Mason Jar Salads: Lunchin’ Munchin’ for Smart People

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So I’m a little late to the party, but figured maybe some of you haven’t even gotten on the subway yet!? BuzzFeed posted these 18 great mason jar salads back in December, and not only are they pure genius, but they’re nice to look at, easy to make, store, and transport, and they are all about Operation: Fit Into Last Summer’s Clothes.

But what I love more than any of those things is that you can make your week’s worth of lunches in about TWENTY minutes! What’s 20 minutes? That’s about how long I spend trying to figure out why I just walked into the dining room. I could be making salads!

So, what you do:

It’s Sunday. Line up five 24-ounce mason jars, grab a bunch of ingredients, a cutting board and a knife, and get all assembly line-up in the kitchen. Everybody clear OUT! The salad belt has been turned on. Stuff your jars in this order:

Start with Dressing: Either something bottled (like TJ’s Light Champagne Vinaigrette) or 2 T rice vinegar plus 1 T olive oil plus 1/2 tsp salt.

Next, fill with Protein: Tofu cubes, beans, tempeh cubes, hemp hearts, chia seeds, and shelled edamame beans are some of my favorites. They’ll marinate in the dressing. Genius again!

Next up, Chunky Veggies and/or Grains: These are ones that can afford to get a little juicy with dressing: Cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, carrots, mushrooms, jicama (is that a veggie?), corn… and quinoa, wild rice, pasta, roasted potatoes…

And Finally: Greens and herbs. Spinach, kale, mesclun, basil, dill, cilantro…

Optional Salad Toppers: Croutons, cranberries, sunflower seeds, those Asian noodle thingies. Not necessary, but oh so good.

Stick those 5 pieces of gloriousness in the fridge and take one each day for lunch (or have for dinner if that’s where healthy food prep time is at a minimum). Either shake it while IN the jar, or if it’s too jam-packed, empty the contents into a bowl and toss to coat dressing. No more excuses people!

What’s YOUR favorite salad stack?

Eggless Eggs Still on the Menu

Even with news of chicken eggs back on the cool list, Eggless Eggs are still a family favorite, a hometown staple, and a great way to enter into tofu addiction — no matter if they’re stuffed into a burrito, alongside toast, or eaten solo by the Paleos. Make a big batch on the weekend and choose your method of delivery on the day of. To breakfast! (Or dinner!)

Eggless Eggs with Whole Grain Toast, Orange Wedges, and Fruit Juice

Eggless Eggs with Whole Grain Toast, Orange Wedges, and Fruit Juice

Eggless Eggs
Makes 4 servings
Prep and cooking time 20 minutes

Searching for scrambled eggs without all the fat and cholesterol? Take this creation out for a spin, and you’ll find yourself singing its praises from the hilltops. Serve with fresh fruit and toasted 100% Whole Grain Fiber Bread. Compared to a 2-egg omelet, a serving of Eggless Eggs has 150 fewer calories, 11 fewer grams of fat, 450 fewer milligrams of cholesterol, and 2 more grams of fiber. Eggs never tasted so good.

1 (15-oz) block extra firm tofu
2 tsp olive oil
1 green onion, or 1 Tbsp diced onion
½ red bell pepper, diced (preferably organic)
½ green bell pepper, diced (preferably organic)
1 medium carrot, diced
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp turmeric (optional, makes the “eggs” yellow)
½ tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper (optional)
Hot sauce to taste (optional)

1 Press Tofu: Place 6 paper towels on the counter. Drain tofu from package. Place block of tofu on the paper towels. Place a cutting board or baking sheet on top of tofu. Place 2 or 3 cans of beans or similar weight on top of the cutting board, and let sit for at least 15 minutes. This process gets excess water out of the tofu, allowing it space to soak in other incredible flavors.

2 Meanwhile, heat oil in a medium-sized skillet over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and sauté veggies, spices, and salt until tender, about 5 minutes.

3 Crumble tofu into the skillet; continue to cook until heated through, about 5 minutes.

4 Serve warm topped with black pepper and hot sauce if desired.

5 Store leftovers in the fridge for up to 3 days.

NUTRITION SNAPSHOT
Per serving: 161 calories, 8.5 g total fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 298 mg sodium, 5 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 1 g sugar, 15.5 g protein, 3% vitamin A, 54% vitamin C, 19.5% calcium, 13.5% iron

Now and Later Veggie Curry (Slow-Cooker / Freezer Meal)

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Now and Later Veggie Curry Ready for the Freezer

I posted 4 years ago (!!) about slow cooking, and I’m finally starting to have a love-love relationship with it. I have to admit, for quite a while, my crockpot did nothing other than look down on me and laugh from its prime real estate space the pantry. Now, it is pure LOVE, especially with the discovery of Little House on the Prairie-style freezer meals. So what if they didn’t have freezers on the prairie? I can still wear my apron and bonnet and call it homestead survival.

So here is my latest. I make a double batch: One goes in the crockpot for that night’s dinner, and the other compilation gets thrown in the freezer. The freezer concoction can be taken out and thawed in the fridge overnight and then tossed into the crockpot in the morning. 2 dinners, 1 dinner-prep cleanup, and lots of telecommute cooking.

Now and Later Veggie Curry
Serves 6

1 block extra firm tofu, diced
1 cup cooked garbanzo beans
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup fresh or frozen greens

15 oz tomato sauce
1/2 can coconut milk
1 cup water
2 tsp garlic powder
2 Tbsp curry powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp crushed red pepper (optional, makes it quite spicy)
2 Tbsp agave nectar
1 onion, diced (optional, sometimes I skip this b/c I don’t have onions or time to chop)

Add all ingredients to crockpot and/or freezer container.* For the crockpot meal, cook on “low” for 3 hours. Thaw freezer meal in fridge overnight before crockpotting. Serve over rice or with whole grain bread.

*Sometimes I take the extra step and combine the tomato sauce, milk, water, spices, and agave in a bowl, and stir through–or even use a mixer–and then pour it over the chunky ingredients. I poured it over the tofu and beans, and then added the peas and greens in the picture above.

Nutrition Info Per Serving: 213 calories, 9 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 25 g carbohydrates, 4.5 g fiber, 7.5 g sugar, 13 g protein, 74% vitamin A, 36% vitamin C, 60% manganese, 17% folate, 12% calcium, 17% iron, 20% phosphorous, 11% zinc, 15% selenium, 22% magnesium.

What’s YOUR favorite freezer meal?