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

hapa bento

Orange “Beef” Broccoli Bento 12

Posted on March 03, 2012 by Debra

Rest easy, Saba Man and I have not gone back to eating meat.  It’s only seitan not real beef.   My twitter friends and I do a monthly food theme and February’s was Oranges and after posting my photo of  Orange “Beef” and Broccoli, there were requests for the recipe.

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Meatless Monday Bento 2

Posted on August 07, 2011 by Debra

It was a whirlwind week folks!  I took a short trip to Vancouver BC., received out-of-town visitors, and took in the sights and sounds of Seafair; Seattle’s annual celebration of boats, planes and summer-time fun!

Now we are back to reality with another start to a busy work-week!  And without missing a beat I somehow managed to pull together a Meatless Monday bento for Saba Man using a combo of leftovers and bento-stash.  Read the rest of this entry →

Shoyu Seitan Bento 14

Posted on November 22, 2010 by Debra


Quickly posting this snack bento featuring shoyu seitan, brown rice, broccolini, tomato and a grape!

What’s shoyu seitan?  It’s wheat-meat prepared using my shoyu chicken recipe.

A twist on the ole  “chicken and rice” standard.

Not trying to fool Saba Man…he knows it’s not meat and lucky for me, he likes it.

Sesame Seitan Bento 16

Posted on November 14, 2010 by Debra

Does this look like chicken?  Maybe teriyaki or barbecue styled?  Not even a little bit?

But lest you think that I’m trying to pull a fast-one,…Saba Man actually likes my wheat-meat (seitan) creations!

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Sweet ‘n Sour Wheat Meat Bento Box 3

Posted on November 17, 2009 by Debra


Once in while I’m able to pull off a pretty nice lunch using only grains and vegetables. So today’s featured bento box is vegan!   The main tier is filled with  sweet and sour seitan,  brown rice and a broiled pineapple ring  garnish.    The second tier is roasted broccolini, which I just learned is a hybrid of broccoli and gai lan (Chinese broccoli), and fresh tomato slices.

Normally, carrots are included in the sweet and sour recipe, but I didn’t have any and there was raging storm last night so I skipped the carrot part.

Sweet and Sour Seitan (wheat meat)


2 cups of bit sized pieces of seitan

1 cup of shoyu

1/2 cup of unsweetened juice from canned pineapple

grated fresh ginger to taste, about 1 teaspoon

grated fresh garlic (optional)

2 tablespoons of brown sugar syrup

1 cup of pineapple tidbits or chunks

Mix all the ingredients except the pineapple chunks and simmer in a pot until most of the liquid has reduced.   Add the pineapple and remove from heat.  Drain liquid and cool before packing in the bento box.

I must note that the pineapple is usually cooked a bit more than what’s shown in the photo, but without carrots, the meal needed some color contrast!   It’s a very versatile dish and totally optional to add bell peppers, water chestnuts or other crunchy veggies.  If  you’re not a vegan or vegetarian, it’s okay to use beef, pork or chicken instead of seitan.  Have fun with it!

Vegan Bento Box with Faux Shrimp 3

Posted on October 26, 2009 by Debra
It's not shrimp or a prawn.

It's not shrimp or a prawn.

We are packing leftovers for today’s featured bento box.  Time has been running extra fast for us lately and we dined out a couple of times this past weekend.  One of those circumstances was because we were in the International District, stuck in traffic.  Luckily for us, we found ourselves driving past our favorite vegan Chinese/Vietnamese fusion restaurant Moonlight Cafe!

I have already reviewed this restaurant in this blog and by now you’ve probably ascertained, that we like eating there.   It offers delicious vegan/vegetarian foods along with the usual fare.  Saba Man is neither, so he sometimes orders from their “other” menu.  But on this occasion we stuck to the veggies and faux animal proteins which brings a question to mind.  Why  bother disguising the vegetable proteins to look like meat?  I am personally happy without any sort of ruse.  I suppose there are those who choose to omit meat, but still miss it, and find comfort with this realistic offering.  I on the other hand, found it a little unsettling and distracting, but to each his own, and what counts is that this dish was tasty.

Vegan bento box with Moonlight Cafe leftovers

Vegan bento box with Moonlight Cafe leftovers

The leftovers found their way into one of my favorite boxes, perfect for doggy bag items, no fuss, no muss!  Add a some takuwan and nori for garnish-sprinkle a bit of sesame seeds for color and we have a packed lunch ready to go!  The rest of the items, stir fried baby bok choy with garlic, curried vegetables with “beef” (another counterfeit), and brown rice.  The brown rice did not pretend to be anything else. :)   The box gets tied up in a furoshiki with a pair of chopsticks and placed on the top shelf of our refridgerator, as it’s the designated spot to alert Saba Man that this bento box belongs to him.

Vegan Bento Box 7

Posted on October 20, 2009 by Debra

Today’s featured bento box is vegan! Not too much of a surprise for Saba Man as he is used to occasionally eating vegetarian. It’s “all good” as long as his tummy is satisfied at the end of his lunch break. This box should not pose any problems with that! Roasted purple carrots and brussel sprouts, dry stir fried “wheat meat” with yellow peppers, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, blood oranges and dried cranberries. I think he’ll be fine.
We both are not brussel sprout eaters and I got a funny look from him when he saw my examining them in the produce department. Then he grinned when I plucked a few of them and placed them half hearted in the shopping basket. “Don’t worry”, I said. He shrugged, “I’m not worried…I’m surprised”
Fast forward to my kitchen and we are standing there staring at the little charred outside leaves of the sprouts. “They smell good”, we both agreed. I pressed, “You taste it!” He obliged then handed me the other half. It was delicious and I was now the surprised one.
How I cooked the brussel sprouts:
Pre heat oven to 4oo degrees Fahrenheit.
Rinse and thoroughly dry the brussel sprouts. The drying part is very important. Leaving them wet causes a steaming effect which is not what you want.
Coat the bottom of a roasting pan with olive oil. Just lightly coat it, no submersing of brussel sprouts in oil.
Sprinkle coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper over the oil.
Place the brussel sprouts on the pan and roll them around until they get sort of covered in the mixture.
Pop the pan with the brussel sprouts in the oven for about 12 – 15 minutes. They WILL start to get charred. That’s okay, but if you start seeing a lot of smoke, then lower the heat a little bit. you want them to get really dark brown with the outside leaves crispy. When this is achieved, lower the heat to about 325-350 for another 10 minutes.
Allow them to cool to room temperature before packing in your bento box. Enjoy!
I don’t have a specific resource to site,as it’s a basic vegetable roasting recipe. I got the charring idea from many recipes; online and in books. It seems to work because the sprouts were not bitter.

Egg Foo Young Bento Box 1

Posted on October 11, 2009 by Debra

I broke out the wok for today’s featured bento box. Egg Foo Young, Sweet Sour “Pork”, and “Beef” Stir Fry. All vegetarian! Fake meat. Instead of pork or beef, I used seitan or some folks call it “wheat meat”. These “stir fry” recipes are basic, tried and true, and can be interchanged with any type of protien. Really. The Egg Foo Young is veggie too, with carrots, onions, and bean sprouts. A Halloween pick holds both colors of sliced sweet potatoes. I cannot however, proclaim this a vegetarian bento as there is a small slice of chikuwa holding the carrot bouquet. It was the last piece in the fridge and Saba Man is omniverous so I gave it a home. One regret… I should of used snow peas instead of edamame for garnish, but that’s all I had.Egg Foo Young Bento Box

Nanaimo Bar Quest and a Bento Box 2

Posted on September 14, 2009 by Debra

I’ll get to the bento box shortly but first a quick mention about my search for a Nanaimo Bar.

Saba Man and I’ve been spending some time up north in Canada and discovered that Nanaimo Bars were from well, Nanaimo! Years ago when I moved from the islands to the Pacific Northwest, I discovered some strange sounding yet delicious foods like Geoducks, Aplets and Cotlets, lattes. I’ve tried most of these tasty treats except the Nanaimo Bar; it’s eluded me and for far too long. It is time. Time for a quest, a Nanaimo Bar quest. And not just any Nanaimo Bar. Stay tuned.

Ok, back to our scheduled programming.

Today’s bento box is vegan! Stirfried “wheat meat”, Singapore noodles with tofu, sauteed gai lan, blueberries, mango with yokan. Frequent readers will recognize the bento box as Saba Man’s main box which I pack on most days. It’s a quick and easy box to fill. The 4 equal sized compartments eliminates the need for seperators.

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