Packing a lunch for school-aged children can be challenging, but I find it almost as challenging to pack a lunch for myself. As an adult, it sometimes seems easier to grab a sandwich, soup or salad from the deli counter in the building, than it is to take some time and brown bag it... or in this case, Mason jar it.
The problem with eating out is that you can't control the fat, sodium and all the additional preservatives take-out food may have. Take some time in the evening to prepare a healthy salad that is packed full of protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals and you will have a salad that will power you through the rest of the following day.
I would consider this to be a Mediterranean salad. Beans, avocado and vegetables make this salad a fiber powerhouse that helps feed the billions of bacteria in our guts. The latest study shows that eating a Mediterranean diet can help boost our health by keeping the beneficial bugs in our guts happy, and that means our digestive and immune systems remain in good working order. And although it is vegan, you could add a hard boiled egg, salmon or chicken for extra protein. This recipe makes 4 to 6 servings and can be kept in the fridge up to 3 days. Keep the salad and the dressing separate until you are ready to pack it for lunch. Of course you can play around with the ingredients and use whatever you have on hand, and/or your favorite salad foods.
Green Power Salad
• 1 large green bell pepper, sliced
• 1 tsp salt
• 2 tsps cane sugar
• 2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
• 2 cups sugar snap peas
• 12 thick asparagus spears, woody ends trimmed
• 8 cups of lettuce (your choice)
• 2 cups cooked or canned cannellini beans, rinsed and drained (or other beans of your choice)
• 1 English cucumber, chopped
• 1/4 cup unsalted shelled pistachios, chopped
• 3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
• 2 Tbsp water
• Juice of 1 lime
• 1 small ripe avocado
• 1/2 cup basil
• 1/2 cup parsley
• 2 green onions, green parts only
• 2 garlic cloves, minced
• 1/2 tsp salt
First you are going to pickle the peppers. You can do this days in advance and have them ready to go. To do this, place sugar and salt in a bowl and add 2/3 cup boiled water. Stir until sugar and salt are dissolved and then stir in apple cider vinegar. Let cool for a few minutes and then add vinegar mixture to sliced peppers. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours or up to several days.
Half-fill a medium saucepan with salted water and bring to a boil. Add snap peas and boil for 1 minute. Using slotted spoon, transfer the peas to a bowl of ice water to halt the cooking process. Set aside. Use a vegetable peeler to shave asparagus spears into long, thin shavings. Thinly slice remaining tips.
To make the dressing, place olive oil, 2 Tbsp water, lime juice, avocado, basil, parsley, green onions, garlic, and salt, into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Add more water, 1 Tbsp at a time, if you want a thinner salad dressing.
To assemble the salad, place avocado dressing in the bottom of jars and then top with your peppers (which have been removed from vinegar mixture) and shaved asparagus, beans, lettuce, and pistachios. Put your jar into a thermal lunch bag and give it a good shake when you are ready to eat!
Photo from here, with thanks.