Back On the Wagon Bento

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I ate nothing but crap this weekend. Just yesterday I ate 3 sugary granola bars, a Think Thin bar, countless samples of cinnamon dusted Toscano on Raisin Rosemary crackers, trail mix with chocolate in it, a Larabar, 2 dark chocolate honey mints, and then decided to end the day with a Lagunitas pale ale, cucumber slices, and like a third of a container of salmon dip. I ate all this because I did NOT pack my bento. This is what happens when I abandon my principles and joy of making my lunch. I gorge myself on carbohydrates and, in turn, battle self-loathing.

Since I fell off the wagon and rolled off into a ditch yesterday, I decided to make up for it by cooking tasty healthy food last night to use for my bento today! On the top right is my spaghetti squash bake. I layered cooked and already sautéed spaghetti squash, tomato sauce, and mozzarella cheese together twice and then baked it at 350 for 25 minutes. Beneath that is cauliflower mash, a dish that I absolutely love! I purchased a huge, gorgeous head of cauliflower from the Dekalb Farmer’s Market on Thursday and boiled about half of it in chicken broth for about 15 minutes. I then strained it and put it in the food processor with 2.5 tablespoons of garlic and herb butter from Trader Joe’s and 15g of grated Parmesan cheese. I blitzed it until it was mush and then put it in the fridge to eat for today!

To the left is another new addiction of mine– collard wraps. I am always looking for alternatives to breads and such for sandwich-like entrées because,while I am an energetic creature by nature, I do not need excessive carbs in my diet. It is always an extra bonus to find new ways of incorporating vegetables as well. I use a collard leaf just like a tortilla and today I used avocado, sliced turkey, and a wee bit of balsamic glaze inside. I usually make two and those can be pretty filling on their own. I actually have a few more wrap-oriented bentos to post because I am a giant slacker.

In the middle of this bento is the purple sludge I drank/chewed for breakfast. Lately, I’ve been making green tea smoothies for breakfast because I can get in some fruits and vegetables early in the morning without having to cook everything. I have an “anything goes” approach to breakfast because I am not very hungry in the morning, so if anything seems appetizing, I’ll toss it down my gullet. I make a cup of green tea and then put frozen blueberries, frozen peaches, frozen kale, and frozen spinach into the blender. When I pour the hot tea over the frozen produce, it creates this beautiful array of colors and it’s like twilight in a blender. However, after I toss in chia seeds and blend it until I can’t hear the crunching anymore, it turns into this weird purple mess that tastes amazing. Lately I have found some of the best tasting things can be purple, brown, or gray.

This was longer than my usual posts so I’ll stop for now! I have to save some breath for all the other entries I have to catch up on!

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Rachel’s Guest Post

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I received this photo from my friend Rachel and was so proud of her for using her bento box that I said I would use it as a guest post! Incidentally, we bought our bento boxes together a little under a year ago or so, thus I am pleased to see hers getting more use.

Her bento consists of chickpeas (with nothin’–just plain ol’ chickpeas), a cut up Boca burger, fresh romaine, and tomato. Not pictured are pears and peaches. And this bento is only 6 WW points!

Congratulations, Rachel, on making the cut for leemakeslunch! Not that I was scrambling through entries:) And keep up the healthy eating habits!

Frightened Greens Bento

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Today’s bento was nearly identical to yesterday’s. Same delicious tempeh bacon sandwich with avocado and strawberry salad, sweet potatoes with a bit of maple almond butter for a change of pace. And now, thanks to my friend Hannah, I have a new vegetable side! We were talking about cooking last night over dinner and she said she likes collard greens chiffonaded and sauteed with olive oil and garlic. “You just sauté them for five minutes,” she said, “You don’t even cook them, you just scare them!” So I bought some organic collard greens this morning before going to work and quickly made some scared collards for my bento. They were absolutely delicious and I look forward to eating some more of them tomorrow!

Tempeh Bacon Bento

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I bought tempeh the other day because it’s two bucks and a cheap source of fiber and protein. However, I historically endeavor to use it and it sits in my fridge until way after the expo date. By the way, tempeh is good for roughly 4-5 months after purchase. I’m pretty bad about it.

I decided to resurrect the only tempeh recipe I had in my arsenal: tempeh bacon. I’ve looked at a couple of recipes in the past and sometimes they have so many ingredients that I don’t feel like spending all my money on spices and seasonings for the recipe I typically make once a year. I sort of modified this one.

Tempeh Bacon
1 pack of tempeh (the original recipe calls for 5 ounces but I just use the whole thing because what am I going to do with 3 ounces of tempeh?)
1-2 Tbsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp cumin
a dash of cayenne
1 tsp liquid smoke
1 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp thick black pepper

Now, the original recipe says to cut the tempeh into strips, as thin as you can get them. I just cut mine into triangles because I was using it for sandwiches. Do whatever you want to. It also instructs you to soak it in the marinade for 1-2 minutes. I decided to wait longer because the last time I made tempeh bacon, I let it marinade for 3 whole days because I forgot about it. This time I stuck to my guns and let it marinate for only a day and a half to cook the night before I would eat it. I think that if you make a marinade, you should let the food actually marinate. It does make it more labor intensive by forcing you to plan to cook it eventually but planning is kind of part of consistently making lunch.

Once you’ve marinated the tempeh for however long you choose, grill as many pieces as you can fit in the pan for a few minutes over medium-high heat, enough so they crisp up on that side. Flip and repeat process until it’s all done.

I ate it in a mini croissant with avocado (and it tastes great with avocado!) and an avocado-strawberry-balsamic salad. The other half of the bento is the familiar sweet potatoes, edamame, and a cheese stick.