gluten-free

Bento no. 49: Vegan rice burger bento

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Bento contents:

  • Rice Burger patties made of approx. 1 1/2 cups sprouted brown rice + 1/2 Tbs. olive oil, 350 cal
  • Mediterranean flavored green vegan burger using about 1/5th of the recipe, 120 cal
  • Cherry tomatoes, arugula, berries, 50 cal

Total calories (approx): 520 (how calories are calculated)

Time needed: 20-25 minutes in the morning if making from scratch; much less if using pre-made/pre-frozen components

Type: Bread-free, vegan continue reading...

Two kinds of chicken tsukune: Stewed dumplings and panfried mini-burgers

More chicken recipes! Tsukune is a term that means “kneaded and shaped into a round shape”. It usually means a dish made with finely ground and flavored chicken or fish. Chicken tsukune are very well suited to bentos, since they are soft and stay nice and moist. They are also gluten-free (no breadcrumbs!), if you take care to use a gluten-free cornstarch or potato starch and soy sauce.

Today I’ll show you how to make two type of chicken tsukune from the same basic recipe. First, the very traditional stewed tsukune dumplings, cooked in a broth with carrots (tsukune-ni).

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And here are some pan-fried tsukune, or tsukune baagaa (tsukune burgers) - actually mini-burgers to fit neatly into a bento box.

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Glazed Triple-Soy Loaf

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I am always on the lookout for vegan/vegetarian protein recipes that are bento friendly, and this flat oven baked loaf is another one. It's called triple-soy because it has tofu, edamame and miso in it. It has a very dense, rich texture with a sweet-salty glaze. One or two small squares are quite enough for a bento. It may fall apart a bit during transport, but that doesn't affect the texture or flavor. If you can, put it in its own compartment in your bento. continue reading...

Roasted carrot spread

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I do love carrots. They are full of nutrients and fiber, inexpensive, available year around, and durable. And their bright orange color (or other colors, if you delve into the exotic varieties) add instant cheer to any dish or bento box. So when I saw that my favorite vegan author Yumiko Kano was coming out with a new book of just carrot recipes, I reserved it in advance without a second thought.

This is a recipe adapted from that book. It’s a soft, light carrot spread or paste that is sweet, salty and a bit spicy. It has tahini (sesame seed paste) in it, which adds richness as well as protein. The spiciness comes from cumin and red chili pepper powder, and the sweetness comes from the carrot itself, which is roasted to intensify the flavor, and a tad of raw cane sugar. It is great as a spread on crackers or rice cakes or toast, or as a dip. The soft texture means it can’t quite substitute for peanut butter in a pb and j sandwich, but it’s fantastic in a wrap sandwich. It is of course totally gluten-free and nut-free too, so if your child’s school has a “no-nut” policy, which seems to be increasingly common these days, this is great. continue reading...

Bento no. 22: Vegan bento with lotus root mini-cakes

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Bento contents:

  • Savory lotus root mini-cakes (approx. 150 cal)
  • Pan-roasted red pepper and leek with peanut sauce (approx: 200 cal)
  • Sweet chili jam (30 cal)
  • Cucumber wedges (5 cal)
  • Naval orange wedge (30 cal)

Total calories (approx): 415 (how calories are calculated)

Time needed: 20-30 minutes total

Type: Asian-fusion, vegan, gluten-free continue reading...

Poached frozen tofu and fried frozen tofu cutlets

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This is a very juicy and tasty way of cooking frozen tofu - and it’s not Japanese, for a change. A great vegan protein dish! continue reading...

Bento no. 16: A minimalist vegan bento for a tender tummy

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(click on image for a bigger view)

Bento contents:

Total calories (approx): 400 (how calories are calculated)

Time needed: 10 minutes in the morning, a bit of this and that previously

Type: Japanese, vegan, gluten-free continue reading...

Stewed hijiki seaweed with carrots and fried tofu

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This is a very classic Japanese staple dish. More often than not, I have some variation of it in my refrigerator. The base is hijiki seaweed, which is soaked and reconstituted then cooked in dashi with various other ingredients that give it flavor. It’s great to add to a bento box.

This version has carrots and fried tofu in it. Cutting them into fancy shapes is totally optional, but it does make your bentos a bit more fun.

I’ve used me-hijiki for this but you can use the regular long branch hijiki too. continue reading...