3 Tips & Recipes for Mason Jar Salads

Salads in a jar have become a real popular trend, just check out Pinterest and you’ll find a plethora of beautiful salad jar pictures.  Explore the food blog world and you’ll find them there and search Youtube and you’ll be able to watch a large selection of salad jar tutorials.

I’m a big fan of food prep, but the salad in a jar trend left me with questions about ease of preparations, freshness and even how to eat it.

I decided to test this trend and these are the three tips I’d like to share with you.

Tip 1: Preparation

Preparing Salads in a jar takes time, and the first time you do it you may think, “This is not saving me any time at all.”  Think of it as a reallocation of your time.  You’ll spend an hour making lunches for the whole week instead of that valuable time in time in the morning, when it may be harder to decide what to include in your lunch for the day.

Start with a clean, dry wide-mouth mason jar.  Making sure the jar is completely dry will keep your ingredients from getting soggy.  You’ll also need to add ingredients to the jar in a specific order to avoid getting a soggy salad.

Tip 2: Assembly

After all the pictures I looked at, the tutorials I watch and through my own trial and error I’ve learned that there absolutely is a right way to construct your salad to keep it fresh and crispy until you’re ready to eat.

Some examples that I saw didn’t take into consideration that if you have dressing and wet fruit or veggies touching the lettuce greens you’ll end up with a soggy, slimy, unappetizing mess.  The following is the recipe for keeping all your salad ingredients separated and  fresh until you’re ready to mix it together and eat it.

Layer #1:  Add 2 Tablespoons salad dressing

Layer #2:  Add wet veggies or fruits. (Think of things that would be good marinated in the dressing.

Avocado (it will stay green if it is in the dressing), tomatoes, cucumbers, jicama, grated beets, apples, berries, pineapple, mango, dried fruit…

Layer #3:  This is where you put in some protein or whole grains.  (It would be ok if these came in contact with the dressing).

Cheese, beans, chicken, beef, fish, hard boiled eggs, brown rice, quinoa…

Layer #4: Moisture resistant veggies. (These are the barrier between the dressing and the leafy greens, it keeps the green crispy).

Carrots, bell peppers, celery or onions…

Layer#5:  Add in your greens and top with chopped nuts and/or seeds.

 

Tip 3: Eating Your Salad

I found that the jar serves as the storage and transportation method for your salad.  Trying to shake the jar to mix the ingredients and toss in the dressing doesn’t work very well at all and instead of eating a variety of ingredients with each bite you end up eating the salad in layers.

I found the best thing to do when you are ready to eat it, is to dump it onto a plate or into a bowl and enjoy!  This would mean that if you are packing these salads for lunch you’ll also need a container to eat from.  You could keep a bowl and fork at your office if you are able to wash and store it there.

3 Mason Jar Salad Recipes

Power Salad

Layer 1: 2 Tbsp. Basic Dressing (see recipe below)

Layer 2: ¼ cup Cucumber, ¼ cup celery, ¼ cup jicama

Layers 3: 2 oz. smoked salmon or roasted chicken, optional

Layers 4-5: Kale, arugula, red leaf lettuce, spinach, sprouts, 2 Tbsp. chopped walnuts.

Basic Dressing:

Ingredients:

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

3 Tbsp. olive oil

1 tsp. sea salt

1/4 tsp. fresh ground black pepper

Directions:

Place all ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until smooth.

 

Mexi-Mango Salad

Layer 1: Whisk together the following ingredients for the dressing in the bottom of the jar.

1½ Tbsp. olive oil

1½ tsp. fresh lime juice

pinch of cayenne

1/8 tsp. oregano

1/8 tsp. sea salt

1/8 tsp. cumin

1/8 tsp. garlic powder

Layer 2: ½ of an avocado, diced, ¼ cup diced mango, ¼ cup grated carrots

Layer 3: ½ cup cooked quinoa, ¼ cup black beans, ¼ cup frozen corn

Layer 4-5: 2 Tbsp. minced green onions, up to 1 Tbsp. minced jalapeño pepper, 2 Tbsp. chopped cilantro, handful of spinach

 

Club Salad

Layer 1: 2 Tbsp. Sweet Lemon Dressing

Layer 2: ½ an avocado diced, ¼ cup diced cucumber, ¼ cup diced tomatoes

Layer 3:  ¼ cup diced chicken, 1 hardboiled egg, diced

Layer 4: 1 thinly sliced carrot

Layer 5: green leaf lettuce and spinach to fill the jar topped with 1 Tbsp. raw sunflower seeds

 

Salads will last up to 1 week in the fridge, so make a weeks’ worth at a time and then just grab your lunch every morning.

How do I replace gluten? Part 3 of 3

Should I avoid gluten?  This is a question that I have answered in a 3 part series of posts.  Part 1 was titled: Should I Avoid Gluten? Part 2 answered the question: How do I recognize Gluten? This is Part 3 of the series that will help you replace gluten containing foods and ingredients.

As mentioned in post 2 reading labels at the grocery store can be daunting in the beginning.  Trying to replace all gluten containing foods with a gluten free alternative can be just as daunting and expensive.

It really is easiest to begin with a basic whole foods diet.  Also, it is important to focus on what you CAN EAT rather than dwell on what you can’t eat.

Just a word of advice, it is not uncommon for those with gluten sensitivity or celiac disease to suffer from other food intolerances as well. In fact, studies tell us up to 50% of those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity also have problems with cow’s milk, and other common allergen foods including corn and soy. Keeping a food and symptom journal can help to identify additional sensitivities and symptoms. It is not uncommon for many people to realize that they do much better without any grains at all in their diet during the initial stages of healing.

How strict do I need to be?

Being 100% gluten free is hard and so everyone wants to have a free pass to “cheat” from time to time. Unfortunately, the science isn’t on your side here. Anything less than 100% leaves you open to continued immune assault. A tiny little bit, even in the form of cross contamination, can do damage if it occurs often enough.  The presence of gluten is actually continuing to cause inflammation and preventing your intestines from healing.

One of the best analogies I’ve heard is of comparing damaged intestinal villi to a skinned knee.  If you skin your knee, and then keep falling down every couple of days and re-scraping it, re-scraping it, it will never heal.  Cross contamination and gluten errors are like falling down and re-scraping your knee. You’ll never get better if you keep falling.

Some people may not react symptomatically to gluten exposures, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t doing any damage.  Repeated exposures will keep those antibodies in production and working against you, even if you aren’t noticing any outward symptoms.

The research indicates that it may take 30-60 days for the inflammation to subside and up to 9-12 months for the lining of the small intestine to heal.

Naturally Gluten Free Foods

Vegetables

Fruits

Nuts, Seeds, Legumes and Beans

Meat, Poultry and Fish

Dairy (if not casein or lactose intolerant)

Many other grains: Quinoa, rice, corn, buckwheat, millet and oats

The Implementation

Cutting out foods that you have spent your whole life eating can sometimes feel like the end of the world, I know, I’ve been there.  But guess what?  I survived and I continue to survive, in fact, I’m thriving because my body has healed and I no longer suffer from the debilitating symptoms that gluten was causing in my body.

The following are secrets that I have learned along the way.  These are secrets that I remind myself of often.

1. Focus first on the foods that are naturally gluten-free. There is so much bounty in our world!  So many varieties of fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, legumes, and meat, poultry and fish.

2. Have a sense of adventure. My kitchen is my playground; a place where I can create and explore.  Don’t let life get so crazy-busy that you don’t take time to play in your kitchen.

If you’ve never played in your kitchen, now is a great time to start!  When making a new recipe, make it a few times as written and then the next time experiment with different ingredients and see what work best for you.  My recipes are mine because I like how they taste and so do the people in my home.  Don’t be afraid to tweak a recipe based on your own taste preferences.   (By the way, all recipes on this site are gluten free.)

3. Accept your situation. Instead of constantly bemoaning the fact that you cannot buy and eat anything that you want at the grocery store or off the menu at a restaurant, remember this is an opportunity to learn, grow and explore the endless possibilities that food provides. Everything will be easier if you live with this attitude.

4.  You’ll adapt.  When you start trying gluten free products or baking on your own it won’t taste like the food you once ate.  With time however, your taste buds will change and you will develop a relationship with new foods and all of their textures and tastes.

Above all, remember that food is essential, food is nourishing, and food is beautiful.  Enjoy the journey!

Gluten Free Flour Guide

For help with your journey check out this amazing Gluten Free Flour Guide.

The world of gluten-free baking is both wonderful and challenging.  I’ve experienced incredibly delicious outcomes and disappointing results when baking gluten free.  Using this A to Z gluten-free flour guide, you can skip the flops and rock-hard gluten-free muffins and go straight to the scrumptiousness.

 

 

 

 

How do I recognize gluten? Part 2 of 3

Should I avoid gluten?  This is a question that I have answered in a 3 part series of posts.  Part 1 was titled: Should I Avoid Gluten? This post is all about the question: How do I recognize Gluten?

As a general rule when adopting a gluten free diet you should avoid all baked goods like, bread, cakes, pies, cookies and crackers as well as pasta.  There is a learning curve to learning to recognize grains that contain gluten or foods that contain gluten containing ingredients.

What foods should I avoid?

Grains to Avoid

Wheat Flour: white flour, enriched flour, whole wheat flour and self-rising flour

Barley

Rye

Wheat Starch, Wheat Bran, Wheat Germ

Cracked Wheat

Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein

Durum Flour

Farina Graham Flour

Semolina

Couscous

Triticale–a cross between wheat and rye

Spelt

Kamut

Orzo

Seitan– Vegetarians “Wheat Meat”

Hidden Sources of Gluten

90% of gluten is found in the foods listed above.  The other 10%  is found in hidden sources.  These sources are generally come from processed foods.  Wheat is often used as a filler or thickener.  The following items often contain wheat:

Alcoholic Beverages (Beer, whiskey and grain alcohols are made from wheat, barley & rye)

Bouillon cubes

Candy (Hard candy or gum is often dusted with flour to prevent sticking)

Deli Meats

French Fries and others deep-fried foods

Frozen or pre-packaged meals

Glazed ham, marinated meat and self-basting turkey

Gravy

Ice Cream

Imitation fish/crab

Oats: (Oats are by nature gluten free but many are cross contaminated due to being processed in plants that also process wheat.  Only purchase certified gluten free oats.)

Seasoned Potato or tortilla chips

Rice mixes

Sauces

Seasoning Packets and Spice Blends

Salad Dressings

Creamed soups

Soy sauce

Condiments

Non-Food items (make-up, shampoos and lipstick or lip balm)

The Importance of Reading Labels

As you have just read there are lots of foods that contain gluten.  Reading labels must become a new part of everyday life unless you remove all processed foods from your diet.  We need to read labels at the grocery store, and reread them again before opening a can, box or package at home.  Manufacturers often change ingredients so, we must read labels over and over and over again, even when purchasing products we think are safe.

When reading labels look for “Gluten Free” on the label, “Contains Wheat” in the allergen section of the label, “May Contain Traces of Wheat” and “Processed in a Gluten Free Facility” or “Processed in a facility that also processes wheat” on the label.

Names of Ingredients that Contain Gluten

Artificial color

Baking powder

Caramel color/flavoring

Dextrins

Diglycerides

Emulsifiers

Enzymes

Fat replacers

Flavorings

Citric acid: (can be made by fermenting wheat, corn, molasses or beets)

Glucose syrup

Glycerides

Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein

Malt

Maltodextrin

Modified food starch

Natural juices

Stabilizers

Starch

Vegetable Protein

Keep a list of gluten containing ingredients with you.  Make a list on your phone or tucked into your wallet so that you can use it as a reference when shopping until you easily remember what to look for on ingredient lists.  For some real life strategies check out the post titled: How do I replace gluten?

Should I Avoid Gluten? Part 1 of 3

Should I avoid gluten?  This is a question I get asked a lot by those I teach and coach.  Before I answer that questions let’s first define what gluten is.

What is Gluten?

The science of wheat related disorders is exploding right now and we are learning more and more about the components of wheat that can cause problems for people.  That being said, the chief culprit remains a protein in wheat called “Gluten” (it’s Latin for the word ‘glue”).

Gluten is what gives bread its airy and fluffy texture and dough it’s sticky texture. Although all grains have proteins similar to gluten, the specific problem protein for most people is found  in wheat, rye and barley.

Should I avoid gluten?

Probably the most common reason for someone to avoid gluten is a diagnosis of celiac disease. Celiac disease, is an auto-immune disorder that targets the small intestine.

When a person with celiac disease eats gluten, his or her body cannot break it down and treats it like a foreign invader.  This causes inflammation in the tissue of the small intestine. The inflammation irritates and damages the villi (tiny finger-like projections that aid in nutrient absorption) lining the small intestine.   Without those villi, you have considerably less surface area with which to absorb the nutrients from your food. This leads to symptoms of malabsorption, including chronic fatigue, neurological disorders, nutrient deficiencies, anemia, nausea, skin rashes, depression, and more.

There is no known cure for celiac disease and the medical treatment is simply to eat a gluten free diet. This may sound like a harsh “life sentence”, especially if you are new to it.  Don’t be discouraged though. If you have celiac disease, you have a serious, life threatening disease that can be greatly improved without dangerous drugs or surgery. That is a great thing.  Simply change what you eat, focus on healing your digestive tract and your body will heal itself.

Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity

Gluten intolerance and gluten sensitivity are non-specific terms used to describe cases where individuals suffer a negative reaction to eating gluten but, according to current medical definitions, do not have celiac disease.  Gluten intolerance or sensitivity can cause inflammation and irritation throughout the body.

This intolerance manifests in physical symptoms like joint pain, digestive distress, including bloating, constipation, diarrhea.  Symptoms of skin irritations like acne, rashes or dry patches are also common.  Many suffer from fatigue, headaches and mental and emotional symptoms like brain fog and mood swings mood swings, including rage and depression.

Research now shows that all humans who eat gluten will suffer from damage in the gut every time they eat gluten.  This is called intestinal permeability or Leaky Gut.  The body is constantly repairing this damage but in some people the damage occurs more often than the body can heal and then people begin to experience symptoms listed above.

Often times when people experience these symptoms they don’t think to look at what they are eating as the cause.

Is Gluten Sensitivity Real?

Many people think that gluten sensitivity is a diet trend and that eventually it will just pass.  There is much more to gluten sensitivity than many people know.  Dr. Tom O’Bryan is an internationally recognized leader on the complications of Celiac Disease and Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity in this interview he outlines why this is not a fad, but is backed up by scientific research.

If you suspect that you or someone you know may have an issue with gluten you can seek out a Certified Gluten Practitioner, as Dr. Tom O’Bryan mentioned.  Dr. Jerry Duggar is a Certified Gluten Practitioner and has worked with hundreds of people around the country.  If you are interested in learning more from Dr. O’Bryan you can find him at thedr.com

Do you want to continue reading and learning about gluten?  See Part 2: How do I recognize gluten? and Part 3: How do I replace gluten?

 

 

The Benefits of Strawberries

Spring brings us a bounty of delicious veggies and fruit including juicy strawberries.  Right now my strawberry plants are loaded with delicate white blossoms and the hope of plump red and juicy berries in the next couple of months.

Fortunately while I wait for my berries to grow, this seasonal treat is also available in the produce aisles.

Strawberries are considered one of the healthiest fruit.

Six Reasons to Eat Strawberries

Rich in Antioxidants

Strawberries contain rich amounts of both vitamin A and vitamin C.  Both of these are powerful antioxidants.  An antioxidant helps counteract the damaging effects of free radicals in the body.  Free radicals cause stress in the body that are responsible for the aging process and inflammation.

Protects against Cancer

The antioxidants in strawberries also protect against cancer.  Studies show that anthocyanin, a specific antioxidant found in strawberries, significantly inhibits the growth of liver cancer cells.  Berry consumption has also been shown to reduce the risk of breast, colon, prostate and skin cancer.

Defends against Heart Disease:

Flavonoids that are responsible for the vibrant color and delicious flavor of strawberries lower the risk of heart disease.  The antioxidants in strawberries help lower the risk of cardiovascular disease by limiting plaque build-up in the arteries, creating improved circulation and blood pressure.

Protects Skin from Damage:

Strawberries contain rich amounts of vitamin C and vitamin A both of which have skin improving benefits.  These vitamins increase skin hydration, natural skin oil production, boost collagen production to lower the appearance of wrinkles and improve elasticity.  Vitamin C also has the ability to protect the skin from ultraviolet rays.

Boosts Brain Function:

Studies indicate that a diet rich in berries have the potential to protect the brain from cognitive decline associated with aging.  Berries can reduce inflammation associated with memory loss from diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia.  Just 1 cup of strawberries provide nearly 30% of your daily manganese intake.  Manganese is essential for proper nervous system and brain function and has been shown to protect against neurological disorders like Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy.

Helps with Detoxification:

The antioxidants vitamin A and vitamin C are necessary for the processes of removing toxins from the body.  One cup of fresh strawberries also provide a good source of dietary fiber to help the body eliminate toxins.

Buying and Storing Strawberries:

Buy ORGANIC STRAWBERRIES. Nearly 60 different pesticides have been found on strawberries. Strawberries are always one of the top EWG’s Dirty Dozen Foods.  The abundant fungus on strawberries prompts farmers to spray, and pesticide residue remains on berries sold even at farmers markets. Strawberries are the most chemically treated crop in California.

For full nutrition and flavour buy fresh strawberries.

They need to be firm, plump, have a deep red color with a glossy sheen, and have green caps.

Strawberries, once picked, do not ripen further.

Strawberries that are dull and have a dark color will be overripe and if they have white, green or yellow patches they will be underripe and sour.

How to Store Strawberries

Consume strawberries as soon as you harvest or purchase them.

Store strawberries unwashed in the coldest part of your refrigerator for only about two days.

Only wash strawberries when ready to consume.  To wash strawberries, place them in a colander and rinse them under running cold water. Do not soak them for they will lose their color and flavor. Do not remove their caps until after you have washed the berries

You can also freeze them for longer storage and to utilize a generous harvest.

Recipe Ideas with Strawberries:

Strawberry Vinaigrette

Strawberry Chia Jam

Grain-Free Thumbprint Cookies

Strawberry Sugar Scrub