quinoa falafel halloween bento

7 10 2012

tomorrow’s lunch is a holiday-themed, healthy twist on a few dishes i love: falafel balls and greek rice. for my falafel, i used a mix from earthly choice brand, and added some middle-eastern flavor (cumin spice and smoked paprika).  the balls are baked instead of fried.  for the “rice,” i used powercakes’ rice-free recipe, pulsing raw cauliflower in the food processor with other raw vegetables and kalamata olives for the briny zing. a cute carved jack-o-pepper with a spider pick gives some halloween flair to the lunch.  click through for details.

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“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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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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lentil rice bento

26 02 2012

i spent today batch cooking for the week from some tasty recipes i bookmarked in magazines i read in various airports during the past week’s work-related travels. tomorrow’s lunch, though, is just the basics: leftover lentil rice pilaf from last night’s dinner, plus two chicken-free nuggets (i prefer health is wealth’s version, as they are lower in fat than the comparable boca product) and some fresh veggies.

turns out that a realistic portion of both of these protein-rich foods is waaaay smaller than i thought! but that’s ok, i’m learning to listen to my body telling me it’s full when i eat denser foods, and the balance of healthy foods here is tone it up nutrition plan-friendly. calorie count below.

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vintage stamps bento

26 04 2011

a recent trend in wedding stationary is to use a mix of vintage postage stamps for a unique and stylized look. i think this idea is really cute, but it can be cost-prohibitive (some vintage stamps cost up to 10 times their face value!).

inspired by the trend as well as cute bentos by akinoichigo and lucky sundae, and evolving the scottie dog “stamps” bento i made a few weeks ago, i made two vintage postage stamp sandwiches for tomorrow’s lunch. each stamp sits atop a sandwich of pumpernickel, vegetarian ham, cheese and mustard. the provolone stamps are topped with fish sausage roses, as well as green pea and nori accents and hand cut 12-cent demarcations.

posted in “what’s for lunch wednesday” — what are you having?





happy matryoshka bento

25 04 2011

tonight for dinner i made an awesome pan-seared cod dish, served with shitake-miso-arugula-quinoa salad (recipe below) and a fat slice of oven-roasted beefsteak tomato.

for tomorrow’s lunch, which is my last passover lunch for the year (YAY!), i packed some of the cod beneath a layer of the quinoa salad, topped with a cheese-and-nori matryoshka.  the side portion has steamed broccoli, a fish sausage heart, steamed asparagus, sweet potato “doilies”, pea pods, and a lettuce border.

quinoa has been a controversial grain for those observing passover — because it was not a part of the diet of the jews who fled slavery in egypt, it was never placed on the list of forbidden passover foods, even though it expands like rice and other forbidden grains.  that’s good enough for me, and because quinoa is protein-packed, it’s a nice change from rice.

the basic recipe is simple, and the number of potential add-ins is infinite.  here’s the combo i came up with tonight:

shitake-miso-arugula-quinoa salad (if you can come up with a better name, let me know!)

  • 1 cup of quinoa
  • 8 medium shitake caps, julienned
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • olive oil to coat a medium skillet
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tbsp. shiro miso paste
  • 3 big handfuls of arugula
  • pepper to taste
  1. coat your skillet with olive oil and heat it up.  add the sliced garlic and julienned shitake caps, and sautee until golden.
  2. add the quinoa to the pan and stir until it’s evenly toasted but not burned.  (this is the same process you would use when making risotto and toasting the arborio rice prior to adding liquid.)
  3. in a separate pot, bring 2 cups of water to boil, and then whisk in the miso paste.
  4. add the quinoa-shitake-garlic mixture to the boiling miso broth, cover and reduce to a low simmer.  allow to cook for 10-15 minutes until all liquid has been absorbed and the individual quinoa grains are plumped.  turn off heat and leave lid on to steam for an additional 2 to 5 minutes.
  5. transfer the quinoa-shitake-garlic mixture to a mixing bowl, and fold in the arugula.  it will steam/wilt in this process; make sure fold until it’s evenly incorporated.

that’s it!  it’s good hot or cold, and very nutritious.





mini-key sandwiches

17 04 2011

tomorrow at sundown marks the start of the jewish holiday passover.  for the eight days during which the holiday is observed, one refrains from eating leavened bread, as well as a variety of other foods that are seen as “rising” like leavened bread (depending on the regional tradition, this group of forbidden foods may include rice, beans, and other ingredients which expand when cooked).

although i won’t be strictly observing the restrictions this year, i will be saying goodbye to bread for the next week or so, which alas, includes sandwich bentos.  so as a fond (and temporary!) farewell, i made two egg salad sammies for tomorrow’s lunch.  super simple, with the cute addition of a cut-outs in the shape of keys.  the two breads i used, rye and pumpernickel, were nicely contrasting, and so i switched the keys (then both loaves went in the freezer to wait for the end of the holiday!).

this isn’t quite a bento, but i hope you don’t mind me posting.

speaking of “not quite a bento,” have you checked out the amazing wool/viscose play bento set that was recently posted as a bento4japan auction?  although you can’t eat this one, it would be the perfect gift for a cute child in your life… or for your own enjoyment.  bidding will definitely get heated on this one, so don’t miss it!

[as seen on epicute]