Ask my husband what my favorite foods are and he’ll say “anything that requires a lot of action.”
It sounds strange, but he’s talking about hand-to-mouth action, the actual physical movement of using your hands to move food to your mouth.
Think of eating popcorn… there’s a lot of movement between picking up kernels and putting them in your mouth. Much more so than the four bites it takes to demolish a homemade granola bar.
My brain is wired to need a higher ratio of hand-to-mouth action than most people, which means that while I definitely enjoy a good steak or pan-fried pork chops for dinner, or even a snack-style lunch with a healthier alternative to Nutella, I really need something with more action.
Like a salad.
I love that salads require more stabbing at food than less. And to be completely honest, having the innate desire for more action means the food on my fork needs to be more healthy than less.
Especially if I want to fit into my jeans… which is pretty important considering the massive overindulgence (a.k.a. “The Holidays”) that happened just a few weeks ago. YIKES!
For nine months out of the year, you can throw just about anything over a bowl of greens and call it a meal. From Spring peas to Summer squash to Fall apples, there’s certainly no shortage of ideas. Plus drizzling my favorite strawberry vinaigrette makes any bowl of vegetables taste utterly amazing.
That’s why when Winter rolls around and berries and zucchini and everything else that sounds appetizing on a salad pretty much disappears, I go through crunchy withdrawals.
Ideas for what to add to my plate of baby kale and shredded Napa cabbage dry up. Getting past the “no fun fruits” mantra is hard, and thinking of ANYTHING other than produce is darn nearly impossible.
But really, do we HAVE to stick to produce?
I mean, really – is there anything you CAN’T add to a salad?
Nope, and that’s how today’s Protein-packed Winter Mason Jar salad was born.
Instead of looking at fresh produce for flavor, this protein-packed Winter mason jar salad looks to seeds for nutrition and texture. Good year round and packed with nutrition, seeds are now my go-to salad ingredient when I’m stuck with what to add to my plate… or jar.
Speaking of jars, this is THE best way to pack a salad to go. Put the dressing on the bottom and layer it with your ingredients – saving the lettuce for last – and you literally can pack a week’s worth of lunches ahead of time. Just one more thing to help make your mornings go smoother.
The star of this super-yum protein-packed Winter mason jar salad is the hemp hearts. Me and hemp hearts go all the way back to when I was writing this book and was looking for an inexpensive, yet healthy source of protein. They worked deliciously in real food protein bars, and they work just as deliciously – if not more so – in this mason jar salad.
On their own, hemp hearts have a nutty taste and when curled up with a piece of kale and a ribbon of carrot, they add a punch of flavor with each crunchy bite. They’re also the star of the citrus vinaigrette, making hemp hearts a beacon of light reminding us that Spring isn’t too far away.
On top of that, this protein-packed Winter mason jar salad means your refreshing lunch will easily hold you over till dinner (thank you 26g of protein!). And because it’s a salad, there’s lots of fun bites to help with the hand-to-mouth issue.
Protein-packed Winter Mason Jar Salad (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan)
- Yield: 2 salads 1x
- 1/4 cup hemp hearts
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 tsp honey
- 1/8 tsp salt, plus more to taste
- 1/8 tsp pepper, plus more to taste
- 4 cups loosely packed kale (torn into bite-size pieces if large)
- 2 medium carrots, sliced into ribbons with a vegetable peeler
- 6 Tbsp cooked quinoa, measured after cooking
- 6 Tbsp sunflower seeds
- 6 Tbsp hemp hearts
- orange or grapefruit wedges (optional)
- Combine all dressing ingredients except hemp hearts in a food processor or blender and run on low for 20-30 seconds, until the garlic is no longer in large pieces. Add the hemp and pulse a few times to incorporate well.
- Divide the dressing evenly between two quart-sized mason jars.
- Divide the remaining ingredients between the two jars and layer in the following order: carrots, sunflower seeds, hemp hearts, quinoa, kale.
- To serve, shake the jar to distribute dressing. Allow to sit for about 5 minutes before serving.
Additional Recipe Notes
You can substitute just any grain you have for quinoa. In fact, this recipe is perfect for when you have just a little bit leftover from dinner. Who says you can’t two or more grains in the same salad either?
Letting the salad sit for a few minutes before eating means the lemon juice has a chance to soften the bitter, tough kale leaves. Don’t worry – they won’t get soggy.
Change up the flavor by substituting another citrus juice instead of lemon. Try orange or grapefruit, or even pineapple! Another ides is swapping maple syrup instead of honey.
Although completely optional, wedges of oranges or grapefruit would really pack a punch of flavor and compliment the salad well. Plus they’re readily available in the winter! Put these just after the carrots as you assemble, if you decide to add them.
- hemp hearts: $2.66
- lemon juice: $0.25
- garlic: $0.10
- olive oil: $0.13
- honey: $0.08
- kale: $1.00
- carrot: $0.20
- quinoa: $0.89
- sunflower seeds: $0.37
Total cost of the recipe is $5.68, or just $2.84 per salad.
Raise your hand if you’ve ever spent more than $3 at a fast food place for a salad, because you forgot your lunch and that was the best available at the time?
Yeah, me too. Fortunately, if I can remember to pack them all up on Monday, missing lunch for the rest of the week won’t be an issue!!
What do you put in your salad during the winter months?
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Manitoba Harvest and all opinions are 100% my own. As always, I only endorse products I wholeheartedly believe in, and I would never recommend anything on Crumbs that I wouldn’t recommend to a close friend or neighbor. Read my full disclosure statement here.