not japanese

Bento no. 43: A low calorie, high fiber, tons of vegetables adjustment bento

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Bento contents:

Stir-fried noodles consisting of:

Total calories (approx): 245 (how calories are calculated)

Time needed: 10 minutes in the morning (can also be made ahead)

Type: Spicy Asian, vegan continue reading...

Bento filler: Cherry tomato and leftover vegetable gratin cup

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This vegetable gratin in a cup is a great way to use up leftover vegetables in a tasty way. It only takes a few minutes to assemble too. The only thing you should have are the cherry tomatoes, which make their own sauce in a way. Otherwise you can use any cooked or frozen vegetables you have on hand. Here I’ve used some leftover zucchini and frozen carrot and peas. You could use the ever popular sweet pepper and onion confit too.

The ‘sauce’ used is mayonnaise. Cooking with mayonnaise may seem a bit odd, but it works very well. It’s a very popular all-around sauce in Japanese home cooking. Cooked mayonnaise sauce tastes very nice when cold, making it very suited to bento dishes. I have used a ‘light’ mayonnaise here to halve the calories (50 calories per tablespoon, instead of about 100 for regular mayo), and added a little pesto from a jar to make it even tastier. I seem to always have jars of sauces spreads and pestos and so on around in the fridge - if you do too, try experimenting with them!

You do need a toaster oven to cook them up fast, but for serious bento makers this is a really handy piece of kitchen equipment to have (see essential bento making supplies).

This is a lacto-ovo-vegetarian recipe. To turn this into a vegan one use a non-egg mayonnaise substitute and omit the cheese. You can up the nutrients by adding chopped up leftover meat, more cheese, and so on. continue reading...

Bento no. 40: Pasta Salad Niçoise with a twist

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Bento contents:

  • 1 U.S. cup or 5oz / 140g spelt pasta, 170 cal
  • A few pieces of white flour pasta, 40 cal
  • 1/4 cup or 1.75 oz / 50g frozen tuna salad with mayonnaise, 120 cal
  • About 3/4 cup sweet pepper and onion confit with zucchini, 90 cal
  • 1/2 Tbs. olive oil, 55 cal
  • 3-4 black olives, 30 cal
  • 1 boiled egg, 80 cal
  • Lemon juice, cherry tomatoes, celery, parsley, 10 cal

Total calories (approx): 645 (how calories are calculated)

Type: Pasta salad! continue reading...

Quick tip: Frozen fruit cups

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This is such a simple thing to do, and there’s no better time to do it than in the summer when so many fruits are in season. Cut up any soft ripe fruit, and put them into silicon cupcake liners or wrap in plastic film. Then stash each cup or bundle in a freezer safe plastic container. You can then take out a cup or two and tuck them into your bento box. They act as an edible cooler for your bento. The container here has a cut up nectarine (divided into two silicon liners) and 2 small bananas (divided into 4). continue reading...

Cheese and parsley microwave omelette

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Here’s another easy egg recipe made with 1 or 2 eggs. It’s made in the microwave, and the method can be used for an ‘omelette’ with all kinds of additives. Here I have used a little bit of leftover cheese and some parsley. It goes well in a rice based or bread based bento. Cooking egg in the microwave is mentioned in several Japanese bento books and magazine articles, from which I’ve adapted the following method. continue reading...

Studentenfutter: Swiss student feed mix

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Today I’m taking a break from the world of Japanese bentos to bring you something very Swiss. It’s very simple, but there’s beauty and logic in the simplicity. 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. 33: Frozen shepherd's pie bento

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Bento contents:

  • 3 individual portion shepherd’s pies, 360 cal
  • 10 frozen edamame, 50 cal
  • 1 Tbs. mayonnaise, 100 cal
  • Broccoli florets, 10 cal
  • Cornichons (pickles), 10 cal
  • Cherry tomatoes, 40 cal

Total calories (approx): 570 (how calories are calculated)

Time needed: 5 minutes in the morning

Type: Not Japanese, omnivore (beef), frozen continue reading...