Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Bento #10-Lentil Salad

Number 10! My first milestone! I'm very happy about it ^_^ though it sure has been a long time since I've posted, or even made, a bento. Yesterday I was finally able to make one but by the time I got home I was too tired to post it so without further adue here is yesterdays bento:

Inside this lovely bento we have: Lentil Salad, Shoyu Chicken, Hard boiled egg and various frozen fruit.

The lentil salad is the star of this bento despite the fact that they are in the background, you see though the lentils are delicous they are not pretty nor are they photogenic.

This was my first time cooking, or really even eating lentils, I may have over cooked them a tad but they were still very yummy.

On a side note: I am making a sister blog to this one, that will be more of a food blog not really about bentos. I am trying to live a better lifestyle and that means I need to eat on a more consistent basis (see previous post for more information.) So I believe that cooking will help me accomplish this and I want to share my journey with others who may be in a similar situation-or who really like food ^_^

I feel that this blog is not the right place to do that so I have started a seperate one but I will be keeping this blog, and updating it with all bentos, and bento items, that I make!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A Note:

I wanted to post this as an apology for not posting much of anything recently.
Something you must know about me is that in July 2009 I had Gastric Bypass Surgery which drastically reduced the size of my stomach, and thus the amount of food I could take in. However, even shortly before the surgery I did not have much of an appetite and I am sorry to say that this continues even today. There are many days where I realize that all of a sudden it’s three in the afternoon and I haven’t eaten all day simply because I’m not hungry. I know that this is bad, and my surgeon would probably yell at me (along with my dietician). I do want to make clear that this is in no way done on purpose; I just do not possess much of an appetite most of the time.
I know that this needs to change and so I am making a promise here and now that I will eat regular, full meals every day. I will try my best to make these meals as healthy and well rounded as I can. I am going to try and do some more cooking to help me in this endeavor and also to help expand my culinary abilities. I am also going to try to stop snacking; I admittedly have a fondness for Animal Crackers.
Thank you for reading this and for reading Akai Bento ^^

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Bento # 9- Project Pink Bento

I know its been quite awhile since I've posted anything, and to be honest I just haven't been making bentos lately. My appetites been off and I've been eating at school so there was no need for bentos but today I made one for an excellent cause!

October is the National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and so today's bento was created in honor of all those who have battled breast cancer! In honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month many bento making friends are making pink themed bentos.
Here is my contribution:

Whats inside: Stir-fry broccoli, roasted beets, frozen mango, grape tomatoes and a red beet egg. Beet pasta with beets and stir-fry cabbage.

I went a little beet crazy but I really like beets and they are in season now!

Raising awareness about cancer is very dear to my heart, though breast cancer has not had a significant role in my life, other forms of cancer have been found in people that I love and hold dear to me. I believe that Susan G. Komen and Relay for Life are doing excellent work in striving to find a cure for this horrendous disease. Don't forget that regular visits to your doctor are very important, it is not something you should skip to save time or money! Early detection can make a huge difference in your life! You only have this one body so please take care of it!

Here are some other Pink Bentos:

If you are on twitter and see hashtags saying #thinkpink and #projectpink you will find more to raise awareness about Breast Cancer

Monday, September 27, 2010

Bento # 8 Sandwich Bento

Hello!
It had been my intention to make a bento today, though when I woke up-after going to bed at four a.m- I really wasn't feeling like it but after my first class I decided I really wanted to do one ^^

So here is my Sandwich Bento!
Tada! I feel this is very colorful -no thanks to my food haha-

Inside the bento: BLT Sandwich featuring spinach rather than lettuce and mozzarella and pesto. Pasta salad, Tamagoyaki, Apple with the containers holding peanut butter and nutella for the apple ^^ and grape tomatoes

I've never tried a BLT with cheese on it, I can't say that the mozzarella added much to it but it was still delicious!

The designs for the apple pieces is actually way easier than it seems, I may do a tutorial for that someday if anyone wants one

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Bento # 7 Salad Trio

Its been awhile since i've done a bento to be honest I just haven't been feeling well this past week and I didn't feel up to cooking at all. But this week I'm feeling much better and so I made myself a bento today with a Trio of salads!

Inside the box: Chicken Salad with spinach on whole grain bread, Pasta salad, Grape tomatoes. Tamagoyaki, an assortment of frozen Fruit and a chopped Caprese Salad.

This bento is great because its really quite healthy and very tasty and best of all almost all of its ingredients are things I always have on hand, so I would qualify this as a 'Pantry' bento!

I always try to keep an assortment of frozen vegetables and fruits on hand at all times because they really come in handy when I'm cooking, and especially when I'm making bentos.

I used frozen vegetables in the pasta salad and frozen fruits in the bento (and most other bentos I make)

The frozen fruits are especially wonderful because they keep your bento cool and are thawed by lunch time. I do admit that they lose a lot when it comes to their texture but that doesn't bother me personally.


This bento can easily be turned into a vegetarian bento by switching the chicken salad with egg salad which would also be delicous!

This bento was easy to put together though it took a litle bit of time because I had to assemble the caprese salad and make the tamagoyaki-which I admittedly prefer hot and fresh out of the pan to cooled.


When I was eating I ended up putting some of the caprese salad into the pasta salad and it was great! The mozerella really adds a lot of flavor, as does the basil and the tomatoes add a lovely acidity



Monday, September 13, 2010

Bento #6

Wow, at six already? I'm very happy about it! Today's bento theme is: Pandas! Its for my sister who loves pandas ^.^ Also this bento is in Celebration of my new bento box! (and other new bento accessories)
The cloth in the background is a Furoshiki, used to wrap bento boxes.

In the Panda bento: Rice, Cheese Wheel, Grape Tomatoes, Hard boiled Egg, Cornbread muffin with a Nori Panda Face and mini cabbage rolls (delicious!)
Strawberries, Mango, Kiwi, Carrot Kinpira and stir fried Broccoli! (Extra yummy!)

Admittedly there isn't as much of a panda theme as I was hoping for but I was a little tired ^^'
But because my camera has an amazing zoom function I did a little collage of my new panda picks since the above photo does them no justice. ^.^

Also here is a photo of my new box, closed:
The words on the top read: naseba naru, nanigotomo which translates as "All things in life go as they will, so don't worry about them." I bought this box for the reading on the top, I truly believe that this saying is something that we could all think of more, I know I could.

And just for fun here's my box wrapped in the Furoshiki and my cutlery wrapped in a faux furoshiki mini towel featuring Fran!

Kawaii ne?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Bento # 5

I'm back! No bento yesterday because I didn't have class. Todays bento was thrown together while I was very tired so its not the best bento ever ^^ but I did get to try out my new mini cookie cutters and baran!

I really love my new cookie cutters they are so adorable! I got a 'Noah's Ark' themed one and a Halloween themed one! I can't wait for Halloween, its one of my favorite holidays, I love to get dressed up!

Here we have left over Lo mein (bought as lunch yesterday, I really want to learn to make my own though) with Chicken Tsukune pieces and Carrot Kinpira. Stir-fried vegetables, grape tomatoes, Cheese wheel, Strawberries and kiwi chunks and finally Tamagoyaki! Oh and cheese cut outs ^.^


Sadly my tamagoyaki never ends up yellow but that's probably because I use Dark soy sauce and I only use one egg as opposed to the original recipe which calls for four eggs. I just can't eat that many eggs in any one sitting.

As for the stir-fried vegetables I really have to say that this is my favorite way of eating vegetables, and if you have picky kids, try this. Its really simple and quite healthy. I made mine using very little oil (I use sesame to give a little more flavor), a sauce that I like to make and soy sauce. Add the vegetables and sesame seeds for color and that's all there is to it! I used frozen vegetables and it only took me a few minutes to make last night. If you want some heat you can add a pinch of red pepper flakes.

The sauce that I use is really quite simple and it goes really well with just about everything, chicken, vegetables and pasta-I like to pour some on cheese ravioli with peppers and onions.

This recipe is not mine and it comes from the Williams-Sonoma Asian cookbook but here it is:
  • 2 tbsp of Water
  • 2 tbsp of Soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp of either Tomato paste or Ketchup
  • 1 tsp of Sesame Oil
  • 1 tsp of Sugar (I use Splenda)
  • 1/4 tsp of Cornstarch (to help thicken the sauce)
Combine and whisk together to dissolve the Sugar and the Cornstarch.

I usually double this recipe and keep it in a squeeze bottle in my refrigerator because it goes so well with everything.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Bento #4

Its Wednesday! Which means I have a three hour break between my classes to enjoy a bento ^.^

Todays bento includes three proteins because I need to eat more protein, truly we all do. Plus eggs are an excellent source of protein but I really only like eggs a few ways.

Today we have a hardboiled egg, strawberries, grape tomatoes, Tamagoyaki, Frozen fruit cup, carrot Kinpira and Tonkatsu. Oh and an Andes Mint-yummy!

This bento took around 30 minutes for me to prepare but thats because I hadn't planned what I wanted to do so I was just running around the kitchen ^^;

I'm trying to experiment with new food, both eating and cooking so hopefully we will be seeing some all new dishes coming soon!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Bento # 3

It has been several days since my last post due to a long weekend because of labor day so I didn't actually make any bentos but now schools back so I come bearing a brand new bento ^^.
Today's theme: Fran, our lovely mascot!
Fran seems to agree with me that this bento looks yummy ^^ he's even peaking up to see whats inside.

So lets see what is inside: Rice, Cheese Fran, hard boiled egg with food coloring and strawberry bits. Chicken Tsukune, like little chicken meatballs, Carrot kinpira, Strawberries, Grape tulips (not the greatest photo of them), kiwi, and soy sauce in tomato head.

This was my first attempt at chicken tsukune, you can find recipes for this all over the Internet. They are delicious but at the same time, a little bland, but if you put some soy sauce, or your favorite sauce it gives them a lot of flavor. These little meatballs are actually quite 'meaty' tasting despite their appearance.

Fran was created using provolone cheese and Wilton Food Writer edible color markers. The sub-par quality of the markers is why it didn't turn out has I had planned. This leads me to my very first product review!

Product Review: Wilton Food Writer Edible Color Markers
The link provided is there so you can see what they look like.

I was very excited when i found these at Wal-mart in the wedding section because I have seen where they can be used to create images on things like cheese and cake fondant and they were only a few dollars (they can be found on the Internet as well). Mine came in a set of 5 Primary colors, Red, Green, Blue, Yellow and Black.
When I got them home I tried them immediately on some provolone cheese but I was disappointed because the lines were quite thick, despite the fact that they were labeled "fine tip" and the markers were sort of dry and the lines were very dull.
I put them in the refrigerator because they should be refrigerated after opening in hopes that they would work better the next time. Sadly I was disappointed yet again. The markers just won't work very well on the cheese.
I will continue to try them with other mediums (perhaps provolone is too soft a cheese to work well) but for now I am not very happy with these markers.

Overall: 1.5 Stars

and for some better news, another Product Review

Product Review: My Cutlery


This is my own personal My Cutlery set, I Love the bright Orange color! This cutlery set can be purchased on Bento&Co. website (available in English and French) for around $14. I did not buy my set from Bento&Co. because I happened to find this set on ebay for about the same price. Bento&Co. offers this set in Black, Blue and Pink.
They are wonderful! the orange ends fit into the black pieces to make Chopsticks, a Spoon and a Fork.

The utensils end up being a regular size, unlike some other bento utensil sets that I have seen. Both the size of the utensils and the carrying box it comes in make this item very convenient.
The box is about the same size as my bento box so if your bag can hold your box it can hold your My Cutlery as well!

Overall: 5 Stars

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Bento #2

Today's bento features my Yellow Onigiri box :) This Bento is a stay at home bento due to my schedule so its a little smaller ^.^This box is a perfect size if you want to eat a slightly smaller meal since the bottom compartment holds only a small amount of food. Here is a picture of the bento by itself:

Here is the inside of today's lunch:


Today I was inspired by my mascot Fran (from the anime Katkeyo Hitman Reborn). The Burrito is supposed to look like the eyes on his hat!

Inside the box we have: Burrito with Cajun seasoned rice, red wine chicken, sauteed and roasted vegetables, refried beans and romaine lettuce. In the bottom compartment we have raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, maple peppers and carrot kinpira.

Overall this bento took me about 25 minutes to put together as I had to heat all the burrito components.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Bento #1

I present my first official Akai Bento!
This Bento took me about 15 minutes to put together this morning since everything had already been made ahead of time.
In this Bento we have: Frozen mango, cherries, grapes and a strawberry, a hard boiled egg, potato salad, a container filled with soy sauce. We also have piggy rice, chicken stirfry with a medley of vegetables. grape tomatoes, beneath the tomatoes are some orange peppers that were cooked with maple syrup and chili powder (recipe from JustBento.com), next to the peppers we have some store bought Kimchi and lastly we have some Carrot Kinpira (recipe also from JustBento.com) on top of spinach.

JustBento is an amazing website dedicated to Bento and the creator Maki has a lot of great recipes on there and also on her other website JustHungry.com. She has been one of my greatest inspirations for Bento making.

Welcome to Akai Bento!

Hello and welcome to Akai Bento!
So first question:
What is a Bento?
To put it quite simply Bentos or 'Obentos' are boxed lunches common in Japan. While they originate from Japan they do not have to contain Japanese food or even rice for that matter (though in Japan rice is the main staple of a bento lunch). Bentos can be filled with anything you want from sandwiches to fish. I feel it is important to keep good balance within your bento; you do not want to have a bento that contains mostly deep fried dishes. I like to try and get as many parts of the food pyramid, yes I said food pyramid, as you can; a grain, a protein, fruits, vegetables and some dairy (as I am not a big fan of sweets I usually omit any type of 'dessert' but feel free to give yourself a sweet treat for a hard days work ^.^).
Why Akai Bento?
Akai is the Japanese word for Red and Red is my favorite color. Though I must admit at the moment I do not own any Red bento boxes. I have created this blog in order to further motivate myself to continue living a healthy lifestyle, and the easiest way to start is by eating well.

What Qualifies me to write about Bentos?
Absolutely nothing. I am not Japanese nor am I a Chef, I am simply someone who enjoys bentos and wishes to share my enjoyment with others.

Why did I start making Bentos?
I began making bentos primarily to incorporate healthier foods into my diet and also as an aide to help regulate my portions. Bentos are excellent at keeping portions in check as most boxes hold around 600ml of food, (around 3cups) though some boxes hold more others hold even less.

About Me:
My name is ginacrash I am a fourth year University student in a rather small university town in the Eastern United States. I discovered bentos through my love of Japanese culture, in fact Japanese History is the focus of my education. I had wanted to make bentos for a long time before I ever began doing so last year. I hesitated because a lot of the recipes and bentos I saw contained items I knew would be difficult for me to find but I came to realize you don't need to have unique ingredients to make tasty, healthy food and beautiful bentos. So I shall do my best to keep things simple and beautiful with easily obtainable ingredients.
My bentos are created as my own personal lunches unless otherwise stated.

Enjoy!