If you are trying to lose weight on the 28 Day Weight Loss Challenge you might enjoy a tasty salad as part of your healthy eating plan. The trouble is, once you take a salad out of its comfort zone (i.e. away from home) it can end up a soggy old mess.
The reason for this is that the salad tends to either go soft from being dressed early in the day, or it can get squashed in transit through a plastic container.
So today we have a step by step guide for preparing a transportable salad using the humble mason jar.
How to perfect the mason jar salad
A mason jar is great for a packed lunch.
- It has a seriously strong lid (so no leaking dressing)
- The glass is strong so unlike plastic it won’t get flattened or squashed in your bag
- You can add the dressing to the bottom of the jar away from the lettuce, which means no more soggy lunches.
- The strong seal and the glass keep things fresh so you can make salads to eat for the next 3-4 days and they will keep well.
If you can’t get your hands on one, any large glass jar will do – such as a pasta sauce jar.
Follow our step by step plan for a quick and easy lunch in minutes:
1. Make a simple dressing
This goes on the bottom of the jar so that you can just shake the salad up and dump it into your bowl at lunchtime.
You can use any salad dressing that you like but if you are using packaged dressing always read the label as these can be a sugar/salt/oil overload.
Keep it simple with 2 tbsp olive oil + 1 tsp apple cider vinegar + salt + pepper.
2. Add crunch
An important part of a good salad is texture. Add some crunch to give your salad some pizzazz.
This will sit in the dressing so it needs to be strong enough to handle some slight pickling, especially if the salad will be stored for several days.
Some ideas for crunch: diced red or green peppers, sweetcorn, chopped shallots, diced cucumber, lightly steamed broccoli, cauliflower, mange tout, asparagus.
3. Pack in the colour
The whole point of a healthy salad is to pack in as much goodness as possible and now is your chance to load up the jar with colour and flavour.
It could be: roasted onions, grated carrot, roasted butternut squash or sweet potato, mushrooms, cress, kidney beans, chickpeas, chopped courgettes, peas, chopped peach or pears, pesto, red onion, brown rice, wholegrain pasta, or wholemeal cous cous.
4. Pop in some protein
To keep you fuller for longer, add in some protein now. This will stop you reaching for the biscuit jar come 3pm.
We love: a chopped boiled egg, poached chicken, slices of roast beef, a leftover chicken thigh or drumstick, crumbled feta, grilled haloumi, grated cheddar, tuna chunks, kidney beans, lentils, or leftover roast lamb.
5. Top it off with greens, nuts and seeds
Bulk up your salad and add more crunch by adding your favourite salad leaves at the end, along with any nuts and seeds that you enjoy.
Stored away from the dressing these will stay crisp and fresh until you are ready to tuck in.
Think: baby leaf spinach, rocket, gem lettuce, raddichio, any salad leaf mix, cashews, chopped almonds, pumpkin seeds or chia seeds.
Then just shake it out
When you are ready to serve, simply remove the lid, tip the jar upside down and shake it out onto a plate. Or you can save on washing up and eat it straight from the jar!
Here is an example to get you started…
Feta Pea and Chicken Pasta Salad
- Add a big spoonful of Greek yoghurt to the jar and mix in a teaspoon of pesto
- Now add some thinly sliced celery
- Add cooked ravioli or pasta
- Sliced shallots
- Thinly sliced red onion
- Crumble some feta cheese on top, and some sliced roast chicken
Greens, Nuts, Seeds
- Top your salad off with pumpkin seeds, crushed walnuts, basil and some rocket.
- Give it a shake shake onto the plate, stir to distribute the dressing, and you’re done!
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