By Toni W. Riley
The party-goers come in laughing, chatting and carrying a variety of containers and Mason jars. The hostess takes the plastic vessels and expertly organizes them along her kitchen counter. At this party, guests will combine their ingredients in Mason jars and leave with at least three salads in a jar.
Hostess Ann Isom has these fun get-togethers to help people learn about healthy eating. While the Salad-in-a-Jar party began as a way for Isom to introduce her Juice Plus+ smoothies and other Juice Plus+ products, she said the salad parties aren’t an “in-home sales pitch.”
“The most important thing is for people to develop a healthy lifestyle, to see how to make a great healthy salad and learn cleaner, healthy-eating habits,” Isom said.
She has found the parties are a fun way for people to socialize and try something new. Guests register for the party through a Facebook event page, and each guest tells what part of the salad they are going to bring, which eliminates duplication.
Each person brings at least three Mason jars, a large quantity of two to three chopped salad ingredients along with their favorite dressings. The parties don’t use any meat products. Isom provides the greens and boiled eggs.
The result is a huge salad bar that most guests wouldn’t take the time to create at home.
One of the key parts of the Salad-in-a-Jar party is learning how to “layer” the ingredients. Isom organizes the ingredients in the order they are added to the jars. The first ingredient in the jar is the salad dressing. Having guests learn about salad dressing is one of the biggest educational elements of the parties.
Isom is a consummate label reader and teaches her guests how to understand all the calories that can be in salad dressing. She has several salad dressings on hand to give guests healthier options
instead of a fat-laden dressing.
Next in the jar are non-absorbent veggies, such as carrots, cauliflower, bell peppers or tomatoes, which won’t soak up the dressing and leave the base carbs and greens dry. Absorbent veggies and fruits make up the next layer. Then the base carb (beans or grains and the leafy greens (no iceberg lettuce) are next. The final layers, which are optional, are cheese and eggs.
The kitchen counter abounds with vegetables that are regulars on any salad bar, but guests get creative with what they add in. Kale, blueberries, pine nuts, sunflower seeds, black beans, dark red kidney beans and feta are some of the more interesting items. Isom noted, lentils and quinoa have even made it into a few salad jars.
Each guest continues to make salads until all the ingredients are gone. The goal is for each guest to make three jars (and perhaps a fourth) to take home.
Once the jars are finished, Isom makes smoothies using Juice Plus+ products and asks if anyone wants to taste. She is quick to emphasize her business is a minimal part of the party.
Her journey into clean, healthy eating began in 2007 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
“I was devastated, because I really thought I took good care of myself,” Isom remembered.
While she was at Vanderbilt for a lumpectomy, Isom said she experienced a “God thing in her life.” She was supposed to go home after the procedure, but because of some minor complications her doctors decided to keep her overnight. Due to limited bed space, she spent the night in a unit away from oncology.
It was there Isom met a nurse who talked with her about nutrition. The nurse, who normally didn’t work in that area, shared how Juice Plus+ had helped her husband combat Type 2 diabetes. The nurse gave Isom a CD about the program, and Isom thought, “What do I have to lose?”
The CD helped her learn about the Juice Plus+ program but also about healthy eating. She began studying nutrition, she learned about whole food nutrition, organic foods grown without pesticides and herbicides, she quit eating processed food and cut as much sugar as she could out of her diet.
Her battle with cancer didn’t end until 2009 when she had to have a mastectomy, and a final drug therapy. Isom is adamant the Juice Plus+ program was like an
insurance policy for her recovery and has continued to play a huge part in her health. However, she doesn’t describe herself as a health nut.
“I’m human and there are times that I don’t eat the way I should,” Isom laughed. “We all have those times. I tell people to use the 80-20 rule and be conscientious about health at least 80 percent of the time.”
Her mantra for better health and what she encourages her party guests to do is to make one simple change toward a healthier lifestyle.
“Whether it’s drinking more water, moving more or not eating processed foods, there are lots of things that people can do for better health,” she emphasized.
Isom said she firmly believes and works to live the mission of Juice Plus+: “Inspiring healthy living around the world.
“That is why I got so involved in this and hoping to inspire healthy living with others. Someone was kind enough to share with me and I felt a tugging in my heart that I must share with others. This was over a period of time. There were lots of prayer involved in all if it. If God leads you to it, He will lead you through it,” she concluded.
By Toni W. Riley