I have to confess, I was really struggling with coming up with a bento this week. Nothing I flipped thru looked good. I had no inspirations over the week, and the few things I saw were disqualified by the "must be healthy" guideline. Non-detered, I turned to the Food Network for some help. After watching a few shows I finally saw something of interest. They had this recipe for Wheatberry salad. I know my grains fairly well, but I've never worked with (or actually heard of) wheatberries. So there we have it, I built the box based off the show. I had to do some trimming and recipe changes to make serving the lunch calorie-friendly. It's weird even though the show is about healthy eating when you add up all the proper servings for the meal it came out to something like 1/2 the USDA calorie recommendation
Anyhow, to the bento, we start things off with the main dish. I've got a do-it-yourself asian lettuce wrap. I used super lean beef and firm tofu as the basis of the dish. I have found the trick to lightening up dishes is to make them interesting in other ways (texture, more intense flavor). To make up for the lack of flavor from fat you'd get from ground beef, I punched up the sauce base with some extra spices and sauces. I don't think I pressed the tofu enough, it didn't sponge up the sauce as well but I made up for it by thickening the base with a bit of cornstarch, so that it wouldn't be soup.
Next up the wheatberries. This was really interesting and I followed the recipe exactly for this one since I needed the experience on what it should be like. The cooking instructions for the wheatberries did not allow for enough water. I had to keep adding water which slowed things down since it forced the pot to re-boil. I think I need to invest in one of those electric kettles for boiling quick water. The salad itself is pretty tart from the lemon juice dressing, but if you include a bite of the dried cherries it all works out. I think if I'm to do this again, I'll cook the wheatberries longer and then add a bit of more southern/southwestern flavor, maybe some cumin, it was just missing something.
Nothing too exciting on the other side. I went with carrots because we simply didn't need to add to the calorie count with anything else.
The second reason we have this bento is that my wife latched on to the balsamic and strawberries (A favorite of hers). I thought the ricotta cream was very interesting. Together it tasted like strawberries with vanilla icecream, without the brainfreeze from the icecream. I went with the same portioning except spread it out over 5 people instead of 4, hoping that saves a few more calories too.
All in all a tasty lunch. I think I need to work on my backlog of themes. The few I do have are a little ambitious, so I'll need to really save up some energy to get to those, but I need to generate some easy to crank out menus to speed things up on a busy weekend.
- Asian lettuce wraps
- Wheatberry salad
- Carrot sticks
- Balsamic Strawberries with Ricotta Cream