Recipe: Southwestern Chicken Fajita Mason Jar Salad

Brown-bagging your lunch is friendlier on your wallet and can be better for your waistline. It also allows you to fully enjoy your lunch instead of inhaling it because the majority of your lunch hour was spent waiting in line. But there are some challenges to packing your own lunch, aren’t there?

First, you need to choose a dish that can be eaten as is or easily reheated. Then you need to do a little advanced planning and perhaps some prep. Yes, you can always turn to salads and sandwiches, but sometimes you want something a bit heartier and more satisfying.

So let me introduce you to this Southwestern chicken fajita salad in a Mason jar. It’s the perfect grab-and-go lunch that requires minimal added effort, plus it’s a well-balanced meal with wholesome, real ingredients.

Get your baking pan ready because that’s all you’re going to need. While chicken fajitas are normally served sizzling hot from a grill, to make things easier, simply toss all of the ingredients together in a baking pan, then put it in the oven, set the timer, and walk away. You can enjoy the fajita mixture warm with a tortilla and rice, or, in this case, cold by incorporating it into a salad.

Southwestern Chicken Fajita Mason Jar Salad

Yield: 4 Mason jars

Ingredients:

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 pounds)

2 red bell peppers, sliced

1 yellow onion, sliced

2 zucchini, sliced

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon fajita seasoning blend (no added sodium)

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 medium roasted sweet potatoes *

3 cups greens of choice (I used spring mix)

Optional Add-Ons:

Avocado

Cheese

Cilantro

Sour cream

Lime juice

Directions: Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Add the prepared vegetables and chicken to a large baking sheet pan. Drizzle the oil and seasoning over the mixture, and then stir to coat.

Bake uncovered for 20 to 25 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.

To assemble: Put in the fajita mixture, sweet potatoes, and greens in that order. If you choose to add the optional ingredients, place them on top of the greens the day you plan to eat the salad. These jars will keep for 3 to 5 days.

* Roast the sweet potatoes in advance to enjoy as a snack throughout the week and to add to this salad. Or roast them together with the vegetables and chicken. Simply add an extra teaspoon of both oil and seasoning.

Amount per serving (without optional ingredients): Calories: 166; Fat: 6 g (Saturated 1 g); Cholesterol: 29 mg; Sodium: 385 mg; Carbohydrate: 19 g; Fiber: 5 g; Sugar: 8 g; Protein: 12 g

Min Kwon, MS, RD, is a registered dietitian who specializes in food sensitivities. She has a passion for translating the science of nutrition into real-life, applicable advice and tips. In her healthy food blog, The Adventures of MJ and Hungryman, she focuses on sharing simple yet healthy recipes made from wholesome, REAL foods.