Tuesday, May 29, 2012

10 Bento Lunch Boxes: Eco-friendly Meals

Photo Credit: Amazon.com Kawaii Bento Boxes
Imagine steamed baby carrots, hard-boiled quail eggs and sea vegetables.

Are these lunch items for an adult on a macrobiotic diet?

Add whimsical teddy-bear faced pancakes and smiling squid made from sausages and you have a different take on lunch. Melissa Sharp, blogger of Another Lunch, also presents tutorials on making lunch fun with bento boxes. Disclosure: I have not received payment to endorse any company, product, book or blog.

Kids bento boxes can be just the right portion for toddlers. What's another benefit? Good Housekeeping has hinted that this bento-style is eco-friendly too.

If your family serves seafood, you can include shredded scallop, shrimp and even imitation crab meat in Japanese bento boxes. I borrowed Kawaii Bento Boxes: Cute and Convenient Japanese Meals on the Go as inspiration for an upcoming dinner party that includes children age 3 and under.

If my toddler-friendly home decor article for La Chapstick Fanatique, I mention toddler-proofing the party of choking hazards that may appear on a conventional menu.

In this cookbook by Photographer Yasuaki Okada, I found 10 bento lunch boxes that I would recommend to readers of SmartyGirlHealthyRecipes:

I am impressed by the distribution of soy protein options and sea vegetable side dishes. When I execute these recipes I plan to use cupcake liners as mini food cups to divide food in kids bento boxes. I might choose to avoid food picks for preschoolers because of possible chocking hazards. Just as I would avoid skewered onigiri for the same reason.

Dividers such as the green "grass" often seen in Japanese take out can be made with food-safe paper. I look forward to paper craft so that will be another how-to project.

1.  Oval Onigiri Piglet. Made with rice and salmon flakes decorated with carrot ears, cheese snout and nori seaweed eyes.

Photo Credit: Amazon.com Yum-Yum Bento Box
2. Omelet Rice Bento. A folder omelet filled with pre-cooked easy-to-digest shredded chicken and rice. Decorated with lines of ketchup to look like a fish.

3. Blooming Tulip Bento. Dyed-hard boiled quail eggs shaped like tulips over rice. Diagonally cut pea pods to represent leaves.

4. Sushi Salad Bento. Sliced ham, cheese and carrots cut with an heart-shaped cookie cutter. Meat and vegetables over seasoned rice.

5. Cauliflower Lamb. A cauliflower floret boiled in salted water and drained. A carrot for a face with black sesame seed eyes. 2 pretzel legs.

6. Okra with Bonito Shavings. Boiled drained okra. Bonito shavings for flavor and to absorb moisture.

7. Buttered Squash. Simmer cubes of winter squash in a pinch of sugar and salt with a tiny bit of butter.

8. Simmered Hijiki Seaweed. Seaweed seasoned with dashi, soy sauce and sugar.

9. Candied Sweet Potato. Fry in vegetable oil.

10. Almond Tofu. Similar to Italian panna cotta but flavored with almonds.

For pictures of cute kids bento, I also recommend Design Swan and Creation Z Studio

For adults who haven't tried nori, this is also a fun introduction.

Happy Bento Lunch!

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