Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Purple Up Lunch for My Military Kid!

I came across an unpublished post from back in April! Poor forgotten post :( But better late than never :)

April is the Month of the Military Child, & April 15th was Purple Up! For Military Kids day. Schools across the nation encouraged their students to help raise community awareness & support of military children by wearing purple to recognize & thank them for their strength & sacrifices. The colour purple symbolizes all branches of the military, as it's the combination of Army green, Coast Guard blue, Air Force blue, Marine red & Navy blue.

My sproutlets wore purple with pride! I wanted to Purple Up! their lunches as well, but didn't have any purple food on hand.  I did have EasyLunchboxes Brights with lovely purple lids though! I packed Bella a lunch full of leftovers in one that she had decorated herself, with dishwasher-safe stickers :)

Lunch was last night's crock-pot pulled chicken & rice, with cucumbers, carrots, & cauliflower on the side. I packed the chicken & sauce in a jumbo muffin cup so she could remove it to heat in the cafeteria microwave, then pour over & stir into the rice. The jumbo size cups are the same depth as the EasyLunchboxes so when the lid's on there's very little chance of spill-over.

I included a Lunchbox Love note with a joke, & bento picks inspired by it. What is a cow's favourite class? Moo-sic! :) Somehow, out of all the hundreds of bento picks in my collection, there's not a single cow in any shape or form. But I do have plenty of musical notes!

In the dip cup she got some Chef Kidd's Funagrette, in Honey Berry flavour. Bella really loves this sweet vinaigrette with her veggies. Chef Kidd's sent us all 5 varieties to try out, and this was the favourite. 

Friday, August 21, 2015

A Relevant Elephant Lunch

August 12th was World Elephant Day!  I'm behind in blogging (it's summertime... vacation!)  but that's okay, all of August is Elephant Awareness Month, so this lunch is still relevant... << I so wanted to say relephant but it looks too funny! There I said it anyways ;)

Elephant Yumbox. Support World Elephant Day!

Our Figue Purple Yumbox is packed with pink elephants & some of my princess's current favourite eats: granola bars, strawberry hearts, cheddar cubes, pepperoni bites, & apple wedges. Decorations include a pink princess fork, pink elephant fork pick, elephant princess bento pick, & circus elephant bento pick.

Longtime readers know that my Birdie loves elephants. Click here to see all my sproutlets' elephant lunches. I hope that elephants will continue to be around for her to love for the rest of her life, but I'm worried they might not be! Because the world’s elephants are in trouble and need our help. My sweet Birdie gave some of her savings to help her beloved elephants ♥  and if everyone else who appreciates these amazing, intelligent, caring & feeling creatures does what they can to help, we can save them!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Happy Bento! Lunches On the Go Book Giveaway

Today I'm happy to be sharing a bento from a new cookbook, Happy Bento! Lunches On The Go, by Anna Adden - and giving a copy away too!

There are a lot of bento ideas packed into this little book! And when I say little, I'm only referring to it's bento box sized dimensions of 15cm square... it's filled with 50 fun bento recipes covering themes for every season, holiday, special school days, & more.

Happy Bento! : Lunches On The Go is more of a how-to book than a traditional cookbook. It also features a guide to bento supplies, packing tips, & lists places to shop for bento gear. The author has spent several years building her own bento gear stash and shows how she organizes it all. The bento recipes are sorted into chapters according to theme. Each recipe lists the supplies needed, ingredients, & directions, however food amounts are not specified, so nutritional content is not given.

Bento makers who wish to replicate the bentos within will benefit from having a fairly extensive collection of bento tools and accessories, as most of them call for specific cutters and/or decorations to complete the theme... but those just looking for ideas and who don't mind deviating from the author's designs will find plenty to inspire them!  Anna demonstrates a variety of different techniques accompanied by detailed directions:

My girls & I chose to make the Spring bento.  The specialty tools needed for it were flower egg molds & a flower stem bento pick, which we have - and we even have a bento box the same size & shape as the one in the book!

I had never made carrot curls! Anna's step by step instructions were clear though & it was easy! I love how they look as flowers.

We made a few changes to the bento ingredients - no beans because my picky sproutlets said no way, grapes instead of blueberries, and watermelon instead of cantaloupe, because that's what we had in the fridge.  It's all good. Here's my Spring bento next to the Happy Bento one :)

I learned something while colouring the tulip egg - always mix the food dye before placing the egg in the water! I started out all right, mixing a drop of red & yellow to make an orange tulip, then adding the egg to the dye water - but then I decided to add another drop of red to make it a darker orange, and you can see streaks where the dye swirled in the water :)

Ah well, if you've ever been to the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival (near where I live) you know that there actually are variegated tulips in just those colours :) Oh, and at my sproutlet's request, I coloured the center of my flower with food markers rather than exposing the yolk as in the example in the book. My girls were very happy with the Spring bento they got to share :


Enter my Happy Bento! Giveaway:

The winner will be drawn & announced August 22nd. Check back here, follow me on Facebook, or check your email to see if you've won - the winner will have 48 hours to respond & claim their prize before I draw again!

Don't want to wait or take your chances? Happy Bento! : Lunches on the Go is available at Amazon.com & book sellers everywhere.

Disclosure: Other than a complimentary copy of the book to review, I received no compensation for this post. This post does contain affiliate links to products I used.  

Monday, May 4, 2015

Happy Star Wars Day, & May the 4th Be With You! Enjoy Your Lunch, You Will!

This past weekend Mia Bella reminded me that Monday was May the 4th. For a moment I forgot the significance, until she said "You know, May the 4th be with you?" Right! I knew that! "So will you make me a Star Wars lunch?" I said I would, & this is it, packed in her PlanetBox Rover:

I think it turned out pretty awesome! Stamping cookie cutter are the best for making a fancy looking lunch, fast. The ones I used (below) are part of a set from Williams-Sonoma that includes Darth Vader, Yoda, a Stormtrooper, & Boba Fett. They don't carry it anymore but you can still sometimes find them & similar Star Wars Press & Stamp Cookie Cutters on Amazon, or eBay.

Bella's Darth Vader & Stormtrooper sandwiches are turkey & cheddar on whole wheat & white. She has two of each, on a bed of lettuce & flanked by sweet mini peppers. The trio of Yodas are slices of honeydew melon. Dueling lightsaber cupcake picks pierce one of a bunch of grape tomatoes.   

I also packed some green grapes, & carved Star Wars into the wax shell of a Babybel cheese, using a v-shaped cutter shown in the tool set below. Carving those words took me longer than it took to make the whole rest of the lunch! And for a treat, I added some "Galaxy Mix" Jelly Belly beans. Our packet had Darth Vader on it, & the beans themselves were iridescent!

I had already closed her PlanetBox & packed it in her Rover carry bag,  & was busy making the younger sproutlets' lunches, when I remembered that I had forgotten to include a Lunchbox Love note!  Caught it in time though,  & opened up her lunch to add the note. So now you get to see what her lunch looks like after the lid's been closed & it's been turned sideways :) See... nothing squashed or out of place, only the jelly beans have moved a little ;)

I also added a Star Wars print cloth napkin made by one of the biggest Star Wars nerds in the bento world as I know it, Kristie of Beneficial Bento. You can get custom cloth napkins & more in her Beneficial Bento etsy shop.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Awesome Autism Day

April is National Autism Awareness Month in America,  & April 2nd is World Autism Awareness Day.  Pickle calls it Awesome Autism Day :)   I packed him an awesome autism lunch with a special message:

I used tiny alphabet, heart, & puzzle piece shaped cookie cutters to say "I love you to pieces" with his peanut butter sandwich, & filled the heart shape with cupcake sprinkles in the colours of the Autism Awareness ribbon.  I froze some yogurt in a puzzle piece mold & nestled a piece in some plain yogurt - it holds it shape pretty well as it thaws. And I topped one of his favourite oatmeal muffins with some blue cupcake sprinkles - they're meant to be flowers but I think they look kind of like puzzle pieces :)

If you aren't a regular BentOnBetterLunches reader,  you might be thinking: Cute lunch, but so nutritionally unbalanced!  Maybe you even want to ask: Where are the fruits & vegetables?  The answer most days is:  On his dinner plate, pureed in pizza sauce. Rarely in his lunch box.  Why not?  Pickle has autism, & like many kids with ASDs, he takes picky eating to an extreme.  

The reasons for this are as diverse as the kids themselves.  Pickle has difficulty with food textures*. Graduating from purees to solids was a slow process that took patience, & help from his speech-language pathologist. And he still prefers softer solids - like peanut butter sandwiches :)

But a peanut butter sandwich every day ?!
Autism challenges us daily, turning simple tasks into a battle, so we try to choose our conflicts carefully.  Pickle's diet is just not something worth fighting over.  If he wants to have the same thing for lunch every day, that's okay.  I personally find it boring, but he seems to find it reassuring*.  So, to make packing the same thing every day less tedious, fun even, I challenged myself to make his sandwiches as many different ways as I could, & set a goal of 101 - and I did it! See all 101 peanut butter sandwiches here :)

I like to think that Pickle's lunches are something he looks forward to during his school day.  He loves to learn, but autism can make some aspects of going to school difficult. Sitting still, working quietly, & transitioning from one subject to another take a lot of effort for him, & the noise & crowds at recess & lunch can be overwhelming.  A familiar lunch is comforting :)

Pickle's Autism Awareness lunch is packed in our new Bentology containers. If the bento box design looks familiar, that's because Bentology is the evolution of one of our longtime favourite brands, Laptop Lunches! Bonus - we already had a spork that matches the new turquoise coloured lids :) And last but never least, I tucked in a Lunchbox Love note. I can always find one with the perfect sentiment 



* Sensory Processing Disorder has a higher prevalence among children with Autism Spectrum Disorders
* Many people with autism have a strong preference for routines and sameness. - Autism, routines, & resistance to change.
Disclosure: My posts contain affiliate links to products & services I've used & approve of  :)  If you make a purchase after clicking one of those links, I earn a small commission. Thank you!

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