Make life easier and prepare these easy, healthy salads ahead of time!
Ok, I will admit I was hesitant about this whole mason jar salad trend. I just didn’t get it. What’s the point in putting a whole salad in a mason jar? And wouldn’t it be hard to eat out of a narrow mason jar? That’s when I learned that you don’t actually eat it out of the jar, you just store it there. AHA! Now THAT makes sense!
Well, when I visited the ALDI Test Kitchen in Chicago last month, I was part of the “Build A Better Salad Challenge” using mason jars and lots of healthy ingredients. I was like a deer in head lights. I had no clue where to begin.
That’s when I learned that there is a method to this mason jar craze. You start at the bottom and put the dressing there. Next, you add some hard vegetables that won’t get soggy laying in the dressing. You know, this is where my red bell peppers were. Next, you add soft fruits and vegetables (avocados and berries). Then we layer protein, like hard boiled eggs, chicken and beans. Last, you add your greens and of course I couldn’t resist adding chia seeds on top!
I decided to just make a salad that I would want to eat. A nice big, healthy salad that’s packed with flavor. We all created our favorite salads and Tara Gidus, R.D. and Chef Brigitte Nguyen were the judges. I never thought I had a chance. But will get back to the competition in a bit.
Before we created these salads, we tried lots of healthy snacks from ALDI exclusive brands. Check this out…
We didn’t try them all, but we tried a bunch of them! We started with a taste test of ALDI Premium Orange Juice and the major competitor. I chose the ALDI brand! We did many other taste tests and they we were lucky enough to enjoy some delicious food.
Look at these!
Chef Brigitte made us these delicious Sweet Potato Patties (upper right hand corner on the board). They were packed with flavor and protein! Then on the bottom left, Chef Brigitte made us Tuna Hummus Stuffed Peppers (in the most adorable little tiny peppers!) And last, we had a yummy Shrimp Quinoa dish. Full disclosure I did not eat the shrimp but the quinoa was phenomenal!
Then above it to the left was this delicious and super easy Ranch Dip and then my favorite, a Tropical Chai Pudding!
In between trying all of these delicious foods, Tara Gidus, R.D., who co-hosts national television shows and is the Registered Dietician for Orlando Magic basketball team as well as Run Disney, shared an informative presentation on how to make healthy snack choices, eating fiber rich carbs at each meal and how to properly stay hydrated. These were so up my alley!
I love that Tara called snacks “the bridge to the next meal”, meaning that they aren’t supposed to fill you up, but simply tide you over until your next meal. Tara also shared some of her favorite (and mine too!) low glycemic snacks (meaning that they don’t spike your blood sugar levels too high after eating). These were Greek yogurt and berries, frozen grapes and carrots and hummus. Just like I tell my clients, these should only bee 100-200 calories per snack.
Next we talked about how important it is to eat fiber rich carbohydrates with each meal. Not only do they improve blood sugar levels, but they are a great source of energy. Some sources are brown rice, 100% whole wheat pasta, quinoa and beans. All of which I love! Tara’s talk was super informative and she offered some useful tips.
Then we were lucky enough to test out some of their products and actually had “taste tests” to see which ones we preferred, ALDI brand or a major competitor. It was so interesting! Most of the time I chose the ALDI exclusive-brand product and then they would show us how much less expensive they were. Check out these crackers…
Let’s get back to that salad.
So, there was a competition for best healthy salad and guess who won?
ME! I am not exactly sure how I won (and this isn’t the best picture of me) but I was excited to win!
- For the dressing:
- 4 tablespoons Carlini Olive Oil
- 4 tablespoons Specially Selected Balsamic Vinegar
- 1 small clove garlic, crushed
- ½ teaspoon Simply Nature Organic Wildflower Honey
- ¼ teaspoon Stonemill Essentials Salt
- ¼ teaspoon Stonemill Essentials Pepper
- 2 tablespoons Southern Grove Chia Seeds
- For the salad:
- ½ red bell pepper, chopped
- ¼ avocado, chopped
- ½ cup mixed berries
- 1 hard boiled GoldHen Large Egg, chopped
- 1 ounce Kirkwood Chicken, chopped
- ¼ cup Dakota's Pride Great Northern White beans
- 2 cups SimplyNature Organic Baby spinach
- Southern Grove Chia seeds for topping
- Prepare dressing by mixing all of the ingredients in a small bowl.
- Pour into mason jar.
- Layer ingredients in order written above starting with red bell pepper right after dressing.
- Store in the refrigerator for up to 12 hours until ready to eat!
I bet you are wondering what I won for the salad competition? I won ALDI gift certficates and guess what? I am giving away another $50 ALDI gift certificate TODAY!