bunny bahn mi bento

11 01 2010

most of you probably know how tasty bahn mi sandwiches are, and for those of you who are lucky enough to have a vietnamese sandwich shop in your neighborhood, they are usually pretty cheap and easy to pick up.  because of the convenience factor, i fall back on a bahn mi bento every couple of weeks — it’s a great “fill in” on nights when i don’t cook dinner or don’t make enough to produce bento-able leftovers for the next day.

today, in an effort to showcase the versatility of this lunchbox item, some of my favorite bentoists and i have put together a variety of bahn mi bentos!

my bahn mi bento is geared towards my relatively physically inactive lifestyle (i pretty much sit at a computer all day!).  in order to tailor the lunch to my nutritional requirements, i simply added a lot of fresh fruits and veggies.  the bahn mi already has fresh carrots, cilantro, and cucumber in it, as well as tofu for my protein element.  but because the yummy baguette is a processed carb (it’s plain white, not whole wheat or anything), i do need to be careful not to add other carb elements to the meal. the fruit is even pushing it, because it has so many natural sugars. to keep my body working to process those sugars, i will pace myself over the course of the day, eating part of the fruit section as a mid-morning snack.

the bunny decoration is made from mozzarella and american cheeses, with vegetarian ham and nori accents.  in the bahn mi tier i also have a steamed sweet potato flower, three takuwan-and-beet flowers, some enoki mushrooms, pea pods, and grape tomatoes.  once i eat the sandwich i will probably rip up the lettuce leaves and eat the rest of the veggies mixed with the lettuce as a small salad.

my fruit tier has nashi and plum fans, with a baby orange in a food cup, some strawberries in a food cup, blueberries in another food cup, and grapes and raspberries to fill the gaps.  both sections of this 2-tier ccomotti box are pretty deep, so the food cups are propped up on additional slices of nashi and plum.

for other ideas on how bahn mi sandwiches fit into various lifestyles (with various nutritional needs), please take a look at these other gorgeous bentos:

  • sheri over at happy little bento, who makes lunch for her son and his big appetite, made a bahn mi bento focusing on balanced nutrition for a full and active school day.
  • debra of hapa bento is a vegetarian, and her post discusses enjoying a bahn mi in nutritional moderation.
  • finally, susan over at hawai`i’s bento box cookbook makes lunch for her cutie-pie daughter paige, so she made a bahn mi bento focusing on incorporating veggies into a kid’s diet.

in the comments, i’d love to hear about your favorite bahn mi sandwich shop, or your favorite accompaniments for a bahn mi bento!

and many thanks to debra for coordinating this fun exposé on bahn mi bentos!





kong bap bento

10 01 2010

this is my second entry into hapa bento’s b.o.m.b. contest, so i’ll discuss my theme-requisite roasted veggies first.  i roasted sweet potato slices and brussels sprouts in the toaster (great for saving energy on a small batch), with olive oil, salt, pepper, and gochugaru (korean red pepper flakes) – yum!  the roasted veggies are propped up on some lemon-pepper tofu.  in the top left we have nashi and peach fans with a few strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries.  in the top right is a small green salad (just a few slices of cucumber and carrot, with two takuwan flowers and three grape tomatoes).  in the center hole i have a bottle of citrus-yuzu dressing for the salad.

what, you may be thinking, is that weird brown-ish rice-and-beans mixture in the bottom left compartment?  drumroll, please… it’s kong bap (공밮), and my boyfriend’s mom is pretty confident that it’s the key to a long and healthy life!

i finally took the plunge and invested in a new cuckoo rice cooker… it’s a korean brand that uses “fuzzy logic” technology (like the zojirushis, which i also looked at but passed up because the cuckoo seemed more versatile, allowing me to cook soups and stews as well as all kinds of rice… more on my plans for jigae and kalbi-jjim in the future!).

although kong bap is historically associated with prison food, it’s still a staple in many korean homes, and it’s SUPER healthy.  there are many variants on this extremely basic recipe, but the all-korean “cooking guide” that came with my rice maker (causing me to spend more than an hour on google translate to figure out just three recipes, grrr) is as follows:

  • 2 cups white rice
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 1/3 cup dried red beans
  • 3.5 cups water

i substituted black beans and mung beans for the red beans, and used closer to a 1/2 cup than a 1/3 cup of beans in total, and it still came out fine.  i used the “turbo” (pressure) setting on my cooker, and it took about 40 minutes, which is a dramatic time saver compared to soaking the beans overnight.

if you don’t have a fancy-schmancy rice cooker, don’t worry!  you can make brown rice on the stovetop, using between 2 and 2.5 cups of water for every 1 cup of uncooked brown rice (i like to add a tbsp. of olive oil as well), and simmering in a 2-quart or larger saucepan for 45-50 minutes until tender.  fluff with a fork once all the liquid has been absorbed.  you will want to make the beans in a separate pot (if you are using dried beans, cooking them is a much longer process that you should start the day before; however, you could also used canned beans), and mix with the rice when both components are fully cooked.

i love the nutty flavor and wettish, sticky texture of kong bap… plus, when i feel like i’m eating something good for my body, that often makes it taste better.  at least that’s what i’ve convinced myself!





“fit for life” bento

6 01 2010

tonight is my contribution to hapa bento’s b.o.m.b. (best of the month bento) project, for which this month’s theme is… ROASTING!

the roasted veg here is really my side dish, but since it’s the b.o.m.b. theme i’ll discuss it first. basically, i kept it simple – asparagus, baby bella mushrooms, grape tomatoes, yellow squash and brussels sprouts roasted in my toaster oven (energy efficient and the perfect size for roasting only enough to feed one) with a little bit of extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, cracked pepper, and thyme. thanks again to hapa for hosting this contest on her awesome blog, and for inspiring us all to use this healthy cooking method more often!

roasting aside, the sandwich here is kind of the main event. sometimes when the boyfriend and i are feeling lazy we have “sando night” and pig out on crazy sandwiches stuffed with whatever we want. the boyfriend chose hummus and salami (weird, right?) whereas i chose a concoction from his mom’s yummy sandwich shop (ygnacio cafe in walnut creek, ca – highly recommend if you are ever in the area) that she has dubbed “fit for life.” this magical sammie consists of wheat bread (i like mine toasted), with cream cheese, sprouts, avocado, and sliced black olives. i also added baked lemon-pepper tofu to mine to give it a little bit more protein, and added a pretty accent with some nashi-and-beet blossoms (snow pea “leaves,” sesame seed centers).

fruit sidecar has fanned strawberries, green grapes, the last two slices of starfruit, and a skewer of blueberries (i thought the blue matched the main box nicely).





tequeños bento

4 01 2010

tequeños (deep fried cheese sticks) from the outrageously delicious caracas arepa bar in the east village… definitely not the healthiest option, but i am trying to balance it out with a larger tier bursting with fruit and veggie goodness. are you buying into this dietary technique, haha?

in the tier with the tequeños i have a container full of caracas’ special secret recipe hot sauce (i’ve been trying to figure it out for years – it’s definitely vinegar based, and it has mango and peppers and spices, it’s tangy and not too hot but VERY flavorful).

the fruit and veg tier has toaster-roasted beets and asparagus (just a little bit of extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper – i’m totally on board with hapa bento’s roasting kick), plus some sliced raw mushrooms, cucumber, grape tomatoes, nashi, snow peas and starfruit.

orange pencil chopsticks and orange-flavored gummies for dessert!





flirty empanada bento

6 12 2009

the boyfriend was sick all day today, so i picked up a quick dinner from ruben’s empanadas to cheer him up — breakfast for dinner always does it! he had sausage and egg, but this leftover for tomorrow’s lunch has a spinach filling.

her eyes are cheese and nori, her mouth is nori, and her hair bow is a pasta bowtie.  she’s surrounded by — clockwise from top right — purple carrot sticks, a starfruit slice, pomegranate seeds in a food cup, half of a deviled egg, snow pea pods, an orange-and-red grape tomato skewer and an olive skewer, some nashi slices and a few more pea pods.

[as seen on “cute food – the adorable, edible art of kawaii cooking”]





working late (again) bento

2 12 2009

working late again, getting two motions out the door on two different cases – yikes.

turned to my old stand-by for late nights: vietnamese or thai food, and my box from hapa bento.  this combination always lets me throw things together at the last minute and still have it come out looking nice!

top left:  bean sprouts in a food cup topped with two purple carrot flowers, with four tamagoyaki slices and two halves of a baby roma tomato.  top right:  two asian pear fans, with a food cup of pomegranate seeds, kumquats on a pick, and some cherries (with their real stems left on, for once!).  bottom right:  fried rice with mint leaves and a flower-shaped container of soy sauce for some extra salt (it was kinda bland this time).  bottom left:  sauteed black mushroom with carrot and green onion accents.





“brothers and sister” bento

1 12 2009

the top tier of this bento got a little cluttered, as i didn’t sketch in advance.  all i knew was that i wanted to use this new onigiri mold from daiso (makes three mini face-shaped onigiri), and then i kept adding more and more random stuff from the fridge and all of a sudden it was crazy.  oh well, at least i wasn’t drunk this time, haha!

top tier has two brothers and a sister (plain brown rice, too small for filling, nori hair and sesame eyes, cheese bow on the sister’s hair) sitting on top of some spicy korean tofu that’s completely hidden, and, clockwise from top left:  yellow cauliflower with cheese and veggie pepperoni flower, carrot sticks and baby orange tomato, red tomato half, tamagoyaki slices, and two edamame skewers on top of fried veggie dumplings (ajinomoto brand), and more carrot sticks (plus one more red baby tomato half to prop up brother #2’s chin!).

simple dessert tier has:  pomegranate seeds in a heart food cup from daiso, chocolate-covered almonds in a square food cup from daiso, asian pear fan, starfruit slices, kumquat slices and a cherry.

i’m really enjoying all of my new picks and cups from my trip to the west coast — this bento is a daiso bonanza!