Bento Box: A mindful Lunch

Bento boxes are a form of lunch boxes that mainly consist of rice, meat, noodles, vegetables and more. They are part of the Japanese, Korean and other Asian cultures. They have however recently become popular in the western countries. I decided to buy one allowing me to give it a go myself as making lunch can be quite a chore.

Who knew that making a pack lunch could be a fun and mindful experience. Its important to plan what food items you are going to have in your lunch box as space can be limited. Connecting with the food you are placing inside your bento can be a mindful exercise allowing you to apricate the food.

As you can see in my photo I decided to include the following in my Bento box. One compartment has shredded crab sticks, sliced pepper, broccoli, mini corns, cucumber and a lemon for freshness. The other compartment is rice with vegetables, boiled egg and crispy seaweed. One thing you may notice missing from this lunch box is rubbish food like crisps, chocolate bars and other high sugar items. Rice, noodles, meat and fish are the main focus for bento boxes by the Asian Cultures.

The fun of the bento boxes comes from organising it aswell. Planning out each section and what food goes with other foods allows you to be self-aware of what you are putting inside your lunch box instead of cramming as much rubbish as possible. Try new combinations, go crazy with it but most importantly make sure it tastes nice and is going to be good for your body and mind.

The Bento Box I purchased was from amazon at £18, which while yes is rather expensive but that means I will look after it more, rather than a £1 plastic one from any average pound shop. It comes with a good quality plastic cutlery set aswell. I wanted to give this bento an attempt after playing the game Inbento which is a fabulous bento box puzzle game and you can read my review here.

Thanks for reading and next time you make lunch, just really think about what you are putting inside your lunch box.

Recipe: VEGETABLE AND FETA FRITTATA

A perfect summer meal or picnic addition. These vegetables are just suggestions but you can pretty much add anything you like, spinach, broccoli, kale, peas; just make sure they are lightly cooked first. Serves up to 4 people.

Ingredients

5 large eggs

2 red onions sliced

 2 cloves garlic crushed

1 red 1 yellow pepper diced 

1 courgette 

125ml double cream. 

100g feta cheese Olive oil 

Method
Heat a heavy based frying pan and add a splash of olive oil. 

Add the onions, peppers, garlic and courgette and fry until vegetables are soft. Season with salt and pepper and remove from pan. Just give the pan a wipe as you will be using it again. 

Whisk the eggs and cream together with a little salt and pepper (feel free to add some herbs, chives, basil, parsley if you wish) 

Heat the pan back up with a little more olive oil. When oil is hot add the egg mixture and lightly stir as it cooks. Once it looks about 3/4 cooked spread over the vegetable mix and crumble on the feta. This will work with cheddar if you don’t like feta. 

Place the pan under a preheated grill to brown off the cheese. This will take about 5-7 minutes. 

Cut into 4 slices if sharing as a meal with other people, serve with salad and new potatoes. Can also be eaten cold like a crustless quiche. 

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed this recipe.


Recipe: Cannellini Beans On Toast, Italian Style.

This recipe is vegan and vegetarian friendly. A perfect starter for an evening dinner outside in the sun, light and tasty. Add more to make into a main meal. This meal would be perfect in a vineyard in the south of Italy although your garden or balcony will have to do for now. Serves between 4 to 5 people.

Ingredients

Bread of your choice: focaccia, ciabatta or sourdough.

200g dried cannellini beans or 2 tins of cooked cannellini beans. 

3 medium white onions 

6 cloves of garlic

1 veg stock cube

 2 sprigs of rosemary

 2 courgettes

150ml extra virgin olive oil 

Sea salt 

Method
If using dried beans, soak them overnight in cold water. Then wash them off and place in saucepan covered with cold water with 1 peeled and quartered onion, sprig of rosemary, 3 peeled garlic cloves and a veg stock cube.

Bring to the boil and simmer for 60-90 minutes until the beans are tender, then drain and pick out the rosemary stalk. 

Whilst the beans are boiling, in a separate pan add the olive oil, 2 diced white onions 3 chopped garlic cloves and a chopped sprig of rosemary. Slowly fry until all are soft then add the cooked beans. Let these cook together for a few minutes to soak up some of the oil and flavours. 

Pan fry some slices of courgettes with salt and pepper in a little olive oil. 

If you are using the tinned beans drain them and wash them off. They will be a lot softer and not so much flavour as the home cooked ones. l. 

Toast a piece of your favourite bread, foccacia, ciabatta or sourdough works well, pile on the beans and garnish with the courgette and add some tomato if you wish. If you aren’t vegan then some shaved parmesan goes well with these too as well as a splash of balsamic vinegar. 


Tip: To make balsamic vinegar less harsh and taste like a really expensive one just empty the contents of a 500ml bottle into a saucepan and add 100g sugar. Boil the liquid until roughly reduced by a third , allow to cool and pour back in the bottle. (take out the plastic drizzler before doing this which will make it easier to pour in the bottle.

We enjoyed this meal so much we cooked it twice and as you can see by the pictures offered two ways that it can be presented. You should now have multiple dishes that look and taste as good as ours Any questions we would be happy to answer.

Thanks for reading! Be sure to check out my other recipes and follow for more recipes and other mindful content.

Recipe:Risotto of asparagus, peas and broccoli

A healthy vegetarian risotto packed with lots of powerful greens. This recipe serves a generous 4.

Ingredients

400g arborio rice

250g asparagus 

100g broccoli cut into tiny florets. 

100g Garden peas. 

1.medium onion diced 

1lt veg stock. 

Olive oil

2 cloves garlic crushed. 

Method

Snap off the woody ends of the asparagus and peel the ends down further if required. Cook for 1 minute in a pan of boiling water and refresh under cold water. When cold slice the stalks leaving the tips for garnish if desired. 

For the risotto use a heavy bottomed saucepan and fry off the onion and garlic in some olive or vegetable oil without colour.

Add the rice and fry off while continuing to stir for a minute, Boil some vegetable stock and add a little at a time to the saucepan. When it has absorbed it add some more. The process of absorption will take about 20 minutes, 5 minutes before the end of this add the frozen peas, small broccoli florets and the asparagus stalks from earlier. This will give them enough time to cook and keep crunchy .

A good risotto should not be thick and stodgy it should be quite fluid. Finish off with a knob of butter, splash of cream and some parmesan cheese grated in.

Thanks for reading, any questions feel free to ask.

Recipe:Smoked Salmon Scotch Egg

A quick but luxurious starter or snack that serves two. Can be served cold for a picnic or with a little salad. I have served mine with a peppered lemon mayonnaise. Dill mayonnaise works well too. 

Ingredients
200g sliced smoked salmon

3 medium eggs

50g flour

fresh or panko breadcrumbs. 

Vegetable oil

Method

1. Place 2 of the eggs into a pan of boiling water for 5 minutes, then run under cold water to stop the cooking process.  When cool enough to handle crack the egg shell, then put back into the cold water. Next peel the egg in the water. Make sure to peel delicately as the yolk will still be runny.

Tip: Eggs are easier to peel when still a bit warm. 

2.When the eggs are cold, lay a piece of clingfilm on your work surface. Place a piece of smoked salmon in the middle of it as shown in the picture below.. You may need 2 pieces depending on size. Then place your eggs on the middle of the salmon.

3. Draw up the sides of the cling film and lightly twist to form a ball making sure all the egg is wrapped. 


4. Crack the 3rd egg into a bowl and whisk. Put a little flour into your second bowl, along with a few twists of black pepper. Add breadcrumbs to a third bowl or container. 

5. Unwrap the smoked salmon ball. Handling very gently coat it with the flour, dip in the egg mixture making sure it is all coated then roll in the breadcrumbs. To get a better coating dip again in the egg and the breadcrumbs. You will have some bread crumbs left over, this is normal as you can never just use the right amount. 


6. Pour vegetable oil into a pan making sure it is deep enough to cover the egg. Next deep-fry in hot oil for 2 minutes. Make sure oil is hot enough or it will just be very greasy. 

7.Drain on kitchen paper. 

8. Eat and Enjoy.

Recipe: PANZANELLA, Tuscan tomato and bread salad, Vegan and VEGETARIAN friendly.

A vegan and vegetarian friendly salad that is quick & extremely tasty, perfect for a sunny day. A vibrant and colourful dish, this recipe Serves 4 as a snack or 2 as a main meal. The recipe does use focaccia bread which you can find the recipe for here but it is also possible to use shop bought croutons as well.

Ingredients
200g very ripe tomatoes

100g focaccia ripped into rough croutons or shop bought croutons

Basil

1 red onion

1 pepper

2 tablespoons red wine

vinegar

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil.

Salt and pepper 

Method
1. First put your croutons into a medium hot oven to dry out and brown.

2. While croutons are cooking Cut your tomatoes , dice the pepper, and thinly slice the onion.

3. Place in a bowl with the vinegar and oil and about 10 ripped basil leaves. Add some salt and pepper and gently mix together. Finally add your croutons and toss together.

4. Serve. Immediately.

I find this dish tastier if the tomatoes are at room temperature. You can add some ripped mozzarella or feta to the dish to make more of a meal of it. We also served it on a bed of lettuce for a nicer presentation.

Enjoy!

Recipe: Vegan ONION BHAJI

A really simple dish that tastes just as good as the ones from an indian takeaway. It is best to serve with sauce or garnish of some description. We used a cucumber raita. The ingredients we used are all suitable for vegan.

Ingredients

3 medium onions

150g gram flour 

1 teaspoon mild curry powder 

1 teaspoon gluten free baking powder

Vegetable Oil

Method

Peel and thinly slice onions and soak them in cold water for 5 mins.

Next in a bowl, mix all the dry ingredients and add enough water to make a smooth thick batter. Drain the onions and add to the batter. If it looks too thin then just add a little more gram flour. 

Heat vegetable oil in a pan enough to deep fry. Test it is hot enough by putting a little of the mix in. It should sizzle and brown in 2 minutes. When hot enough use a tablespoon to shape and drop the bhajis into the oil, cooking 2 minutes each side. Don’t overload the pan as it is better to cook in 2 batches. 

Drain on kitchen paper and serve.

Recipe:Easy Vanilla Biscuit

Baking is a great way to relieve stress, build confidence and improve happiness by creating something meaningful. These Vanilla Biscuits tick all the boxes. While this recipe is straightforward, it allows the baker to get into the kitchen and create something for family and friends while calming and relieving stress in the process. It’s a great recipe to do with children/ whole family. Most of the ingredients and equipment should be easy to get a hold of during the lockdown as well if your kitchen doesn’t currently stock the items.

Ingredients and equipment

Two lined baking trays

Plain Flour 8 ounces/ 225 g

Biscuit cutter (any shape)

Butter 5 ½ ounces / hundred 50 g  

Caster Sugar 4 ½ ounces/ 125g

1 ½ tablespoon of vanilla essence

2 tablespoon of milk

Method

Prepare two baking sheets with greaseproof paper, turn on the oven to gas mark 4 / 180°.

Weigh out the butter, cut into small pieces and put to one side.

Sieve the flour into a bowl and add the butter pieces, rub together until it looks like breadcrumbs.

Stir in the vanilla essence and caster sugar to make a firm dough.

If the mix is too dry add a tablespoon of milk at a time until you have a dough.

Lightly flour your work surface, using a rolling pin roll out the dough to a 1 cm thickness. Cut out the biscuits using the cutters of your choice.

Place on trays and place in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes until they have a slight colour to them. Turn the trays halfway through the time.

Once cooked remove from oven and cool on a cooling tray, sprinkle with caster sugar while still hot. (Keep in an airtight container after cooling process).

Now you should have some delicious vanilla biscuits.

Iced Blueberry & Green Tea

A refreshing iced tea that is packed with tons of antioxidants. Blueberries and Green tea are scientifically know to be great for skin and the whole body. This drink can also be drank hot during the winter months.

Ingredients
5 green tea bags

1 litre of water

3 tablespoons of clear honey 

200g of fresh or frozen blueberries. 

Method
Boil the water, place the teabags into a bowl or saucepan and add the boiling water. Steep for 4 to 5 mins and remove. Add the blueberries and crush with a potato masher. You can crush them with a fork before you add them to the water if you prefer. Add the honey and stir. Sieve into a container allow to cool then put in the fridge. When cold, pour over ice and enjoy. 

Bruschetta of tomatoes, mozzarella, prosciutto and basil recipe.

A fantastic meal for when the sun is shining and is a true feel good dish. This dish is ideal for when your focaccia is going a little stale and makes a perfect starter or light snack. Ciabatta bread also works well with this dish. Any tomatoes can be used but I prefer sweet cherry tomatoes, you could use sun dried tomatoes too if you prefer. The proscuitto can also be left of of course for vegetarians. Serves 2.

Ingredients

Focaccia bread (Click to link)

1 ball of mozzarella

150g of cherry tomatoes 

1/2 red onion 

Basil 

2 slices proscuitto ham

Olive oil. 

Method

Cut a square of focaccia roughly 6cmx6cm but the shape doesn’t matter too much.
Next cut this in half like you would a burger bun to make 2 squares. 
Cut the tomatoes in half and place in a bowl with finely chopped red onions, ripped basil leaves salt pepper and a little olive oil and mix together. 
Toast the bread until golden. 
Put onto 2 plates and top with the tomato mixture, now add ripped mozzarella and finish off with the slice of prosciutto and a basil leaf.
Drizzle with a little more olive oil if desired and a splash of balsamic vinegar. 
It’s that simple and delicious.