Healthy Picnic Recipes in a Jar

Note: This is a guest post. I did not receive any compensation from the author’s company in exchange for publishing this article. 

Jars aren't just for picnics. They're earth-friendly containers for taking lunch or snacks to work!

Jars aren’t just for picnics. They’re eco-friendly containers for taking meals or snacks wherever you go!

It’s finally spring again! This beautiful season’s warmer temperatures and longer daylight bring bright thoughts of spending time outdoors — and what better way than with a picnic? It’s hard to think of a happier spring pastime than bundling up a bunch of food and blankets and heading to your backyard or a local park. But what foods should you pack? What are some easy, transportable ways to bring delicious, healthy meals on the go? Enter the mason jar. When you make a meal in a mason jar, it’s easy to grab in the car or throw in a backpack and bring to the beautiful outdoor space nearest you. To inspire you with healthy picnics in a jar for your next weekend getaway, here are some great recipes to try:

  • Veggies and Dip: Forget plastic bags and use a mason jar to pack the time-tested, beloved snack of fresh vegetables and dip (hummus, baba ganoush, tzatziki, etc.). Use this informative post from The Kitchn for inspiration!
  • Salads: There’s no limit to the type and style of salad you can mix together in a mason jar — just read this post from The Muse for proof! Whether it’s a vegan cobb salad, a Greek chickpea salad, or a curried lentil and kale blend, these recipes prove how simple and delightful a mason jar salad can be! Simply pour the dressing at the bottom, stacked with heftier ingredients, and add the lighter components (like leaf lettuce) at the top. Shake when you’re ready to eat, and everything combines beautifully!
  • 7-Layer Dip: Pack this classic party dip in a mason jar, and you’re halfway to a great picnic treat. Add your favorite chips to another jar, and you’re all set. For a recipe to get you started, head over to
  • Sushi in a Jar: Love sushi? Try this version of deconstructed sushi in a jar, which involves rice, vegetables, vinegar, lime juice, pickled ginger and more.
  • Yogurt Parfaits: Combine some yogurt with fruit and granola in a jar, and you have a ready-to-go parfait whenever you want it! Here’s an example from Ezra Pound Cake.
  • Frittatas: Take a nod from My Living Nutrition and bake frittatas in jars! While this meal takes a little prep work and a half hour of baking time, it yields six ready-to-enjoy egg bakes stuffed with vegetables and pastured meat.
  • Casseroles: A little like frittatas, baked casseroles are wonderful meals to make in mason jars. Simply portion your casserole mixture into jars and bake as normal, checking for doneness earlier than you usually would.

Even the above list doesn’t include all the many ways to make meals in mason jars. There are also mini pies, fruit cobblers, cheesecakes and more! What are some of your favorite picnic foods? Could you transport them via mason jars? Why not give it a shot this season?

About the author:

Steven Musumeche, owner of Picnic World Picnic Baskets, is an avid outdoorsman and picnic guru from Lafayette, LA. In his spare time, he enjoys playing the piano, fishing, camping, and hanging out with his wife, daughter and three pet beagles, Cassie, Ellie & Annie.

Eating the Write Foods {Guest Post with Cari Kamm}

I met Cari Kamm at a wellness event in Soho about 3 years ago. Intuition told me I had to get to know this lovely lady…and I was right! Not only has she become a friend, but she’s also become a writing buddy and mentor to me as I embark upon my first novel. Cari knows a thing or two about those–she just published her second novel, For Internal Use Only, which made the list on my A Few of My Favorite Things post in February. Her writing is witty, entertaining, and just plain gorgeous, and her stories have meaning you can chew on. I highly recommend you get to know this future best-seller!

Now on to the guest post…

I finally got the message years ago that what I eat affects how my mind and body performs. Whether we realize it or not, the quality of food we take in permeates all aspects of our life. It either gives us the energy, attitude, and fortitude to help us get through the day…or it doesn’t. Cari’s post is a fantastic example of just how extreme a difference eating the right food makes.

Eating the Write Foods

by Cari Kamm

Tiffany & Co., New York City – 2011. Photo provided by Cari Kamm

Tiffany & Co., New York City – 2011. Photo provided by Cari Kamm.

When I’m not writing . . . I’m eating. Well, I’m thinking of eating or where I want to be eating.

I’m a self-proclaimed foodie and seriously enjoy every bite. My rule is “don’t pick before pics.”  I love to look at food. Take pictures of food. Dissect food. And of course eat food. A chef is an artist and unlike admiring a painting or absorbing words, you get to literally bite into their work and digest it.

So . . . how does this affect my creativity? The saying is you are what you eat. I find the same goes for my writing. My eating habits are different when it comes to the writing stage and editing process.

I begin writing first thing in the morning. Before anything can shift my mood or motivation, I make coffee and boost my body with breakfast before I hit the keys. Writing is my morning stretch. I write from home or head out to one of my spots in New York City. Sometimes, I just walk into random restaurants, bookstores, or coffee shops. I find inspiration in the unexpected. Not having a plan is sometimes the perfect plan for creativity. For eating…that’s not so productive.

My breakfast always includes a fresh pressed juice, scrambled eggs and oatmeal or wheat toast. My favorite morning juice includes apple, pear, pineapple, wheatgrass & mint or carrot, beet, apple, pear, lemon & ginger. Also, eggs contain Choline and that helps my memory and builds strong mental muscles. The benefit of this is keeping my characters and scenes straight!

There are foods I eat to nourish my mind. However, when emotions come into play during the creative process, I try to remember that I need to write my feelings…not eat them. Depending on which stage I’m in during creating my manuscript, food definitely contributes positively or negatively to my writing health. Knowing this allows me to be a better writer.

The creative process. My favorite part of the writing process is creating the outline of the story I have in mind. Then several months down the road realizing where the characters actually took me while reading the story they created. My creativity tends to crave carbohydrates. Unfortunately, this can lead to a food coma. Sugar becomes a big saboteur and doesn’t help my writing or my waistline! At first, eating sweets tends to make me feel happier and comfortable when I beginning a new project. One thing I know is that with all of the unknowns in developing a new story…I get nervous. When I hit the emotional rollercoaster peak and quickly come crashing down off the sugar high, I tend not to feel proud about a scene or a character even if it’s terrific. My characters’ emotions somehow control my food cravings. Well…I like to blame it on them! A romantic scene may call for chocolate and wine; a stressful scene made lead to Twizzlers or Thai takeout. If all else fails, I drink more wine.

The editing phase. This stage requires concentration, patience, and attention to detail. Protein keeps me on point! My characters cannot afford any food mood swings. I tend to focus on protein, fruits and vegetables! My favorite foods that are rich in antioxidants, folic acid and omega-3s include salmon, walnuts, blueberries, goji berries, cantaloupe and kale. I’m addicted to the deliciously dark green leafy guy! My favorite recipe at the moment is from the New York City restaurant Lupa.

The only culprit left is Mr. Coffee. I’m striving to lower my cups per day and sip more green tea or calming teas, especially during those late nights of writing or revising my manuscripts.

So…what’s the bottom line?  When I eat better, I feel better. When I feel better, I write better!

CariKammCari Kamm has worked in the beauty industry for over a decade, building brands, working behind the scenes, and even selling her own skin care line. She has a master’s in clinical nutrition from New York University. Kamm currently works in corporate social media management with clients in the beauty, fashion, and restaurant industries. Living in New York City with her mutt Schmutz, Kamm loves finding inspiration in the most unexpected places, being a novelist, and convincing her fiancé that ordering takeout and making dinner reservations are equal to cooking. More information can be found on her website, To check out the book trailer, click here:

4 Wintertime Tips for a Healthy, Holistic Kitchen

Just as our wardrobes change as we transition into winter, so should our homes.  One of the most important places to make a few tweaks is in the kitchen.  I asked natural foods chef, Andrea Beaman, and organic recipe queen, Carrie Vitt, for their top wintertime tips for creating a healthy, holistic kitchen.

[Note: The products linked to in this post are based purely on my recommendation or the recommendation of trusted sources. These are not affiliate links, nor do I receive compensation.] 

1.  Stock up on bone broths

“For me a holistic healthy kitchen in the winter time includes lots of homemade stock in the freezer (fish stock, chicken stock, duck stock).  It’s a great mineral and amino acid rich broth to use in warming soups and stews.  I think stocks are so important to any home kitchen that I have an entire chapter dedicated to stocks in my new book: Health is Wealth – Make a Delicious Investment in You!

~ Andrea Beaman, Natural Foods Chef, author, and television host dedicated to alternative healing and green, sustainable living.  Try her Simple Crock Pot Stock.

Carrie’s chicken stock recipe in action

“I always keep it [homemade chicken stock] on hand in the freezer for when the first sign of a cold arrives.”

~ Carrie Vitt, author of Deliciously Organic: Simple Dishes, Vibrant Flavors Everyone will LoveShe makes a tasty immune-building chicken stock that incorporates the whole bird (cooked chicken and broth, a two-fer!). 

2.  Cook with coconut oil

Carrie often uses coconut oil when whipping up one of her fabulously healthy meals because of its antiviral properties.  It’s also safe for high heat cooking, making it a great all-purpose cooking oil.  When the temperatures drop, coconut oil will solidify; but it melts easily.

Side note:  As I mentioned in this post, I use coconut oil (separate batch for hygiene) as a moisturizer too.  It melts in seconds when applied to skin warm from a hot shower.  It’s antiviral/antibacterial properties work topically too, so you’re moisturizing and protecting at the same time.

3.  Keep immune-boosting supplements on hand

Carrie also recommends her favorite vitamin C powder—Pure Radiance C, made from organic and wild berries—as a supplement to support immune health during flu season.

I swear by Thieves Essential Oil blend from Young Living.  It has 100% therapeutic-grade essential oils of clove, cinnamon, lemon, eucalyptus, and rosemary that combine to deliver antimicrobial, antiviral, and antibacterial protection.  During times of stress (hello holidays!) and flu season, this oil, along with Inner Defense Softgels (which also contain Thieves but with oregano, thyme, and lemongrass) give me a fighting chance of staying healthy.

If you’re the DIY type, you can whip up some of these sore throat treatment recipes now to have on hand at the first sign of cold/flu symptoms.

4.  Sharpen your knife skills

No, you don’t need to practice knife throwing or even perfect your slicing technique.  All you have to do is sharpen your main prep knife.  Why?  Dull knives don’t just make hard winter veggies difficult to cut, they are a more serious hazard to your health than sharp knives.  Most knife injuries occur due to dull blades, which need more pressure to cut, making it more likely for the knife to slip off food and cut your hand instead.  Not a jolly good time.  If you don’t have a knife sharpener (or don’t know how to use the one you have), you can get them sharpened at hardware stores, cooking retailers, and some restaurants.  A Japanese restaurant in my neighborhood offers the service for $5.00. (These are NYC prices, so they’re probably cheaper elsewhere.)  No excuses…remain sharp for safety!

To Err is Human, to Own it is Divine

I received this article in my inbox a few days ago from Paula Chaffee Scardamalia, a creativity coach and intuitive, who sends out a weekly ezine called Divine Muse-ings. I thought this one was especially brilliant and wanted to share it with you.  Here it is in its entirety, with Paula’s blessing.

I need to give you a little back story before reading the article.  Last week, a father and son, who are by trade an electrician and plumber, had been digging near Paula’s house.  They did not bother to attain permits to dig, so they didn’t know there was a phone cable there, and cut it while digging.  After discovering their mistake, the pair covered up the evidence and took off.  Naturally, their mistake did not go unnoticed, as she had no phone service for several days.

Message from the Muse – Feature Article

Making Mistakes-a Path for Spirit to Enter

If you have to make mistakes, make them good and big, don’t be middling in anything if you can help it. ~ Hildegard Knef, The Verdict

Mistakes are a fact of life / It is the response to error that counts. ~Nikki Giovanni, “Of Liberation,” Black Judgment

When was the last time you made a mistake?  This morning?  Yesterday?  Last month?  More importantly, when was the last time you admitted, to yourself or others, that you made a mistake?

In our culture, perfection has become the standard for everything we do from baking a cake to raising a child, from painting the house to running a business, from volunteering in the community to serving as governor. But everyone makes mistakes, and the people across the road last weekend are a perfect example of that.

Almost as challenging as not making mistakes, is admitting them. Yet how much better would we be as partners, parents, friends, and business people if we could simply say, “I’m sorry. I made a mistake.” Instead, we work hard at denial and spin, we lie, and even worse we try to cover up (literally in the case of the our diggers) our mistakes. If the people across the road had called the phone company right away, we would all have probably shrugged our shoulders, feeling that it could happen to anyone because everyone makes mistakes. Instead, in denying the mistake, in covering it up and refusing to take responsibility for it, the diggers may end up with fines and other problems.

If we don’t like admitting mistakes, then it makes sense that we work hard to do everything we can to avoid making them. Yet isn’t worrying about making mistakes what keeps us from creating with more ease and depth? Isn’t it the belief that we have to create something perfect that cripples and blocks us? If we can let go of the expectation that we must be perfect in our creative work, then we can allow the perfect imperfections of mistakes to lead us into new territories, new discoveries, new connections of thought and word and image.

Did you know that some Native American tribes intentionally weave in a thread in their rugs, or make a mark in their pots that appear to be mistakes, creating these “mistakes” as a path for Spirit to enter.

A path for Spirit to enter.

In other words, in the midst of our imperfect creations, in the midst of our imperfect selves, we can find the presence of the Divine. How much more healing and helpful is that as a way to look at our all-too-human tendency to err? If we have the wisdom and compassion to accept our mistakes and failures as a path for Spirit to enter then will we risk more in our painting or dancing or business? Will we stop worrying about perfection and focus instead on the joy and adventure of life?

Our lives are not about being perfect. Our lives are about being our best. And that “best” changes from day to day, with each new experience and understanding. Our goal, then, with each new opportunity, is to be and do the best we are capable of. And if we fail or fall short, as we inevitably and humanly will, then we must accept and acknowledge that failure with loving compassion for our humanity, always remembering:

Mistakes are a place for Spirit to enter.

© Copyright 2009, 2010, Paula Chaffee Scardamalia

Intuitive and creativity coach Paula Chaffee Scardamalia publishes Divine Muse-ings, a weekly ezine. If you want to connect with your Muse for an inspired, gutsy and productive life, sign up at

The Importance of Memorial Day

In March, the 10-part series The Pacific debuted on HBO, which focuses on the lesser-known battles of World War II.  My husband and I were initially drawn to the intriguing, well-edited trailers.  What carried us through the entire series, however, was the impeccable acting, extraordinary cinematography, and emotional storyline that grabbed our hearts and wouldn’t let go.  Each episode began with actual footage from WWII, then first-person accounts by survivors of battles in the Pacific–islands and battles of which we had never heard.  No one I have asked, since learning of its existence, has heard of Guadalcanal even though it was a pivotal battle.  Naturally, my two grandfathers who served in the Navy knew about this epic fight, but it seems that outside of the WWII generation, it’s unknown to the general public.  That really bothered me, and got me thinking that if such an integral piece to our country’s recent history is unknown, what else are we going to lose once the WWII generation is gone?

The Pacific inspired me to interview my grandfathers and create this post in honor of Memorial Day.  I don’t know why I’ve never really asked them about their experiences in WWII, but I thought is was high time I did.  Neither man is on the verbose side, but they had no trouble opening up the lines of communication with me on their wartime experiences.  I was honored to hear their stories and loved every minute.

John’s Story

….it was an honor to serve, and a great time in which to live….

My maternal grandfather, John, was a radio operator with Pan American Airlines and served as a civilian sponsored by the Navy.  His job was to relay messages through Morse code, maintain the transmitter and receiver, and know the “rules of the road.”  Pan Am was the only commercial airline that could fly across the Atlantic at the time, so they were the ones that transported diplomats to their destinations.  Their most notable passenger was President Roosevelt, who flew to meet Churchill and Stalin at the Yalta Conference.  It was common for German aircraft to fly alongside them to confirm they were only a commercial airplane.

Later on, the Navy put all Pan Am’s employees into the Naval Reserve and expanded work for the airlines by supplying them with Naval aircraft.  They flew to Naval bases and brought much-needed supplies to the troops.  The danger of seaplanes was the tricky task of landing.  The pilot often found himself trying to land in less-than-ideal conditions, twelve-foot waves for example.

It disturbs my grandfather that some people have questioned the role of soldiers in WWII.  He said that those who went into service did so only to defend their country, and did not have any hidden agendas of pressing their ideas upon the world or exporting their method of government.  The soldiers did whatever they had to do to protect and serve the U.S. and help other countries that were in need of saving.  To John, it was an honor to serve, and a great time in which to live–the whole country was more patriotic than it is now.  He fondly remembers past Memorial Day celebrations in which people listened to patriotic songs, celebrated community, and honored those who had protected their country.  When I asked if it bothered him that today Memorial Day merely represents the beginning of summer, he replied matter-of-factly, “Well, what can you do?”

Maurice’s Story

They didn’t think of themselves as heros–the main focus when they returned to civilian life was gaining employment and supporting their families.

My paternal grandfather, Maurice, signed up for the war in 1943, fresh out of his medical internship.  He was given the job of Navy doctor on the USS Forsyth PF-102, and was in charge of keeping 500-600 men healthy for combat.  His ship was stationed between Brazil and Dakar (Senegal, Africa) to rescue those on shot-down planes or torpedoed ships.  On a side note, Maurice’s brother, who was in the Army, was stationed in Guadalcanal.  Having only recently learned of this spot in the Pacific, I was surprised to learn one of my family members had fought there and survived.

Maurice and the other soldiers didn’t think about their hardships during the war–it wasn’t a problem, it was something they accepted as a consequence of wartime.  I asked my grandfather if he and his fellow soldiers ever talked about their experiences in the war.  His answer was that they all knew what they had been through, so there wasn’t much reason to recount it.  They didn’t think of themselves as heros–the main focus when they returned to civilian life was gaining employment and supporting their families.

Maurice, now 95 years old, has a different view towards Memorial Day than he has in the past.  He feels it is “a solemn day, not for celebrating with drinking and joy, but to remember the people who served this country so that we are able to live as we are.”  His view is this way because of the war still going on overseas involving American soldiers.

The Importance of Memorial Day

Memorial Day is a chance to remember and celebrate those who served their country–the ones who returned, and those who never came back to their loved ones.  Let’s not forget all the soldiers, both past and present, who fought and served in the name of our freedom.  Regardless of our political views or standpoints on war, there is no denying the bravery and sacrifice of our country’s soldiers.  They should be honored and appreciated for what they risked and gave up in service. Since no soldier is without loved ones, also give thanks to the strong support system behind our men and women.  These families keep soldiers’ spirits high and hearts full, and must stay strong in the face of constant uncertainty and sacrifice.

So while you enjoy your long Memorial Day weekend, please take a minute to remember our soldiers, and give them a mental salute.   And if you are lucky enough to have some war veterans in your life, ask them about their experiences…I guarantee you will gain a greater appreciation for what they went through, and for what you have because of their efforts.

How will you honor our soldiers this Memorial Day?