Friday, 17 February 2012

SmartCooks and the Mighty Jars of Salad Goodness

February 2012

SmartCooks here. 

Lunches in a Mighty Jar of Salad Goodness.  Multi-layered, colourful, one jar, quick, healthy, and pleasing to both the eye and palate.

The inspiration for this comes from a new food blog cutely called Oh She Glows: Vegan Recipes . The author writes about being inspired with these jars by Whole Foods Market, which is very popular for natural and organic food in the US, with 3 locations in the Toronto area.  Ottawa anyone?

The 'Goodness' Concept

Whole Foods Market created the idea for a jar (or bowl or Bento Box) based on six layers of goodness ingredients:

1) Base, cooked, whole grains or starchy vegetables like Quinoa, Rice, Couscous, Whole Wheat Pasta, Squash etc  

2) Protein, cooked and lean, like sprouted mung beans, soybeans (tofu, tempeh, edamane), lentils (any colour), beans (red, white, green), lean meats (3 oz)

3) Greens, either steamed (kale, collards, bok choy, chard, spinach, cabbage) or raw (watercress, arugula, lettuce and sprouts)

4) Vegetables, endless possibilities here so for example:  Broccoli, asparagus, carrots, cauliflower, mushrooms, onions, corn, peas, artichokes, radishes, peppers, tomatoes  

5) Seasonings, such as any fresh herb, ginger, garlic, chives, green onions, chilies, nutritional yeast, nori, cayenne and spice and herb mixes

6) Sauces/Condiments:  lemon/lime juice, fresh sales, hot sauce, low-sodium soy sauce or tamari, vinegar-based dressings and plain or infused vinegars

Mighty Wide-Mouth Mason Jars

500 ml wide-mouth mason jars can be found courtesy of Canadian Tire for example.  I bought six of them.  ((I'm also looking for jars with handles to make it easier to carry (yup they exist).  A Pottery Barn equivalent just doesn't exist here in Ottawa but they carry them and will ship them worldwide.))

The sheer beauty of this method is the ease of preparation.  I, for example, prepare lunches for the week ahead on a Sunday. 

I can fill 3-4 mason jars with various versions of the salads on Sundays and then grab one a day as I go out the door.  I keep one jar with just dressing and add the dressing each day.  All the ingredients keep well in the refrigerator for 4-5 days at a time. 

A Word About Wheat berries and Edamane

The 'Goodness' jars allowed me to try, for the first time, wheatberries and edamane. Superfoods R me!

Wheatberries I purchased from ... wait for it ... the The Wheat Berry/Grain de ble on Main Street in Ottawa.   This is a versatile whole grain from the wheat plant and can be used in salads, soups, stews, chlis or even sprouted to grow wheat grass (which some claim is a good healer/detoxifier) . 

They are just full of fibre and nutrients,include B-complex and Vitamin E. 

Edamame are young soybeans, which can be eaten either still in the pod or hulled.  When they are mature, they are used for making tofu.  Edamame really livens up a salad; in Japanese cooking they are used regularly as a snack.  With their brilliant, colourful green hues, they make a lively addition to a salad. 


Filling the Jars of Salad Goodness

Advance preparation is key to these salads. 
3 steps....  
---- One, measure and dice up the ingredients and put in bowls. 
---- Two, cook the grains and put them into the bowls.
---- Three, make a jar of dressing. 

The fun now begins -- layering ingredients  into the jars, usually with a bit of grain left over.

To take out the guesswork, I followed the amounts given by the Oh She Glows blogger and it worked perfectly for 4 mason jars.  So, I'm  passing it on.

Jars of Salad Goodness with Oil-Free Orange-Ginger Dressing

Ingredients for the jars:
(In the order shown in the main photo, bottom up)

1 cup uncooked wheatberries (makes 2 & 1/4 cup cooked)
1.5 cups diced red pepper (1 large)
1.5 cups diced green pepper (1 large)
1 cup uncooked quinoa (makes 2.5 cups cooked)
1 cup diced carrots (about 2) 

1/2 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
1 cup edamame
8 tsp parsley
Herbamare or kosher salt, to taste, if using

Ingredients for the Orange-Ginger Dressing
(Four 1/4 cup servings)

2/3 cup 100% pure orange juice (or use freshly squeezed)
1/3 cup 100% pure apple juice
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp fresh minced ginger
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
Kosher salt, to taste (I used 1/4 tsp)


1. In a medium-sized pot, add quinoa and 1.5 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer, until fluffy, about 15-20 minutes, watching closely so it doesn’t burn. Do the same for the wheatberries, in another pot, but add 2 cups of water and cook until tender and chewy, likely cooking for about 5 mins longer than the quinoa.

2. Meanwhile, chop the vegetables and parsley and put into separate bowls.

3. In a bowl or jar, whisk together the dressing ingredients and set aside.

4. To fill one 500-ml mason jar, add ingredients in the following order:
------- 1/2 cup wheatberries
------- 1/4 cup each of green and red pepper
------- 1/2 cup quinoa
------- 1/4 cup carrots
------- 2 tbsp parsley
------- 1/4 cup edamame  
------- Herbamare or kosher salt, if using.

Alternatively, you can just mix the salad together into a big bowl along with the dressing. It too will keep in the fridge for 5-6 days.


1 comment:

  1. Try Value Village for inexpensive Mason jars. Just buy new lids ...