Hello everyone, I’m Laurel from Bento Amour and this March I’m doing a guest post series on Veggie Bento Love. I’m calling this Spring Cleaning because I know when the months start to get warmer and the leaves start budding out, I like to clean through each and every drawer, nook, and cranny in my home to get it cleaned up for the coming season. This year, I’m doing with my eating habits.
A lot of people, me included, eat a lot more sweets, processed, and not-so-good-for-you foods over the winter months. It’s just not as easy to get fresh produce that isn’t super expensive from being flown in from all over the world. Each Monday I’ll be discussing my ideas for body spring cleaning and the reasons behind it. This week it’s the why and how to go about body detox. Next week will be storage tips and when certain produce is cheapest. Week 3 will discuss personal herb gardens (including my own adventures starting herbs from seed) and tips on gardening fruits and veggies (even if it’s just one tiny tomato plant on the kitchen counter). Week 4 will finish with tips for canning and storing foods for the winter (to enjoy fresh produce in multiple ways long after the snow falls). Each week will also include a bento done with the ideas of lots of fresh fruits and veggies.
So, why is fresh, seasonal produce the way to go?
1. It’s less expensive and better for the planet. Those grapes you’re buying in March are likely flown in from Chile.
2. It’s more nutritious. I’d much rather make the effort to get to the farmer’s market and have much less of a selection because I know each vegetable or piece of fruit has been picked within a few days of being brought to the market. That means it has less time to lose nutrients and flavor.
3. It’s better for your community. Supporting local farmers and gardeners revs up your city’s economy and allows even more great produce to emerge when the program can expand.
What Kind of Produce is Best in Which Season?
Check out this link for my favorite calendar of seasonal produce.
So ideally, you’d want to make your meals around the in-season produce every year but for most people it can get boring and you lose your liking for some flavors. I love mashed butternut squash but I know I couldn’t eat it every day for weeks at a time. My bentos in this series won’t be perfect, but they’ll adhere to a two main rules…
1. At least 2 servings each of both fruit and veggies.
2. One serving of protein, whether animal based or vegetarian/vegan based.
Upping your fiber intake helps you eliminate (yes, it’s about what you do in the bathroom but believe me, it’s important) more regularly and easily and it helps your body rid itself of excess toxins and crap from eating less fresh food over the winter months.
In this detox bento: one whole grapefruit segmented, 1/3 of a cucumber peels, a cup of strawberries, a cup of baby carrots and a pinch of enoki mushrooms, two stuffed mini bell peppers, and a teeny cup of homemade chipotle sauce.
I made the chipotle sauce last night. It has approximately 1 ½ cup of plain Greek yogurt, 1 cup of light Miracle Whip (you can use mayonnaise as well) and two 7.5 ounce cans of chipotles in adobo sauce. Just whiz the two cans of chipotle in a blender until smooth then add in the Greek yogurt and Miracle Whip. I like my spice so I ate mine as is. My boyfriend does not react to spice well so you can decrease the amount of chipotle and use one can or double the Greek yogurt. It still has a wonderful flavor. I use it on sandwiches, for dipping (like for the stuffed peppers in this bento), and for mixing with other sauces.
Paired with this bento was a Synergy kombucha drink.
The slightly fermented properties of kombucha help you clean out your system and detox as well.
And for those of you who’ve never segmented an orange or grapefruit before, this is how it ends up looking at the end.
Don’t just throw it away like this. Squeeze it as much as possible into a bowl to save the juice. I love grapefruit juice and if you don’t eat a lot of processed sugar it is very sweet just naturally.
I ended up with about a third of a cup. I drank this after tasting the chipotle sauce. Extra tip: citrus juice cuts through chili oil better than bread or milk! Tune in next week! Cheers- Laurel
***Don’t forget to check out our flickr pool on our March Monday guest blogging series – upload your own detox/fresh produce-based bentos! Check it out: http://www.flickr.com/groups/laurelandlizzie/