With layers of bright vegetable colors, Jeremy Rivera’s mason jar salads inspire lunch envy whenever they appear in the HRD Administration building fridge. He shares the secrets to his healthy, filling lunch.
Jeremy has been at King County for five years, and today works as special duty assignment administrative specialist III for the Human Resources Division. He began making the salads in 2013 when he committed to a healthy habit and weight loss routine. Still committed, Jeremy does mind-body exercises, yoga, and meditation at home, and gets people’s hearts pumping for three evenings a week as a Zumba instructor at 24 Hour Fitness.
“It’s hard to make a drastic lifestyle change,” Jeremy shares. “I’ve gone through the wringer when it comes to changing my eating habit and activity. Find something that works for you and celebrate the little achievements in your journey.”
Mason jar salads help keep his healthy eating on track. They travel easily in his backpack as he travels by bus, train, and walks to work. He prepares them batches, which saves time and helps him stick to a healthy eating routine throughout the week. Here’s how the assembly works.
Salad greens of some kind (usually romaine or green leaf lettuce) are a staple, and Jeremy usually buys pre-made salad mixes at his local supermarket. Other fruits and vegetables change with the seasons. He adds apples and corn in the fall, and berries in the summer. A stop at the farmers market is another way to find the freshest, most flavorful produce. Include a favorite protein like garbanzo beans, chicken, or hard boiled eggs to make a more filling meal.
Rinse all ingredients (even if they come “pre-washed”). Chop every ingredient into bite-sized pieces so the salad is easier to eat. Cutting vegetables into different shapes makes the salad more interesting to eat; Jeremy juliennes carrots and peppers, but cubes cucumbers and apples.
Pour dressing in the bottom of the jar. Jeremy follows a general dressing template of olive oil and vinegar, fresh ground pepper and herbs, occasionally adding minced garlic and Dijon mustard. Inspired by his Southeast Asian background, he often prepares a version that includes sesame oil, apple cider vinegar, a bit of fish sauce, chili flakes, cilantro and green onion. Two tablespoons of dressing usually does the trick.
Heavier vegetables like cucumber, carrot, celery and apples can withstand mingling at the bottom with the dressing and become richly flavored as they marinate. Protein like chicken, tofu, beans, or seafood go next. Salad greens follow and usually fill half to two thirds of the jar. Finally come toppings like moderate amounts of cheese, dried fruit, or seeds like pumpkin and sunflower that add a nice crunch.
Shake the salad to disperse the dressing and then onto a plate. Eat up!
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