Sunday, July 31, 2011

Bangers and Mash Bento

The other day I made Bangers and Mash for dinner. This is an English dish that consists of Sausages and Mashed Potatoes. I decided to make it a bit healthier by making Garden Vegetable Chicken Sausage instead of a pork sausage, and Mashed cauliflower instead of Mashed potatoes. I mashed the cauliflower with I can't believe it's not butter spread and Almond milk, as well as lots and lots of freshly cracked pepper (a medley of peppercorns not just black).
I also served it with peas, and then mixed the mash and the peas together (because peas taste so good mixed with mashed potatoes or mashed cauliflower.)YUM!
Anyway, I had some leftovers and I wanted to make a small bento, so today for a quick lunch I made myself a Bangers and Mash bento.
I added a little mustard for color and for dipping the sausage in, and I also added some Cherry Tomatoes for color and for a fresh clean flavor as well.
  • Garden Vegetable Chicken Sausage (Two cut in half)
  • Mashed Cauliflower mixed with Green Peas
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Mustard
Although this isn't super cute or pretty I did use the 5 colors rule to make it. The 5 colors rule is a bento making rule that you should use 5 colors (Red, Yellow, Green, Black/Brown, and White/Cream) I often times use orange in place of yellow because I use carrots a lot.
The idea of this rule is that you use a variety of foods (meat, vegetables, fruit starch etc.) in order to get the colors, so your bento become:
  • Healthy/Nutritionally Balanced (filled with fruits vegetables etc and not just meat and starch)
  • Aesthetically pleasing (Nice to look at with contrasting colors)
  • Fun to eat (variety of textures)

Friday, July 29, 2011

Blog #100! Special Onigiri Bento

This is my 100th post on this blog! I'm so excited to have gotten to my 100th post already, and I thank all 27 of my Followers for my over 6,000 blog views so far.
Anyway, My fiance and I went on a date today, as we try to do almost every Friday. And we went to our local Japanese Market Ebisuya as well as our local Korean Market H-mart. We bought lots of goodies for us to eat, as well as some Onigiri for today's bento.
I'm so happy to finally be able to use my new Onigiri bento box that I got for my birthday. I also made some Spinach Tamagoyaki and some Apple Rabbits to go along with our Onigiri.
Here it is all spread out and ready for us to eat...
...And here it is all closed up, to show my cute bento box and bento strap to keep it closed. Here you can see what we had to drink.
  • Cherry Ramune (Japanese Soda) for my Fiance
  • Oolong Tea for me
 Under the lid of the bento box we have our Onigiri.
The Onigiri came wrapped in a special plastic sheet that houses the optional seaweed (Nori). Personally I do not like to wrap the Onigiri in the Nori, so I did not use it, but my fiance tried it, and said it was OK, but prefers the onigiri without.
  • Plum (Umeboshi) Onigiri for me
  • Salmon Onigiri for my Fiance
 Under the Onigiri layer, there is...
  • Spinach Tamagoyaki
  • Apple Rabbits
 Here is my fiance taking a bit of the Salmon Onigiri...
 Salmon! My fiance's favorite food!
And me with my Umeboshi Onigiri.
This is a close up of my onigiri. I did NOT like the Umeboshi at all, and I ended up eating all around it and tossing the part of the rice that touched the plum. That was disappointing, but that was one of the only Onigiri Ebisuya offered that didn't have seafood in it. The other one was something with mustard greens.

Here are the other goodies we bought today, minus the Cheese Bread my fiance gobbled up in the car and the Rice Papers I bought to make Summer Rolls... (Stay tuned for Summer Rolls)
  • Koala Chocolate Creme cookies (For my fiance)
  • Coffee Beat (Little chocolate and coffee flavored candies in the shape of coffee beans, one for each of us..... one of my FAVORITE Japanese candies!)
  • Apollo (Strawberry Chocolate candies for my fiance. This is my fiance's FAVORITE Japanese candy!)
  • Crisp Choco (Chocolate covered Cornflakes for me.)
I started eating them in the car, so yummy! I love how it looks like a little chocolate pizza. This is quickly becoming my second favorite Japanese candy/snack.
I hope everyone had a great day, and I'd like to thank you all for helping me along to my 100th post. I look forward to the next 100!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Hummus and Spinach Nuggets

My fiance wanted the rest of the spinach nuggets today, so I made a bento with those as well as lots of veggies and hummus, and a few other tasty treats.
  • WhoNu? Nutrition rich chocolate chip cookies
  • Hazelnut Nut Thins crackers
  • Giant Blueberries
  • Strawberry
  • Eat Well Enjoy Life White Bean Hummus with Garlic Tapenade
  • Baby Carrots
  • Mushrooms
  • Broccoli
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Veggie Patch Spinach Nuggets
If you haven't tried the Eat Well Enjoy Life Hummus you really should. It's amazing. I love the Edamame Hummus the most, but the White bean is also amazing. I love it more then regular chickpea hummus. Also the nut thin crackers are the best, they are made of rice and nuts and I am so glad I found them. I love the super crunchyness of them that regular crackers don't have.

Cereal Breakfast Bento

I have been craving cereal lately, so for lunch I made myself a 'breakfast' bento with cereal and Blueberries. I also used Almond Milk because it is delicious and I am slightly lactose intolerant.
  • Fiber One Origional
  • Fiber One Honey Squares
  • Cherrios
  • Blueberries
  • Milled Flax Seed
  • Almond Milk
It was super delicious, and is in fact what I ate for breakfast as well. I could eat cereal all day every day. I like it dry, with almond milk, mixed with other cereals, with yogurt, or with melted fluff as a type of mock rice crispy treat.
Here is a close up of the cereal. I tried to make it look pretty, but since the cereals are all similar colors it came out looking a bit... bland. It tasted amazing though.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Spinach Nuggets Bento

So Last week my fiance and I tried the Meatless Meatballs from Veggie Patch, and we loved them so much we went out and bought a few other things to try. Today we have the Spinach Nuggets... also fully vegetarian.
They are super easy to heat up in the microwave or the oven. (I microwaved for 30 seconds then toasted them in the toaster oven until crispy).

They look like green chicken nuggets, and that may turn you off at first, but don't let it, there is no chicken in them, and they are supposed to be green, Spinach is filled with that healthy chlorophyll that is wonderful for your body and for your blood and is the cause of the green color.

Anyway, I paired the Spinach nuggets with some veggies and Light Ranch dressing to make a filling and delicious healthy vegetarian bento. (But don't worry I didn't forget the dessert!)

First up is my Fiance's bento, consisting of:
  • Baby Carrots
  • Celery
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Broccoli Florettes
  • Mushrooms
  • Light Ranch Dressing (in the pink container)
  • Spinach Nuggets
  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Roasted Nuts (Cashews) For dessert and protein!
My fiance loved the spinach nuggets and can't wait for them again. I on the other hand was fine eating the first nugget and was half way through the second one when my body decided to get all weird about the texture. I tend to have a problem with textures when they are too creamy, and the combination of the cooked spinach and the ranch dressing put the creamy texture into overdrive in my mouth. Unfortunately I couldn't finish them and gave the rest to my fiance who was delighted. I did enjoy the flavor of the Spinach Nuggets though.
And here is my Bento, aren't the blueberries awesome? They are huge!:

  • Strawberries and Blueberries
  • Roasted Cashews (By far my favorite part of the bento.)
  • Baby Carrots
  • Celery
  • Broccoli
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Light Ranch Dressing (in the blue container)
  • Spinach Nuggets
So I probably won't be eating these nuggets again, aside form the occasional bite or two. But since my fiance loved them so much I'll probably be buying them every once and a while.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Spaghetti & Meat'less'balls bento

I have been seeing this Veggie Patch brand a lot lately when I am grocery shopping, and My fiance and I have been wanting to try it, so Last week I picked up a container of Meatless meatballs that my fiance has been dieing to try.
I opened the package and they looked pretty good (Sorry the meatballs look foggy, the camera picked up a glare on the plastic covering). And cooking them was super easy, I just popped the amount I wanted into a bowl covered it with a napkin and popped them into the microwave fro less then 1 min. Then I took them out and let them sit for 1 min like the box said.
Meanwhile I made homemade garlic bread to go with out pasta bento.
I took one of the delicious leftover rolls we had, sliced it and cut it in half. Then I spread each half with I Can't Believe It's Not Butter, Garlic Powder, and Parsley. Then I popped those into the toaster oven.
It came out sooooo good, I will probably be making this again soon. YUM!
I had cooked the pasta the night before so it wouldn't take me so long to pack the bentos, And I also made homemade Tomato sauce using fresh tomatoes from the garden, Fresh Spinach, baby carrots, onions, basil, garlic, herbs, and Freshly Ground Pepper mix. It came out AMAZING! Yum, I loved this sauce, it was so chunky and full of delicious vegetables. I am glad I made enough for leftovers because that's what I bringing for lunch tomorrow! :)
 So Here is my bento. I lined the bottom tier with plastic Wrap so the tomato sauce wouldn't ruin my bento box.
  • Garden Delight Spaghetti
  • Homemade Tomato Sauce
  • Meatless Meatballs
  • Homemade Garlic Bread
  • Lettuce Mix Salad with Baby Carrots, Cherry Tomatoes, and Broccoli (I later added Light Italian Dressing)
The meatballs were delicious! They tasted very meaty and if I didn't know they were meatless, I would have not known. I will definitely be buying this brand again... and luckily the box had a coupon inside, and it's on sale this week at the grocery store, so I'm double lucky!

My fiance didn't want tomato sauce, she wanted Alfredo... and we had a jar of it left over in the fridge from when I made 'Chicken' Alfredo pizza (using meatless chicken).
  • Garden Delight Spaghetti
  • Light Alfredo Sauce
  • Meatless Meatballs
  • Broccoli
  • Homemade Garlic Bread
  • Fresh Spinach Salad with Baby carrots, Cherry Tomatoes, Mini White Mushrooms, and Broccoli. (Light Ranch dressing was added later)
My Fiance Loved the meatballs! LOVED! Tomorrow we are going grocery shopping so I wonder what will end up in the cart this time. lol
Here is a link to Veggie Patch if you are interested.

Lego Bentos

I was hanging out with my friend last Sunday while she put together her Lego Diagon Alley from Harry Potter, we were also watching a Very Potter Musical which is super hilarious and I recommend it to anyone who is a Harry Potter Fan... or even anyone who's read the books or watched the movies. It's so silly and completely cracked out, but it's so funny.
Anyway, she brought out all her extra Legos for me to play with while we watched the movie and she requested that I make a Lego bento... so that's exactly what I did.
Here is what I came up with.
I built a Blue and Green striped Bento and multicolored Chop Sticks... and then I filled it with Lego Food
  • Onigiri with Umeboshi
  • Beef Teriyaki
  • Spinach Tamagoyaki
  • Broccoli
  • Shiso leaves as decoration
This next bento is supposed to be based on the traditional bentos that I've seen
  • The rice with the Umeboshi in the middle is called Hinomaru style rice, meaning it looks like the Japanese Flag.
  • The mess of colors are supposed to be Mixed Vegetables.
  • The Brown thing is supposed to be Some kind of fish or meat.
I didn't plan this bento out very well, so I don't think it's a s nice looking as the first bento. But I wanted to make the Hinomaru style rice, so I quickly put it together anyway. I hope you like my lego bentos. Please do not eat. lol
Perhaps I will make another lego bento in the future, because it was very fun and I like how they came out.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Turkey Burger Bento

Here is my fiance's bento packed in my favorite Piggy Bento Box
  • Turkey Burger on a Whole Wheat Bun with Fresh Spinach (with Colby Jack Cheese Hearts)
  • WhoNu? Chocolate Chip Cookies (The Chewy Ones)
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Mini White Mushrooms
  • Celery
  • Baby carrots
  • Hazelnut Nut-Thin crackers
  • Edamame Hummus
 Here is a close up of the Piggy Baran that matches the Piggy Bento Box!

Here's my bento packed into the cute Elph's Circus Nesting Boxes.
  • Turkey Burger on Whole Wheat Bun (Lettuce mix, Tomato, Ketchup, Mustard, Relish, BBQ sauce and Colby Jack Cheese Hearts) Yeah I like my burgers with the works!
  • WhoNu? Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • Celery
  • Hazelnut Nut-Thin Crackers
  • Edamame Hummus
  • Mini White Mushroom
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Baby Carrots
Here is a close up of the cute Panda Bear Baran that's keeping my cookies separate from my burger. Hello Panda!

And this is the fruit snacks for my fiance and I to share... the fruit didn't fit into our bentos very well, so I just packed it separately. Do you see the double cherry? I love getting those, they're so cool.
  • Bing Cherries
  • Blueberries

You may have noticed I have several new foods in these bentos, so I thought I'd take some time to introduce them to you.

First off I'll talk about the New WhoNu? Cookies... WhoNu? Cookies are an excellent source of Calcium, Iron, Vitamins A, B12, C, D and E. They also have 3 grams of fiber and a total of 20 essential vitamins and minerals. There are 4 different kinds of cookies to try, to find out more go to their website... WhoNu? Nutritious Cookies

Next I have Edamame Hummus. This is from a brand called Eat Well Enjoy Life and they make many different types of hummus out of ingredients like edamame, white beans, and lentils... This one is the Edamame Hummus with Roasted Red Pepper & Toasted Sesame. There are 6 different flavors and I can't wait to try them all. Check out their website Eat Well Enjoy Life

And last I have the Hazelnut Nut-Thins. Nut Thins are Flavorful and Gluten Free crackers made from rice and nuts and are super delicious. There are soooo many flavors to choose from. I have tried the Almond, the Almond with Cheddar and the Hazelnut. With 8 different flavors and a variety of nuts to choose from there is something for everyone... unless you have a nut allergy...
Anyway, please check them out at their website Blue Diamond Nut Thins

10 Different ways to make the same Bento

Have you ever said to yourself 'My bentos all look the same.' or 'I can't make bentos because I eat the same thing every day so they would be boring.' Well this post is for you because I am going to show you that you can take the same basic ingredients and turn them into many different looking bentos with the use of a little creativity and the help of some basic bento supplies (Some bento supplies are easier to find then others, so the ones I used are basic and most people can find).
Some of you already know that I eat almost the same breakfast every day... Yogurt (usually vanilla), Fruit (usually strawberries and blueberries), Cereal (usually fiber one original) and milled Flax seed... but that hasn't stopped me from making lots of breakfast bentos.
This post is going to show you how I turned the same 4 ingredients and turned them into more then 10 different bentos.
  • Here is what this breakfast would look like if I didn't turn it into a bento... Boring and bland looking isn't it?
But that doesn't have to be the case because separate the ingredients and put them into an interesting container or a bento box and you have this...
Ok, I realize that this still isn't that pretty to look at, but it's a start right?
  • Next up you can make it more interesting by getting creative and adding a simple shape with the use of a small cookie cutter or a stencil. I used a small heart shaped cookie cutter for this one.
  • Now maybe you want it to be a little more different, you can do this by adding or changing a flavor/color... In This next bento I used a different flavor of yogurt and a star shape instead of a heart.
  • And then in this bento I took the picture with different lighting. It goes to show you that even the same looking bento can look more interesting by changing the lighting.
  • Next I have added a simple food pick to liven up the bento. Food picks can be found in most craft stores and kitchen supply stores (think cupcake picks) if you can't find a bento supply store near you.
  • And here I used the same ingredients but I placed them into a different bento box. Keeps it interesting without much work or thought.
Try being creative with the placing of your ingredients. Here I used blueberries to frame the flax seed heart.

And in this one I used the strawberry slices to make heart shapes all down the sides of the box. I like to incorporate the same shape throughout the box to help draw your eye around.

Here I used the cereal to frame the heart, and I added different fruit for a new color and flavor! Also note the food picks and the Heart Shaped Watermelon.

 And in this one I used a different bento box for color, I lined up all the ingredients to make stripes, and I added cherries for and extra interesting change of color and flavor.
  • And don't forget that you can always use a theme to liven up your bentos, Holidays and celebrations are always more fun to celebrate with a bento!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Mocha Coffee!

I made homemade Starbucks Frappuccinos today with Starbucks Coffee that we bought at the grocery store, as well as a few other ingredients we had aroud the house.
My fiance is addicted to the Mocha Frappuccinos and I am partial to the light Caramel frappuccinos myself (though I only get them very occasionally because I am not a very big coffee drinker). But we had cold brewed coffee in the refridgerator, and instead of going out and spending money on some drinks I decided to try making them at home.
Here is what I came up with. I blended together
  • Ice
  • Cold brewed Starbucks coffee
  • Chocolate syrup
  • A little bit of sugar
  • milk
The when it was blended enough I poured them into glasses. Then I topped them with whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles.

The first one was my fiance's and this one is mine.... we loved them so much that I made us each another one... here they are
YUM! It was super easy to make and definitely worth it because we would have spent too much money and wasted too much time going out to get them when I made these at home within 2 or 3 minutes.
Are we still going to buy Frappuccinos? Yes, but probably not as much as we used to because I can totally make them at home now. lol...
Plus I have to get myself some caramel syrup and some non dairy or low fat milk in order to make my caramel frappuchino...
Anyway, I know this isn't a bento, but It was super tasty and I wanted to share it with all my readers. Hopefully it'll inspire others to try making their own coffee drinks at home and maybe save a little money as well.
Have a great day, and don't drink too much coffee ;)

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Beach Picnic Bento

My fiance and I went to the beach today with some friends and I packed a bento picnic for us so we wouldn't be tempted by the yucky and unhealthy fast food there. It was a super tasty bento and the beach was nice. Very crowded though because they were having a bit of a carnival because it's the sand sculpture weekend. We parked as far away from the carnival stuff as possible, but I did have to walk through all the crouds to use the disgusting bathroom. Ugh.
Anyway, I am glad I packed such a good healthy picnic because it helped keep our energy up and we spent a long time out on the beach playing and hanging out with our boom box.
I put on many many layers of sunblock because I am very fair skinned and I do not want to burn or get melanoma, and then I also sat under a beach umbrella for most of the time as well (except for when I played Badminton, Walked to the edge of the water to watch my friends play, and the long walk through the crowds of people to get to and from the bathroom.

Anyway, here is what I packed for us to eat
  • Baby Carrots
  • Broccoli Florets
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Small White Mushrooms
  • Strawberries (From the farmer's market)
  • Blueberries (From the farmer's market)
  • Bing Cherries
  • Light Ranch Dressing (in the small container, for the veggies)
  • Gouda Cheese from Whole Foods
  • Goat Cheese from Trader Joe's
  • Light Babybel Cheese
These are super yummy cookies from the bakery at Whole Foods. I love that place and I love their cookies. I cut the cookies in half and then packed them so they would be easier to eat at the beach, and so they would look pretty.
  •  Snickerdoodle Cookie (for my fiance)
  • Double Chocolate Chip Cookie (For me)
This is a super yummy bread from Mamadou's Artisan Bakery the Bakery right across the street from our house. It's all natural and delicious, and I am so happy I tried this place because it's amazing!
  • Muktigrain vbread with Pumpkin and Sunflower seeds as well as 7 Cracked Grains
 I forgot to take a picture of the picnic before we started eating, but I did take a few pictures. I had already eaten most of the broccoli and tomatoes before I took this picture...
This is my fiance eating all the Mushrooms from the veggies. Do you like our old school boom box?
You may have noticed the my fiance was under an umbrella... I was too. We are both sensitive to the sun so we had layers upon layers of sunblock on as well as sat under umbrella's for most of the time.
I'm pretty proud of my ability to tie Cherry Stems with my tongue... I have been doing it for years, and I'm so proud. lol I know it's a silly thing to be proud of but it's not easy and not everyone can do it, so there! lol

I hope everyone had a good weekend!

    Wednesday, July 13, 2011

    Tamagoyaki Bento

    I had a carton of egg beaters sitting in the refrigerator, and I had a few [pieces of Teriyaki Tofu left over from yesterday, so I decided to make a Tamagoyaki bento with a bit of Teriyaki Tofu on the side. I also decided to make two kinds of Tamagoyaki to use up the egg.... and because it's delicious!
    So here we have my fiance's bento. I think I might have gone a bit overboard with the spinach decoration. lol But we had fresh baby spinach from the farmer's market, and it was sooo pretty, I just had to use it as garnish. The strawberries and blueberries are from the farmer's market too.
    • Mixed Vegetable Tamagoyaki 
    • Teriyaki Tofu
    • Cherry Tomatoes
    • Spinach Tamagoyaki (Notice how small it is compared to the mixed vegetable one?)
    • Apple Rabbits (Kinda hard to see because of the large spinach leaves in the way)
    • Baby Carrots.... to feed the apple rabbit with!
    • Broccoli
    • Mushrooms
    • Strawberries
    • Blueberries
    And here is my bento lunch. All the same things except no mushrooms and extra cherry tomatoes. You can also see the apple rabbits a bit better too. I have one piece of mixed vegetable tamagoyaki that is huge! I should have cut it in half or something because it overpowers everything. lol
    Oh anyway, the mixed vegetable tamagoyaki is soooo much bigger then the spinach tamagoyaki because
    • The Mixed Vegetable Tamagoyaki has more filling (Lot's of vegetables)
    • To keep the mixed vegetables from falling out of the tamagoyaki you have to mix it with egg
    • Then you have to add more layers of egg on the outside in order to keep the huge filling all wrapped up and presentable
    • The spinach tamagoyaki only has a little bit of filling
    • And the Spinach stays in place so it doesn't have to be mixed with egg when cooking
    • So it requires a smaller amount of egg to wrap it all up and look presentable.
    So if you are planning on making tamagoyaki for your bento, you must take into account what fillings you are using, and if it's a loose filling like mixed vegetables remember to mix it with eggs while cooking so the filling doesn't fall out.... and it makes it easier to cut as well. Oh, and also take into account how many pieces you want to fit into your bento and how much room you will have for those pieces, because if the tamagoyaki is just a side dish and you only have a little bit of room, then I suggest using a small filling like spinach, but if you want your tamagoyaki to be the main dish (like it is in these bentos) then using a bigger filling will make it more hearty and filling, as well as bigger to take up more room.
    Don't forget to take into account the colors of the fillings too. If you want them to stand out really well then I suggest using a bright color like red peppers or bright green spinach, but if you don't want the colors to stand out, then using cheese or corn would work better... or having no filling at all would work too.

    P.S. I do not mix my eggs with sugar or soy sauce or anything like that. If you do not like sweet or salty tamagoyaki like many of the recipes I have seen for tamagoyaki, then do not add any of those things suggested in the recipes because they are not a requirement to make tamagoyaki, they are just flavorings.