Spring is here, and that means healthy veggies are coming into season in Northeast Ohio. When it comes to reducing health risks, we are encouraged to eat foods such as fresh vegetables. But with busy lifestyles, that isn’t always easy to do. Try a Mason jar salad, filled with many of your favorite veggies and plant proteins.
By spending a little time up front, you have ready-made healthy meals that last four to five days in the refrigerator.
1. First, get all of your ingredients together, making sure you include a wide variety of veggies that appeals to the whole family. Decide which size Mason jars you will use.
2. The first item should be a couple of tablespoons of salad dressing. It’s important to think about what type of dressing you use. Many prepackaged dressings are filled with unhealthy sugars and fat. It’s easy to make your own with just a bit of extra virgin olive oil and a few squeezes of fresh lemon, some garlic, some onion and a touch of salt and pepper. If making your own dressing seems too time-consuming, try mixing an equal amount of olive oil with your favorite dressing.
3. After the dressing, add in hard crunchy vegetables such as carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage
or Brussels sprouts. These vegetables won’t get soggy sitting in the dressing.
4. Next, add softer vegetables such as uncut cherry or grape tomatoes, green onions, zucchini, snap peas, or green, red or yellow peppers.
5. Protein is the next layer and can include beans, lentils or chicken.
6. Finally, pack in your salad greens, add some nuts and/or seeds, and put on the lid. The salads will stay fresh in your refrigerator for four to five days.
Tip: Getting kids involved in selecting and preparing healthy veggies will help increase their vegetable consumption over time. Kids might like the 1-cup jar for convenience and sense of accomplishment that comes with “eating all their veggies.”
Beth Bennett is a registered dietitian at The Gathering Place, a local cancer support center providing free programs and services for individuals and families touched by cancer. For more information about The Gathering Place, visit touchedbycancer.org