Bento Boxes

One of the things I’ve noticed as I try to eat a lower carb diet is the change in how I eat. Not just what but actually how I think about assembling a meal. Before, I usually ate something served over a starchy base or I might incorporate the base in the dish itself. Maybe Sweet and Sour Tempeh over rice or Red Beans and Rice. Good food and there are certainly a number of ways to still eat that way but now I find myself eating in courses. Maybe a bit of salad, an entree and some sort of dessert.

That presents a little bit of a challenge when it comes to carrying my lunch. It’s pretty easy to just throw everything in a container and take that in with me. When I have a number of items and I don’t want them to mix (if not wanting salad dressing dressing on my omelet marks me as neurotic, so be it); well, that’s harder. I still have bad memories of squashed PBJ sandwiches and potato dust instead of chips appearing from my lunch box in elementary school.

Bento Box

Bento Box

Someone, somewhere must have solved this. I’m certain a lot of folks have but the Japanese have a particularly elegant solution to the problem: the bento box. Bento boxes in Japan take many forms, from disposable ones sold in the equivelent of 7-11’s to hand lacquered works of art.

In its most basic form, a bento is just a compartmented box that holds food. As with so much from Japan, it has evolved well past that most basic form. I really am not sure how important making your food look like kitties or bunnies is but making food look appealing is a good thing.

Bento Box

Bento Box

The pattern I see with bentos is about four different courses of food. Perhaps a salad, some fruit as a dessert, a few veggies as finger food and an entree. I could see some shredded lettuce, cucumber and tomato with a bit of dressing filling in for the first course and perhaps some grapes would be a good choice as a finger food dessert. Veggies? Well, cauliflower could be dipped in the dressing or perhaps some carrots. And the entree? Well that’s where my interest at the moment is falling. A vegan omelet? Bean balls? A number of possibilities spring to mind and we’ll just have to see where we end up.

Oh, did I forget to mention the most important fact? My folks got me a Mr. Bento for my birthday last week. Let the good times roll!

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