Celebrate “Treat YO Self Day” with an Autumn in Mason Jar Salad Picnic in the Park

I mentioned recently that for the month of October, one of my resolutions is to abstain from absolutely all non-essential purchases (i.e. food and coffee). I have become increasingly lax in my budget management over the past few months and have found myself frequently indulging and accumulating more things which I do not actually need (although it is hard for an athleisure addict to admit, I do have plenty of leggings). This approach might not work for everyone, but for me, as an abstainer (as opposed to a moderator), it’s easier and better for me to give something up completely than to allow for a little bit here and there. I tend to be quite black and white, all or nothing in this way – a tendency which I have spent countless years trying to fight against in light of the more popular doctrines of “everything in moderation” or #balance. But research shows that that doesn’t work for everyone, and for me, those ideals are less than ideal and now that I know and accept that about myself, I experience a lot less stress while feeling much more satisfied and successful in my endeavors. However, another consistent finding in habit research is that a periodic treat can be extremely powerful. In Better Than Before, Gretchen Rubin defines a treat as “a small pleasure or indulgence that we give to ourselves just because [which makes us] feel energized, cared for, and contented, which boosts our self-command, and self-command helps us maintain our healthy habits.” And interestingly, I happened across an article which proclaimed that 13 October is “National Treat Yo Self Day.”

Naturally not all treats are created equal. A healthy treat is one that supports your overall goals, rather than undermining them. So if your objective is improve your health or lose weight the best way to treat yourself may not be with a big slice of chocolate cake, but perhaps a new pair of running shoes. If you are trying to stick with a budget, a shopping trip or fancy dinner out is a bit counterproductive. In fact, unhealthy treats, although tempting often lead to feelings of guilt, regret, or loss control after the moment has passed. In particular, treats which involve shopping, food/drink, or extra screen time (TV, computer, phone, etc.) can potentially make us feel worse in the long run. So as I abstain from spending, I decided to use one of my usual daily brainstorming sessions to compile a list of potential healthy treats which don’t come at the expense of any of my other goals or habits. An exercise which provided that I still have a lot of room for improvement in terms of creative thinking as I struggled to come up with 13 ideas within my 5 minute session.

My lackluster list led me to perform a simple Google search for “healthy ways to treat yourself.” And there were a lot of great articles like this one on The Penny Hoarder website (which was how I was made aware of the timeliness of all this musing since tomorrow is in fact National Treat Yo Self Day – something I did not know until I started this search!) or this one on YesandYes.org. I am definitely stealing a few of these to add to my list and they even inspired a few more of my own. It’s hard to think of these things in the heat of the moment, so I think it’ll be helpful to have a list of options to consider when I am feeling like I want a treat. Far easier to be prepared in advance when you experience a moment of extreme stress that leads to a “treat yo self shopping extravaganza!’

And what is considered a treat is totally dependent upon your own preferences and the way that you frame it. What I consider to be a treat may not be the same as what you consider one. Many people find sitting still in nature refreshing, while others consider cleaning or even ironing soothing. Whether it’s reading a book, listening to a podcast, reorganizing a drawer, soaking in the bath, or looking at old photos you should find free or inexpensive ways of treating yourself in a way that is consistent with your healthy habits. Something I have tried to do is find small ways to savor the good parts of each season – in the fall I like to go apple picking (and make all things apple in the kitchen), I like to go for walks and take pictures of the changing leaves, I like to carve pumpkins, I like to decorate a few small areas around the house festively and I like to make my meals centered around seasonal vegetables and ingredients. So for my first annual celebration of “Treat YO SELF Day,” I plan to take Coco to the park where she can run around and I can snap a few vibrant red leaf photos and then read my latest book over a picnic lunch – my Autumn in a Mason Jar Salad. For me, fall calls for roasted vegetables of all types and this Whole30 and Paleo friendly salad not only fits the bill, but is easy to take on-the-go to the office for business as usual or for the perfect fall treat – picnic in the park!

Autumn in a Mason Jar Salad

Autumn in Mason Jar Salad

Prep time: 

Cook time: 

Total time: 

Serves: 5

A Whole30 Mason Jar Salad perfect for a fall treat - picnic in the park!
For the Salad
  • Brussel Sprouts 8-9 cups (800-900 g)
  • Olive Oil 2 TBSP
  • Sea Salt .5 TSP
  • Black Pepper .5 TSP
  • Medium Sweet Potatoes 3 each
  • Olive Oil 1 TBSP
  • Sea Salt .25 TSP
  • Black Pepper .25 TSP
  • Chopped Kale 4 cups (250 g)
  • Roasted Chicken 18 oz (500 g)
  • Sliced Apple 2 each
  • Pepitas/Pumpkin Seeds 5 TBSP
  • Chopped Walnuts 5 TBSP
For the Dressing
  • Mandarin/Clementine/Satsuma 1 each
  • Water .5 cup (60 ml)
  • Apple Cider Vinegar .25 cup (30 ml)
  • Olive Oil .25 cup (30 ml)
  • Minced Garlic Clove 2 each
  • Sea Salt and Pepper to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F/ 205 C and line two baking sheets with foil or parchment paper
  2. In a large bowl, mix the Brussels sprouts with the first 2 TBSP of olive oil, and the .5 TSP of salt and pepper. Toss to combine, coating evenly and then place on one of the baking sheets in the oven for approximately 30 - 40 minutes or until cooked through.
  3. Meanwhile, dice the sweet potato into about 1" pieces and add to the same bowl with the next 1 TBSP of olive oil, .25 TSP salt and pepper. Toss to combine, coating evenly and then place on the other baking sheet. Add to the oven for approximately 15-20 minutes or until cooked through.
  4. Then peel the mandarin/clementine/satsuma and place into a blender along with the remaining olive oil, the water, and the apple cider vinegar and pulse to break up the orange and combine all ingredients. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Add the dressing to the bowl along with the kale and massage the dressing into the greens.
  6. Then build your mason jars (or plate as desired). In this case I would recommend putting the massaged kale and any extra dressing in first as the bottom layer, then add the cooled sweet potatoes, followed by the cooled Brussels sprouts, and then the chicken.
  7. If you want to finish it off with the apple slices and the nuts/seeds at the very top you may (then everything is in one jar), but I would recommend keeping both on the side to prevent the apples from browning or the nuts from getting soggy. Add them to your salad when ready to eat and enjoy! You will have enough to make 5 jars and they will keep well for up to a week if refrigerated.


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