Gardein, rice, veggies

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So I had planned on making a Japanese-style curry bento, using up whatever veggies had so far escaped my searches in the fridge – which is rather a lot being that all three of us have been under the weather, and largely disinterested in food, for varying lengths of time during the week. I tried a new-to-me brand of curry powder. For other far-flung Brits, please heed my advice: don’t mess with the curry powder. Use the one you used all the way through your child and teen years. Trust me. The curry I made was inedible. /cry.

On to Plan B. Gardein, kept in the freezer for such disheartening moments like these, steamed veggies, and brown rice (which was originally intended to soak up delicious curry sauce). Soy sauce in a bottle to perk it all up once I reheat tomorrow. Boring, but nutritious and easy.

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Foodie penpal reveal!

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Have I told y’all how much I love foodie penpals? Pretty sure I have…

When you live in a small town, it can be tricky to make it to the post office when it’s open to pick up parcels, so I had the notification card sitting on the dash in my car for a few days… the torture!

Natalie sent me a parcel this month, and I send goodies to Kathy. Natalie’s blog is: sugarflourflavour.blogspot.com. I’m a bit of a cupcake purist these days, but Natalie has a ton of deliciously sweet deliciousness on her blog – go check it out!

Natalie asked me what kind of things I liked, and of course, chocolate and anything sweet-and-salty. Usually, I just ask for my penpals to surprise me, with tasty results, but to have a package tailored to me, all me, was fun! What I’m particularly appreciative of are cupcake liners for Cupcake Fridays! How absolutely adorable! I received a beautiful hand-written note, and a recipe for sweet-salty cookies. Wow 🙂

There was a dark chocolate and salt-covered caramel, but I promise you, it jumped out of the wrapper and into my mouth. There was nothing I could do! Natalie sent me tea with coconut agave and honey – these will be going under the lid of a bento at some point for a sweet treat after lunch. The coffee cup cozy is lovely, reduce, reuse, recycle – it’s in my purse for the next time I’m in the mood for a latte. I’m excited for the quinoa pasta – gluten-free posts are very well-received on here, so I am looking forward to making lunch with it. Finally, a Starbucks salted caramel hot chocolate – what’s awesome is that I sent Kathy one of these as part of her treats. Great minds think alike!

Consider signing up for foodie penpals at the lovely Lean Green Bean:

The Lean Green Bean

And my giveaway closes this Sunday: https://veggiebentolove.wordpress.com/2013/01/27/gratitude-and-giveaway/

Mac-and-cheese style cauliflower, with pasta

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I love having dual citizenship, and how it pertains to perceiving food. The Brit part of me knows cauliflower is deelish covered in cheese sauce, baked, and is called ‘cauliflower cheese’, but the Canadian part saw this recipe (http://www.vegetariantimes.com/recipe/mac-and-cheese-style-cauliflower/) and doesn’t want to rename it back to British English. I tried it (recipe halves quite nicely) without the garlic and it was quite yummy, but I think next time I will omit the nutritional yeast and egg yolk too – but this could just be my palate; go ahead and try the recipe as-is with the ‘nooch’, which is very nutritious. I also added some ground white pepper, in accordance to how I was taught in high school! (Thanks to Kiwi T who picked some up for me last time she went home to New Zealand.)

The other tier of the bento has funky pasta shapes, a home-made marinara sauce with some baked faux meatballs:

1 28-oz can of tomatoes – Canadians, the best I’ve found this side of the border are President’s Choice Organic, crushed by your hands over the pot you’re cooking in,
a good glug of extra virgin olive oil,
and some Italian herb blend.

Place together in a pot, and simmer for 20 minutes or so while you make everything else.

Snacks – am: babybel and crackers, pm: mango-cherry blend dried fruit.

Giveaway linky: https://veggiebentolove.wordpress.com/2013/01/27/gratitude-and-giveaway/

Leftover Love: Ideas to try with chili

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Chili rice – about 1/2 chili and 1/2 rice by volume, mixed. This is quite nice either just in the bento like this, or in a wrap with salsa and veggies to make a burrito-style lunch. In the other tier, I have veggie sausage patties, yellow pepper strips, and sliced cucumber. This is a true leftover/fridge foraging bento.

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Chili bento for the hubs. He doesn’t like to reheat leftovers, so it’s okay to put chili and salad together if it’s for him. Traditional bento is eaten at room temperature, but I often make a ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ tier in a 2-tier box.

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A small portion of quinoa chili, brown rice, and smoked tofu.

Pub-grub inspired bento, vegan overnight oats, and snacks

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I just got back from a conference, and was inspired by pub grub, snacky food that can be eaten with fingers. I didn’t get to have coleslaw with my veggie burger, but those who had chicken fingers or fish and chips did. It looked really, really good. I would have asked to sub it for the salad had I known. I made some smashed potatoes (adapted from: http://www.familyfreshcooking.com/2012/12/20/parmesan-smashed-potatoes-recipe/) with tomato jam for flavour, and a little cheese baked on top, and some chick’n nuggets, as what would a pub grub menu be without deep fried breaded things on it? (I baked these though, of course). Barbecue sauce for dipping is in the cupcake cup, and salad cream for the coleslaw is in the pig cup. The coleslaw is thinly sliced purple cabbage, shredded carrot, sunflower seeds, and dried cranberries – easy stuff.

I have another yoga class tomorrow night, so here’s 4 helpings of bento’d awesomeness:

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Breakfast is vegan overnight oats with chia seeds – they’re the unappetizing black dots… I’m really hoping this tastes good and/or I’m hungry enough to eat it tomorrow! – 1/2 cup quick oats, 1 tbsp. chia seeds, 1 cup vanilla almond milk – in bento box, shake up, leave overnight in fridge – can quickly nuke to warm it up the next day at work.

Snacks are a mini brie and some crackers for morning snack, and apple slices (dipped in lemon juice to prevent browning) with 1 tbsp. peanut butter for afternoon snack.

Don’t forget to enter my latest giveaway: https://veggiebentolove.wordpress.com/2013/01/27/gratitude-and-giveaway/ until Feb. 3, 2013 🙂

Gratitude and giveaway!

I am really thankful to my blog readers. What started as an experimental exercise in creativity has blossomed into an outlet to express myself, and share with people who read my blog. Many of them are interested in either vegetarian food, bento, or both, but I also have readers who are not connected with the bento blogosphere. It may just be pictures of my lunch and the occasional cupcake (I need to get back on the Cupcake Friday! bandwagon…), but I appreciate that people read and comment on my bento lunches. With the gratitude that I have for those who read my blog in mind, here is a bento giveaway.

I recently spent two days at a conference in Richmond, BC, and managed to find time to get some bento supplies! With my decision to keep my blog ad-free, I do not solicit companies to send me products to review, and therefore keep the blog creative, not commercialized. Blogging my lunches is an outlet, not a business (between teaching teenagers from September – June, and selling cupcakes in July and August, I am plenty busy enough already!). These supplies were purchased with personal funds. I was very happy to have found the following:

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A very cute, slim (so can fit in a messenger bag quite nicely) bento, complete with chopsticks that fit under the lid and a belt to keep the tiers together. This box is around 600mL, which is usually the size of most of my bentos.

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Readers will know that I’m all about the snacks – hypoglycemia isn’t fun, but snacks make it better – so here’s a matching, 250mL snack bento. You could probably put soup in here too, as it has a seal.

And to accessorize:

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A bento bag with insulated layer, 2 sauce bottles, and some food cups. Everything to get you started is here!

To enter, and this giveaway is open worldwide (as long as you have a mailing address!), the rules are similar to my previous giveaway. Please tell me what you enjoy about the blog, and/or what you’d like to see more of. I want to make a blog that is pleasurable to read. I will use my gaming dice to choose a winner on February 3rd, at 1800 MST. Please leave me an email address if you are a blog reader, not a writer, so I can contact you if you are the winner to get your mailing details.

(English) Cheese and (English) pickle sandwich, salad

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So much for local food in this bento! I’m in a bit of a food rut, but not quite sure how to get out of it, so sandwich and salad it is. The cheddar cheese is imported from England, as is the pickle in the sandwich on sprouted grain bread. Neither is particularly special on its own (although very, very delicious!), but cheese and pickle sandwiches were a favourite of mine from my teenage years. In the same grocery store in which I found the pickle, I also found a certain brand of baked beans – you know, the ones in the teal can! They were not cheap, I can tell you, but they taste as baked beans should – perfect on hot buttered toast for a lazy weekend lunch. I wonder, if we lived in England, which Canadian foods my husband would be happy to have found while out and about shopping?

We have far too many salad ingredients in the fridge right now, so while it’s cold out, I’m trying today to make a cute salad with posh lettuce, grape tomatoes, dried cranberries, goat cheese feta, peppers, and sunflower seeds. Balsamic vinaigrette (extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper) are the dressing.

Snacks – morning, greek yogurt, afternoon, dried mango/cherry blend.