“summer chill” quinoa salad bento

28 06 2012

quinoa — which is actually a seed, not a grain — is a superfood that i’ve used before (see exhibit A and exhibit B).  but since getting on the tone it up nutrition plan, which requires me to avoid starchy foods in the evenings, i’ve been turning to it more frequently as an accompaniment to lean proteins or as the base for refreshing salads.  the salad in today’s lunchbox is a perfect “summer chill” concoction, full of fresh seasonal veg and piquant flavor — i made it for some girlfriends coming over to hang out and drink wine on my roofdeck.  click through recipe and nutrition info.

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salmon yuzu rice bento

10 06 2012

a bento inspired by two dear friends i wish i saw more of — mira, with whom i had dinner at our fave edo sushi on friday night (providing salmon leftovers for the main dish here), and rupal, currently in shanghai but who left me this pretty bottled lemon drink which i knew i would use as a bento prop.

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mitsuwa bento

28 05 2012

my sweet husband surprised me last week with a new bento box (he saw it at a store when he was looking for something else).  wanting to use it, and finding ourselves with more time on our hands than usual due to the three-day weekend, we decided to take a trip to edgewater, nj to go to the fabulous mitsuwa marketplace — a veritable wonderland comprised of a full-sized japanese supermarket as well as a food court and a number of specialty shops and stands.  more on our trip, after the jump.

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magazine features

28 05 2012

bento zen was recently featured in two foreign magazines!

the first is skoda magazine, a belgian publication advertising the czech car company.  since this article is in french, i can pretty much read it — it’s a general article about bento-making, and how much care japanese moms put into these creations for their kids.

the second publication is super cool.  flow magazine is a netherlands-based crafting and lifestyle magazine, focused in particular on paper crafts.  the magazine is currently only published in dutch, and subscribers get cool bonuses with every hard-copy issue (such as pull-out mini journals and stickers).  the website has some cool downloadable templates for labels and stuff, too!  if any dutch speakers read this site and wouldn’t mind sending me a basic translation of the article, i’d love to know what it says!





mini french picnic bento

6 05 2012

i know it’s been over a month since i posted… seems like i was just talking about doing a proper spring bento, and now it’s almost summer! between bananas work travel and some family-related travel as well, i think i was away for 13 days of the month of april. needless to say, there’s been a lot of less-than-formal lunch-packing (think pre-portioned veggie sticks in zip-loc bags, ugly tupperwares of batch-made salad, and LOTS of yogurt)! that said, i’ve been doing well with sticking to my caloric and nutritional guidelines, and i’ve kept off the weight by following the guidelines set out by the tone it up nutrition plan.

one thing about dieting, though, is that sometimes you really need to allow yourself the non-diet foods you love. cheese is a total calorie bomb (particularly the creamy kinds i love), and that was a hard lesson for me to learn as a mostly-non-meat-eater who used to consider cheese a main protein source. dairy is also not a TIU-approved meal 3 ingredient…

but sometimes you have to let yourself have what you crave, and a great way to do that is with a portion-controlled version of your food vice. after landing at my home airport after one of my recent business trips, i saw these ile de france “brie bites” in the terminal’s snack shop. i grabbed a bunch before heading to the cab line, because these little gems are perfect for fulfilling my cheese craving in a sensible, binge-proof way.

tomorrow’s lunch has a delicious brie bite along with a mock turkey and ham sandwich. i made this with arnold’s new “pocket thins” flatbread (these are really moist and good!), dijonnaise, and butter lettuce. it’s just three slices of tofurkey smoked turkey and two of yves veggie ham, but i cut each round slice in half (forming a semi-circle that matched the shape of the pocket), and then i cut the filled pocket in half to form two wedges. i added two ripe mini-tomatoes on the vine, a mini-paper cup of blueberries, and five cornichons to complete the country picnic feel for this lunch, which i hope to enjoy outside! nutritional info and more lunch product tips after the jump.

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asian pantry bento, redux

2 04 2012

i know, spring has sprung, and i am psyched to try some new seasonal recipes… but i’ve been traveling like a crazy person for work, and haven’t had time to put together a blog-worthy spring lunch. until i can get around to doing that, i thought i’d share a lunch from a couple of weeks back. it was made with almost exactly the same ingredients as the pantry-based lunch i posted about here: same cannelini-rice mix (this time, with a quarter-cup of steamed spinach mixed in), same burdock namul (this time, with a purple potato flower garnish), same japanese pickles (the batch of veggies i pickled was a mix of lotus, daikon, and myoga ginger, and i’m still working my way through the jar). although this is super simple, the solid combo of carb-plus-veg-plus-protein (beans) is in keeping with the tone it up nutrition plan principles for meal 3 of the day (where meal 1 is breakfast and meal 2 is a mid-morning snack).

this came together quickly with a bamboo skewer of regular old canned black olives (leftover from another meal). the onigiri are filled with about a teaspoon each of white miso, and wrapped with a red shiso leaf from the pickle jar — these are what give my pickles the pretty pink color, although they go dark purple-ish in the jar after giving off their natural dye.

nutrition info below.

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chard wraps bento

25 03 2012

tomorrow’s lunch has some super-healthy chard wraps (nutrient-rich steamed chard leaves, filled with zuchinni-eggplant-brown rice gratin) and mini lentil-cashew patties. indulging my last winter ingredient cravings before embracing the change of seasons in my kitchen… recipes and nutritional information below.

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