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10 Tips For The Perfect Mason Jar Salad

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Could transporting your salad to work, school or just to take on the road get any easier?! Our friends at Chief Active have shared this wonderful article with us and we think these tips will come in handy for all the Food Matters salad lovers out there! 

In case you hadn’t noticed, mason jars are all the rage these days! And with good reason – they are super cute and such a handy size, whether you use them around the home, use them for storage, or even use them to package your food!

While we are all about doing what makes you feel good, there is a bit of an art to packing the perfect mason jar salad to ensure maximum freshness and flavor when you want to eat your salad later on.

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Here Are Our Top 10 Tips For Building The Perfect Mason Jar Salad:

1. First things first, make sure your jar has been washed and dried before getting started (excess moisture in the jar will make salad leaves go yuck).

2. Be prepared! If you are super organized and get all your bits and pieces together first, you can whip up a mason jar salad in about 30 seconds flat! Next, prep and cook all your veggies and proteins that you want to include.

3. Want a dressing? I like to do things like cook my sweet potato in coconut oil and season with cinnamon and turmeric, or soak soba noodles in green tea and tamari, to let those flavors come through in my salads so I don’t even need dressing. But for a more traditional dressing you can’t go past good, old fashioned, extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of Himalayan salt and cracked pepper!

4. It’s all about the layers, baby! To ensure your salad doesn’t turn into a soggy mess by lunchtime, it’s best to layer your salad with the more ‘juicy’ produce, like noodles, pasta, sweet potato, cut tomatoes, at the bottom, of the jar. If you have a dressing you can put this in the bottom of the jar too.

5. The middle layers of your salad can have a little bit of moisture in them, but you don’t want them to be soaking wet because it will muck up the delicate leafies that you’re putting on top. Grated carrot, zucchini, kale, corn kernels, blueberries, and whole cherry tomatoes are all great options for this middle layer because they are sturdy enough that they won’t get crushed (plus they taste great!)

6. Next layer is your leafy greens, like baby spinach, rocket (arugula), and mesclun lettuce leaves.

7. I also always add fresh cut herbs to all my salads because even a tiny sprinkle adds so much flavor.

8. Remember not to fill your jar all the way to the top because you need a little bit of room so you can shake your salad and mix everything up before you eat it. If the jar is packed too tightly you’ll just end up with a salad brick!

9. It’s always a good idea to add a handful of added protein to each salad, like chicken, drained tuna, boiled egg, seeds or nuts right on top.

10. PRO TIP: There’s a very important reason why I put nuts and seeds in the jar last. When I shake my salads to mix them up, the nuts and seeds make A LOT of noise when you shake it around. So if you keep shaking until you can’t hear your seeds clanging about, you know that your salad is mixed through good and proper.

Creamy Mushroom Soup

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Mushrooms have the ability to help boost your immune system, providing you with numerous vitamins, minerals, and enzymes. 

Their hearty, earthy flavors become the star in a soul-warming soup like this! 

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 cups of mixed mushrooms, depending on what is in season and available to you, chopped roughly
  • ½ cup coconut cream
  • 2 cup water or vegetable stock

METHOD

  1. In a large pot over medium-high heat, sauté onion, garlic and mushrooms.
  2. Add thyme, coconut cream and stock, simmer for 10-15 minutes.
  3. Remove soup from heat, and allow soup to slightly cool, then blend (in blender or food processor) in batches until you have a smooth puree.
  4. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed.

Mini Coconut Lime Cheesecakes

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Creamy, zesty, simple to put together and delicious. These mini raw coconut and lime ‘cheesecakes’ will soon become your hero recipe!

BASE

  • ½ cup macadamia nuts or almonds
  • ½ cup Medjool dates
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp shredded coconut

METHOD 

  1. Place all ingredients into a food processor and blitz until fine and combined.
  2. Divide the base between 6 mini moulds (line molds with baking paper or use silicone molds)
  3. Press down evenly. Place in freezer to set while you make the filling.

FILLING

  • 2 cups raw cashews, soaked overnight
  • 1 cup coconut cream
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • Juice and zest of 1 lime
  • 1 tsp Food Matters Superfood Greens

METHOD 

  1. Place all the ingredients into the food processor and process until you have a smooth, silky texture.
  2. Take the bases out of freezer and pour mixture over bases, evenly.
  3. Let the cheesecakes set in the freezer for at least 3 hours.
  4. Keep cheesecakes in the freezer until 10-15 minutes prior to serving.
  5. Top with some fresh lime and crushed nuts.

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Banana and Coconut Bread

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Traditional banana bread is chock-full of ingredients we don’t want anywhere near our bodies. Butter, sugar, and salt are some of the main ingredients you’ll find in a typical banana bread recipe. Contrary to this, the below recipe swaps out refined sugar for the natural sweetness of dates and uses brown rice flour instead of refined white flour.

Rice flour is gluten-free, making it a suitable substitute for those with Celiac disease or a gluten intolerance. It is also a good source of protein and dietary fiber, which is helpful for keeping our digestive system in good health. A diet that is high in fiber promotes regular bowel movements and improves blood sugar levels.

Flour is also a great option if brown rice flour isn’t on hand.

Serves: 8

Prep time: 30 minutes

Cook time: 60 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 125 ml (4 fl oz/ 1/2 cup) coconut oil, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla paste
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 3 very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 8 Medjool dates pitted and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
  • 65 g (2 oz/ 1 cup) shredded coconut
  • 135 g (4 oz/ 1 cup) brown rice flour

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) and line a 10 x 22 cm (4 x 8½ inch) loaf (bar) tin with baking paper.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, mix the melted coconut oil with the vanilla, eggs, bananas, dates and bicarbonate of soda. Next, add the shredded coconut and brown rice flour and fold in until well combined.
  3. Pour this mixture into the lined loaf tin and bake for approximately 45–60 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes 
out clean.
  4. Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then slice and pack up in a fresh piece of baking paper or brown paper with cotton twine to take to the picnic.

Pineapple-Date Bar

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For a super sweet snack, try my Upside Down Pineapple Slice. The sweetness of the “caramel” goes perfectly with the tartness of the pineapple. Then, add some coconut and it’s a killer combination!

Typically, caramel is made with all those not-so-great ingredients like refined sugar, cream, and butter. But the so-called caramel I use in this recipe is completely natural and made from dates.

Dates are a good source of dietary fiber, which aids digestion and promotes healthy bowel movements. Dates also contain a variety of essential vitamins and minerals including iron, potassium, copper, magnesium, manganese, B-vitamins, Vitamin A and Vitamin K. The latter two contribute to eye health and also help you to maintain healthy skin. Talk about a real treat.

I love this raw upside down pineapple slice. It doesn’t require any cooking and I love to have these in the freezer for when I have sweet tooth cravings. They really don’t last very long in my house! I created this recipe inspired by “Thahabi”, a lustre coating by Jotun Paints Arabia. Thahabi reflects the golden souk, the golden grains of sand, the desert and this region’s timeless heritage.

Serves: 8

Prep time: 15 minutes

Freeze time: 2.5 hours

Ingredients:

I used a 10.5cm x 20.5cm loaf tin.

Caramel

  • 1 cup dates
  • ½ cup water

Almond Coconut Base

  • ½ cup dates
  • ½ cup almonds
  • ½ cup desiccated coconut
  • ¼ cup oats
  • ¼ cup golden raisins
  • 1 tablespoon raw honey
  • 1 tablespoon bee pollen (optional)

Top with fresh pineapple slices (0.5 cm thick) and bee pollen to decorate.

Instructions:

  1. To make the caramel sauce, place the dates and caramel into a food processor, and blend until a smooth syrup consistency is formed. Set aside.
  2. Grab your tin and line with baking paper. Carefully arrange the pineapple pieces at the bottom of the tin.
  3. Pour the raw caramel sauce over the pineapple, and let it set in the freezer for at least 30 minutes while you prepare the base layer.
  4. For the base, add all ingredients into a food processor and process until the mixture sticks together when pressed between the fingers.
  5. Remove the pan from the freezer, and press the base mixture on top of the pineapple and caramel sauce, the harder you pack, the better it will stay together when you turn it upside down.
  6. Put back into the freezer for 2 hours to set. Slice can be kept in the freezer until serving (let defrost for approximately 15 mins for the cream to soften).
  7. When ready to serve, flip the pan upside down onto a plate.
  8. Slice carefully with a sharp knife and sprinkle some bee pollen (optional).
  9. Enjoy this delightful treat with your family and friends.

Note: This pineapple slice can be kept in the freezer for 1 week. Just thaw out for 15 minutes when you have some dessert cravings.

Ice Cream With Turmeric And Coconut

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This rich and fluffy ice cream is the perfect dairy-free way to dessert. Whipped coconut cream creates a thick base while aromatic turmeric and toasted coconut add a mellow and exotic flavor.

For this ice cream, you want to use a coconut milk that is on the thicker side. Set your can in the refrigerator overnight to allow the cream to thicken as much as possible. When you open your can of coconut cream, there should be a thick layer that is solid and white with just a little bit of liquid. It will take a little bit of elbow grease and patience to achieve an airy fluffiness to the coconut cream.

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 3 minutes

Yield: Approximately 6 cups prepared

Ingredients

  • 2 cans coconut cream
  • 1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 2 tablespoons pure honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Directions

1. Toast shredded coconut in a pan over low heat until light golden brown, 2-3 minutes. Allow to cool.

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2. Using a hand-mixer on high speed, beat the coconut milk turning the bowl and swirling the beaters into the coconut cream; beat until fluffy. This may take 5-7 minutes.

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3. Once the cream has fluffed up a bit, stir in the honey, sea salt, and turmeric.

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4. Pour into a parchment paper lined bread pan or ice cream pan. sprinkle toasted coconut on top. Instead of adding the shredded coconut to the coconut cream, I opted to toast it up for a pretty topping for the ice cream. The toasted coconut enhances the flavor of the coconut in the ice cream and adds a little bit of texture and crunch. Cover with aluminum foil. Freeze 4-6 hours or until just frozen through. Scoop and serve. Store covered in freezer. 

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That’s right, no ice cream machine necessary for this recipe.  I find that 4-6 hours are just enough to freeze the ice cream while still remaining scoopable. If your ice cream does get too hard, simply let it thaw for 15 minutes at room temperature before scooping.