bentoriffic

Archive for the ‘Spring’ Category

I know it’s still snowing & cruddy almost everywhere else but here.  We’ve had some cooler weather for Florida, but we are definitely spoiled with the sunshine and year round produce.  We picked some local strawberries last week so there are still some left that I hadn’t frozen for smoothies yet.

Bentoriffic-Florida Strawberries watermark
Bentoriffic Hippity Hop roll ups

Whenever I’m at a loss for things to make, I often turn to wraps.  You can use dinner leftovers, lunch leftovers and pack it into a tortilla for a new meal.  I used Rudi’s Organic Spelt Tortillas to make vegetable wraps.  I used a homemade sunflower seed spread on the base, julienned carrots and cucumbers and pile on a small heap of steamed edamame and wrapped.  I like to refrigerate them for a few minutes before attempting to cut them.  The picks (bunnies in this lunchbox) help keep them together for little fingers.  In with the mini wraps for Miss A are sugar snap peas and pineapple.  At the top are organic raspberries, blueberries and strawberries in her Easy Lunchboxes container.

Bentoriffic Lego cube snack bento

My favorite bento store, Bento USA by All Things For Sale carries some fabulous and very affordable ways to change up lunchtime.  This new building block snack box is a favorite of ours for quick snacks.  This one has pineapple, strawberries and sugar snap peas in it for a healthy, quick preschool snack.
Bentoriffic- Love veggie wrapsYes, it is possible to flirt even in a packed lunch.  I’m not sure that the letters and hearts stay in place, but I’m hoping he gets the idea.  My husband has the grown up version of the same sunflower spread and veggie wraps.  I made a grape tomato heart on top and the letters are cut out of Stretch Island fruit leather.  He has sugar snap peas and last night’s steamed lemon, shallots and slivered almond brussell sprouts in the top right compartment of his Easy LunchBoxes container.

Only 3 days left to vote for the Circle of Moms Top Vegan and Vegetarian Mom Blogs for 2013!  I would appreciate your vote once per day (24 hours)!  Nothing to sign up for.  Just click and vote:

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Please click on each photo below to find out where to purchase the same lunch supplies:

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The 2 winners of the giveaways chosen at random are Barb from Washington and Karen of What’s In Our Lunch Bags? blog.  Thank you again to all of you for continuing to read, comment and for your kind words regarding the loss of my dad.

This lunch sort of reminds me of something I should do for Valentine’s day, but love for my kids is year round so I make a lot of heart themed lunches.  This one is Rudi’s Whole Grain bread made with my large heart pocket sandwich maker.  I used the heart picks to skewer all the surrounding yummies.  Mini tomatoes on either side and raspberries and blueberries are around the sandwich.  In the top left compartment are 2 Crimson Gold organic mini apples and in the top right are honeydew pieces with a fruit leather heart on top packed in her Easy Lunchboxes container.

My 2 year old has a short morning at preschool which includes an early lunch.  We were having issues with her filling up on the school snacks so I began bringing a few pieces of fruit each week to share with the class.  It turns out all the kids like it, and they’re all eating healthier.  Her lunch today is packed in a LunchBots Quad.  From the top left are almond butter mini hearts made with Rudi’s brand Whole Grain bread, blueberries, green pears and apple hearts and raspberries.  Both girls have ice water with their lunches.

Things I used to make this lunch:

I usually start with my kiddo’s lunches, but Miss G was out sick a day last week so today I’m starting with  my husband’s lunch.

I tried my hand at making Mujadara, a lentil dish with mixed rice and carmelized onions.  It’s a very simple, budget-friendly recipe, and the key is to carmelize the onions well.  The longer they cook, the sweeter they become.

This recipe is revised from one I found through Vegetarian Times Magazine.

  • 3 cups rice (I used a brown and wild rice mixture)
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 large onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 15-oz. can lentils, rinsed and drained, or 1 ½ cups cooked  lentils
  • ½ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tsp. grated lemon zest
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin

I made about 3 cups of brown and wild rice.  While the rice was cooking, I sliced 2 whole onions (I had red onions) in thin slices, and cooked them in about 1/8 cup of water on a medium-low heat adding water as necessary so they don’t stick.  I sprinkled about 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt over the onions an cooked for roughly 30 minutes.  I used red lentils which is what I had in the pantry.  While the onions were still cooking, I grated lemon zest and cut fresh parsley.  When the rice was done cooking, I poured it into a large bowl, fluffed, and stirred in the onion,  parsley, lemon zest, and cumin and then placed the rice mixture on plates and scooped the lentils on top.  You can also garnish for dinner with a sprig of parsley or lemon wedges.  It was very simple and delicious!

The above photo is the leftovers packed in an Easy LunchBoxes container with organic raspberries, watermelon and a cantaloupe $ sign for the breadwinner.  I made a sun from the lemon wedges I zested and stuck a parsley sprig in for decoration.

Little Miss A had a very simple bento herself.  In her LunchBots Quad are organic fruits (grapes, raspberries and watermelon pieces) with small heart shaped almond butter sandwiches.

Have a great Monday!

For last night’s dinner we had quinoa pasta.  I love that I can find healthy, fun pasta for my kids in great shapes.  The Quinoa Corporation makes these garden pagodas that I cooked with Lightlife brand vegan italian sausages and marinara sauce and grape tomatoes.  The thing I really like about the quinoa pasta is that it’s organic, non-GMO (not genetically modified), gluten-free and use plant based colors.  Better than that they don’t get mushy and my kids love them.  I decorated with vegan (non-dairy) cheese butterflies. At the bottom are two small apple slices with a butterfly and a G for Miss G with the opposite color plugged into the cutout packed in her Goodbyn bynto lunchbox.

For her snack today, Miss G has black seedless grapes, honeydew melon and the red butterfly cutout from her apple in the middle packed in her Happy Tiffin stainless bento box.

Little Miss 2 year old has the mini version of the same lunch of quinoa garden pagoda pasta, vegan italian sausage pieces, vegan cheese butterflies and a yellow flower cup of red and green apple butterfly pieces with raspberries at the top packed in her LunchBots Duo.

My husband’s lunch is the third more adult version with vegan cheese hearts, a plum at the top left and a d’anjou pear sliced at the top right packed in his Easy LunchBoxes container.

Things I used to make this lunch:

Miss A has really been testing her 2 year-old limits and asserting herself at home, dressing herself and lunch is part of that too.  She has been eating her sandwiches and leaving all else.  

So I did what any mean mom would do.  I left the bread out.  I used carrot flowers and put almond butter inbetween them to make carrot bites at the top left.  At the top right are cucumber flowers with hummus in the middle.  At the bottom right are red seedless grapes with a carrot flower on top and the bottom left are pineapple pieces with a green apple flower on top.  The bento box is a LunchBots “Quad” stainless container, perfect for a small toddler or adult snacks.

Tomorrow is International Talk Like A Pirate Day.  The Bento Bloggers and Friends are doing another blog hop.  There are 30+ blogs involved with countless pirate themed lunches.  More importantly, there is booty involved.  NO, not that kind of booty.  Loot, prizes to be won and lots of fun to be had.

Please be sure to stop back tomorrow to make your way through all the blog hop.  Or we’ll make ye walk the plank!

As long as I get creative with it, my kids will eat just about anything.  I took last night’s teriyaki marinaded gardein brand (faux) chicken over brown rice with quinoa.  I used a bear shaped rice mold to reshape the rice/quinoa mix.  The bear cup is filled with small pieces of the soy “chicken”.  Behind the bears at the top are 2 small bear sandwiches.  The water bottle in the middle compartment is great for keeping things compact in the lunch box, and it doesn’t leak.  I do handwash this whole box and the bottle.  At the bottom are watermelon pieces in the middle, strawberries on the side and a skewer of blueberries packed in her Raspberry Goodbyn brand bynto lunchbox.

For her snack today Miss G has mini organic carrots and organic green beans with honey mustard to dip in the bear container.

Miss A (2) is still allowed to take character themed items to school.  I found this small, 2-tiered bento box on eBay this summer with Stitch on it from Disney’s Lilo & Stitch.  She LOVES it.  We’ll be using it quite a bit this school year as it’s the perfect size for her. 

On the left are small almond butter sandwiches shaped like chicks and dried cranberries below.  On the right are organic blueberries with a watermelon chick, strawberries and watermelon pieces.  She also has a snack of nectarine and pineapple pieces not shown.

Things I used to make this lunch:

Miss G’s preschool is reviewing day in English this week, next week in Spanish.  Wednesday’s lunch is leftover dinner.  We had homemade fusilli pasta from Peperonata Pasta, a local company here in Sarasota that makes delicious homemade vegan pasta.  I mixed in butter beans and edamame, vegan pesto and organic cherry tomatoes in the shape of a W for Wednesday.  I used a cookie cutter to stamp a messy W in a large apple piece at the top left and the top right are seedless organic black grapes packed in her Easy Lunchbox container.

For her snack today, Miss G had circles of honeydew melon and watermelon with raspberry flavored So Delicious coconut milk yogurt in the small stainless container packed in her Happy Tiffin stainless bento.

And Miss A (2) had the same smaller portions of the vegan pesto fusilli pasta too packed in her LunchBots Quad.  She also had honeydew circles, pineapple and plum pieces and watermelon circles in her lunch.

I got caught with my hand in the Play Doh cabinet again.  I found these cute little bread cutters, washed them off and made these mini sandwiches today.  I cut Stretch Island grape fruit leather faces for both of them.  Just above the sandwiches are picks of green and black olives.  At the top left are raspberries and top right are blueberries.

Little Miss 2 year old is my finicky eater.  She had three little birds today for her lunch.  My kids love that Bob Marley song.  A pick of black olives is just above the sandwiches.  Raspberries, blueberries and a cantaloupe bird are at the top.  Both lunches are packed in Easy Lunch Boxes.

And I’m working on a local food story so my husband’s lunch today included foods I purchased at the local farmer’s market.  The base of the salad is baby spinach leaves.  I placed okinawan spinach leaves (purple and green) on top for color and for him to try, organic radishes which I bentoed out with these cute faces, and topped the salad with fresh sunflower sprouts.  I had never seen the okinawan spinach before so we had to try it.  Here’s a link to find out more about okinawa spinach.  Besides adding awesome color, it apparently has cholesterol lowering properties in it.  All of the ingredients came from My Mother’s Garden at the Sarasota, FL Downtown Farmer’s Market on Saturdays.  In the top compartments are organic blueberries and organic red quinoa at the top right (cooked in vegetable broth) packed in an Easy Lunchbox container.

Things I used to make this lunch:

60 MILLION.  That’s how many plastic straws consumers use in a day.  Plastics account for 25% of the trash in our landfills.  One can’t easily escape the news that plastic is quickly filling our oceans.  We need solutions, and I met a mom who invented one.  I found out from a friend about GreenPaxx reusable straws and caps.  I contacted the CEO, Cindy,  and asked if I could review her product.  I did receive 2 straws and a cool cap to try in trade for a review.  I used them for quite a few weeks and let my children (2 and 4 year olds) play with them for a while to test their durability.  GreenPaxx is a brand new product.  They are silicone reusable, eco-friendly straws (available in pink or blue sets) and lids (called Cool Caps).

5 Great Reasons to buy GreenPaxx straws and Cool Caps:

1. They are eco-friendly.  The products arrived in a plain brown envelope wrapped in tissue in a minimalist fashion.  Many people want the glossy packaging, but it made me smile.  I was SO glad to get something that didn’t contain foam or plastic packing.  Also, none of the products (straws or cap) leech any chemicals into your family’s drinks.

2.The straws and lids make foods and drinks more fun.  I must admit I’m trying more new drinks for traveling myself and as a result my family is too.  With the colorful pink and blue GreenPaxx straws, my girls will try almost anything (within reason) that I put in front of them.  Try blending up a small bit of kale or spinach with some sweet fruits before your daily errands and watch your kids drink it up.  Your whole family will be developing healthy habits together.  Make eating healthy fun!

3. They are a permanent, versatile solution to replace plastic straws.  My 2 and 4 year old want their straws every morning now.  They drink more of their liquids than they did before because the straws are theirs and because they are pink.  I love that they take seconds (literally) to wash with soap & warm water, create no trash and are ready to reuse whenever I need them.  Their 2 part construction means nothing gets stuck in the bend or gets funny smells.  They are dishwasher safe too!

4. Stay better hydrated.  I would like to think I plan well for school mornings or before sports classes, but like many moms I’m often rushing around.  The straws and lids allow me to throw a lid on my smoothie or protein shake and go.  Normally it would go back in the fridge, and I would forget about it until later.  Or worse yet I’m have to put it in yet another container or it would spill all over my already kid decorated car.  My kids are fueling their bodies with healthy drinks from home now instead of something sugary or store-bought.  They get the health benefit, and my car doesn’t have the mess!

5. You are supporting a home-based small businesses.  Your money goes straight to a small business, a mom of 4 kids and an inventor.  What better way to keep our shopping local!   GreenPaxx straws and Cool Caps are available for sale on Amazon.com and on the GreenPaxx website.  I ended up purchasing some as gifts and more straws for our family at home after a few weeks of using them.  I plan on giving some more as gifts later this year (think teachers, smoothie and protein shake drinking friends and anyone who needs a great on-the-go gift).

Drawbacks?  There are no downsides to the straws in my opinion.  I only wish I had invented them myself.  They are innovative, can be used with just about anything,  come apart for easy of cleaning and they’re practically indestructible (as tested by my 2 and 4 year olds).  The products were used as instructed as well as being tied in knots, made into choo choo trains, hidden in rooms, stepped on and thrown.  They still look exactly like they did when they arrived.

The Cool Caps don’t fit every single glass in my home.  If you own tiny juice glasses or small toddler cups, they will not fit.  They also do not fit the enormous sized stadium glasses you may have sitting around.  They do fit all of my pint glasses, most mason jars and many drinking glasses.  We primarily use pint sized glasses on which the Cool Caps give a snug, leak-free fit.

I made my own version of a Vitamix recipe by adding in things I had at home.  I did purchase a Thai coconut especially for this drink, and it was worth all the work to open it!  My kids loved it too with not a drop left.  This is how I squeeze in extra vegetables by blending things like kale, collard greens and spinach with sweet fruits.  As long as it’s blended well, they devour it!

Kale and coconut smoothie recipe

1 Thai coconut water and meat

5 kale leaves, stems removed

2 nectarines, pitted & sliced

1 heaping pint very ripe strawberries

1 mango, pitted and peeled

The end result.

First things first.  GreenPaxx is offering the code SUMMER to everyone at checkout to save 20% off through September 14, 2012.

YOUR CHANCE TO WIN:

The Prize: 4 pack of GreenPaxx reusable straws

and a 2 pack of Cool Cap lids in your choice of pink or blue.

MANDATORY ENTRY:

* Visit the GreenPaxx website http://greenpaxx.com return here to my blog and comment on something you like about the website

1 ADDITIONAL ENTRY FOR EACH:

Like GreenPaxx on Facebook

Follow GreenPaxx on Twitter and comment below with your Twitter handle

Pin a GreenPaxx image on Pinterest from this review and leave me the link to the Pin below

CONTEST ENDS MONDAY, AUGUST 13TH, 2012 AT 11PM EST.  WINNER WILL BE DRAWN AT RANDOM BY RANDOM.ORG.

This giveaway is offered to US residents only.  Please do not enter this giveaway if you have received free products from GreenPaxx within the past 3 months.

Bug pasta?  Not really, but it is ladybug colored.  The girls wanted a pasta lunch at home so I made some mini farfalle (bowtie) pasta.  I added quartered grape tomatoes, a can of black beans, about a 1/2 cup of sliced black olives, a dash of salt and a dab of Earth Balance Coconut Spread.  I tossed in some vegan parmesan, and it was ready to go!  Cute and zero leftovers.  It helps to tell them it’s bug pasta!  This was my dish.

And the dolled up version for the girls.  Pasta in the middle and hearts of heart shaped strawberries and Rainier cherries.

My husband’s sides today are packed in his Easy LunchBox.  He has mixed baby greens topped with green onions, cherry tomatoes, carrot & cucumber sticks.  At the top left are seedless red grapes and the top right are Rainier cherries.

Things I used to make this lunch:


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