Thursday, April 10, 2008

Mini-Lunches: The Sequel

When I started on my bento fixation, my first box was this little doozy shown in these photos: a slightly too-small-for-a-meal, absolutely adorable green frog bento. For a few months, I used this box almost every day and had very few problems -- except that I returned home ravenous and craving unhealthy food or, worse, that I would end up purchasing snacks out of vending machines on campus. Because I started bento-ing to save money and to be healthier, having a too-small box was just not working out. So, now this box is relegated to shorter days and to extremely long days on which I take two boxes. Those days are the worst!

In this lunch you see a combination of simple veggie-fried rice. The Roommate and I make this pretty frequently using just some frozen mixed veggies (or leftover fresh ones), a single scrambled egg, leftover rice, and some spices -- mostly just soy sauce, sometimes sesame oil, and lots of olive oil. This is a nice, easy way to use up day-old rice and to give a small vegetable kick to my roommate's otherwise bland lunches and my usually veggie-rich, but rice-light meals. The sauce bottle (a fishie!) contains some low-sodium soy sauce to add a little extra to the rice ... nothing fancy.

Beyond the divider, I just rolled up some deli meat (ham, in this case) and topped it with a slice of super-processed American cheese that I quickly cut into cute shapes using my tiny cookie cutters. A great way to add some quick, cute dairy (yay for calcium!)

In the lower layer, I have some peeled, organic baby carrots, a disposable tiny metallic muffin paper full of delicious red pepper hummus and some amazingly fantastic frozen green grapes. Now, there's a problem between me and grapes. I love 'em.. can't get enough of 'em. I freeze them because they're extra tasty out of the freezer. Unfortunately, lunch has taught me that they're not quite as tasty a few hours out of the freezer, which isn't to say that they taste bad.. just not the frozen, delightful treat I'd prefer. To counteract their drippy, warming tendencies, I stuffed a small amount of paper towel under the grapes -- a perfect solution. Though my grapes were still pretty soggy by the time I ate them (easily four or five hours after packing), they stayed delicious and didn't drown my carrots, thanks to the paper towel.

Overall, this made a great meal -- perfectly balanced for me with a good amount of protein, carbs, and plenty of fruits and veggies. I get most of my fruit intake during lunch, so it's especially important that I rethink (read: ignore) standard Japanese bento guidelines that frown upon a lot of fruit.

This was a very good light lunch and I got a lot of compliments on the cute cheese. Definitely a repeat, if I can keep the grapes out of my belly long enough to wait for lunch again!

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