In two weeks I celebrate my seven-year anniversary of walking through the doors of the Weight Watchers center in Marquette, Michigan to become a member. I shared the story of my journey in a post on my birthday in June (click here to read).
Daily, I think about how thankful I am to have embraced a healthy lifestyle and to be given the opportunity to be a Weight Watchers leader and help others maximize their health and find success in weight management.
When I started Produce with Amy I was nervous and unsure if anyone would even read my posts. I am grateful for the continued support and messages that I receive from those who are following my blog and those who stumble on my Facebook page or find my recipes on Pinterest. If you are reading this now I would like to thank you! While writing helps keep me accountable to my own goals, I love the way the Internet can erase the miles and that my posts from the rural Upper Peninsula of Michigan can reach people across the country and across the globe. I am constantly using my blog as an authentic and real world example of writing with my high school students. It makes me giggle when they roll their eyes and tell me, “Mrs. Laitinen, my mom reads your blog and last night we had green smoothies.” How cool is that?
In July, I was THRILLED to be contacted by Weight Watchers Marketing Manager, Donna DeMarco, to see if I would be interested in writing an article for the THINLINE publication. THINLINE is given out at all of the meetings within our WW franchise. (Read my piece on page 24 entitled Inner Spark.) Ms. DeMarco said that both her and Florine Mark are fans of my blog. I cannot think of a bigger compliment and I am so thankful.
Earlier today I shared my recipe for an exotic and elegant, Fruited Chia Salad with Blackberry Vinaigrette. I am equally excited to share a more classic salad and dressing recipe that I know will be a big hit with many because what is better than a Greek salad? I have never been to Greece but it is a destination that occupies the top of my bucket list. Even though my heritage is mainly of Finnish and Swedish descent, I am asked often if I am Greek.
GREEK VINAIGRETTE DRESSING
- 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup of red wine vinegar (since homemade dressings can be made to suit individual tastes, I always recommend that you add vinegar to meet the level of tartness that you enjoy. If you prefer your dressings less tart you can add more olive oil)
- Juice and zest of one lemon
- 1 Tablespoon of Dijon mustard (I have also used spicy brown mustard)
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1 Teaspoon red onion (you can substitute with green, white, or yellow onion)
- 1 sprig of fresh oregano (Approximately 2 Tablespoons. If you are using dried use 1-2 teaspoons. Taste as you go and add more if desired)
- 1/4 cup of olive oil (You can add more depending on taste. You could also skip the oil and add the oil directly to each salad, or to the jar, to maintain portion control)
- Salt and pepper to taste.
Blend well. When this dressing is blended, it does get frothy but will separate when stored in the refrigerator. It could also be mixed with a whisk if you want a more rustic texture.
When making Mason Jar Salads put the dressing in first and keep it away from the greens. The acid in the dressing will make the greens slimy. If you close tight (I do not vacuum seal my jars) they will keep for over a week in the refrigerator. When you are ready to eat you can shake, and either pour the salad out on a plate or bowl, or eat straight out of the jar.
MEDITERRANEAN MASON JAR SALADS
I layered these ingredients, in the following order, in one quart Mason jars. (I made six salads)
- 3 Tablespoons of Greek Vinaigrette
- Sliced cucumber (I used two cucumbers)
- Chopped green bell pepper (I used two peppers)
- Beets (I love beets in Greek salad. I used my mom’s pickled beets but you could roast your own or buy them prepared in a can or jar)
- Artichoke hearts (I bought them from the olive bar in our local grocery store. You can also buy them canned or in a jar)
- Orzo pasta salad (recipe to follow)
- Pepperoncini (I divided this jar between the salads ~ 4-5 peppers per jar)
- Kalamata olives (I used 5 olives per jar)
- Feta Cheese (even though I try to remain dairy-free I did end up putting 2 Tablespoons of feta in the salads.)
- Chopped romaine lettuce
- One cup of white beans
- Two cups of cooked orzo pasta
- Juice and zest of one lemon
- 2 Tablespoons of finely chopped red onion
- 1 cup of chopped tomatoes (I was still able to pick fresh tomatoes from my garden)
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1 Tablespoon each of fresh oregano, mint, and dill (if you are using dried you can use one teaspoon)
- Handful of fresh parsley (you can substitute a couple teaspoons of dried)
- 1 Tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
- 2 Tablespoons of red wine vinegar
- Salt and pepper to taste
Mix well. This also serves as a great side or main dish. If serving on its own you can add olives, artichokes, peppers, feta cheese, and even chopped kale, spinach, or your favorite green.
So far, for this school year, I have made a different kind of Mason Jar Salad each week. They stay fresh and are a great way to make sure you are getting a variety of fruit and vegetables into your meal plan. Many of my Weight Watchers members love them and say that the jarred salads inspire them to make more vibrant selections and that they end up throwing away less produce. The bottom line is that Mason jar salads can be better on our waistline and on our pocketbook. I hope you enjoy this recipe and if you try this salad, or any of my other recipes, please let me know. I wish you a healthy and energy packed week!