Fruits and Veggies in a Mason Jar

| Posted On Mar 04, 2014 | By:

The 2014 Sochi Olympic athletes aren’t the only ones who deserved medals in February – our SMArt Kids are proving to be worthy contenders themselves. Despite a long winter, they are as motivated as ever to make healthy choices and work on their SMArt Kids’ goals.

Given the doldrums of winter, we decided to brighten things up a bit at our recent SMA.  This meant an entire session devoted to fruits and veggies! Our SMArt Kids’ nutritionist, Linda Germaine-Miller, kick-started the meeting with an introduction to Mason Jar Salads.

SMart Kids Mason Jar 1The idea behind Mason Jar Salads is to create portion-controlled, plant-based meals that are easy, healthy and delicious and can be done ahead of time and used over the course of a school or work week.  You can use pint-sized jars for side salads, quart-sized jars for individual meal-sized salads, and 2-quart jars for multiple servings. The jars can be refrigerated for up to 5 days. The parts stay fresh due to the simple layering technique.

Regardless of the salad type, here are the basic but all-important layering instructions:

  1. Pour 1-4 Tablespoons of salad dressing into the bottom of jar (Linda recommends the less dressing, the better!)
  2. Next, add any hard veggies you may be including, like peppers, carrots, or cucumbers
  3. Next, add any beans, grains, or pasta
  4. If you will be eating the salad within a day, add any cheese, meat, tofu or eggs.  If you will not be eating the salad until later in the week, wait to add those items to the top of the jar on that day
  5. Add softer veggies next like avocado, tomatoes or fruits (also wait to add these if you won’t be eating the salad right away)
  6. If you are adding nuts or seeds, do this layer next
  7. Finally, fill the rest of the jar with salad greens.  Tear them into bite-sized pieces
  8. Screw on the lid and place in the fridge
  9. Mealtime? Unscrew the lid and shake the contents into a bowl. If needed, toss with a fork

(And a special thanks to Amanda from our pediatric department for introducing us to the idea of mason jar salads!)

Linda and our SMArt Kids made a delicious and nutritious Mediterranean Salad full of color, crunch and flavor. Check this out!

SMart Kids Mason Jar 2MASON JAR SALAD

Cook Time – 0
Prep Time – 10 minutes

Four, 12-ounce mason jars
1 cup cooked Israeli couscous (prep according to box directions)
2 cups garbanzo beans (canned – drained and rinsed)
1 cup cannellini beans (canned – drained and rinsed)
1 cup black beans (canned – drained and rinsed)
1 cup feta cheese (crumbled)
1 cup cucumber (diced)
1 cup tomato (diced)

Garlic Lemon Dressing:
2 whole lemons (juiced and zested)
2 tablespoons shallots (finely chopped)
1 whole garlic clove (minced)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

To make the dressing: In a small bowl, combine lemon juice, zest, shallots, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. Whisk until well combined.  Set aside.

Assemble each mason jar in the following order (this special order will ensure ingredients don’t become soggy):

Store in the refrigerator until ready to eat. When ready to serve, dump jars contents into a bowl, toss, and enjoy!

Nutritional Information: Calories – 450; Fat – 19g

We learned that eating a plant-based diet is critical to staying healthy.  In fact, a diet rich in vegetables increases longevity and overall health.  SMArt Kids know that vegetables are important in the prevention of cancer and cardiovascular disease, as well as have a protective effect regarding the eye and digestive tract. Eating an array of colors or a “rainbow” ensures a wider range of antioxidant phytochemicals, which are natural substances that keep us healthy.  Think about starting a chart on your fridge to record the colors you ate during the day. (You can visit for ideas about a “rainbow” chart.)

When it comes to your fruit and veggie intake, always think back to the icon. Fifty percent of the plate should be fruits and veggies!

Families should also realize the significance of eating more foods from nature and foods with a short shelf life (in other words, foods that rot!)  Consider the mantra from author Michael Pollan: “If it‘s from nature eat it, if it’s not…don’t.”  When shopping at your local grocery store, do your best to shop on the perimeter in order to avoid the aisles with processed foods (long shelf lives) and instead focus on the natural foods (short shelf lives).  Also think about eating foods with the least amount of steps from farm to you, which means less ingredients and less processing.

If you are still worried that your kids at home won’t get the message about eating enough vegetables, try these tips to encourage more veggie consumption:

Sneaky Chef by Missy Chase Lapine

Deceptively Delicious and Double Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld

In addition to all of the kids’ hard work on the Mason Jar Salads and learning more about fruits and vegetables, they worked with Chip Wilder, LICSW, from our Behavioral Health Department at Harvard Vanguard Burlington. Chip led the SMArt Kids through an important mindfulness exercise. He has been working with them each month on mindfulness and finding their internal compass. This month, he taught them about being a “sky” and acknowledging that the weather (your feelings, thoughts, emotions) may change but the sky (your mind) stays steadfast.  This technique of  treating “your mind is like the sky” will help the children focus on their SMArt Kids’ goals.

SMart Kids Mind like the Sky

We look forward to our upcoming SMA in March. Keep up the SMArt (and mindful) work!

Brittanny Boulanger, MD



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About Dr. Brittanny Boulanger

Joined Harvard Vanguard: 2005 Undergraduate School: Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH Medical School: University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA Internship: Golisano Children's Hospital, Rochester, NY Residency: Golisano Children's Hospital, Rochester, NY Board Certification: Pediatrics Hospital Affiliations: Children's Hospital, Boston, MA; Winchester Hospital, Winchester, MA Clinical Interests: Newborn medicine and adolescent medicine Personal Interests: Running, soccer, hiking, skiing, travel and spending time with her two young children.


  1. This was terrific and I will most definitely forward the recipe and ideas to my patients and friends with kids!

    Comment by Julienne Seed, RD on March 7, 2014 at 5:13 pm

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