Saturday, December 04, 2010

Bento update - Mottainai box in first use

I finally received my bento boxes from Japan. The green two-tiered Mottainai box (check the previous post for details) was the first one to be put to good use. I happened to be invited to cook at a friend's place and eat there, so I decided to take the lunchbox with me and stack it with leftovers. Sneaky me!

So after some deliberation, we went for vegetarian food; grilled root vegetables and Bearnaise-sauce, and ended up enjoying it with some grilled halloumi-cheese. Halloumi originates in Cyprus, and it's a fairly strong flavoured goat's cheese seasoned with fresh mint.

For the lunch, I left out the sauce, since the vegetables were still soft and succulent, and sliced up one of the halloumi-"steaks". I added some cherry tomatoes and my "signature" carrot salad with pumpkin seeds and chives, and a sachet of instant miso soup, which was the only part of the lunch enjoyed warm. A clementine for dessert (I'm allergic to oranges and satsumas, go figure).

The final lunch.
Root vegetables are my "carbs" this time,
and about half of the meal is "raw food"

The reason I use a lot of vegetables and "raw food" in general in my diet is that I decided to cut my gluten intake for my breakfasts and lunches, which rules out a majority of grains from my diet, no added sugar, and I only drink half a cup of the regular kind of coffee per day, while I'm slowly going back to only drinking organic coffee and tea. I am also counting calories, since I gained almost 20lbs of weight while I was ill and at my grandmother's place, where I was a little too well fed...

I'm also on a sort of a "peer support" diet, because I'm following the same kind of a diet as a friend has to due to her health problems. I designed her diet, and we've been exchanging recipes and comparing notes. Which means we're even more motivated to stick to the plan. Especially since I lost 6lbs on week #1, and she lost 8lbs!

I'll give a full account of what is or isn't okay in the diet later, however here's a simple and tasty raw food recipe that is a good staple for those trying to count calories, as well.

Carrot salad

Serves 2-4 (recipe makes about 550 total calories)
You will need
  • 4-6 medium to large carrots, thoroughly washed (you can peel them, but it's up to you)
  • 1 tbsp of dried or freshly chopped chives
  • about ½ cup of pumpkin seeds (excellent source of zinc)
  • 1 tbsp of rice vinegar, or cider vinegar (keeps the carrot from oxidising and losing its colour)
  • 1tbsp of canola oil (less taste of its own, a lot of good Omega-6 fatty acids)
  • ~1" squeeze from a tube of wasabi ~1 tsp
  • salt to taste
Begin by grating the carrots with the largest available grater, this will make the salad a little more chunky, and will keep the carrot crunchy. Add the vinegar immediately and mix thoroughly, this will prevent the carrots from becoming discoloured.

Add the chives, oil, wasabi and pumpkin seeds, mix again thoroughly. Add salt to taste, I don't, usually, since food we get is these days salted enough as-is, and the wasabi gives this salad a bit of "oomph!" without the need for extra salt.

You can let the salad sit in a container with a tight sealing lid overnight for best flavour results, but this is not necessary, and you can just make it to need. If the pumpkin seeds aren't irradiated, they will germinate overnight, and will pack even more energy and healthy components than when dry, if you read up on raw food diets after a google search on the subject.

Serve either as a side, or as I tend to do, as part of your breakfast/lunch, with an addition of some dairy product for protein. Proteins keep your appetite in check, so you won't be as likely to snack on the "bad" stuff during the day as otherwise.

Good luck in the kitchen, and may your bentos be tasty!

P.S. I am always taking my photos of my bentos as they are when I open them at work, so you'll get a better idea of how well the looks of them are preserved for the person eating them.

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