Category Archives: Food

Mason Jar Salads (Again)

I am always a little amazed when Sunday night rolls around that the weekend is already over. I have always loved weekends but I appreciate my time with my family even more these days. Weekends this year don’t equate with sleeping in or half day crazy workout sessions, but they still include meal prep.

I mentioned how well Mason Jar Salads turned out. This weekend Matt said he would be game to try them too. His request was to include chicken breasts in his version.

Cobb Caesar Mason Jar Salad Directions:
Use a wide mouth quart-sized jar and layer, in this order:
1. Bottom layer – 2 Tbsp Caesar dressing
2. Second layer – ¼ cup chopped red peppers
3. Third layer – ¼ cup chickpeas
4. Fourth Layer – ½ chicken breast, chopped
5. Fifth Layer – 1 ½ boiled egg, chopped
6. Sixth Layer – Chopped Romaine lettuce
7. Seventh Layer – shredded mozzarella cheese

Make sure that the dressing is only at the bottom of the jar, and doesn’t get on the sides of the jar.
Matt said that it was one of the best lunches he has had in awhile. He is doing this again for lunch tomorrow, and said he would love to have a jar salad two or so lunches a week every week.
2013-05-06 19.40.01


I based my salads for the week on the Main Street Chop Chop from the Mixx

Main Street Chop Chop Mason Jar Salad Directions
Use a wide mouth quart-sized jar and layer, in this order:
1. Bottom layer – 2 Tbsp Stone Ground Mustard Vinaigrette (recipe to follow)
2. Second layer – ¼ cup chopped red peppers
3. Third layer – ¼ cup chickpeas
4. Fourth Layer – ½ cup lentils
5. Fifth Layer – ¼ cup chopped chicken breast
6. Sixth Layer – Chopped Romaine lettuce
7. Seventh Layer – Thinly sliced cabbage
8. Seventh Layer – shredded mozzarella cheese

Mustard Vinaigrette
• 1 tps minced garlic
• ¼ cup red wine vinegar
• 5 teaspoons Dijon mustard
• 1/3 cup olive oil
• salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

In a jar with lid, add all ingredients. Close jar lid and shake to combine ingredients. Taste and add additional salt and pepper to taste.

Do yourself a favor and add jar salads to your meals next week and save some time for important things, like naps. 2013-05-06 18.44.22

What I’m Loving This Week

Yay!  Friday!  I hope you’re getting ready to head into a wonderful weekend.  Any Derby or Cinco de Mayo plans?  Jack wants to party but they are already starting to know his name at our favorite watering hole so we might have to keep his sombrero wearing shenanigans to a minimum.

It has been an eventful week around here.  Some quick iPhone pics to catch you up on the week:

Workouts this week were great!  Highlights include Tuesday morning running group.  What an awesome group of gals! (And Lewie, the dog)runners

I don’t have a picture but I met up with one of my favorite workout buddies, Emily, for a great Crossfit workout and catchup.  It is seriously the best to have friends with whom you can share your start of the day with good conversation and fitness.  We did “Jackie” with me modifying the pull-ups.

For time:
1000 Meter Row
50 Thrusters, 45lbs (30 lbs women)
30 pull-ups

Two great spin classes thrown in the mix, and another spin class tomorrow.  I’m teaching – hope some of you can join me at CityGym at 7:45am tomorrow!

Matt indulged me in one of my favorite quick dinners:  an open faced egg avocado sandwich.  This one features two over medium eggs on sourdough with an herb cheese and half of an avocado sliced on top.  Delicious!eggs















And of course, our little guy is big love of mine this week.  He has really started to enjoy looking out the window.  I think he is going to be a big outdoor lover like his mama and daddy.outside

And I love that we had some warm weather this week.  Jack has so many cute warm weather clothes (Thanks Grandma!) and I love dressing up my little doll.seerksucker

This weekend is going to continue with a fun friend’s wedding tonight (yay!) and Jack’s first non-friend or family babysitter.  Wish all of us luck!

Hope your weekend is off to a great start!

Layered Mason Jar Salads

I might be a little late to the Mason Jar salad party (salad party…whaaat?) but I am happy that I finally tried it out this week. Isn’t this beautiful? (Well, not my photography skills. I have a lot to learn and need a lot of practice. )IMG_1693

I take a salad to work for about 80% of my lunches. This has meant cleaning and chopping veggies nearly every Sunday, and dividing those veggies into multiple separate containers. You see I don’t like to premix my salads. There is just something unappetizing to me to have all of the beautiful colored veggies and proteins at the bottom of a bowl of wilted lettuce. So I typically portion out a daily serving of protein in one container, and then all of the mixed veggies for the day in a separate container, and my greens in a third container. For 4 days of salad this meant 12 containers (Impressed with my math skills? Why, yes. I AM an engineer)hogging room in my fridge, not to mention the constant experiment of how to best bring salad dressing.

This week I did the same prep of cleaning and chopping but layered my ingredients nicely in a jar for my Monday-Thursday lunches. The lettuce was still crisp and the salads were very fresh. Here’s a quick how-to for Mason Jar Salads.IMG_1691

Mason Jar Salad Directions:
It is really important to make sure your jar and all ingredients are dry before layering so you don’t end up with a soggy salad. I used the wide mouth quart-sized jars. It might not look like a huge jar but it completely fills a restaurant size bowl. I also dump my jar into a bowl rather that eating directly from the jar. Seems easier to eat and I like having the layers mixed together.  After some research and planning this is what I have found to be the optimal layering method:
1. Bottom layer – dressing
2. Second layer – hearty vegetables (think cucumbers, peppers, beets, carrots, onions, etc.) These vegetables will marinate in the dressing so keep that in mind when picking your dressing and veggies.
3. Third layer – proteins (beans, eggs, or meat). You could also do a grain here if you wanted.
4. Last layer – greens.

For my first salad I used:
1. 2 Tbsp of a homemade balsamic vinaigrette dressing
2. Cucumbers, peppers, red onion, grape tomatoes
3. Chickpeas
4. Chopped romaine lettuce

I didn’t think cheese would be great in the jar so cheese is one of your favorite ingredients I would recommend brining it separately. I love avocado on my salads but it is definitely an ingredient that I like fresh so I will bring it separate when I decide to incorporate it.

Very easy way to get lots of fresh vegetables in your week and a very easy lunch to grab from the fridge on your way to work. Matt likes salads too but rarely takes one to work. He said I could sign him up for a couple next week. I think this will become a regular lunch in our house, so again I would love suggestions. What are your favorite salad combinations?

Homemade Lärabars

It’s funny – I had essentially no sweets cravings during pregnancy.  (But don’t even ask how many bags of frozen green beans I consumed or how many times I suggested some sort of beef dish for dinner)  But, unfortunately, my sweet tooth came back and I am trying to tame the beast.  I was trying to satisfy my sweet tooth with a piece of fruit after lunch but that really wasn’t cutting it.

After my friend, Megan, posted about her homemade Lärabars I thought they could be the perfect solution.  Lärabars are so yummy and have a very simple list of ingredients:  Dates, nuts, mix-ins, spices.  So last weekend I finally tried out a couple of variations.  These bars can last for about a month in the fridge so I made a couple of types so that Matt could take them for lunch too.

Apple Pie Homemade Lärabar

(adapted from this recipe at Rawified)


  • ½ cup almonds
  • ½ cup walnuts
  • 1 cup dates, pitted
  • ½ cup dried apple rings, diced
  • ½ cup raisins
  • 3 tbsp cinnamon


  • Combine the nuts and dates in a food processor.  Process for about 2 minutes, or until the ingredients start to form a sticky “dough.”
  • Add the cinnamon to the dough and combine for another 30 seconds or until you can see the cinnamon throughout the dough.
  • Add the dried apples and raisins and pulse until combined, making sure not to overprocess or liquefy the dough.
  • Get six pieces of plastic cling wrap ready
  • Divide and shape the dough into six equal sized bars, and wrap in cling wrap.  Store wrapped bars in an airtight container.Food ProcessorApple Cinnamon

I love anything cinnamon so I knew that this would be a hit with me.  Matt likes chocolate so I made a chocolate chip version too.  Same basic directions as above but with these ingredients:

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Lärabar Ingredients:

  • ½ cup almonds
  • ½ cup walnuts
  • 1 cup dates, pitted
  • ¾ cup chocolate chipsCookie Doug

And because I had coconut on hand, I made these two as well:

Choco-Coco Lärabar Ingredients:

  • 1 cup mixed almonds and walnuts
  • 1 cup dates
  • 2 Tbsp cacao powder
  • 1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

Key Lime Pie Lärabar Ingredients:

  • 1 cup almonds
  • 1 cup dates
  • Juice of 3 Key Limes
  • 1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

The verdict? Finished Products Matt loved the cookie dough bars and is working his way through the six.  I decided he liked those so well I wouldn’t try them and would leave all for him.  I love the apple pie bars and really liked the choco-coco.  I’m just so-so about the key lime pie.  Despite a good amount of lime juice, the almond flavor was overwhelming.


Do you have a favorite Lärabar flavor?  I’m looking for flavors to try out after this stash is gone.


White Bean, Kale and Sweet Potato Veggie Burgers

Hope your Saturday is great so far!  I taught City Spin at City Gym this morning (love those people!) and went to brunch with my favorite boys at You Say Tomato.  We were trying for Succotash but the line was too long and I didn’t think Jack would enjoy a wait very much.

I am sitting down to do a little menu planning before grocery shopping but wanted to first get the awesome veggie burger recipe to you from last weekend’s post.  (I’m sure you’ve been on pins and needles waiting! ha!)

White Bean Sweet Potato Kale Veggie Burger

(adapted from this recipe at Making Thyme for Health)


  • 2 cans white beans (15 ounces each), drained and rinsed
  • 1 large green pepper, diced
  • 1 medium cup onion, diced
  • 2 cups kale, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, cooked
  • 1 ½ cup oatmeal (I used old fashioned oats but quick oats would probably work fine)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • Lime juice from 3 key limes
  • 3 teaspoons Sriracha
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat breadcrumbs


  • Dump one drained & rinsed can of white beans in a large bowl
  • Next, add the kale, bell pepper, onion and garlic to the beans and stir together.
  • Puree the other can of drained and rinsed beans in a food processor until still slightly chunky.  Add to the bowl of other mixed ingredients.
  • Then add the cooked sweet potato (removed from the skins), through  salt and pepper to the bowl and combine together.
  • Refrigerate the mixture for at least 30 minutes (or for as long as it takes to change your baby and get him down for a nap.)
  • Preheat the oven to 375.
  • Take handfuls of the bean mixture and form burger size patties with your hands. (I got 9.5 burgers out of this recipe)
  • Place the patties, one at a time, into the bowl with the breadcrumbs so that the outside of the burgers are slightly coated.
  • Place burgers on lined baking sheet and bake for 13 minutes on each side.   Sauté the burgers on the stove with olive oil for about one minute on each side to give them a nice crunchy finish.veggie burger mashveggie burger

This is one of the best veggie burgers I have made to date.  The Sriracha gave a welcome kick that will make even the biggest meat eaters appreciate them.  I had enough for a weekend lunch, my lunch throughout the week, and froze the remaining burgers in two packs (fully cooked to microwave later) to have for an easy lunch or dinner in a busy week…and aren’t they all busy weeks?

Even though this is a quick iPhone picture, aren’t the colors beautiful?  Enjoy!

Prepping for the Week

Hello!  I hope your weekend was great.  Mine was so refreshing.  Matt and I had our first big night out (longer than 1.5 hrs) since Jack was born just the two of us (Thanks to our wonderful friends Rachel & Dave) last night.  It’s amazing how much more we were able to really talk…even if half of our topics involved Jack.

So after a great night, I woke up ready to have a productive day.  I did more extensive menu planning on Thursday night so that I could get groceries on Friday afternoon.  So with the kitchen stocked I started some food prep.  On the menu for the week:

  • White bean kale burgers (recipe to come later this week) over romaine
  • Beef braised in wine with onions (based on this recipe) With sweet potatoes and steamed asparagus
  • Chicken stir-fry with bell peppers, onions, snow peas, and broccoli

Lots of veggies in these meals so I cleaned and chopped all of the veggies this afternoon so that our evenings will be a bit easier and so that we can have dinner on the table quicker.  Jack is really interested in dinner time lately.  He likes to imitate us chewing so we are trying to have dinner before his 8pm bedtime so he gets plenty of big people practice.

A couple of time-saving tips:

  1.  I almost always make a 4-pot serving of steel cut oats on Sunday and individually portion them out so that I can have an easy breakfast.  Today I added cinnamon to the pot as they were cooking.  These oats smell heavenly!
  2. I “cooked” the asparagus quick method.  I chopped the stalks in half, put them in a microwave bowl, added about ¼ cup of water to the bowl, covered in saran wrap and mircowaved for 3 minutes.  Perfect texture.

While the burgers were baking I put my workouts on my calendar to make sure I planned a variety of workouts and would make them a priority.

Monday:  Strength training/Dirty 30
Tuesday:  Run group
Wednesday:  Spinning
Thursday:  Run group
Friday:  Strength training
Saturday:  Teach Spinning (at City Gym)

Now that I’ve typed it out I feel even more committed.  All of these are morning workouts which works best for me.  You see, I have this funny little guy at home and I have an impossibly hard time leaving his side after the work day.  Here’s a video of his new vocalization:

Any big plans for the week?

Good Eats

I’m one of those people who would like to look in other people’s shopping carts at the store but I hold myself back so that I’m not too rude.  I can get some good ideas from snooping though and that I would give you a virtual look into my weekend groceries.

I stopped in at Trader Joe’s over the weekend.  Usually I look at a couple of my staple grocery stores ads to see what is on sale for the week and start to menu plan.  I really did not have my stuff together before Saturday but when I had the opportunity to go to the store I thought I had better grab it planned or not.  This trip was not as planned out, but I think planning on going heavy on produce is a good strategy in our house.

IMG_1280I always start with the fruits and veggies section of a store so that I give good cart real estate to the good stuff.  The winners:  a couple of bags of romaine, baby spinach, kale, broccoli slaw, carrots, avocados, snap peas, tri-color peppers, cherry tomatoes, oranges and frozen peas.

IMG_1281Followed by bananas, Greek yogurt, feta cheese, shredded mixed cheese, pizza dough, horseradish, black beans, pasta sauce, a few soups, a couple of boxes of crackers and chicken sausage.  IMG_1282

Followed up with dates for some baking next week, two frozen entrees (Indian and Mexican), pecans, granola bars, and TJ’s nutella.

I stopped at another store for a standing rib roast (Matt’s request for his birthday dinner).  The TJ’s trip set me back about $120.  As I look at the pictures I can see a lot of waste in the packaging, and can see ways that I could save money by getting less convenience food (packaged lettuce, pre-cut veggies).  But all in all I was happy to have so much beautiful produce that will help fuel our week.

Interesting combination of the trip?  Greek yogurt with prepared horseradish is delicious!  It was so good with the standing rib roast and I could see it being a great dip for veggies.IMG_1284

Jack thought Free State was the most interesting find of the trip.

Any Trader Joe’s favorites I need to add to my next trip?