bentoriffic

Archive for the ‘Spring’ Category

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:

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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:

Today’s guest post is from Alex from Lunch with Eyeness.  She and I have been friends for over 25 years, and she is the one that originally taught and inspired me to do bento lunches.   Bentoriffic wouldn’t be around without her!  She doesn’t have a blog, but I borrowed this one from her photo album of all the amazing lunches she makes for her boys.  Thanks, Alex,  for everything!

Since Sarah has two girls, she doesn’t have a lot of reason to do boy lunches. I have two boys and they are tuff guys, not so much into cute as cool. Although it is harder to find picks and sandwich cutters that have tuff boy themes, I have found I can still make some fun lunches that don’t make my tuff boys cringe.

Sports are the easiest theme for boys. This lunch was for opening day, but the sandwich could easily be a football, golf ball, basketball – any sport. I happened to have candy baseballs, so I cut the baseball bat sandwich, but it wasn’t necessary. I carved the baby carrots by hand, just make sure you have a sharp knife and except the first couple not to look right – I make lunches in the morning and I often end up eating cheese and carrots for breakfast because I messed up the first few times I tried something.

I got the idea for the the Babybel cheese head from these cute cheese heads on Over the Crescent Moon (http://overthecrescentmoon.blogspot.com/2011/02/cute-cheese-for-boys.html). Just cut a curve down from the top half of the wax and fold it up a little for the bill. Then I used food pens to draw his face and his body on the small container with applesauce in it. If you don’t think you’re up to carving the hat, just take all the wax off and draw stitches on it!

I cut the letters out of bologna with little letter cutters – I am lucky that our team name is so short! And, again, used food pens to draw the stitches. Peanuts are a big part of baseball for us, but you could also use Cracker Jacks or plain popcorn – whatever snack your family associates with baseball. I also happened to have tiny, round, white Japanese crackers that I got at the Asian market and so I threw those in with drawn on stitches as well. Look around your pantry and you might find something that works just as well, maybe mini marshmallows or Nilla Wafers. Green grass baran and a green silicone cup round out the feel of the field.

Well, I hope you got some inspiration for fun lunches for boys! Thanks for letting me guest post for you, Sarah!
Make sure to stop back tomorrow for our all Olympic inspired Blog Hop tomorrow!

Guest post by Lise LaTorre of Veggie-Bento

One of the ways I speed up lunch-making in the morning is by preparing batches of cute food in advance. That way, making lunch is just a matter of grabbing a little of this, smashing a cookie cutter on that, then sticking a bunch of picks everywhere. If I have five more minutes, I smash around some smaller cutters to add that ‘special touch’ (Did I mention I have a full-time job on top of being a mom?). By far the best tools I have for advance cutification are silicone molds.

3 Ways To Use Silicone Molds for Cute Lunch Foods

1. Freeze Stuff

Hummus freezes well and retains its shape and detail even after it has defrosted. Smaller shapes work best so that they will be soft enough for dipping by the time lunch rolls around.

frozen hummus butterflies

Yogurt is another great item to freeze. I particularly like using coconut yogurt since it adds some nice transparency. I prefer larger molds with easily identifiable shapes since yogurt melts quickly and details get lost by lunch time. I have also started putting colored coconut yogurt shapes on a plain greek yogurt background. The difference in consistency and color helps preserve the shape once melted.

frozen yogurt ladybug

2. Bake Stuff

Baked egg whites are very easy to make and have a nice, smooth consistency. Simply pour egg white into oven-safe molds and bake at 325° for 15 minutes. For a little extra fun, drop the shapes into a cup with warm water with a little natural food color in it. This works best for simple shapes without a lot of detail.

egg white butterflies

I’ve recently been experimenting with burying healthful ingredients in cheese to get my daughter to eat them. So far, we have been most successful with beany cheese bites. Stuff cheese pieces into smaller baking molds, spoon in some re-fried beans, then cover with more cheese. Bake at 350° until cheese is fully melted. Allow to cool, then pop them out. Easy and yummy, even at room temperature.

beany cheese bites

Smoosh Stuff

Conventional egg molds make shaping hard-boiled eggs easy and fun. However, they come in a limited range of designs and my highly-distractable preschooler got bored pretty quickly. So, I have been experimenting with less traditional forms. Thus far, medium-sized silicone molds are the winner. Place a warm, peeled egg in the mold of your choice and put a plate and something heavy on top so that the egg is slowly, and gently pushed into the mold. If the egg is a little on the small side, stuff paper towel in the non-essential part of the mold. Thanks to Alexandra Einess and Kendra Peterson of Biting My Hand for these great egg molding tips!

smooshing an egg ladybug hard-boiled egg

Similarly, rice molds are common in the world of bento. We don’t eat a lot of rice so I haven’t wanted to invest in them. On the rare occasion I do want to include rice in a lunch, I use the silicone molds instead. For these, I use pre-made sticky rice and molds with very simple shapes. I put the rice in warm, and put a piece of parchment paper on top. Once it cools, I flip it over and plop it out onto the parchment paper, then flip it back over to place in the lunch container.

rice dragonfly

Silicone is such a versatile material the possibilities are endless! What are some of your favorites?

Hi everyone!! I’m Michelle from Creative Food(creative-food.blogspot.com).  I’m so happy to be here on Bentoriffic! I am such a fan and am always in awe of what Sarah creates for her little girls Miss G and Miss A. I am such a fan of Sarah and her food artwork. She is incredible! Even though I haven’t met her in person (yet!) I am happy to call her my friend 🙂 So here I am honored to guest post on her amazing blog!

My blog, Creative Food( creative-food.blogspot.com), is a collection of snacks and lunches that my daughter Eliana and I make together in the kitchen.  I started making creative food because she would literally live off of bread alone if it were up to her.  So I began to present fruits and vegetables in a fun and creative way to encourage her to eat better, which has worked tremendously! It is fun creative outlet for me, and she loves it (win, win!)  We also found out this year that Eliana is allergic to peanuts, cashews and pistachios, so most of the meals (with a few exceptions) are peanut free and nut free.

So without further ado..I made this cute Frog bento in an EasyLunchBox with Eliana last week:

This lunch was very simple, quick to put together and she loved it! 🙂

The frog is a ham and cheese sandwich on a spinach tortilla cut with a frog cookie cutter.  I added edible candy eyes and used a food safe marker to draw a mouth.The lily pad is sliced cucumber.The “water” is white cilantro lime rice dyed blue. (I took some leftover rice, put it in a bowl and mixed in two small drops of blue food dye.) I added some goldfish crackers for added cuteness 🙂 The fly is a raisin with sunflower kernel wings (you can easily put almond slices as wings instead. For example see my spider lunch (http://www.creative-food.blogspot.com/2012/06/very-busy-spider-lunch.html) Eliana isn’t allergic to almonds but has now decided she will not eat them either because they are a nut).

In the upper right Eliana had some “flies on a log” (raisins, sunflower kernels wings, and I.M. Healthy Creamy Honey Soynut Butter on celery. Chocolate sprinkles were used to show the path of the fly).

In the bottom right she has a fruit salad or blueberries and strawberries in a frog silicone cup.  Eliana wanted to add the cute frog pick to finish the lunch!

This really was a simple to do and Eliana loved it and ate it all up. That always makes me happy and keeps me making Creative Food 🙂

Thank you to Sarah for inviting me to share this bento as a guest post on Bentoriffic!  I hope you have a wonderful day!! 🙂

~Michelle

Please visit Michelle’s fun food over at http://creative-food.blogspot.com/ to subscribe to her blog and like her on Facebook here at http://www.facebook.com/creativefoodblog

Miss A had to skip camp today due to a runny nose so I sent Miss G to school with her small square bento.  From the top left she has organic nectarine sections, star shaped sandwiches on Rudi’s Whole Grain bread with almond butter & jam and organic red seedless grapes with a star baran (food separator/decoration) on top.

My husband had another baby green salad with baby bok choi and spinach.  I found a black radish at our local Whole Foods which I’d never seen before.  It’s larger than the traditional red radishes and a charcoal colored black on the outside, but it tastes very similar to the red radishes and is completely white in the middle.  The black radish slices are in the middle, next are small slices of a baby zucchini, and I also julienned a larger carrot I had left in the fridge for the outer edge of the salad.  Not shown is his favorite ginger dressing.  At the top left are mixed nuts and goji berries and in the flower at the top right are strawberry pieces packed in his Easy Lunch Box container.

Things I used to make this lunch:


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