Time required: 20-30 minutes

Bento no. 67: Zucchini Two Ways Vegetarian Bento

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Bento contents:

Total calories (approx): 550 (how calories are calculated)

Time needed: 10-15 minutes in the morning

Type: Vegetarian, Japanese with a twist continue reading...

Buchimgae or Chijimi (Jijimi) with Kimchi

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Buchimgae or jijimi or chijimi is a thin, savory pancake from Korea. It’s similar to a Japanese okonomiyaki, but is a bit less complicated to make. (Also closely related is pajon, a pancake with lots of green onions.) It’s basically a pancake-like batter holding together a lot of vegetables and other ingredients. It’s a great way of using up leftovers, and holds up a lot better than okonomiyaki as a bento item I think. It makes a nice change from rice or bread based bentos.

Here are two batter recipes. One is a traditional one using wheat flour and beaten egg, the other one is a vegan and gluten-free variation. Use the one that suits your needs. The traditional one is a bit lighter and crispier, and the vegan one is denser. continue reading...

Gomashio Cookies

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You may eat a healthy bento lunch, but what when you get hungry in-between meals? You could eat some fruit or something, but you may want something a bit more substantial yet easy to transport without succumbing to the lure of Krispy Kreme donuts or a bag of potato chips. These not-sweet cookies are one option.

These dense, shortbread like cookies are not sweet - they are indeed a bit salty, from the gomashio (sesame salt). They are very filling ‘in-between’ snacks, clocking in at around 80 calories each. They are sort of homemade, not-sweet versions of Calorie Mate Block (see Notes) - they’re just as filling with none of the artificial vitamins or sugar.

I’ve made them in three variations. One is made with white flour and butter, and is arguably the tastiest but least nutritious. The second is made with whole wheat flour, olive oil and sesame oil, and rivals the white flour one in taste - but is a bit crumbly. The third is a gluten-free, vegan version that uses chickpea (gram) flour, tahini and sesame oil. It is quite firm and tasty, and definitely the most nutritious, but may not be to everyone’s liking. continue reading...

Bento no. 52: Special Occasion Omuraisu (Omurice) Bento

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Bento contents:

  • Fried rice made with 2/3 cup brown rice and assorted chopped vegetables, 250 cal
  • 1 1/2 wiener sausages, 200 cal
  • Omelette made with 2 eggs, 230 cal
  • Broccoli, 20 cal

Total calories (approx): 700 (how calories are calculated)

Time needed: 20-30 minutes

Type: Japanese, kyaraben-ish, special occasion bento! continue reading...

Earl Grey Tea Muffins

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One more muffin recipe in this unplanned muffin mini-marathon. These are a bit sweeter than the other muffins I’ve posted, so are more suitable as in-between-meal snacks perhaps, or even at home for teatime. They are still not overly sweet though, and are featherly light and fragrant. Flecked throughout with fine tea leaves, they sort of taste like an Earl Grey milk tea in muffin form. You can see the tea when you split one open.

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Since each mini-muffin is only 60 calories (120 for regular sized ones), consider carrying these along instead of succumbing to a donut or pastry. continue reading...

Two Corn Muffins: Pumpkin Yogurt and Classic Buttermilk

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I am definitely in a muffin phase at the moment, so I hope you don’t mind more muffin recipes! Muffins are the easiest thing to bake, and are great to tote along for in-between meal snacks as well as lunch. And having a good stash of muffins in the freezer, ready to go at a moment’s notice on the busiest day, makes you feel a bit smug about how organized you are.

I love corn muffins, with the little crunchy grains. Here are two types of corn muffins, that are just lightly sweet and therefore perfect to accompany a soup, a spicy chili, and so on. One is a pumpkin or winter squash and yogurt muffin, and the other is a classic buttermilk muffin, the kind they used to serve in coffee shops in New York - do they still?

They can be made into mini-size or regular size; the mini muffins are about 75 calories each, and the regular size about 150 calories each.

These two recipes use eggs and dairy products so are not vegan. They do use vegetable oil rather than butter, to keep them on the healthy and light side. continue reading...

Two types of savory vegan muffins: Pumpkin-miso and Carrot-onion-hazelnuts

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I think mini muffins are great for bentos. They are tiny, easy and fast to make, freeze beautifully, and defrost naturally by lunchtime if you take them out of the freezer in the morning. They are handy snacks to eat when your energy is running low but you don’t have time to stop and eat properly, and are also great accompaniments to a soup or salad.

Here are two savory muffin recipes that also happen to be vegan. continue reading...

Quinoa, parsley and pepper salad

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This is a very easy vegan main dish that’s as pretty as a picture. It’s packed with protein from the quinoa, and all kinds of good vitamins and such from the parsley and peppers. It also holds up in the refrigerator for a few days, since the lemon juice, salt and oil help to keep it fresh tasting. I made a fairly large batch and ate it over the course of a week! You can also play with the base and add things like chopped up olives, cooked beans, cheese (vegan or not), flaked canned tuna and so on. It is inspired by a recipe in Saisai Lunch; the original recipe uses okara instead of quinoa, and uses the salad as a topping on a bed of rice. I think my quinoa version, which is designed to be eaten on its own and not as a rice topping, is just as nice if not (dare I say) more so. continue reading...