Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Polynesian Bento

Finally a new bento! With the house move it's been hard to find a space in the kitchen to do any bento work. I'll apologize in advance for next week, i'll be traveling for work. I'll see if I can find some material to do some interim posts.

Without further ado: I found some great ideas and recipes for a high fiber Polynesian style bento. I was a bit afraid that the flavors were going to be too bland for my eaters. A lot of the flavor came in the sauce which didn't seem to soak themselves into either the chicken or the sweet potatoes. My audience seemed to like the box ok so I must have done something right.

We start with this Polynesian chicken. It's got a healthy dose of cilantro and green onions. The sauce is something like a teriyaki sauce, with a lot of ginger and a spike of star anise. Considering how much soy went into the marinade the flavor was very mild and the hints of ginger and star anise really came through.

Next up is a Sweet Potatoes and Bananas in a coconut curry sauce. There's a spoonful of red thai curry paste which gives this side a good zing, and the coconut milk evened it out and helped insure it wasn't too spicy. This was an interesting dish in that it had a nice smooth texture and was sweet, salty, and spicy all at the same time. I think next time I do this dish I'll make the Potato cubes bigger so it's not quite so mushy.

Last up we have a Tahitian coleslaw. Instead of mayo, i've got a little bit of peanut butter to serve as the sauce base. Cabbage and red bell pepper provides the nice crunch. A very tasty "slaw" this ones a keeper for a picnic in the summer.

For desert I went ahead and slotted in some snackwells. All about saving time in the kitchen, especially with the limited space with all the boxes to navigate.

Box Contents
  • Polynesian Chicken
  • Sweet Potatos and Bananas in curried coconut sauce
  • Tahitian coleslaw
  • Mint Chocolate snackwells

Monday, January 14, 2008

Life is in the hyper fast lane

Boo. Work is very busy, we're trying to pack up a house (we decided to move and picked out a house all in 2 weeks), and my wife's coworkers are all traveling at work, so no bentos for this week. But I leave you with a picture of a hibiscus flower that I took while in Taiwan, not quite a food post but relevant to the theme for next week's box which is Polynesian. There's some goodies in the next box I think the flavors will come out pretty good.

I scrambled again on these recipes and feel a little disappointed at myself for not being very organized this week. As a side note so I can tag this post under "yammering" I've had a great deal of difficulty re-designing my bentos. I thought it would be easier than low glycemic, but with low glycemic I was able to go off a list of low glycemic friendly food list which is how I could measure my recipes. I'll ponder upon this as I pack up the house tonight.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

High Fiber Diets

Welcome back! And thanks to all who visited me over the break. It's a new year, and finally I've been able to produce my first bento. Over the break we shifted gears towards a new diet, we're aiming for a high fiber, low fat diet, now this kind of falls in line with the existing low glycemic index diet but it releases a few restrictions on the carb side and changes some of the ingredients I can and cannot use. Basically it works like this, increase consumption of soluble and insoluble fiber helps with keeping your insulin level stable. This is pretty much simliar to the low glycemic diet's philosophy. The harder it is to break down foods the more even the release of energy into the body. Soluble fiber has a second benefit in that it's been shown to also help with increasing the good cholesterol. So all in all it requires me to be a little more vigilant about my recipes and rethink my planned menus a bit. Anyway for my first bento, I wanted to try to crank out something flavorful and showcase how a high fiber diet isn't as bad/bland/boring as it sounds.

Let's start with the main dish, it's an modified indian dish called Khichadi. Khichadi is a rice and mung bean dal with a nice variety of spices. Very enjoyable as a side or a main dish, but I really wanted to get some form of meat protein for some amount of good hearty feel. I cubed up some sirloin and tossed it in a similar makeup of spices as the dal, but added a bit of cumin to give it some contrast in flavor.

To continue with the zesty flavors I roasted some new potatoes with a healthy dose of spice. This is a new item that a low glycemic diet normally does not allow (at least from what I could tell), but with the skin on it qualifies under the high fiber diet.

This next side I really wanted to give some contrast in texture from the rest of the dishes, I needed some crunch and a bit of lightness because starches tend to feel a bit heavy. I sauteed up some snow peas and tossed in some water chestnuts, for a bit more variety I threw in some oyster mushrooms. Light crisp and delicious and a nice change of color for the bento.

People like sweets. One of the big killers on any diet is the restrictions on sweets. I really wanted to be able to come thru with something that satisfied the sweet tooth and still fit inside the plan. So I packed in this white chocolate and cranberry "haystack". Usually haystacks are made with chow mein noodles, fried badness. I found a recipe that provided a variant using a fiber cereal. It was light on the chocolate and the additional sweetness is provided by the dried cranberries.

The box went over well, but we had a lot of substitute eaters this time around as a portion of the lunch crowd were not in the office but were kind enough to abdicate their bentos to coworkers :) It's been educational for me, and I still need to scramble for more recipes and creations. Bentos will be a little slow to start for this year, I'm ratcheting down to 1 a week for the time being as we'll be moving this month and work has really been killing me. So I'll apologize in advance for the slow posts, I'll try to think up some more tips that I can add in.

Anyone have any good websites on high fiber recipes?

Box contents:
  • Khichadi with spiced sirloin
  • Spicy roasted new potatoes
  • Stir fried snow peas with water chestnuts and oyster mushrooms
  • White chocolate haystacks with craisins

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Happy New Year!

Ok I'm 14 mins late. Happy New Year, I wish the best to all of you. Stay tuned as I've got some new ideas for bentos for the new year. Eat well, be happy, and of course enjoy life!