of any kind will work, just be sure to shred the lettuce into bite-size pieces so you can fit it in and get it out of the jar. The leafy greens should occupy at least 1/3 of the jar. Examples: Kale, spinach, romaine, Bibb, chard, arugula.

Salads can stay refrigerated for several days before eating so make several salads at the beginning of the week. When you are ready to eat, simply invert the salad into a large bowl, toss and enjoy! We have never had much success eating the salad straight from the jar [a bit messy], but in a pinch, you could make it work – just invert jar for a few minutes before eating.