“Cooking is love made visible”

Cooking

As defined by dictionary.com, is the art of preparing food. The art, not the act, not the practice… The art of preparing food.

I love that. It’s rather poetic, I think.

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Risotto, beef and goat cheese spread, bruschetta and grilled mushrooms.

A few weeks ago I shared that I went to see a therapist; I initially went to see her because I was struggling to adjust and cope with Lucas living far away. I was very afraid that being in different cities would cause us to become distant. In my very first appointment I talked a lot about how I was constantly reminding him how much I cared, loved and missed him. And while he always said it back, I didn’t feel as though he put as much effort into doing the same for me. My therapist, Angelika, immediately introduced me to the 5 love languages.

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Surf & Turf with garlic butter and a green salad.

The 5 Love Languages is a book by Gary Chapman. He says that there is no right way to express love and that each and every person expresses and experiences love differently. Chapman has broken down these ways of loving into 5 categories or love languages. Any given person may use one or all of the love languages at any given time but it’s very common to value 1 of the 5 languages above and beyond the others.

  1. Giving words of affirmation
  2. Spending quality time
  3. Giving/receiving gifts
  4. Acts of service
  5. Physical Touch

As I described above, I highly value the love language of giving words of affirmation. I feel that it is important to tell someone how you feel. Perhaps this comes from my literature background or my theatre background, who knows. All I know is that words have a lot of power and meaning for me, so when I tell someone that I love and care for them, I really mean it.

Lucas, on the other hand, values the love language of acts of service above the others. He feels that it is more important to do something for someone as a means of showing love than it is to simply say it. He is an actions speak louder than words kind of guy.

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Pork tenderloin, asparagus and mango salad.

In his book Chapman explains that it is pretty common for couples to use love different love languages to express how they feel. The issue arises when one or both parties don’t realize that they are speaking different languages. Since learning about the 5 love languages I am have had a much easier time experiencing and expressing love. And not just in a romantic way, towards my family and friends as well. I’m more in tune now to what they need. For example, cleaning the kitchen for my mum means so much more to her than just saying to her that she’s great, although she also appreciates a the words when they are said.

As for me and Lucas; I was feeling down because he wasn’t reciprocating my words of affirmation, ie. He wasn’t expressing love in the language I understand best. Instead he would provide acts of service, for example, cooking me a romantic meal. Being a chef, cooking is Lucas’ favourite way of expressing his love. When I visit him at school Lucas spends most of the day deciding what he’s going to make for dinner. In the afternoon we go shopping and in the evening he cooks! We listen to music, we drink wine, we chat about life and he cooks. I offer to help but he enjoys cooking for me because that is the best way he knows how to express love. And man oh man, do I love him for that.

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Charcuterie board.

“Cooking is love made visible”

Anonymous

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Summer Shape Up: Week 1 Update

Well, it has been one week since I started participating in The Fitnessista’s Summer Shape Up Program. This is a free month long fitness program offered on Gina’s blog. Each week she provides a workout schedule and healthy meal ideas. The idea is do what you can, when you can. I think I did alright for my first week. I figured I would post my progress each week in order to keep myself accountable.

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Food

We all know that my kitchen skills are weak at best so it was a relief to see that most of the ideas that Gina suggested are pretty simple. Basically, she is just promoting wholesome and healthy eating. To access the recipe suggestions provided by Gina, visit her site!

Breakfasts: I had a protein smoothie for breakfast from Monday to Friday. I usually have breakfast around 7:00 am, so with the right amount of protein powder and healthy fats, the smoothie kept me full until at least 11:00 am when I had a small snack. My smoothies contained cranberry juice, almond milk, spinach, raspberries, blue berries, vanilla protein powder and hemp hearts.

Lunches: Remember my story about the super salty brown rice, well I ended up using it to make grain bowls, as per this recipe. Essentially it is a layer of rice, a layer of spinach (or whichever green leaf you like), some chic peas and whatever else I could find in my fridge. So one day I added salmon and red pepper, another day it was avocado and red pepper, another day it was cucumber, tomato, and feta cheese. So so soooo delicious, filling and healthy!

Dinners: I didn’t do quite as well with my dinners. One night I made spicy shrimp and rice (healthy), another night I had salmon and sweet potato (healthy), but then one night Lucas and I ordered burritos (not so healthy), and another night we had a BBQ (really not healthy at all but oh so delicious). Ya win some, ya loose some I guess.

Saturday & Sunday: While I managed a pretty successful first week, my first weekend was a hungover mess of two-bite cinnamon rolls and mini-pizzas. Note to self: stop ending your nights-out with vodka shots, it is never a good idea!


Exercise

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Daily: 20-30 minutes of Yoga with Adriene

Monday: Rest

Tuesday: Workout # 2

Wednesday: 4 km Run

Thursday: Workout # 3 + 20 minutes of Cycling on the stationary bike

Friday: Workout # 1 + some labour intensive household chores

Saturday: Dance recital rehearsal

Sunday: Dance recital show x2 (matinee & evening)

All in all I am pleased with the amount of physical activity I got over the past week. I didn’t exactly follow Gina’s plan, especially on Sunday but the dance recital this weekend ate up a lot of my time. I think I would have enjoyed the plank burner so I am going to do my best to fit it in somewhere this week. I also had a dance show on Monday night so I am jumping back into the week 2 schedule today.


Summary

So far I haven’t noticed a difference in my body in terms of size or shape, I think a lot of that has to do with my diet. Also, the Shape Up has made me very aware of how much I am lacking in the strength training department. My running training has helped me become very good at cardio and heart rate management but my muscle tone just isn’t there. This makes the strength workouts super challenging (I wanted to cry while doing workout #2 on Tuesday) but it also a very welcome change for my routine. The greatest part about this program, I feel, is the facebook group. Essentially it is a closed community for people who are participating in the Shape Up to ask questions, check in, provide support, ect. Seeing other people’s check in posts have motivated me in ways I didn’t think possible. They have even motivated me to set some goals for this week:

  • Drink a lot more water
  • Reduce wheat & dairy intake
  • Complete all workouts on the schedule

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Kitchen Experiments: Brown Rice Blues

It is a well known fact that cooking isn’t a strong suit. Sometimes I can follow a recipe and have pretty decent results. It never looks as pretty as the picture but the taste usually works out. Other times I can take a perfectly simple recipe and still find a way to mess it up. Usually this happens when I get too confident and start to improvise, like the time I attempted guacamole… Or the time I tried to make egg in a whole using a stack of bread with holes ripped out of the middle instead of using a bagel… Or the other day when I made a large batch of brown rice.

Yup. Brown Rice.

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I know it seems like an impossible feat but don’t be so sure, my friends. I managed to screw up the worlds easiest recipe. Let me share my sad pathetic tale so that you all may learn from my mistake. Lets start with the instructions shall we?

  1. Bring rice and liquid to a boil.
  2. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, until tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed, 40-50 minutes.

Two simple instructions. That’s all there is to it. I was making a large batch because I am attempting to eat healthier meals and that means planning ahead. I’m participating in The Fitnessista’s Summer Shape Up Challenge. This is a challenge that Gina holds twice a year for free on her blog. She provides multiple clean eating recipe suggestions and a weekly workout schedule, more on this later. A lot of the recipes call for quinoa as a side or as a salad topping. But I’ll be honest I’m not a huge quinoa fan so I decided to sub in brown rice. It’s not as healthy but I mean its better than white rice, am I right?!

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So anyway, I was making a weeks worth of brown rice for lunches and dinners. I decided I was gonna get fancy and use an equal mixture of vegetable broth and water for my rice. So I put the rice, broth and water in the pot, z17040393O,--Downton-Abbey----fot--ITV-turned up the heat and then made a last section decision to add a little salt to the water because that’s what a chef would do, obviously. Once the pot was boiling I turned down that heat, turned on an episode of Downton Abby and occasionally stirred. After a totally dramatic episode (aren’t they all, seriously I cannot get enough of this show!) the liquid was absorbed and the rice was ready to go! I removed it from the heat, let it cool for a few minutes and then took a big heaping spoonful into my mouth…

…YOWZA that is some very SALTY rice! Way to go me! How did this happen?! I did NOT put that much salt in the water! Then it hit me, the broth was ALSO salted. So by using both my end result was very, very salty. Like ocean level salty.

The good news: The rice is still edible as long as there is something mixed in. Yesterday I had a veggie and rice bowl for lunch with avocado, red pepper, cucumber, spinach and chic peas with a lime balsamic dressing. Once mixed together the saltyness (it’s a word now..) of the rice was hardly noticeable. And today I had salmon and rice with a salad, once again after it was all mixed up, delicious, but I had a couple rice only spoonfuls and they were strong.

In the future I’m just gonna stick with good ol’ water. Lesson learned.

Have you ever messed up a super easy recipe? Share in the comments!

What I Ate Saturday: Descriptions of all the delicious food I ate this weekend.

This past weekend was spent in a food lovers paradise. I got to do all of the eating and none of the cooking! This resulted in a rather significant dent in my bank account as I had to pay for all of my delicious meals but sometimes a little indulgence is entirely necessary. Unfortunately I was so busy eating that I forgot to take a single picture of my food. Alas, you will have to rely on my words alone to get your foodie senses tingling. If you ever find yourself in London, Ontario check out these wonderful eats. Enjoy!

Saturday Morning Breakfast

What: Eggs, sunny side up with grain toast, home fries and an iced coffee.

From: Covent Garden Market, London, ON

The market is a city block filled with individual vendors, selling everything from fresh baked goods and locally grown produce to homemade jewelry and one of a kind art. On a Saturday morning it is bustling with people, young and old, bartering over the cost of berries, finding treasures among a sea of trinkets, sitting down to a classic breakfast made from scratch. Lucas and I wandered around, admiring the individuality of each vendor’s stand before deciding on one for our breakfast meal. The egg yolk was perfectly runny, the bacon was crispy and the toast was dripping with butter. Just the way I like it! I always save my home fries for the end. What better way to finish a meal than with salty, bite-sized, deep fried potatoes.

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Saturday Afternoon Lunch

What: Tuna Melt & Porchetta

From: Wich is Wich: A Proper Sandwich Shop, London, ON

Wich is Wich is a quaint and unassuming sandwich restaurant. Wooden tables and an assortment of chairs give the place a homey feel. We sat down for lunch late in the afternoon and had the place virtually to ourselves. The kitchen area is located right in the middle of the restaurant, easily view-able from the seating area. Lucas’ attention was absorbed fully by the chef, expertly preparing out meals. The pork for his sandwich was cut directly off a large hunk of meat that was clearly freshly cooked, then topped with arugula and a mustard seed vinaigrette. Lucas called it amazing. I had the tuna melt. It oozed with three different types of gooey cheeses and throughout there was a sweet and sour flavour from slices of green apple. Who knew something so simple could make a sandwich taste so complex and delicious!

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Saturday Night Dinner

What: Italian Inspired cuisine

From: Abruzzi, London, ON

Abruzzi is one of those small, independently owned restaurants that is modern and sleek. A different style of light hangs over every table and a large map of Italy hangs on the back wall. Our reservation was for 8:30 pm and the place was packed when we got there. Despite the crowed we were quickly seated. With a recommendation from the server we ordered an excellent bottle of smooth, full bodied red wine called Hepa from Tuscany. Knowing that it wasn’t going to be a cheap meal we decided to go all out. Starting with an Antipasti plate that consisted of 4 cheeses, 4 meats, almonds and olives. My favourite was a blue cheese cambozola, it literally melted in your mouth. For the main, I had the halibut over a pesto gnocchi with heirloom tomatoes and green beans. The fish was flaky and the flavours came together wonderfully. It had flavour without being over powering. Lucas had the duck breast over kale and veggie with four sweet potato ravioli. I only had a bite but the flavour was so rich in all the right ways. We finished our meals with desert. I had a warm creme brulee served with fresh berries, the pudding was so sweet and creamy with a hint of vanilla. Lucas had the tiramisu, which was topped in white chocolate shavings and served with ice cream. The whole meal was exquisite! From the atmosphere to the flavours, everything was divine.

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Kitchen Experiment: Roasted Veggie Medley

A few weeks ago I shared that I had been doing some cooking! Regular readers will know that this is a scary thing for me. But I also shared that my last two Kitchen Experiments were successful! Wooo! I had also promised to share the recipes! So today I am sharing my Roasted Veggie Medley Recipe.

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I’ve only got the one picture (I’m no food blogger after all) but my oh my it does look yummy doesn’t it?! And it’s healthy too! This dish is a great side dish for any meal.

Roasted Veggie Medley

Original Recipe by Alex Folkes

Ingredients

Note: There aren’t exact measurements for this recipe. The “measurements” below fed 5 people and provided left overs. But make adjustments as you see fit. 

Two medium to large sized sweet potatoes

4 or 5 large carrots

2 large handfuls of green beans

Extra virgin Olive Oil (EVO)

1/4 cup of Veggie Broth

Spices: basil, rosemary, cinnamon, salt and pepper

Instructions

1. Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees

2. Peel and chop the sweet potato and carrots into cubes. Put into casserole oven dish.

3. Wash green beans, remove the end and put into casserole dish.

4. Coat veggies with EVO.

5. Shake spices over veggies. Distribute evenly. Amount of spices used is dependent on personal taste. I used more basil and cinnamon than rosemary. And I just used salt and pepper to taste.

6. Pour the veggie broth into the mixture and stir. Just make sure all your veggies have some oil and spices on them. Then cover with tin foil and pop in the oven for 40 – 50 minutes. When the sweet potatoes are soft it is good to go!

Enjoy!

Catering by Chef Cugini

IMG_6092I’ve said it before and I will say it again, my boyfriend has mad skills in the kitchen. He is like Midas with food, every food he touches turns delicious. Obviously I am not the only one who has realized this because this weekend he was hired to cater for a private, in home, dinner party.

The party had 20 guests. Everyone was standing, moving around, socializing. There were no tables. So there was no main dish, instead it was 5 small courses that made up a one big meal. The theme for the food had a home cooked feel with fancy presentation, I like to call it “familiarly fancy”. As Lucas going to be very busy preparing, cooking, and plating 5 courses for 20 people he let me be his sidekick. I helped to plate things and I served the food and cleaned up. I must say we made a pretty great team.

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I have no idea how each meal was made but I can tell you what each dish was called and show you some drool worthy pictures. Maybe if there is some demand I’ll get Chef Lucas to do a guest post.

Course One: Martini Spaghetti & Beef Meat Balls

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Course Two: Roast Tenderloin Sandwich with Au Jus, Horseradish and Dijon. 

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Course Three:  Grilled Balsamic Portobello Mushroom, spinach and red pepper Sandwich 

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Course Four: Woodland Mushroom Risotto with parsley and Parmesan cheese

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Course Five: Mini-Grilled Cheese Sandwiches and Sweet-Potato Fries

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It all looked and tasted AMAZING!!! I broke my no-dairy and no-deep fried food rule for the day because it was all too good to pass up. The guests seemed to enjoy the food and the atmosphere that an in-home catered event provided. Hopefully this is the first of many paid gigs that he gets. Now just for fun, some more pictures of Chef Lucas and his creations!

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Kitchen Experiment: Dairy Free Tuna Salad

Yesterday evening I came home to an empty house. This is a very rare occurrence for me. In fact I cannot even remember the last time I was alone for an extended period of time (other than yesterday) and that is exactly the way I like it.

When I am alone I only have 3 possible states of being: Antsy, depressed, snacky. Being antsy isn’t so terrible, sometimes it can result in uber amounts of productivity. But feeling sad and sorry for yourself is not pleasant at all. And being snacky totally defeats the purpose of all the hard work I’m doing at the gym.

Last night I was feeling antsy. I am in the market for a new pair of sunglasses so I thought about going to the store and trying some on. But the store isn’t exactly close and with no one home I’d be using public transit which is slow and frustrating. Then I tried to convince a friend to come with me (she has a car – I know I’m a terrible person), but she wasn’t up for it. So I scratched that plan and moved onto fitness!

After perusing the group exercise schedule I decided that if I had a quick dinner I could make it to the 7:30 pm BODYPUMP class. This is a weight class based on the concept of lighter weights and more reps. I decided to try it out because weights training is being hailed as the best way to get strong and lean ect. ect. But I am clueless when it comes to anything other than the treadmill so attending a class seemed like a good idea. Well let me say this, that class was a challenge but I loved it (except for the squats – nobody likes squats)! I used the lightest amount of weight possible but my body was still aching! This obviously means that I am not strong and I must continue to go to this class.

Anyway, the title of this post is Kitchen Experiment so let me get to that (finally – gosh I love to talk). As I said I needed a quick dinner: Leftovers! Except NO! The only leftovers in the fridge was pizza which is delicious but covered in cheese (which I am not allowed to eat anymore) and it is not good pre-fitness food. Eventually I decided to make a tuna salad sandwich. Normally this would mean mayonnaise and cheese and tuna, not this time, healthy Alex is here to stay. So I made a healthy, dairy free, tuna salad.

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Most exciting part?! I didn’t follow a recipe. This baby was all me. I just did what felt right. Usually this heads disastrous results but my tuna salad was a huge success! Creamy, healthy, fueling power food.

Dairy Free Tuna Salad

Ingredients

1 can of tuna

2 table spoons of olive oil

1/2 tea spoon Basil flakes

1/3 tea spoon Garlic powder

Salt and pepper to taste

Juice from 1/4 slice of Lemon

1/2 an avocado

 2 slices of your choice of bread

Instructions

  1. Open your can of tuna and drain. Place in a medium sized bowl and mix using a fork.
  2. Mix in the olive oil, basil, garlic power, salt, pepper, and lemon juice. There is no need to follow the measurements exactly, adjust according to your taste buds. For a creamier tuna salad, add more olive oil.
  3. Toast your bread, I used 12 grain.
  4. Mash the avocado in a bowl using a fork. After the bread is toasted spread the avocado mash onto the toast. Pile your tuna salad on top of the avocado and enjoy!

Notes: From here you can do whatever you’d like. I added hot sauce to one of my slices and it was fantastic. Next time I am going to experiment by mixing the avocado in with the tuna. I also toyed with adding some little baby tomatoes. Also, eating the tuna on its own is an option. The opportunities are endless. In total this mean only took about 5 minutes to put together. Enjoy!


How would you dress up your dairy free tuna salad? Share in the comments!

Kitchen Experiment: Raspberry Vanilla Chia Seed Pudding

I’ve said this before and I will say it again, me and the kitchen are not good friends. Wow that rhymed! But seriously when it comes to cooking, baking and making food, I am not in my element. But that doesn’t stop me from experimenting every now and again. Sometimes my kitchen experiments are a hit (check out my awesome protein balls, or my salad in a jar trick) annnnnnd sometimes they are a big miss (learn from my guacamole disaster).

Today my kitchen experiment falls somewhere in between, it’s good but some refining is needed. So what did I attempt to make this time?! Well it’s in the title… Raspberry Vanilla Chia Seed Pudding! Please keep in mind that I am not a photographer or a food blogger and so the pictures do not do it justice. In fact the whole thing looks rather gross in the pictures. But I swear it is actually delicious!

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I follow a lot of fancy food bloggers (who are much more kitchen savvy than myself) and chia seeds are all the rage right now. They are rich in anti-oxidants and are super-duper nutritious, despite their tiny size. Because chia seeds are essentially flavourless you can add them to basically anything for added protein and fiber. Salads. Smoothies. Baked goods. Or you can make into a pudding!

Actually, I think pudding is an inaccurate description of what this is. It sort of has a jelly consistency. So I am more inclined to call it textured jell-O. Bottom line: No matter what it is called it is healthy and pretty darn good.

I’ve seen a ton of chia seed pudding recipes online but this morning I decided to wing it instead of following any one particular recipe. See the recipe below!

Raspbery Vanilla Chia Seed Pudding (textured Jell-O)

Serving Size: One

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons of Chia Seeds

3/4 cup of plain Almond Milk

1/2 a teaspoon of vanilla

1/2 a table spoon of sweetener (I used agave nectar) *optional

1 cup of frozen raspberries

Instructions:

1. Mix together the chia seeds, almond milk, vanilla, and sweetener in a small mason jar

2. Let sit, covered, in the fridge for 10 – 15 minutes

3. Add the frozen berries and let sit for an hour or so. I let mine sit in my bag while I was on my commute to work. This allowed for the berries to thaw out and for the seeds to create the jelly texture. But, you could also let it sit in the fridge, just be sure to leave it be for at least an hour.

Note: Some people prefer to have their chia pudding sit overnight but I think that might be overkill.

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I think my experiment turned out pretty well! I feel full and I it tasted good. That being said I add too much vanilla. I must have added nearly a full table spoon which made the vanilla flavour very very overwhelming. I adjusted the measurement in the recipe above. I also think other frozen berries would work out quite nicely. Next time I think I’d like to add some chocolate chips to the experiment. Just for kicks!

Have you ever tried chia seed pudding? How did yours turn out? Share in the comments!

PS. Have you seen the google image today?! It is st. Patrick’s day themed! Adorable!

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Where’s the Cheese?!?!

About a month a go I was experiencing some pretty strange health things and I bet you have all be dying to know what came of that. Let’s be real, you don’t really care, but I’m going to tell you anyway.

Gallstones

Yup. I have 4 little stones just chillin in my gallbladder. For those of you who do not know what gallstones are, click the link above to visit Wikipedia. In lamest terms they are annoying painful things built by unhealthy habits and a poor genetic disposition.

I found out about the stones after seeing a walk-in clinic doctor. He sent me to have an ultra sound done and there they were. The walk-in clinic doctor has said that my original pain happened because I was passing a stone through my intestinal tract. ew. But the remaining stones are small and until they get bigger he isn’t going to do anything. In other words, you aren’t sick enough yet. To quote him, “eventually the stones will grow in size and or number and at that point we will do surgery to remove your gallbladder”. Thanks, but no thanks, doc.

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Last week while at the chiropractor I briefly mentioned the aforementioned information. He said, well there is a method you can do at home, a series of stretches, that will force you to pass the remaining stones. It will be painful but then they will be out of your system, no surgery. Better but still not ideal because the pain is real when your passing…

So a friend suggested I see a naturopath. This is a fancy word for all natural remedy doctor. The woman who treated me was a super nice lady. She put a little machine around my neck and based on my pulse and the machine readings she was able to judge the health of my organs. Because #science. Her findings supported my imaging results. My gallbladder is in a bad way. So she has given me some drops to take 3 times a day, another concoction of sorts to drink once a day and some  guidelines for my diet…

Eliminate

Deep fried foods

Pork

Creamy diary products

Cheese

For the most part this is still a very open and non-restrictive diet. Really, it is mostly not a big deal. I don’t eat too much deep fried food to begin with, so that’s just fine. The only pork I eat is bacon, bye bye turkey bacon clubs. My tea will miss a splash of milk but herbal teas are all the rage anyway.

But cheese!?

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I cannot be deprived of the greatest gift known to human kind! Creamy and delicious. Tastes good in both a melted and solid state! Good on chips, crackers, sandwiches and so much more! Excellent for pairing with wine! Anything, take anything, just not my cheese. 

The struggle is real…

What food can you not stand the thought of living without? Share in the comments!

Salad in a Jar

This is revolutionary. Seriously, lunch at the office just got a whole lot healthier.

Do you ever stand in front of your open fridge thinking “I should have a healthy salad for lunch… but the lettuce leaves will be all wilted from the dressing by lunch. ew. I’ll just take this Tupperware container filled with spaghetti instead…” Because I do. A lot.

Sometimes preparing a salad seems like a lot of work in the morning and its especially disappointing when you do go to all that work and end up eating a soggy, wilted salad at lunch time. So more often than not I eat the left over pasta. Maybe it’s because I live with Italians but there is almost always some left over pasta in the fridge.

I had resolved to a lifetime of timmy’s bagels and wilted salad when pinterest helped me to stumble across this gem of an image.

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Found on Scholastic.com

There you have it folks, salad in a damn jar. If you’re still not sure why this is such a big deal, let me tell you. The dressing goes in first and therefore sits on the bottom of the jar. The hearty bits go in second, heavy veggies and such. The lighter bits or softer veggies, nuts, seeds, cheeses, ect. go in after that. Finally, the lettuce goes on top. Pack the lettuce in there real tight. If there is some extra space fold up some paper towel and pop it in the top before you put on the lid (this helps absorb extra moisture). Now all you need to do is keep that jar up straight and your lettuce wont wilt. I’m sorry, did yo get that? YOUR LETTUCE WONT WILT!!!

Putting everything in an airtight jar keeps it fresh and wilt free. As I said earlier, revolutionary. Then when you get to work dump the contents of your jar into a bowl and enjoy! I’ve had 3 jar salads this week, each with different veggies and dressings. I prefer to use smaller jars and bring something else as well, soup or a sandwich or something. But you could always use a bigger jar and have a bigger salad. The options are endless.

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What do you like to put in your salad? Share in the comments!