Saturday, January 17, 2009

Week 1 in Bentos

I planned for 5 days worth of fresh cooked meals, but it just didn't happen. My excuses range from being too tired after coming home from the gym to those uncomfortable and unpleasant side effects of pregnancy. However, I did manage to put together and photograph some bentos. After figuring out my calorie needs last week, I also tracked my intake on Monday. I was shocked to see how few calories I had prior to dinner. The fact that I eat three meals a days, plus snacks every two hours should make it easy to get over 2000 calories, but when I cut out a lot of the high calorie junk I find it hard to consume enough calories.

Exercise wise, I went to the gym on Sunday and Tuesday, did some ypga-type stretching several days this week, and walked dogs (both at the shelter and at home) today.

^ Friday, January 16th, I broke out the metal tiffin. For lunch, I had a black bean burger on whole wheat bread w/ a slice of mozzarella, another salad, and a fruit combo of clementines, kiwi, and blackberries. Yum! The fruit was fantastic.

Another discovery this week was that it's extremely difficult to take photos at night in my kitchen. Grrr! The overhead spotlights are glaring and produce shadows, and it's too dark when I turn them out.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Bento Challenge - Week One Goals

The Bento Challenge from Just Bento will be starting this week. It looks fun :) Official info can be found here.

It's a three-part thing and I plan to participate in all three parts. My one exception is the weight loss portion. My goal is actually to gain approximately 1 pound per week. The goals of the bento challenge for me are:
  • Make at least one bento a week. I plan to do almost everyday, but one is the official minimum. I'll photo and post the bento(s) each week.

  • Plan ahead. I usually make my lunch the night before to save time and brain cells in the morning. I will also be planning out the weeks worth of meals ahead of time.

  • Eat an appropriate number of calories. The calorie approximating site on Just Bento actually had a pregnancy option. Thank you! According to the calculator, I should consume about 2085 calories this trimester to gain a healthy amount of weight. Obviously, I'm not going to be overly strict with this. If the baby needs an extra snack he/she will get it, but it's nice to have an estimate to build off of.

  • Measure the capacity of my bento boxes. I will update my inventory page to reflect this.
  • Get Moving! I won't be running any marathons, but some activity most days of the week will help me stay relatively fit for childbirth.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Bento Booty

I'm participating in a Bento Challenge at Just Bento , so I decided to take a visual inventory of the boxes. I'd love to learn more about actually filling these things ... hence my participation in the challenge :)

^ My first bento! This cute little rabbit bento was my official reality check on the actual size of bento boxes. Typical American lunches are so huge, I was shocked to find out people in Asia actual find this bitty bento to be a normal lunch size. Capacity 250/250ml.

^ My favorite bento. I love Mink the Monkey! Yes, I'm an almost 32 year old pregnant lady who works in a professional setting, but I'll use my cute monkey bento and like it, dang it! The two-tiers collapse into one for storage. It's awesome for those of us with limited storage space. Capacity 330/250ml.

^ Cute Bunny Bento. Like me, this little bunny loves cherries and white cake. Another two-tier bento from Lube Sheep. Capacity 330/250ml.

^My attempt at a more adult looking bento. I'm not sure I impressed anyone with my maturity level, but it's a practical box minus a cartoon animal. My third two-tier Lube Sheep. Please ignore the fact that the box was upside down when I took this photo. The pregnant brain is a challenging one for a former perfectionist to deal with. Capacity 330/250ml.

^ Grape Bento. I always thought the puti-fresh boxes were adorable and the printed phrase hooked me, "Happy Fruits is very delicious. I will eat this and will become fortunate all together". It's hard to beat a bento with such a wonderful life message about happiness and harmony for all. My fourth two-tier Lube Sheep. Yes, I fully admit to being habitual and predictable. See more on this later. Capacity 330/250ml.

^ My first one-tier bento (also Puti-fresh from Lube Sheep). This is my designated salad bento and it gets used most every week. I need some more boxes like this one! Capacity 450ml.

^ My second bento ever. I purchased this little cutie about the time I got my first rabbit bento. Once again, I was shocked at the small size. The box is great for two-part snacks ... and I'm all about snacks these days. Capacity 350ml.

^ The Snack Bento Trio. I do love my Clickety Click bentos. I couldn't stop at just Mink the Monkey ... or Rhinda the Rabbit. Bobbin the Bear completed the crew. Mink is my favorite, of course, but I love all these guys for snacks or fruit sides. It's not usual for me to use all three of the boxes in one week. Capacity 320ml each.

^ Three-tier Metal Tiffin. I do branch out once in awhile. I admit to not using this tiffin very often, but it's perfect for those days when I have a big veggie salad, a bulky main course, and fruit. The little tin made a perfect cracker container for my first trimester queasies.

^ The Laptop Lunchboxes. My kitchen was graced with the presence of a laptop lunchbox long before I dreamed of owning a bento box. These boxes are so easy to use and make eating a meal with several food groups nearly inevitable. I guess you could fill the entire box with nothing but spaghetti , but why?! That would seem to go against human nature. Four lunchboxes? Yes, four! I'm not sure if I'm an addict, if I fear change, or if I'm just boring, but I'm happy to have all four of these lunchboxes.

^ Mini Cookie Cutters. I have a tin of bitty cookie cutters, but I haven't yet mastered how to use them. *scratches head*
My cabinet also contains a few bento belts and sauce containers, but as with the cutters I'm fairly lost as to how to use accessories. Hopefully, that will come with practice.
(Most of the sources for purchasing this stuff can be found on the sidebar here .)

Sunday, January 4, 2009

A Handsome Cooking Disaster

This evening, I tried to alter a recipe with less than wonderful results. As a kid, I loved these chicken squares my mother would make. I thought a vegetarian version would be doable so I whipped up my own version swapping out the chicken and dairy cream cheese with chickpeas and vegan cream cheese. The squares looked nice but did nothing for my taste buds. They seemed dry, not quite creamy enough despite using the recipe's suggested amount of veg cream cheese. I think the chickpeas were also just too chewy. If I try these squares again, I will use more creamy stuff and a less dense white bean. Luckily, my husband thoroughly enjoyed the chickpea squares and has scored himself a lunch for tomorrow.

The chickpea squares were going to serve as my lunch for my first post holiday workday, so I had to toss something together last minute. The bento box contains a Boca chick'n patty on whole wheat with a side of Vegenaise and carrots with hummus. In another bento, I have a green salad with sunflower seeds and Asian Miracle Dressing. I've been making an effort to consume more leafy greens, especially now while pregnant, and I have to say this is hands down my favorite dressing in existence. The only change I made to the recipe was swapping out the maple syrup with agave nectar. Yum!

The bambino's influence has led me to start replacing my multitude of junky snacks with healthier stuff. For tomorrow, I packed a banana, pumpkin seeds, strawberries, a nectarine, and canned pineapple. I can't eat a lot in one sitting anymore. I munch in small bits all day long. (Off topic ... Can you guess who got a new camera this Christmas?!)

A day is incomplete without a sweet treat. Since I've cut the cookies from my workday, I'll have to make due with a healthier alternative ...

Monday's Fortune Cookie: "Life is too short to hold grudges."

Saturday, January 3, 2009

A Holiday Visitor

For the past two years, my husband and I have taken in a temporary foster over the Christmas holidays. It's a nice way to help out Stray Rescue and their dedicated fosters that may have other plans over the holidays. This year, we had a super sweetie named Bing. He'd been picked up by animal control a couple weeks earlier, found with tooth in his eye and injuries from being hit by a car. Stray Rescue had taken him to the vet, where he was being treated for his injuries. I had no idea what to think when I picked him up there on Christmas Eve, but he was such a good boy! Bing loves all people and dogs. He's curious, loving, and playful. In just the week and a half he was here, I had already became attached. This morning, his long term foster came by the house and picked him up. He greeted her in his usual delighted puppy way, but was a little apprehensive about getting in her car. Oh, the guilt! I have to say I miss him already. If our three dogs didn't already put us at the city's limit, we'd have just added a new member to the family. I love the Bing and hope he soon finds himself in the loving permanent home he deserves.

PS - Bing is petrified of the camera so getting a shot was a challenge.