The Mason Jar Lunch

8

I recently bought my sister a book about Mason Jar lunches for her birthday, because I thought it looked healthy, trendy, and something she would love. The day I bought it, however, I leafed through it on my subway ride home, and began to regret not getting myself a copy!  Since then, I decided to try and make myself my own Mason Jar lunches for work, and here’s my first attempt.

Before getting into the recipe, it’s good to know a couple of the benefits of jarring your lunch instead of using a plastic container.  For one, the Mason Jar seals your lunch tight and keeps it fresher for longer, especially salad which always seems to get brown and wilty too soon.  Second, since Mason Jars are made of glass, you don’t run the risk of having unwanted chemicals leech into your food, especially if you bring a lunch that you want to microwave.  Also, glass is not porous, making it less likely to hold the aroma of your salad after you’re done eating.

The book provides more information about Mason Jar lunches, including step-by-step instructions and tips on how to most efficiently jar your lunch.  Check it out at Barnes & Noble here. Here’s my Mason Jar lunch recipe. It made three servings.

1

What you’ll need:

1 cup Kidney beans (super nutritional)

1/3 of an onion

3 servings of Quinoa (check your bag or box)

1 zucchini

Green olives (I used whole olives, unpitted)

Artichoke hearts

Less than 1 cup of peas

Olive oil

Mason Jar

10

Note that these measurements (and even ingredients) are very much subjective to my own tastes and preferences.  You can add more of less of something, or replace certain items with other veggies/grains/carbs.  The sky is the limit with these lunches!

Here’s what you have to do:

Chop up the onion and saute it in a little oil.  Also, cook the quinoa according to the directions on the packaging. Peel and slice the zucchini.  You’ll have to cook this one, too.  As soon as you have a free pan and an open stove top, saute the zucchini in a little bit of oil and you can sprinkle with salt and pepper as it cooks.

Once your onions are done cooking, you’re ready to begin jarring! I put a little bit of oil at the bottom of my jar, but I learned after I ate my lunch the next day that this step was unnecessary.  At the bottom of the jar you want to put whatever liquids will be in your lunch, such as dressing or oil. (The book also gives a neat trick for packaging your dressing inside the jar in such a way that it doesn’t touch your food at all!).  I layered the onions at the bottom in the oil.

2

Next, I layered in the zucchini.  As a general rule, things that are already wet and have a low risk of getting soggy in the fridge overnight should go towards the bottom, and the more delicate items (such as lettuce) should be towards the top.

3

Next came the quinoa.  I drained the quinoa in a strainer before I put it in the jar to remove all excess water.

4

Next came the kidney beans and peas…

6

And last but not least, the artichoke hearts and olives on the very top. Keep your lunch at its freshest by minimizing the amount of air in the jar by packing it tight with as much food as you can fit.

7

This recipe turned out delicious, and it made three lunches for the upcoming week.  If you are taking these lunches with you on the go, I advise that you make sure there’s a bowl you can use at your destination.  I like to leave a bowl and fork on my desk at work so I never have to worry about packing that one extra thing in the morning.

Jarring my lunches this week was quick and easy, but if you don’t have jars yet or you just aren’t into the idea, I suggest that you still consider bringing your own lunch to work, school, or wherever it is that you spend most of your time.  A pre-prepared lunch is a smart lunch because it is not subject to impulsive purchases that one would only crave at lunch time.  It’s also a lot cheaper than buying your lunch every day.

Comment your favorite Mason Jar recipe!

9

Stay fit and fresh, all!

Coney Island Beach Workout? ABS-olutely!

Cover

1

2

Yesterday was such a beautifully sunny day, and lucky for me also my day off from the gym, so I decided to take a trip into Coney Island for a walk on the boardwalk and an ab workout on the beach.  On days that I’m not at the gym but still want to get some sort of workout in, I usually try to do abs or cardio, or both!  Additionally, I much prefer to spend these days outside when I can, and an outdoor workout for me is more fun and interesting than doing something indoors.

That said, in addition to the benefits I just mentioned of exercising outdoors, working out on the beach is particularly beneficial because the sand and water provide different and unique challenges for your body.  Sand is constantly moving around and shifting, causing your body to do more work to remain balanced.  Yoga and Pilates become more difficult and engage more muscles when done on sand when compared with being done on flat and unchanging surfaces.  Jogging and running on sand is also more beneficial than doing so on pavement because it requires more range of motion from your muscles causing them to work harder, and the soft sand is kinder on your joints.  Swimming in the ocean is also a great workout, especially when working against waves and currents (but no rip tides please!)  These types of conditions cause your muscles to constantly adjust and be in motion, engaging you more than if you were to remain inside.

My choice of beach exercise yesterday was abs.  I have multiple different ab routines, and I like to vary this workout as much as possible to get the best results.  Before I detail yesterday’s routine, however, it is important to remember a few key points before venturing out in the heat into a public area like the beach to exercise.  It is HOT out there, and you won’t have the luxury of a nearby waterfountain or an air conditioned rest to replenish your resources.  Please remember to bring an ample supply of water, as well as an umbrella to shield the sun, and sunscreen.

Yesterday’s workout consists of 9 exercises, broken into subsets of 3, and each subset is repeated for 3 sets.  I shoot for 20-30 reps for each set, but as this exercise is long and intense, you might want to start smaller and work your way up.

Set 1

Set 2

Set 3

Subset 1 consists of these three exercises: 

  1. Regular crunches with legs extended up, and at a 90 degree angle (as illustrated in the picture above)
  2. Knees still at 90 degree angle, lay legs down to your left, allow your hips to rotate left, and crunch the right obliques
  3. Same as number 2, but legs should go to your right side, and crunch the left obliques

Subset 2 consists of these three exercises: 

  1. Keep your legs straight up and allow them to form a 90 degree angle with your torso.  Keep your arms flat at your side, and lift your legs and hips off the ground.  Your legs should go straight during this move without bending or changing the 90 degree angle at all.
  2. Go into a side plank.  For this move you can keep the arm closest to the sky straight up, or leave your hand on your hip.  Allow your hip to touch the ground, while still remaining in side plank position.  Then lift up so your hip moves back into side plank and extend past side plank.  This completes one full rep.  This is an oblique move, and you should make sure you feel it on the side of your abdominal facing the floor.  Flip over and repeat on the other side. (This move is illustrated in the picture above).
  3. Get back into the position of the first exercise of this subset with your legs straight up.  This time, instead of leaving your arms at your side and lifting your legs, extend your arms upwards and bring your fingertips towards your toes, lifting your back off the ground as much as you can.  (This move is illustrated in the picture above).

Subset 3 consists of these three exercises: 

  1. Bicycle – lay flat on your back with your hands behind your ears, elbows to the ground.  Bring your right elbow to your left knee, keeping your right leg straight and not touching the floor.  Flatten back and legs out to starting position and then bring your left elbow to your right knee.  Flatten back and legs out, and this completes one rep.
  2. Lay flat on your back, and leave your hands under your butt for lower back support.  Slowly raise your legs off the floor, keeping them straight, until they are perpendicular to the floor.  Lower back down slowly, and this completes one rep.
  3. Sit up, bend your knees, and clasp your hands together.  Lift your heels off the floor and touch your fists to the floor, alternating the left and right side.  One rep consists of you touching  both sides.  The straighter your legs are for this one, the harder it gets.  Keep your feet off the floor for this whole exercise!

I do each subset three times before moving on to the next subset.  That’s a total of 9 exercises, 27 sets, and over 500 reps! This is a great workout to start with, but please never stop varying up your exercises and incorporating your own flair into your workouts.  Do you have a favorite ab workout?  I’d love to hear about it and incorporate it into my routine!

Stay fit and f-AB-ulous, all!

Coney 1

Coney 2

Coney 3

Coney 4

Coney 5

Coney 7