Friday, April 11, 2008

The Business of Bento

Since B has been vegetarian, it's been challenging (in mostly positive ways) to make her lunches and dinners that she likes, will eat, and will keep her blood pumping (physically). She's normally such a good eater, and tbh I didn't realize how often I'd come to rely on meat as a snack/main course! This has been a real eye opener. Now more than ever I am sending her in to school with a lunch box packed full of ziplocks, miniature plastic containers, and other such paraphernalia to make sure that there is at least something that the child likes! Past lunches have included (portions on the small side, remember):

1 whole fruit or fruit cup
1/2 pita stuffed with raw spinach, hummus and grated rice cheese
1 chocolate milk
1 water
1 baggie of chips or other snack food
1 oatmeal bar.

Pretty much everything is organic (organic water? is that hyperbole or an oxymoron?), and the portions help keep things balanced - there's more pita than stuff inside the pita, there's more stuff inside the pita than anything with sugar, and there's more stuff that is in it's most natural state than processed stuff (the oatmeal bars are really simple, ground flax seed, honey, frozen fruit (cut up), banana, optional carob chips. I chop up the first bunch in a food processor, and then roll it in the oatmeal. I chill it, cut them, and that's it! The kids dig them!). The chips, chocolate milk, and pita are processed/store made, but overall it's a pretty healthy lunch for her. It'll be nice to add other things.

Other kinds of stuff: sandwiches with lettuce, hummus and cheese, all kinds of soups (minestrone being a real fave), tacquitos, mac and cheese with rehydrated sun dried tomatoes, apple theme stuff (apple sauce, apple rings, apple butter on a bagel or bread, etc.) and various salads - salmon/tuna, cuke/tomato/feta, tomato/mozz, there's endless varieties. I do make fruit salads, because her expander/braces make biting into hard fruits dangerous (and potentially very expensive!).

These have all been fine, and since she will eat fish, it's not scaring me that she isn't getting the calcium or whatever it is we're supposed to be worried about with vegetarians (iron?), she eats an incredibly varied diet. But I was starting to get thin on IDEAS! So I went surfing the blog waves, and found some great blogs (this one is the best, by far, but many others had creative, fun, and wonderfully healthy ideas)! Most of them use the bento boxes, though I think it's entirely possible to make them cute and fun and varied with small disposable Glad plastic bins, too. Just for fun, and to try it out, I ordered a couple of Totoro Bentos from JList. It's going to take a few weeks for them to get here, but I'm looking forward to changing things up a bit. They are pricy little things! IT's quite the business, making little boxes to take lunch to school. I guess it always was, I just wasn't paying it much attention. :D

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