Tired of eating the same old boring sandwich or microwavable dinner at lunch every day? A great way to add more excitement to your lunch hours is to start making bento boxes. A bento box is a way of packing a compact, balanced lunched packed in a box. The concept comes from Japan. The benefits of bento box are many, including easy portion control, quick assembly, and the ability to eat the lunch without microwaving or cooking. Many people make creative bentos for their children, but you do not need to make cute kids meals to take advantage of this trend.
What goes in the box? Anything you want. No, really! You can get as creative as you want, or you can adopt recipes you find online. The number of people who are eating Bento Box lunches is growing and there are many great resources online with hundreds of recipe. Let me share one that is based on the flavors of the American South.
What You Need
2/3 cup frozen baby lima beans, thawed
2/3 cup fresh corn kernels
2/3 cup quartered cherry tomatoes
¼ cup diced Vidalia onion
¼ cup diced red bell pepper
¼ cup torn basil leaves
1 teaspoon minced jalapeño pepper
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
3/8 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
12 peeled and deveined large shrimp
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
Barbecue potato chips
¼ cup Greek yogurt (1, fat free)
Bento Box: You should buy a Bento Box or two online or at retailers which carry them, like Target. Amazon.com, Bento&Co.com, and JustBento.com provide plenty of inexpensive options. You can also make your own by using a large lunchbox and outfitting it with small containers. This is a great way to control your portion size. Beach Body even sells a portion control 7 piece set of color-coded containers. This way you can forget about counting calories and focus on size.
Directions: Combine the first 8 ingredients in a medium bowl. Stir in 1 tablespoon oil, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Then toss the shrimp with the rest of the black pepper (¼ teaspoon), remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt, and ground red pepper. Then heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the rest of the 1 1/2 teaspoons of oil to the pan and swirl to coat pan. Add the shrimp; sauté 5 for about minutes or until done. The shrimp succotash is highlighted by the sweet flavor of the Vidalia onions and the fresh corn. If you are in a hurry, use canned corn.
Once your entree is complete, place it in a small container inside your Bento Box. Next add your sides. I recommend sweet potato chips from your favorite company. Mine are Lay’s Sweet Southern Heat Barbecue Chips, but any local chips will do just fine. About 12 sweet potato chips is one serving. Include 1 large peach, then ¼ cup of vanilla Greek yogurt. As always when selecting Greek yogurt, make sure it is fat free and contains less than 6 grams of sugar. I recommend Fage. Each lunch had just 396 calories, 15 grams of fat, and 16.9 grams of protein.