Monday, August 25, 2014

How to Pack the Perfect Salad in a Jar

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How to Pack the Perfect Salad in a Jar
We love our canning jars for everything from storing grains in the pantry to shaking cocktails in the park. But by far one of our most favorite ways to use our pint- and quart-sized canning jars is to pack them with salads. Yes, that's right,leafy green salads. Dressing goes on the bottom, veggies and other salad goodies get piled on top. Everything stays separate and dressing-free until you toss the salad together in the bowl — never eat another soggy lunch salad. Even better, these salads last for days in the fridge so we can make a week's worth of lunches ahead of time.
How to Pack the Perfect Salad in a Jar

How do the greens not get soggy?

The basic idea when packing salads in jars is to start with the heaviest and most non-absorbent ingredients with the dressing on the bottom of the jar and work your way up through the lighter ingredients until you end up with the salad greens themselves. As long as your jar doesn't accidentally tip over you in your bag, the delicate greens will be well-protected from the dressing until you're ready to eat.

How does everything get mixed together?

When you're ready to eat your salad, just unscrew the cap and shake it into a bowl. Everything gets pretty compacted in the jar, so some vigorous shaking may be needed! This shaking also helps to toss the salad ingredients with the dressing. Once the salad is in the bowl, you can toss it some more with your fork to make sure everything is evenly coated.

What's the best jar to use?

Any canning jar can be used, but wide-mouthed jars are the easiest for both packing the salad into the jars and shaking them out again. Pint-sized jars are great for individual side-salads of mostly greens with just a few "extra" salad toppings. Use quart-sized jars for larger lunch and dinner salads that have a lot of extra veggies and salad goodies. Two-quart jars and larger are great if you're taking the salad to a potluck or cookout.

How long will jars of salad keep in the fridge?

With the lid sealed tightly, these salads can last for several days in the fridge — up to 5 days or so. If you're making salads with soft ingredients or perishable proteins, like avocados, tomatoes, hardboiled eggs, or cooked chicken breast, wait to add those ingredients until the day that you plan to eat the salad. Also, if you have a vacuum-sealer attachment for your canning jars, vacuum-sealing the salads right after assembling them will keep your greens and veggies even crisper and fresher.
Do you ever pack your salads in jars? What are your favorite combos? Any other great tips to share from your experience?

How to Pack the Perfect Salad in a Jar

Makes 1 salad

What You Need

1-4 tablespoons salad dressing
Mix of raw and cooked vegetables, fresh and dried fruit, nuts, cheese, and other salad ingredients
Salad greens 
Wide-mouth canning jars with tight-fitting lids:
pint jars for side salads, quart jars for individual meal-sized salads, 2-quart jars (or larger) for multiple servings

Large bowl, to serve


  1. Salad Dressing: Pour 1 to 4 tablespoons of your favorite salad dressing in the bottom of the jar. Adjust the amount of dressing depending on the size of the salad you are making and your personal preference.
  2. Hard Vegetables: Next, add any hard chopped vegetables you're including in your salad, like carrots, cucumbers, red and green peppers, cooked beets, and fennel.
  3. Beans, Grains, and Pasta: Next, add any beans, grains, and/or pasta, like chickpeas, black beans, cooked barley, cooked rice, and pasta corkscrews.
  4. Cheese and Proteins (optional): If you'll be eating the salad within the day, add a layer of diced or crumbled cheese and proteins like tunafish, diced (cooked) chicken, hardboiled eggs, or cubed tofu. If you're making salads ahead to eat throughout the week, wait to add these ingredients until the day you're planning to eat the salad and add them on top of the jar.
  5. Softer Vegetables and Fruits (optional): Next, add any soft vegetables or fruits, like avocados, tomatoes, diced strawberries, or dried apricots. If you're making salads ahead to eat throughout the week, wait to add these ingredients until the day you're planning to eat the salad and add them to the top of the jar.
  6. Nuts, Seeds, and Lighter Grains: Next, add any nuts or seeds, like almonds, walnuts, and sunflower seeds. If you're making a salad with lighter, more absorbent grains like quinoa or millet, add them in this layer instead of with the beans.
  7. Salad Greens: Last but not least, fill the rest of the jar with salad greens. Use your hands to tear them into bite-sized pieces. It's fine to pack them into the jar fairly compactly.
  8. Storing the salad: Screw the lid on the jar and refrigerate for up to 5 days. If you're including any cheese, proteins, or soft fruits and vegetables, add these to the top of the jar the morning you plan to eat your salad.
  9. Tossing and eating the salad: When ready to eat, unscrew the lid and shake the salad into the bowl. The action of shaking the salad into the bowl is usually enough to mix the salad with the dressing. If not, toss gently with a fork until coated.

    How to Pack the Perfect Salad in a Jar
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    Wednesday, August 13, 2014

    Maybe tomorrow will be a better day...

    I'm in a blue funk, For that past 7-10 days or so I wanted to post something encouraging but I can't:  It's disgraceful that people with Disabilities are forced to live in  Poverty  in the Richest Country in the world.  Trying to hang on to even the remnants of dignity almost impossible.  Being this poor is exhausting and soul destroying.... I'm sure most of you who read my blog can relate.

    Maybe tomorrow will be a better day....Hope is all I got left....

    Sunday, August 3, 2014

    The Healing Power of Art (even bad art)

    I'm not an artist, have never taken any lessons in painting but I found that Mixed Media mediums are very forgiving.  Making 'art' even bad art is cathartic.  For a brief period of time it helps me to forget my worries and woes..and sometimes I surprise myself and actually like one or two pieces that I've finished.

    Friday, August 1, 2014

    I'm Back !!!

    Hi Folks,

    I've have moved into my own apartment, it's been  11 months now.  If you remember I was living with my son, he moved his girlfriend in and is now engaged to be married .  

    Well now I've faced a whole new set of challenges and had a rough time adjusting to living on even less but I'm managing and will soon share how I'm doing it without feeling too deprived.

    I will leave you with a little something that helps me cope:


    strategies for getting happy. 
    Savor Everyday Moments
    Pause now and then to smell a rose or watch children at play. Study participants who took time to “savor” ordinary events that they normally hurried through, or to think back on pleasant moments from their day, “showed significant increases in happiness and reductions in depression,” says psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky.
    Avoid Comparisons
    While keeping up with the Joneses is part of American culture, comparing ourselves with others can be damaging to happiness and self-esteem. Instead of comparing ourselves to others, focusing on our own personal achievement leads to greater satisfaction, according to Lyubomirsky.
    Put Money Low on the List
    People who put money high on their priority list are more at risk for depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem, according to researchers Tim Kasser and Richard Ryan. Their findings hold true across nations and cultures. “The more we seek satisfactions in material goods, the less we find them there,” Ryan says. “The satisfaction has a short half-life—it’s very fleeting.” Money-seekers also score lower on tests of vitality and self-actualization.
    Have Meaningful Goals
    “People who strive for something significant, whether it’s learning a new craft or raising moral children, are far happier than those who don’t have strong dreams or aspirations,” say Ed Diener and Robert Biswas-Diener. “As humans, we actually require a sense of meaning to thrive.” Harvard’s resident happiness professor, Tal Ben-Shahar, agrees, “Happiness lies at the intersection between pleasure and meaning. Whether at work or at home, the goal is to engage in activities that are both personally significant and enjoyable.”
    Take Initiative at Work
    How happy you are at work depends in part on how much initiative you take. Researcher Amy Wrzesniewski says that when we express creativity, help others, suggest improvements, or do additional tasks on the job, we make our work more rewarding and feel more in control.
    Make Friends, Treasure Family
    Happier people tend to have good families, friends, and supportive relationships, say Diener and Biswas-Diener. But it’s not enough to be the life of the party if you’re surrounded by shallow acquaintances. “We don’t just need relationships, we need close ones” that involve understanding and caring.
    Smile Even When You Don’t Feel Like It
    It sounds simple, but it works. “Happy people…see possibilities, opportunities, and success. When they think of the future, they are optimistic, and when they review the past, they tend to savor the high points,” say Diener and Biswas-Diener. Even if you weren’t born looking at the glass as half-full, with practice, a positive outlook can become a habit.
    Say Thank You Like You Mean It
    People who keep gratitude journals on a weekly basis are healthier, more optimistic, and more likely to make progress toward achieving personal goals, according to author Robert Emmons. Research by Martin Seligman, founder of positive psychology, revealed that people who write “gratitude letters” to someone who made a difference in their lives score higher on happiness, and lower on depression—and the effect lasts for weeks.
    Get Out and Exercise
    A Duke University study shows that exercise may be just as effective as drugs in treating depression, without all the side effects and expense. Other research shows that in addition to health benefits, regular exercise offers a sense of accomplishment and opportunity for social interaction, releases feel-good endorphins, and boosts self-esteem.
    Give It Away, Give It Away Now!
    Make altruism and giving part of your life, and be purposeful about it. Researcher Stephen Post says helping a neighbor, volunteering, or donating goods and services results in a “helper’s high,” and you get more health benefits than you would from exercise or quitting smoking. Listening to a friend, passing on your skills, celebrating others’ successes, and forgiveness also contribute to happiness, he says. Researcher Elizabeth Dunn found that those who spend money on others reported much greater happiness than those who spend it on themselves.
    Thank you to Yes! Magazine, and Jen Angel for the fabulous article and permission to share the article!

    Wednesday, October 16, 2013

    List of 150 Herbs & their Benefits


    On this page you will find our alphabetical list of 150+ 160+ herbs! Every herb in our list has its own dedicated page on this site - with pictures and very detailed info! Follow the links to learn more about each herb. The goal of the individual herbs' pages is to gather information about the plant in one place, so that anyone researching it can have quick access to information.

    Please bookmark this page so that you can use it as a "quick lookup" when you want to learn all about a herb. You can also share our image on Facebook and Pinterest. Each herb page follows a similar format - starting with names for the herb in different languages, then giving background and history, common and traditional uses of the herb, scientific research, esoteric uses and safety notes.

    Our method of organization intentionally follows the style of the old herbals, which listed the plants in alphabetical order and often compiled the writings of other herbalists from past times. There is much material to work through and so this list is continuing to expand. Ok, here is the list!
    The Herbs:

    Agrimony | Ajwain | Alfalfa | Allspice | Aloe Vera | Althaea Officinalis (Marsh Mallow) | Amla | Angelica |Angostura | Anise | Arabian Jasmine | Arnica | Arrach | Artemisia | Asafoetida | Bashful Mimosa | Basil | Bay Laurel | Bean | Bears Breech | Betony | Bitter Melon | Black Pepper | Blackberry Bush | Blumea Camphor |Borage | Brooklime | Bryony | Bugle | Burdock | Cacao | Calendula | Canella | Capers | Cardamom | Cascara Sagrada | Catnip | Cat's Whiskers | Cayenne | Celery | Centory | Chamomile | Chervil | Chinese Honeysuckle |Chives | Cilantro | Cinnamon | Clavo Huasca | Clove | Coltsfoot | Comfrey | Cordyceps | Cumin | Dandelion |Deadly Nightshade | Dill | Echinacea | Elder | Epazote | Female Peony | Fennel | Fenugreek | Feverfew | Five Leaved Chaste Tree | Frankincense | Galangal | Garlic | Gentian | Ginger | Gingko Biloba | Ginseng | Goat's Rue | Goji | Golden Seal | Gotu Kola | Green Tea | Guarana | Guava | Hearts Ease | Heavenly Elixir | Hedge Nettle | Henna | Hibiscus | Hollyhocks | Holy Basil | Honeysuckle | Hops | Horny Goat Weed | Horseradish |Horsetail | Hyacinth | Indian Laurel | Jew's Mallow | Juniper | Kava | Ladies Mantle | Lady's Thistle | Lavender |Lead Tree | Lemon Balm | Lemongrass | Licorice | Lily of the Valley | Male Satyrion | Marjoram | Milk Thistle |Moringa | Mountain Apple | Mugwort | Mullein | Neem | Nelumbo Nucifera | Nutmeg | Nymphaea Caerulea |Onion | Oregano | Orris Root | Paprika | Parsley | Passion Flower | Pepper Elder | Plantain | Primrose | Queen's Flower | Red Clover | Reishi | Rhubarb | Ringworm Bush | Rooibos | Rosemary | Rue | Saffron | Sage | Saw Palmetto | Senna | Slippery Elm | Snake Needle Grass | Snakeweed | Soapnuts | Solomon's Seal | Spearmint |Spiny Sapindus | St. John's Wort | St Thomas Bean | Star Anise | Starfruit | Stinging Nettle | Sweetsop |Tamarind | Tarragon | Tea | Thyme | Turmeric | Uva-Ursi | Vanilla | Vervain | Water Hyssop | Wild Oregano |Wild Tea | Witch Hazel | Yerba Mate |


    - See more at:

    Sunday, October 13, 2013

    14 Ways to Use Ground Ginger

    I know when I was first learning about herbs, I would excitedly read a new recipe or tutorial only to find out it needed some exotic-sounding special ingredient that required an internet order to obtain. I remember that feeling of frustration and thought that today, I’d share with you fourteen ways to use ground ginger, easily obtained from the spice section of your local supermarket.
    Optimally, you’d want an organic brand, but these recipes should work with whatever type is available to you. For this post, I went to my local WalMart and spent $3.98 for a 1 ounce bottle of ground ginger. Normally, I use ginger purchased in bulk from Mountain Rose Herbs, where 4 ounces of fresh, high quality, organic ground ginger root only costs $3.50. The savings really add up when you buy all of your herbs & spices at a price like that!

    Before we get started, a quick rundown on some of the potential benefits of ginger:
    • anti-inflammatory, useful for rheumatic & arthritic conditions that feel better when heat is applied
    • helps warm & energize the body when you are chilled and/or sluggish feeling
    • helps with colds & flu when chills & congestion are among the symptoms
    • and it really stars in alleviating upset stomach, nausea & vomiting
    It’s important that if you have high or low blood pressure, have any bleeding disorders or are on blood thinners or other such medications, that you consult your health care professional before using a lot of ginger in therapeutic doses. Eating a piece of ginger candy here and there will not hurt you, but taking large concentrated doses of ginger very well may exacerbate your symptoms or alter how your medication works. Only your doctor or naturopath, with the knowledge of your medical history, will know this for sure, so always seek out their wise council first.

    Okay, now that you’ve got the basic info and disclaimers, let’s get started!

    1. Tea

    Ginger tea is easy to make. Measure 1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger into a heat proof mug or glass and pour 1 cup of boiling water over it. Cover with a saucer and let sit until cool enough to drink before straining. Sweeten with honey or sugar as desired. The dose for children: 1/4 cup every two to three hours and aim for no more than 1 to 2 cups total per day.

    2.  Compress

    A compress, or fomentation, is helpful for painful joints, muscle sprains or stomach aches. Make a tea (see #1 for directions), soak a piece of flannel or washcloth for about 5 minutes, wring out and immediately place on painful area. Cover with a towel, then a heating pad or hot water bottle, then another towel. Leave on for 20 minutes. Repeat if needed.

    3. Herbal Jello

    I recently covered this in the posts Herbal Jello and Healthier Herbal Jello. If you use regular jello, lemon or orange are fabulous flavors to blend with ginger!

    4. Candy

    Ginger candy is a yummy way to help alleviate the queasiness that sometimes accompanies pregnancy or traveling. To make herbal candy you will need: 1 cup of prepared ginger tea (you may want to increase the amount of ginger if a stronger flavor is desired) and 1 1/2 cups of sugar. Stir together well in a deep, heavy saucepan. Boil over medium to medium-high heat, without further stirring, until mixture reaches 300 to 310 degrees F, periodically wiping the sides down with a wet pastry brush to prevent crystallization.
    I like to use homemade corn-free powdered sugar as molds. You can see more details about that method and this recipe at my Rose-Petal Peppermint Drops post. It is essentially the same recipe, only the “rose petal tea” is changed to ginger tea. You can use this method with virtually any herb or edible flower you’d like! (Elderberry is another favorite!)

    5. Ginger Ale Fizz

    This is a fun drink, especially for kids. The recipe comes from A Kid’s Herb Book by Lesley Tierra. This is a wonderful book that both my daughter and I have poured over many times. It’s a highly recommended resource for your home library! Make a tea, as directed in #1, only use twice as much ginger. So the ratio will be 1/2 teaspoon ginger to 1 cup boiling water. Simmer the mixture for 5 minutes to reduce it a bit, then let sit for ten minutes before straining. Stir in 2 teaspoons of sugar/honey (adjust to taste) then gently add up to 1/2 cup carbonated water. Drink right away to preserve the fizz factor. You can also omit the sugar/honey and replace the carbonated water with 1/2 cup ginger aleor other light tasting natural soda. (This is a useful alternative for those accustomed to a “soft drink” type taste, but still gets the helpful herb in them.)

    6. Foot Bath

    A ginger foot bath is invigorating! It helps warm up and stimulate the entire body by increasing circulation to the feet and legs. Persons with diabetic retinopathy may find this helpful, however, it would be wise to double check with your health care provider first.
    Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil then add up to 2 tablespoons of powdered ginger and a pinch or two of sea salt (optional.) Let this cool quite a bit before pouring into a basin or tub that will fit your feet comfortably. For your first ginger footbath, start with a smaller amount of ginger then work your way up. Soak feet for ten to twenty minutes at a time.

    7. Oil

    Ginger root oil can be rubbed onto achy joints to help relieve some of the pains associated with arthritic conditions. Another use is placing 2 to 3 drops on a piece of cotton or cotton ball and placing in an aching ear for several hours. I like to use it in salves and balms that I make intended for sore muscles. See my Aches & Pains Balm recipe for an example of this.
    To make the oil, place several pinches or spoonfuls (you don’t really have to be exacting on this) of ground ginger in a small jar. Pour olive oil or sweet almond oil over the spice. Shake well and allow to infuse for several weeks in a cool, dark place. Shake every couple days or as often as you remember. After about four to six weeks, strain out the oil and store in a sterilized jar with a tight cap. This will keep about a year if stored properly.

     8. Salve

    While you can use the ginger root oil directly as is, sometimes it’s more convenient and less messy to apply in salve form. To make a salve from the oil you made in #7 above: Measure out 1 tablespoon ginger oil and 1/2 teaspoon of beeswax. Combine together in a heat proof small jar such as a jelly jar. Set this into a pan with a few inches of water. Slowly heat the water (not to boiling!) until the beeswax melts. Pour into a small 1/2 ounce tin. Allow to set up then cap and store in a cool, dark cabinet. Apply as needed.

    9. Capsules

    Capsules of ginger are great to take right before a trip, if you are prone to motion sickness. They’re also helpful for when you’re feeling a bit icky, run down, or your stomach feels yucky. I make my own capsules two ways. The first is by using encapsulation tools I bought from Mountain Rose Herbs.
    My other, really cheap way that I often employ is to reuse tiny supplement capsules that we only take a sprinkle of at a time. For instance, germanium is excellent to take when you’re sick. But, I don’t like to take large amounts of any one vitamin or mineral because that’s a good way to upset the balance of its cofactors; I’m a micro-doser. So, if someone is under the weather, I might mix a spoonful of honey with a tincture or a bit of herb like olive leaf and I will also add a sprinkle of germanium. I save all of the capsules once they’re empty and toss them back in the bottle. I repry them open and use a tiny measuring spoon to refill with powdered ginger. Then, I have an easy-to-swallow sized pill perfect for kids and those with a sensitive gag reflex.

    10. Tincture

    I can’t make this list without mentioning tinctures! To make one, put a generous pinch or two of ground ginger in a small jar then cover with 80 proof or higher vodka or brandy. Cap and shake well then store in a cool, dark place like a cupboard. After six weeks or so, strain out the herbs and rebottle the tincture in a sterilized jar. Label clearly with the date and ingredients. These will keep for years!
    A general dosage for adults is 3 dropperfuls, three times a day, half as much or less for a child. I usually dispense tinctures to my children about 3 drops at a time. I like to dose ginger tincture in a glass of ginger ale. But, you can also mix some with a spoonful of honey. Some brave souls even take a dropperful directly in the mouth, followed by a swig of water. (I am not so much a brave soul!)

    11. Liniment

    When I was a kid, my parents had this bright green, minty smelling alcohol I would rub on my legs when I had growing pains. Now I know that this is called a liniment and is easily duplicated at home. Depending on which herb you choose, your liniment will be warming or cooling. A ginger liniment is warming and can increase blood circulation and help when you’re feeling stiff and achy – especially if the discomfort is a result of cold weather.
    To make a liniment: place several pinches of ground ginger in a jar. Cover completely with rubbing alcohol (you can also use witch hazel extract or vinegar) then cap. Let this sit in a cupboard for a couple of weeks, shaking whenever you remember. After this amount of time, strain out and discard the ginger. Rebottle the liniment in a (preferably dark) bottle. Make sure to clearly label that this is for external use only and keep out of reach of children. If you have any concern at all about children getting into this, then use vinegar as your menstruum instead of rubbing alcohol. Rub this on strained muscles and areas of arthritic pain.

    12. Medicinal Vinegar &/or Oxymel

    I covered this in the post How to Make Medicinal Vinegars & Oxymels. Ginger Oxymel is helpful for chest congestion and queasy tummies.

    13. Ginger Syrup

    Before I found out my issues with gluten, I almost constantly felt sick. It was reminiscent of the morning-and-all-day queasiness I felt when pregnant. For a few years, Maalox was my lifesaver and I went through bottle after bottle of it. (Eek! I know!) Then, I became more health-conscious and switched to some tiny, expensive bottles of ginger syrup from the health food store. Eventually, I figured out that food can be the root of many illnesses, dropped the gluten and queasiness became a thing of the past! I now also know that I could have saved a ton of money by making my own ginger syrup.
    While there are several methods of making ginger syrup, I’ll share an easy honey-based one with you now.
    First, make a very strong tea (see directions on #1 of this list.) Use twice as much ginger or half as much water when making your tea – you may want to experiment to find what strength works best for you, but that’s a good starting point. Measure out a small amount of tea and put into a saucepan. Next, measure out two to three times as much honey, as tea. I can’t recommend raw, local honey highly enough, but use what you can get. Stir this together and heat gently over low heat. You don’t want your syrup to get over 110 degrees F in order to preserve the benefits of the raw honey.
    Once the ingredients are fully incorporated, remove from heat and pour into a sterilized jar. Store for up to six months in the refrigerator. Dosing: 1 to 2 teaspoons for children, 1 tablespoon for adults up to five times per day, as needed.

    14. Honey Mixture

    Finally, the last way you can use ground ginger is the quickest, easiest and my most favorite way. Just put a spoonful of honey into a tea cup or small bowl, put in a tiny pinch of ginger, stir together then eat! Can’t beat the simplicity of that!

    I hope these fourteen ways to use a bottle of ground ginger from the grocery store helps you realize that you don’t have to wait until you can buy expensive, exotic sounding ingredients to start experimenting with herbs. Use what you have handy, right now!