The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO


January 8, 2014

Amanda Stone: Grab and go made easier

CARTHAGE, Mo. — January is a great time to try new things and focus your negative winter energy on feeling healthier. That's where trusty old Mason jars come to the rescue.

Mason jars are far more exciting than you may think. They're the vessel responsible for the convenient and aesthetically pleasing Mason-jar meals. Grab-and-go food just got easier, healthier and less wasteful. Packing a lunch for work or school will never be the same. What's not to love?

The premise is simple: For salads, dressing goes at the bottom with layers of veggies, protein and greens. Protein could be beans, grilled chicken or salmon, cheese, sunflower seeds or anything else your heart desires. Shake it up, dump it in a bowl, or eat it right out of the jar. Salad in a jar doesn't require an extra, tiny container for dressing that always leaks. I love that.

For a heartier meal, layer a jar with roasted veggies, whole grains and protein. You may have to learn to deconstruct your meals. Each component is a layer that can be removed and reheated. Personally, I love leftovers cold. But when placed in layers, you are in control of your reheating destiny.

Mason jars can take the guess work out of breakfast, too. Layer yogurt, fruit and nutty granola to make a pretty, powerful parfait. Or fill jars with fruit and overnight oatmeal. Grab a jar and a spoon, and be on your way.

Meals in jars can help you make healthier choices, especially if you're new at clean eating. Grabbing a jar from the fridge is just as easy as snacking on other convenient choices such as crispy crunchies in a crinkly bag. Grab a jar of fruit layered into a rainbow or a hearty salad meant for tomorrow's lunch. If the munchies have grabbed hold, you have to fight it with the good stuff.

Fill a jar with chicken or vegetable soup. Put the noodles or rice on the side. You'll be surprised by how quickly you'll feel full from the liquid and fiber in the veggies.

To prepare a week's worth of Mason jar meals, you'll need an afternoon, clean counters and some food. No big deal. You can do this. Roast a big pan of your favorite veggies. Mine are sweet potatoes, beets, broccoli, cauliflower and asparagus. Steam some quinoa or whole grains, and cut up a bunch of veggies. Take your finished products and layer them into days of jar meals. Your fridge will look like an army that's ready to attack the evils of holiday eating excess.

Mason jars can help make dinner a snap. When you set aside some time to fill your jars for the week, make some side dishes, too. Grill some protein and jars from the fridge, and dinner is done.

Try these recipes to get your jars going. Double the recipes and have plenty for dinner and a few Mason jar meals.


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Speaking of Gardens


A new provision by the U.S. Department of Agriculture allows qualifying districts with high percentages of students on food assistance to allow all students to eat free breakfasts and lunches. Would you agree with this provision?

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