my dear twitter friend lisa recently educated me about the japanese holiday o-tsukimi… as a fanatic for all things autumnal, i was eager to try my hand at a bento celebrating this lovely tradition. but being a bit out of practice with kyaraben, i turned to the best for guidance on how to interpret the themes of this celebration (the harvest moon, bunny, mochi, and fall foods such as squash/pumpkin) into a bento. hippomum is a bento-maker whose work i have admired ever since i started making my own bento boxes, and looking back through her archives, i found several o-tsukimi-themed bentos. specifically, these examples from 2009 and 2010 were just the inspiration i needed. i followed her model of a cheerful rabbit with a mochi pyramid atop a ceremonial stand, and a partially-clouded-over moon against a night sky, switching out only the ingredients.
my box uses a thin layer of black rice for the night sky, golden beet and radish for the moon and clouds, sweet potato (an appropriately “fall” vegetable from my CSA share) for the stand, egg white and golden beet for the mochi, and escarole and broccoli for the garden. the bunny is made of a halved hard-boiled egg, with nori eyes/mouth and vegetarian “ham” ears and cheeks.
this box is fully TIU approved for lunch — the only carbs are about 1/2 cup of rice here (and the black rice is more nutritious than white) plus a few slices of sweet potato. the hard-boiled egg plus the marinated tempeh i’ve arranged in the bento’s lower tier provide a protein punch; and the steamed broccoli, fresh escarole, farmer’s market baby tomatoes and purple radish add vitamins and other veggie-power nutrients. rounding out the box is a paper cup of pickled japanese eggplant, which provides nice color and a nice brine-y flavor.
nutritional info below; i hope you all had a lovely fall weekend, celebrating this tradition or taking part in your own favorite start-of-fall activities! i also had a fun apple-picking trip, so check back later this week for a yummy and easy low-sugar crockpot apple butter post.
- black & mahogany rice (i used lundberg brand), 1/4 cup dry - 150 calories (1.5 g. fat, 33 g. carbs [3 g. fiber], 4 g. protein, 4% iron)
- homemade smoky marinated tofu (i used lightlife’s flax variety and marinated in chipotle, apple cider vinegar, grade B organic maple syrup, minced garlic and other seasoning) - 145 calories (4 g. fat [0.6 g. sat.], 204 mg. sodium, 220 mg. potassium, 17 g. carbs [6.4 g. fiber, 7.3 g. sugar], 10.3 g. protein, 6.1% vitamin A, 6.8% calcium, 11.5% iron)
- hard-boiled egg - 70 calories (4.5 g. fat [1.5 g. sat.], 215 mg. cholesterol, 65 mg. sodium, 1 g. carbs, 6 g. protein, 6% vitamin A, 2% calcium, 4% iron)
- 1/2 of a smallish-medium sweet potato, steamed - 50 calories (20 mg. sodium, 262 mg. potassium, 11.6 g. carbs [1.9 g. fiber, 3.4 g. sugar], 1 g. protein, 212% vitamin A, 18% vitamin C, 2% calcium, 2% iron)
- approx. 1/3 slice yves meatless “canadian bacon” - 10 calories (0.1 g. fat, 61 mg. sodium, 13.2 mg. potassium, 2 g. protein, 3% iron)
- veggie garnishes: about 1/4 cup steamed broccoli florets, 3 grape tomatoes, 30 g. raw escarole, 1/8 cup raw golden beet and 1/4 cup raw radish – collectively, 30 calories (27 mg. sodium, 162 mg. potassium, 7 g. carbs [4 g. fiber, 2 g. sugar], 3 g. protein, 28% vitamin A, 29% vitamin C, 2% calcium, 6% iron)
- shibazuke (pickled eggplant): 10 calories (500 mg. sodium, 2 carbs [0.5 g. fiber])
total: 470 calories… a little more than i usually eat for lunch, but well-balanced and so seasonally appropriate that i am more than willing to plan for lighter morning and afternoon snack to accommodate.