Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Why I Bento (repost)

I began to pack bento style lunches for my son a few years ago. It was an attempt to get him to try new and healthier foods and to get out of the PB&J sandwiches or Mac N’ Cheese rut. Not that these things are bad, but I feel that they should be eaten in moderation. Sometimes he tries new foods, sometimes he doesn’t. I find that he is more willing to try something new if it is presented to him in a fun way.

It wasn’t until after I began the lunches that I realized the additional benefits of lunch bento style.
  • Environment and Health. I find that I create a lot less waste when I bento. When making a bento lunch I rarely pack anything that needs to be tossed into the trash. I also use more fresh vegetables and fruit rather than prepackaged foods.
  • Portion Control. When I got my first bento box in the mail, I almost returned it. I thought to myself, “This is way too small, how can I get an adequate lunch in here for my son, much less myself”? Well, trust me, you can. Our entire family eats bento lunches, you can find examples of both child and adult lunches I have made for my family on the website.
  • Convenience. Most of us don’t have much time to spend making lunch; frankly you shouldn't have to spend much time. Aside from some of the more elaborate meals I make for my little Monkey, I typically spend 5-8 minutes throwing together bentos for school, work, the park, or wherever we might be going.
  • Fun. This is my favorite part. I love taking my bento out at the park and opening it to reveal the yummy goodness inside! I know my son feels the same way, at such times he grabs his bento box and opens it while saying, “Ooooohhh, what’s in heeeere.”

Bento Tips:

  • Plan meals ahead. Try to plan an entire week worth of meals in advance.
  • Set aside & freeze extra food. If you are making spaghetti and meatballs for dinner, set aside some extra mini meatballs and spaghetti in a muffin tin and freeze. You can toss it in a bento at a later date along with some fruit and have a ready made lunch. I often make food ahead just to freeze for later use, such as mini muffins that I put in my bento lunches.
  • You don’t need to make elaborate food, but think about how to incorporate new foods in interesting ways. If your little Monkey doesn’t like red pepper, maybe he she will like it as an alligator or in matchstick shapes next to some hummus or other dip. My monkey has even eaten rutabaga when I introduced them as “fries”!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Fish Bento for the Pool

Holy Smokes! It is HOT!

left: veggie chips, cookie, 1/2 peach
right: cheese, frozen blueberries, cheddar, avocado, peach chutney, and bits of turkey bacon sandwich

Monday, June 1, 2009

Happy Day Smoothies

We love smoothies in this household. Early on I learned that smoothies are a great way to sneak veggies into my kids diet. After balking at eating his steamed broccoli one night at dinner and insisting that he didn't like it, I explained to my son that he does like broccoli, in fact he eats it all the time in his smoothies. I have made an effort to involve him in the kitchen as much as possible, and now it has become his job to make smoothies. He has taken to the mission with great gusto, and broccoli is always the first thing in the blender!

Happy Day Smoothie Recipe:
  • 3/4 cup frozen broccoli *
  • 1/2 cup sweet potato (other veggies sometimes substituted like butternut squash, etc) *
  • 1/2 cup kefir yogurt drink
  • 1/2 cup green juice (more if needed)
  • 2 TB flax seed (We use ground which adds texture, you can also use flax seed oil. Flax seed is an excellent source of omega-3)
  • 2 TB sunbutter
  • 1 cup frozen mixed berries
  • 1 banana
  • sometimes wheat germ

Makes 3 to 4 servings

* I usually keep some of these in my freezer to use when I am out of broccoli or sweet potato. You can also mix it up and use this and substitute different fruits etc.