Monday, October 09, 2006

Vegan Bento

I've been feeling inspired and amazed lately by some of the wonderful Japanese bento blogs out there, like Bento Corner and Cooking Cute (wow!). What a different state the West would be in if we more closely emulated the Japanese diet, rich in vegetables, soy, and rice, and emphasizing variety (look at the array of vegetables even a three-year-old gets in his itty-bitty bento!)

In my Japanese-inspired lunch box are rice shapes made with molds I picked up at the Bento TV shop. Regular paper punches are used to make these cute nori seaweed designs.

Tamago yaki (Japanese omelet) is a common addition to the Japanese bento box, so I wanted a vegan version. I started with Bryanna's Tofu Omelet (scroll down), added soy sauce and sugar, and sprinkled the top with swiss chard that had been cooked, squeezed dry, and chopped (you could also use crumbled ajitsuke-nori, spring onions, or other cooked greens). I baked the omelets in small squares, let them cool, then carefully rolled and cut them.

To finish the lunch I packed cherry tomatoes, cooked carrots cut into little flowers, and some of my niece's baby apples. (Explanation: My 2 yo niece is the pickiest eater I've ever met. Ever. She refuses most foods but likes apples. She shook her head and turned away from grapes until sneaky grandma told her they were "baby apples". "Bayee apples? Oooh!" She ate a whole bunch.)

Verdict: Shmoo's favorite part of this lunch? The carrots, he said, were particularly tasty. He picked off the chard but liked the tofu tamago yaki, and now wants to know if he can eat every meal with a little platic toothpick. 4 stars.


Zachary said...

Everything looks great! I've been watching Bento TV too and the rice molds look neat. I do eat rice often, so that'd be a fun way to make it unique.

That's so cute about the baby apples! Wow, I don't remember any of us being that picky of eaters when we were little.

Take care, cousin!

Jennifershmoo said...

>>I don't remember any of us being that picky of eaters when we were little.

You're right, I think all of us were pretty good eaters, even as kids. Maybe it comes from her father's side, but even he's not a picky eater.

Romeo Foxtrot said...

I found this site last week, and it is amazing. my brother and i each bought laptop lunchboxes this past weekend, can't wait to totally copy you!

Unknown said...

I love the whole Bento idea. What a great idea to use paper punches on the nori. Gotta do that!

Alexis said...

Thanks for this post. I just bought a bento-style lunchbox (actually more of a lunch thermos -- it's a Zojirushi Mr. Bento, they sell them on Amazon and I ran across it when looking at food processors). So far I've just been doing American-style lunches in the bento containers (soup, rice, small, and large containers) but I'm really interested in trying to make more Japanese-style bento lunches. The tofu omelet looks like it would be a great start.

Melissa said...

I'm like romeo, I also ordered a laptop lunch, and I look forward to using many of your ideas to pack a healthy lunch for school!

Belladonna said...

How creative! It looks delicious.

vasilisa said...

wow... thanks for the links... I'm now addicted to researching bentos...

Mahek said...

why dont you blog about the tiffinboxs everyday like before.
you had a tiffin on 2nd and now on the 9th its a long wait for fans like me and who are inspired by your blog (i am not a vegan as i said in india we do not have the concept of vegan and no substitutes) but your tiffin inspires me to give a nutritious tiffin to my son and also to give him more fruits which he does not like much.
pls answer me i will be checking for your reply..

Tracy Kaufman said...

Adorable rice shapes!

Viki said...

Can't wait for your cookbook! Have to tell you that you are one of the reasons I have a bento blog file on the computer. Your blog is Great.


High Power Rocketry said...

Do Age tofu. Its always a hit.

Matt and Bobbie said...

I have to say, this is probably one of my favorite lunchboxes so far! I absolutely love the idea of the rice shapes with the nori cut-ous! how fun. The vegan omelet sounds so good! I've always made tofu scramble, but never thought of making a tofu omelet. Thanks Jeninfer!

Lily said...

I love how so many different cultures make packing a lunch into an art. Bento boxes are particularly lovely -- there's something about divided food, in small portions, with lots of different flavors and shapes and colors that's just incredibly appealing. Thanks for today's wonderful box!

Nicki Baker said...

wow that's so cute!

Jennifershmoo said...

>>why dont you blog about the tiffinboxs everyday like before

Shmoo only goes to school on Mondays now, so it's the only day I have to post and work on the web.

Brittney said...

That looks soooo good! I'm going to have to try that. Looks like a great thing to bring to work.

marjo said...

Were those rice shapes tasty? Because it is just plain white rice right?
It looks great though!

Chris said...

It looks very good! I enjoyed the links too.

Although we don't do Bento lunch boxes I do place all my kids stuff in containers before they go into the lunch boxes. Not quite the same but our variation and environment friendly :).

funwithyourfood said...

:) aw the baby apple story is cute!


Mahek said...

why does he have school only on one day ?
isnt school open for 5 days.

Unknown said...

Looks like you had luck actually making the omelet stick together - mine always end up looking like scrambled tofu instead :(

Jennifershmoo said...

I used extra-firm regular tofu instead of silken, and I think that helped. Still, I had to make them small and let them cool quite a bit before carefully folding them.

>>why does he have school only on one day ?

I explained it in the "Not-Back-To-School" post below -- we're homeschooling and attending an alternative school this year.

urban vegan said...

Adorable. The cutout rice is too cute.

Bradley said...

I love the rice shapes made with molds. I have some old family cookie cutters that are metal that I use for cookies and pancakes, never thought to use them for rice.

HottieMuffin said...

Sorry if you answered this question earlier (I've now read all of your posts but not all of the comments... yet!)
So, I think of myself as a creative and good cook... I have a just turned 2 year old who, like shmoo, eats his veggies first! (Yay! Proud mom!) My only problem is with lunch is portion size cooking. How do you keep the variety you do without wasting food? I tend to make a batch of something and then we have leftovers forever! I noticed that you'd only make two twinkie dogs (not a whole pan) doesn't that recipe scaling get tricky? Will the recipes in your book be scaled down to shmoo-size for lunches? Or at least a footnote about scaling it down? I think that'd be great, if that is, in fact, what you do is only cook a little bit...? Or do you tend to have the same lunch as little shmoo each day?
Also, I mentioned this is another comment but a soup generator (like the loaf maker) would ROCK!
Thanks so much! And I CANNOT wait for your book! :)

Beyond Baby said...

mmmm, these look great. I cant wait to try them. Also thanks for the veggie loaf generator! Every one i made was great. even my meat eating hubby loves them. :) Cant wait for the cookbook!

High Power Rocketry said...

I will never get picky eaters...

Heather J. Chin said...

Aw, baby apples! =)

Thank you for the continued inventiveness and deliciousness! I'm waiting eagerly for the cookbook to come out!

Regarding schmoo's curriculum, how do you decide what topics to cover? I know that there are state standards for the curriculum, but are you "allowed" to address more advanced topics early if you so choose? Do you have to order textbooks from a state-accredited bookseller?
Mesoamerica was fun to learn about (I still remember the lessons vaguely!). Does he have a favorite subject?

Heather J. Chin said...

Oh, I forgot to say thanks!

Lunch Matters said...

Dear Jennifer - Melissa from Lunch Matters in Australia here. Just wanted to let you know that the emails that I have sent you about your book in Australia are bouncing back - wondered if you have changed addresses or if you have an alternative contact? Apologies for adding this to the comments list.
Best wishes,

Juile said...

veggie food is the best food and it help aid good cholesterol. Have brown bread instead of white bread that is good for health too.

Kitchen Appliances For Good Food

Qudanil said...

Looking by here and learn and see so many beautiful things. Keep Up!

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