Spice Up Your Life With a Taste of Japan

*Fun Bento Box**Cute and Natural Food From California*


Bento Making Tips

Today's menu
Fried tofu with sweet peppers
Lemon pickled Chinese green
Roasted cauliflower
Spicy yam noodle
Brown rice
Vegetable soup

When I make bento, I try to prepare these 3 parts in a good balance.

1. Grain
2. Vegetables
3. Protein

For the grain, I often use short grain brown rice.
When I eat bento, I try not to use microwave. I feel like microwave destroy the nutrients of food.
The wooden bento box I like can't be used in a microwave anyway.
Found an interesting article about eating cold rice online:
"Eat Rice Cold for Fewer Calories"

I usually cook rice at night for the next day. After 2 days, rice starts to get dry, so you might want to freeze if you know you are not going to eat soon.
Please see my Rice Making page for how to cook rice. You really should soak rice if you are eating rice cold like I do. It helps cook soft and moist rice.

If you use microwave, go a head and make a big batch of rice, divide and freeze on a weekend.
You want to freeze rice  right after it's cooled down to keep the freshness and moisture of rice.
Don't wait to freeze until next day!

I usually prepare bento food on Sundays after shopping at my local farmers market.
My bento preparation starts with pickling the vegetables enough for a week.
If you like to make your bento a little cute, I recommend cut some veges with flower cookie cutters before pickle. It helps you save time to decorate bento in the morning.
To minimize waste,  I make a big batch of vegetables soup with leaves and stems from the vegetables.

Don't throw away the cut out carrots. Put them in soup too.

Love my new soup container<3<3

I found this vegetable at a farmer's market. This is Chinese green called Yu Choi.
I had never heard, seen and tried before, but it looked so cute with little yellow flower!
When it's cooked, it kinda tastes like asparagus.  I really love this green and have been using a lot lately.

This is my pickling jar. My favorites are radish and sweet mini peppers.
They add nice colors in a bento box.

Pickles Recipe
1cup white  vinegar
1cup water
6tablespoons sugar
2teaspoons salt
a little  chili flakes to your taste 
1 baby leaf
3 cloves
2 peppercorns
1 garlic clove

Mix all the ingredients in a pot. Bring it to boil. Cool it down and then pour in a jar. Put your favorite vegetables in it.

For protein, I often use tofu, tempeh and okara (Leftover soy pulp from tofu making. Available at Japanese grocery stores.).
I try not to eat meat that often for a health reason. I love seafood so I'm not vegan though:P

This is okara mini hamburgers. I made a lot and freeze them to save time in the morning.
I just put them in a bento box while it's still frozen. It will be defrosted by lunch time. This helps keep a bento box nice and cool too.


Vegetarian Bento

I've been making bento for myself almost everyday for the last couple of months,
My new company is Japanese and a lot of co-workers bring Japanese style bento for lunch.

I have a lot of bento boxes. One of my favorites is this wooden one. My husband bought this for me when we visited Japan. It's a little hard to take care, but it keeps rice fresh and yummy I think.

I love making character bento, but I also like Japanese traditional bento.

Today's menu

Brown Rice with Yukari Furikake
Vegan Okara (soy pulp) Hamburger Steak
Tofu egg omelet
Pickled Radish