Thursday, January 10, 2008

Bento Gallery

Bento Porn

Vege sushi
carrots cut into flowers
artichoke heart - canned variety
stuffed olives

Bento Porn

Left over tortilini with tomato sauce
Cheddar cheese cut into shapes
Tiny Tom tomatoes
Chickpeas - canned variety
Artichoke heart - canned variety
Stuffed olives
Carrot and cucumber shapes

Bento Porn

3 pieces of homemade sushi
Little bottle of soy sauce
Steam rice with Furikake seasoning
Cucumber and carrot cut with heart cutter and put together
Cheddar cheese cut into hearts
Little skewers of smoked ham cut into hearts with pineapple pieces
Baby roma tomatoes cut like crown tops

Bento Porn

Home made vegetable sushi
Little bottle of soy sauce
Molded boiled egg cut into halves
Baby roma tomatoes cut like crown tops
Grated Carrot
Baby peas and sweet corn - frozen stuff defrosted

Bento Porn

Onigiri - made as per instructions on side link ("how to make onigiri")
Little bottle of soy sauce
Boiled egg, cut into a chicken hatching shape
Peas and corn - the frozen stuff defrosted
Atichoke heart
Diced raw carrot
Tiny Tom tomatoes
Stuffed Olives on sticks

Make a Balanced Bento

Rather than just stuffing anything into these cute little boxes, if you follow some simple guidelines, it will be guaranteed healthy.
Personally I find it much easier to work out what is going into my box each day when I follow this guidelines.

Firstly get the size of your box correct, then you are halfway there. There are so many cute bento boxes out there it is easy just to pick something that is really cute, but leaves you hungry each day! Definately not a good thing!

Here is the guide I go by for my family:
Young Child (preschool - 7 years old) - a 450ml box
Child or Woman - a 600ml box
Teenager or Man - 900ml box
Of course if you are very active of inactive adjust accordingly. Most shops list the volume of the box in their description or it is printed on the packaging or the bottom of the box.

Now what to pack:
If you think of a Bento Box divided into 6 parts, then 3 parts are carbohydrates (rice, pasta, noodles, bread etc), 1 part is protein (egg, meat, soy, cheese etc), 2 parts is vegetables. You can use fruits as fillers of little gaps to add little sweet treats.

I love the Japanese Healthy Eating Guide called the Spinning Top.
It not only suggests healthy eating, but also water consumption and exercise to keep everything spinning nicely.
It's a great visual for if you aren't eating balanced, then the top will topple over! definately not good :D

If you follow this guide, each 600ml box will hold an average of 400-600 calories, which is great if you are trying to watch your waist line.

How To Make Onigiri (Rice Balls)

These are a great, tasty and easy staple for the carb component of your bento box. This is how I make them, I'm sure there are many other ways, but this is how I like them.

First rinse 1 Cup of short grain rice three to four times and drain (not until dry, leave some moisture.
NOTE: Australian Cup measurements are 250mls = 1 Cup

Add 1 1/4 Cup of water and cook in a rice cooker. Or alternatively on a low heat in a saucepan with a tight fitting lid until 'tunnels form' I find that's at usually about 12-15 mins.
Mix up:
1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar NOTE: 1 Tbsp is 20mls
1/2 Tbsp water
1/2 Tbsp sugar

Mix through the cooked rice while fluffing it with a rice paddle. If you can stand near an open where there is a breeze it's good, it'll cool the rice quickly and give it a nice sheen.

Place an amount in a rice molder and put the top down to press the rice into shape. Don't overfill the container or you will have rock like Onigiri.

You can also do this manually with your hands, I find the round disc shape is easier than a triangle if you are hand shaping the Onigiri.

Take the top off the mold then invert and press out onigiri.
Wrap in cling wrap individually (this stops them from drying out), and put in fridge.
When they are cool, wrap in nori pieces and decorate with face :D and serve!

This recipe will make about 7 Onigiri at about 195 calories each.