Good morning friends!
How are you doing today? I hope your week has been lovely so far, and if you’re a Canadian parent or student, I hope the back to school transition went smoothly! Yesterday was my final day of work before moving on to my new job opportunity next week, and it was full of saying goodbye to my awesome co-workers. I’m going to miss them all so, so much, but at the same time am super excited about the new possibilities that lie ahead. For now, I’ve got a couple of vacation days to enjoy. Hot yoga here I come!
I know that not everyone is going back to school, but September always feels like a new year to me because of all the change it brings. I know a lot of others look at it this way too, and if your eating habits could use some cleaning up, it’s a good time to look for some fun and nutritious portable lunch ideas. That’s exactly what I’ve got for you today, and although I hesitate to call it a recipe because of its simplicity, I’m excited to tell you about it nevertheless. To begin, you’ll need the following ingredients:
If you don’t have some of the above veggies, feel free to swap in your favourites or those that you have on hand. Similarly with the chicken, vegetarians and vegans could easily swap in cooked beans, edamame, marinated tofu, or tempeh. It’s almost impossible to mess up the assembly of this meal, which I’ve decided to call Chopped Chicken Salad to Go
All you need to do is stack the ingredients in some mason jars, top them with greens, and voila! Instant portable lunches for an entire week (or however many you decide to make).
The order of the layers here is important. The chicken is at the bottom, so that if you were to drizzle in a dressing ahead of time and let the salad sit, it would absorb the flavour and become gorgeously juicy. The greens are at the top so they don’t get squished, and the cooked spelt berries are just beneath so that when the jar is tipped over into a bowl, you have a nice grainy base. This recipe makes enough to fill 4 mason jars with the capacity of about 1 1/2 cups each, and any remaining space in the top can be filled with greens. Happy lunching!
This easy to make, portable salad is satisfying and one you’ll look forward to on days when you’re eating lunch on the go.
- 1 cup diced or shredded cooked chicken
- 3/4 cup carrots, grated or diced
- 1/2 cup red onion, diced
- 3/4 cup mixed sweet bell peppers, diced
- 1/2 cup celery, diced
- 1/2 cup raw spelt berries or wheat berries (or sub uncooked quinoa to keep the recipe gluten-free)
- baby greens (as many as you like!)
- your dressing of choice (I like to use a simple homemade blend of equal parts extra virgin olive oil and white balsamic vinegar with a good pinch of black pepper and sea salt)
For the spelt berries/grain:
- Spelt berries can be soaked in water ahead of time, which will shorten their cooking time. To do this, place spelt berries (or wheat berries) in a bowl of water and set it on the counter for 4-8 hours.
- If you soaked the spelt berries, drain off the soaking water and rinse. Transfer to a small saucepan and add 2 1/2 cups of water or low sodium vegetable broth. Cook over medium heat. Soaked berries should take about 25 minutes whereas unsoaked berries will take 50-60 minutes. When fully cooked, they should be slightly more chewy than cooked wild rice, but not crunchy. Drain any remaining water and rinse the grains, then set aside to cool.
- If using quinoa, boil the grains in water or low-sodium vegetable broth over medium heat for 10-15 minutes, or until most of the liquid is absorbed. Drain any excess, then set aside to cool.
For the rest of the salad:
- Chop all vegetables and chicken. Evenly distribute them in layers across 4 jars, in the order listed. (Chicken on the bottom, spelt berries/quinoa on the top). Fill any remaining space at the top of the jars with baby greens.
When ready to eat, drizzle with your favourite dressing and shake the jar. Pour into a bowl (over more greens if you want to), and enjoy!
If you give this one a try, I’d love to hear how it turns out. Leave me a comment below and let me know what you think!