nutritious and fun bento box ideas and photos, healthy recipes and tips for making your own bento box lunch

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Meatless Monday Bento 3

Posted on July 11, 2011 by Debra

This week’s Meatless Monday does not contain seitan!  I know, shocker of shocks eh?

Instead, I made burgers out of soy protein called TVP or Textured Vegetable Protein.   This product, at first, turned me off as it sounds like something that’s been very processed and artificial…but after checking the ingredients it’s really just soy flour.

But when  seasoned and shaped into mini-burgers, they’re fabulous!

The other meatless items are fried tofu, hapa-rice, yellow-carrot namul, pickled cucumbers, seasoned aburage (another type of fried tofu), snow peas and a cherry tomato!

Happy Monday everyone and have a fantastic week!


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And Another Stainless Steel Bento 2

Posted on February 11, 2011 by Debra


I may have to change Saba Man nickname to Stainless Steel Man if we keep going on like this.

So this is another quick one. 

Nimono (simmered veggies), fried tofu, saba shioyaki (grilled mackerel) cukes, tomatoes  and snap peas! 

Top tier…more hapa rice and stinky takuan just like yesterday’s bento! :)

Lucky for SM’s coworkers it’s a stainless steel bento—he is not going to microwave his lunch.  Can you imagine heating up saba in a lunch room?



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Furikake Chicken Bento 12

Posted on December 13, 2010 by Debra

I feel out-of-it.  We are halfway through  December and I haven’t even attempted a winter themed bento until today!

It’s embarassing I tellya, especially with the holiday B.O.M.B. challenge  up and running! Read the rest of this entry →

Sushi Rice and Fried Tofu Bento 13

Posted on November 03, 2010 by Debra

Whoa! Did I go a little bit overboard with the sushi rice!?  I froze  a bunch of it and still had enough for another bento!

Read the rest of this entry →

Black Rice and Tuna Musubi Bento 12

Posted on January 23, 2010 by Debra

It’s the weekend and Saba Man volunteered to stop at the store  in-between running his own errands . (isn’t he sweet?) 

 ”What do you need?” …he had his pen poised and ready to add to his list.

“Oh… whatever you want for lunch and some tomato soup”  (The weather has chilled down so I was craving  soup)

“Easy-peasy” and he was out the door! Read the rest of this entry →

Shoyu Tuna Bento Box 11

Posted on January 22, 2010 by Debra

Is this little piece of sunshine a subliminal message?  Do you really believe that the sun is shining and it’s as  warm as a summer’s day?  Well… not quite a warm summer’s day but the temps these past days were high enough to resemble a cool spring evening.  It’s kinda freaky.

But not to worry…after all we are in Seattle and that means more dark and gray is on it’s way.

Read the rest of this entry →

Fried Tofu and Vegetables Bento Box 6

Posted on November 27, 2009 by Debra


As mentioned in yesterday’s Thanksgiving Day post, Saba Man and I chilled out without any agenda.   We spontaneously ended up at House of Hong, a landmark Chinese restaurant in Seattle’s international district, after enjoying  a very relaxing  massage at the Da Tang Foot Spa!   Which in hindsight was the correct sequence:  massage first, feast second.  There’s no way I could lie face down after eating the  feast.  The portions were large, a good thing for us bentoists.  Huge platters of food were brought to our table, enough to fill both a  Thanksgiving appetite and a take-home box.   Read the rest of this entry →

Black Mushrooms with Gai Lan Bento Box 4

Posted on November 18, 2009 by Debra


For a change of pace, today’s featured bento box is actually a lunch for me and not for Saba Man.  It has some of my favorites, black mushrooms and gai lan (Chinese broccoli) which I could eat all day long.  So yummy.  Fried tofu, brown rice, roasted onions, tamagoyaki and some freshly sliced tomatoes fill out the rest of the box.  It’s a big lunch and I will probably need a nap after consumption to aid in digestion. :)

The Chinese black mushrooms I think are the same as shiitake?  And for this recipe, I used the large dried mushrooms for their intense flavor, rehydrated and simmered in the same liquid along with garlic, shoyu and sesame oil.  When the liquid is reduced I add the gai lan and continue cooking until they are tender.  The combination of soft earthy mushrooms with the slight bite of the gai lan is wonderful.   When not packed in a bento box, I use this same recipe as a topping on a ramen bowl. 

I’m not bragging, but feel fortunate to live in a very diverse region where I do take advantage of purchasing ready-to-eat items like the fried tofu.   Before packing in the box, I parboiled it to remove any excess oil, then simmered in shoyu and mirin for extra flavor.  If you fry your own tofu, make sure you thoroughly drain and squeeze all the moisture out before you add it to the hot oil.   I don’t like to fry so in most cases, I just buy tofu already cooked and the brand I choose comes in different flavors, such as onion and spicy pepper!

The Forest Floor… 3

Posted on October 29, 2009 by Debra
Forest floor is littered with leaves and.....a caramel apple?

Forest floor is littered with leaves and.....a caramel apple?

Thought I would post another view of the bento box.  Thanks for all your encouraging comments!  Read more about this bento box.

Misplaced “Caramel Apple” Bento Box 10

Posted on October 28, 2009 by Debra
 A lost "Caramel Apple", now found by the ants...

A lost "Caramel Apple", now found by the ants...

A few years ago our office held a pumpkin carving contest and the winning entry had been transformed into a whimsical vignette of a dropped candy apple being nibbled on by rats and such.  This Halloween bento box is  inspired from that memory.

Here’s how I made it. 

One hard boiled egg wrapped in a pomegranate stained soy paper.  The original paper color was orange which I found too bright so a few minutes of soaking toned it down.   I placed this in the bento box that is filled halfway with  brown rice (cooled).   Top the rice with chopped cooked tofu.  Use extra firm tofu that’s been fried, cooled and chopped up.  Then back in a pan with garlic, soy sauce, minced onions and cook until it gets crumbly.  Again, cool this mixture before scattering around the “apple”. Be sure to leave some room for steamed broccoli.  Oh, before I began readying the box for the autumn leaves, I had placed red, orange and yellow bell peppers in the oven for roasting.  I just topped them, cut them in half and placed on a roasting pan with olive oil for about 20-30 minutes at 350 degrees.   When these are done the skin peels off very easily.  The peppers cut cleaner without the skins.  Now the fun part… cut a variety of different leaf shapes and pepper colors then carefully score the surface of each leaf with the knife tip to “draw” in the veins.  I arranged the leaves, ate the rejects and placed some black sesame seeds for the ants.  Finally,  a re-purposed wooden coffee stir stick  is a perfect prop for the caramel apple.

Originally I planned for a candy apple but could not achieve the needed bright, shiny red color.  I tried pomegranate juice and red pepper skin, but it was no good.  So caramel apple it is!  I hope you like it.

New Bento Box Filler: Kiwi Berry 5

Posted on October 10, 2009 by Debra

I think I’m in some sort of “Bento Box Rut”. Not is the sense of boredom, it’s more of wanting to taste different foods. Pack different items. Variety. This cute little berry is a nice distraction. The package names it “Kiwi Berry”. Really? Is there such a thing as a kiwi berry? Are they grown in New Zealand and eaten by kiwi birds? Nope, turns out they are not that exotic. New and mysterious to me I am quite surprised, after an internet check, that these were grown just south of me in Oregon. In fact, they can be grown right here in Washington! I don’t know why I’ve never seen them before.

The size of a medium to large olive, perfect for filling the nooks and crannies of a bento box lunch. Before I committed, I asked the guy in charge of stacking apples, “What do these taste like?” “They taste just like kiwis”, he said with a smile. So I bought some and ate one in the car on the way home. Ummm…No, they don’t taste like kiwis, Mr. Produce Man! They taste better than kiwi and have a flavor of their own. Sweet and juicy, with a strange little after taste, similar to the white membrane that sticks to a badly peeled orange slice. I like them, good texture, green and red color. Oh, they do look like kiwis when sliced in half. Into the bento box they go. Packed with the kiwi berries, rice, mushrooms, kouya dofu, sweet potato, pickled ginger and cucumbers.

Magic Round Bento Box Strikes Again

Baseball Bento Box 6

Posted on October 04, 2009 by Debra
A bento box for the last Mariner baseball game of the season. It’s huge. Plenty to share. I’ve never packed such a large bento box before and I got scared that I would run out of items. I kept filling and filling. There’s so much in there that I’m sure it will last through the entire game and we’ll munch on leftovers in the car while waiting to get out of the parking lot after the game. That’s the worst part of sporting events I think, especially if we lose. Hopefully having some yummy snacks will tide us over until we can hit the freeway.
Inside this 2 tier box are salmon patties wrapped in lettuce, wasabi stuffed eggs, sauteed tofu with onions and garlic, sweet potatoes, inarizushi and edamame. I’m hoping that the edamame will keep me from buying peanuts. But I doubt it.
Here’s how I made the wasabi stuffed eggs. Hard boil some eggs, cut in half, and scoop out the yolks into a separate bowl. (like deviled eggs). Mix the yolks with mayo (I like Kewpie), salt and wasabi paste. The measurements are flexible based on how many eggs are boiled and how much sting is wanted with the wasabi. After thoroughly mixing, refill the egg halves and stick them back together. It won’t be exact and they will look a little lumpy, but it’s okay because then they are wrapped nori. The nori part is optional but I like the way it tastes. That’s it.
Here’s a close up of the sweet potato slices with nori details.

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