Get Healthy with Bento!

My First Bento: Turkey Day Leftovers!

Rice, Sausage Cranberry Stuffing, Yams, Brussel Sprouts, Cranberry Heart.
What is bento?
According to my Japanese dictionary, "bento" simply means "a packed [box] lunch."  A traditional Japanese bento has rice, protein (tofu, egg, fish, or meat), and vegetables (pickled or cooked).  Overtime bento has evolved into an artform, using all varieties of food to create beautiful arrangements.  Bento culture has expanded globally.  Yet despite the diversity of these portable single-meals, a bento box still has one universal pre-requisite: it must be crafted with care.
Get Healthy with Bento!
Get on board, bento is reviving the lunchbox culture!  Sure, we know that packing lunch saves money.  But it's healthy too!  Here's 3 reasons why bento's all-star nutrition line-up makes me excited to pack my lunch:
1. Portion Control.
The whole purpose of bento is to fit an entire meal into a box.  Bento containers come in many shapes and sizes; what a fun way to monitor calorie intake and portion sizes.  Brilliant!
2. Balance in a Box.
Bento is about balancing food groups, and the options are endless.  The main players are carbohydrate (rice, pasta, potato) and protein (meat, fish, egg, tofu, leftover dinner).  However vegetables and fruit add shape and color, making them the real stars of the show.  It's more than just slopping leftovers into a tin.  It is meal planning.  With bento it's easy to eat all the food groups, in one box!
3. A Bento Mindset is a Healthy Mindset.  
While arranging my first bento, I realized that I felt a strong ownership over my food.  I think bento fosters an appreciation for food.  Surely such a thoughtful attitude will stimulate more healthful food choices and less mindless eating.  I believe that a healthy mindset is the first step to a healthy body.  A dose of bento might be just the trick for both.

Show Me More!
Bento is now popular around the world, with hundreds of people blogging about their creative bentos.  Forget my novice attempt, and check out these bentos from the pros!

Teriyaki Salmon Bento, posted on Happy Little Bento by Sheri Chen.

I'm also enjoying:
Adventures in Bentomaking by  Pikko
Bentolicious by Lia Chen
Hapa Bento  by Debra Littlejohn
Hawai'i Bento Box Cookbook, Bentos and More for Kids  by Susan Yuen
Just Bento by Makiko Itoh
Lunchbox Limbo by Amanda
Bento in the recent news:
From the New York Times, Bento Boxes Win Lunch Fans.  Look out, the bento culture is sweeping America!
You know me, I love books!
This is on my wishlist.

This one is on reserve at the Boston Public Library.

Do you make bento, and what are your tricks and tips?  What are your favorite bento blogs or bento stories?  I'm a newbie, but I can't wait to learn more!
Thank you.


Emily said...

I've never made a bento box, but it looks like a very creative art. I like all the colors and the arrangement of yours.

Rachel said...

thanks Emily!

Happy Little Bento said...

Congrats on your first bento, Rachel! It's a good one too :)
I agree with you about how bento fosters a respect for the food and the body. It's a wonderful and lovely way to get healthy. Thank you for sharing my bento with your readers. I can't wait to see more of yours as well.

Jacqueline said...

I will congratulate,too! Congratulation on your first bento! To make bento is a great thing if you are not at home for lunch. I love it. And with every single bento you do, you get more creative :) I'm bentoing since September. And it's great to view all the bento other people do, like sherimiya or the others you showed with your links ;)

And, what I love is, that you can communicate about it around the world. ;) So I'm from Germany ^.^ You can share recipes and learn from each other. That's great!

Have fun in making bentos. I'm sure it will be your new passion soon =^-^=

Rachel said...

Sheri-Thank you!

Lil'chan- Hello, thanks for your introduction! Glad to hear that you are enjoying bento, all the way over in Germany. : ) Can't wait to see your bentos, it will be nice to learn from you. Thanks!

Lia Chen said...

Congrats on your first bento ... I am happy to find one more blogger friend for bento hehehe :o) Hope we can share tips and tricks along the way Rachel.

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Disclaimer. I am not a Registered Dietitian yet. I provide nutrition information intended for the general public, not for the treatment of a specific medical condition. I try to use scientific research and reliable sources when forming my opinions and messages.
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