Tuesday, May 29, 2012


I'm not sure if anyone has caught on just yet, but one item is painfully absent from every bento I've posted on this site: Gluten Free Bread.  For the past year, I have tried to learn to love it to zero success.  Every brand I have tried is mealy, dense and either tasteless or disgusting.  I am also concerned with the lengths some companies go to bring their product to market including the chemicals and packaging used in the process.  And above all that, bread is at minimum $6 a loaf! Totally not worth it in my book.

Enter Van's Totally Natural Frozen Waffles which are currently on sale for $2 at Whole Foods and you can print a $1 off coupon if you join their E-Club.  The waffles are fluffier than their Eggo counterparts and their ingredient list is one to be proud of.  They are hands down my favorite bread substitute.  The sweetness is very faint, almost like that of honey wheat bread and one waffle is 115 calories.  So for today's lunch I have:

  • A Waffle-Wich filled with cranberry walnut tuna salad (I went very very light on the dressing to keep the waffle from going soggy.)
  • An unfried green tomato - Two slices of green tomato topped with parmesan and mozzarella cheese toasted in the toaster oven until the cheese is melted.  I topped these with a nori furikake for a punch.
  • Plain Greek Yogurt
  • Strawberries and Blackberries
This meal is a little light on the vegetables, however I had a green power smoothie for breakfast containing more vegetable servings in one glass than most Americans eat in a day.  I've resigned to the fact that life is about balance, but not every meal must be balanced.

Do you have any tricks for bulking up your vegetable intake at lunch?

Sunday, May 27, 2012

River Bento

I spent Sunday on the Comal River which is one of Texas's worst kept secrets.  It is a natural waterway perfect for tubing, especially with its 80 degree water!  However, this year's new laws prohibit disposable containers which requires more planning than our usual spontaneous trips.  Pre bento this would be a challenge, this morning, however was a breeze.  For lunch I have broccoli with egg foo young sauce (in the red container), apples and kiwi, my attempt to recreate Whole Foods Black Bean Quinoa Salad (not quite there, but I will post the recipe when I perfect it) and poached salmon topped with black and white sesame seeds.

The Lunchbot trio survived quite well in our quickly packed ice chest...the container let very little water in from the surrounding ice slurry.  My container was the talk of the picnic, I wish I had a stash to sell that afternoon because I could have cleaned house!

So no Monday bento for me - enjoy your memorial day and hug a vet everyone!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Fridays are for Leftovers

Fridays are sweet....Fridays before a holiday weekend are EXTREMELY sweet.  After last night's dinner I went ahead and packed lunch in my all stainless steel Lunchbot.  I have leftover saffron rice, smoked chicken, green beans (from my freezer) and mixed berries.

I like the all stainless steel look and feel of this box, but I miss the dividers in the uno like my quad and trio have.  I do my grocery shopping on the weekends, so I have to stretch to pack a unique Friday lunch. Do you scrounge around for your Friday bentos?  Has anyone tried more liquidy substances in their lunchbot?  I'm equally scared and curious as to he results.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Lunchbots Trio and a Low Carb Bento

I have to say, Lunchbots were an investment, but they are already worth their weight in gold!  Mornings are now a breeze and I can pack almost without thinking.  The smoked chicken is a repeat from yesterday (Spoiler: it will be in my lunch tomorrow as well!).  I have noticed how much more energy I have from 3-5pm when my lunch is higher protein and fewer carbohydrates.  So for today I have purple cauliflower and the most adorable baby broccoli and apple and Fredricksburg Peach chunks.  I added a sauce container, however I don't remember what is in it - the vegetables didn't need it!

Fredericksburg peaches signal the beginning of summer here in the hill country - it is the one item I will buy on the side of the road.  The box I bought was chock full of tiny little gems that just beg to be put in ice cream. (By the way, does anyone have tips on packing ice cream?)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Lunchbots Have Arrived

I was absolutely giddy to see an Amazon package on my doorstep when I returned home yesterday evening.  I finally have appropriately sized lunch containers! 

In today's quad I have apple chunks, smoked chicken, pepperjack and cheddar quesadillas on corn tortillas and dry coleslaw with the dressing in the container.

After years of soggy coleslaw leftovers (which always end up in the trash), I have learned to toss this side dish in very small batches.  This recipe was purple cabbage, napa cabbage, carrots, bean sprouts, onion and julienne green beans.  As a bonus, this veggie mix is perfect for an on the fly stir fry!  Quality produce is one item I always splurge on and I refuse to throw any in the trash if I can help it.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Catch Up Bentos!

Out of town work commitments have left me basically bentoless for the past week.  However, before I left, I packed two bentos with the last bit of my leftovers.  It was an excellent decision (if I do say so myself ;), the first two days of my trip included excellent lunches - the remainder relied heavily on Kind Bars and fruit cups.

So I intended to make them both ice chest friendly just in case....however I had leftover chicken salad that would otherwise spoil.  This was my first day's lunch to be safe with the mayonaise: Chicken salad (walnuts, celery, green onion, curry powder, mayonaise), Sushi rice shaped in my onigiri mold, fruit kabobs, ham kabobs and steamed broccoli dressed with egg foo young sauce.

The next lunch had two built in ice packs with the spaghetti cupcakes and I have to say, it traveled pretty well.  Along with the two muffins, I have green beans, a yellow nectarine, grapes, cheese hearts and extra marinara sauce in the container.

Yes, I admit these look a bit thrown together - because they were!  But, for the first time, I returned home for a business trip with zero spoiled items in my fridge.  That's a win!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Egg Foo Young Muffins

Egg Foo Young is a quick dinner disguised as a full on production...and it is my favorite way to use up extra bits of veggies in the fridge.  Because my recipe is more of a method than an exact science, I always end up with extra egg mixture.  Last night I had an extraordinary amount of mix...and instead of making extra omelets, I whipped up some Egg Foo Young Muffins (recipe below.)  To round our my bento I have apple slices, sweet potato stars, grapes, homemade quick almond butter, egg foo young sauce in the screw top container and cinnamon-stevia blend in the orange container.
The almond butter is just a handful of raw almonds soaked for an hour in filtered water that I pulsed in a mini food processor until smooth (or relatively smooth.)  It is a bit messy, but ounce for ounce it is 1/10 of the price of commercial almond butter.

Egg Foo Young

2 cups Assorted Veggies, roughly chopped
1 bunch Scallions, thinly sliced
1 cup Shredded/Cubed Protein (pork, chicken, shrimp, cubed tofu or whatever you have), pre-cooked
1/4 of a Medium Yellow Onion
1 inch piece of Ginger
2 cloves Garlic
2 whole Eggs
6 Egg Whites
Peanut Oil for cooking
1/4 cup + 2 tsp Gluten Free Low Sodium Tamari
1 cup Unsalted Chicken Stock
1 tbsp Cornstarch
2 tsp Sugar

In a large bowl, mix veggies, scallions and shredded protein. 
In a separate bowl, grate onion, ginger and garlic on the fine side of a box grater. Whisk in eggs and 2 tsp tamari.  Combine vegetable and egg mixtures and toss to coat.
Brush a large skillet with peanut oil and heat on medium high heat.  Using a 1/4 cup measure, cook egg mixture like a pancake 2-3 at a time.  Brown on both sides and transfer to a cookie sheet once cooked.
Mix cornstarch with a little of the Chicken Stock to create a slurry.  In a medium sauce pan over medium heat combine remaining tamari, chicken stock, slurry mixture and sugar.  Whisk until thickened to desired consistency (to coat the back of a spoon is ideal.) Turn the heat down to the lowest setting while cooking the egg pancakes.
This is a base sauce that you can transform many ways when the heat is turned down.  Add two pressed pods of garlic, a few slices of peeled ginger, crushed red pepper or some slices of jalapeno.  I freeze the remaining, completely cooled sauce in a silicone ice cube tray to spice up steamed veggies.

Egg Foo Young Muffins

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Pour mixture into a muffin tin lined with paper muffin cups or coated with cooking spray.  Bake for 20 minutes or until set.


  • I cook with low sodium and unsalted broths, stocks and sauces whenever possible to control the amount of salt in the final dish. 
  • Tamari is an aged soy sauce that I can now find at my regular grocery story.  If you cannot find Gluten Free Tamari, you can substitute for an equal amount of soy sauce.  It will taste great but will not have the extra element of Tamari. (Think substituting red wine vinegar for balsamic.)
  • Very, very rarely do I add white sugar to a dish, however, even though this is such a small amount, the sauce does not taste the same without it.  I have attempted to sub in brown sugar, turbinado sugar and stevia to less than pleasant results.
  • Green Peas are the standard veggie of choice in this dish and will float to the top of the muffin.  Here I used one cup shelled green peas and one cup of a mix of bean sprouts, carrots, mushrooms and green beans.  Some fresh cabbage would also be a great addition.
  • Adjust your eggs accordingly, the ones I used last night were jumbos so 2 whole, 6 whites were enough.  I cook with eggs at a 3:1 ratio of whites to whole eggs which I find is the point immediately before I can taste a difference.