Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Why I am starting this blog (and why I love Bento)

I like to make things. When I make things, I like to make them look aesthetically pleasing. At the risk of opening myself up to ridicule from my friends and acquaintances, I'd like to keep track of what I'm creating for my daughter's lunch.

It wasn't too long ago that I didn't even know what Bento meant. I'm not sure how I stumbled onto it. I've followed the Vegan Lunch Box blog for a while to get ideas since as a family we're mostly vegetarian (some fish makes it's way in there sometimes). My daughter is completely vegetarian.

I love to read about food and nutrition. (I know, weird hobby, but whatever.) I grow a square foot garden and keep backyard chickens. I'm concerned about how obese and unhealthy our country is becoming. At the beginning of this year, I also started following the Fed Up With Lunch blog. Some of the food that makes its way onto kids trays is really deplorable. It shored up my resolve to make sure that my daughter wouldn't walk that path.

It was at that point that I realized the larger world of Bento out in the interwebs. I looked at all the beautiful photos and wondered if I could do something like that. I started very small. I often make what we call "Big Salad" for dinner, but our 5yo, here to be known as sweetPea, was fairly disinterested in that. I asked her if she would be willing to eat it if I made some pretty flower shapes. Now she's always liked carrots, so this wasn't a huge leap.

I didn't have many metal cookie cutters at the time so I took the edge of a small cutter used to make snowflakes and cut pieces out of carrot rounds. I ended up with vaguely flower shaped carrots. To my surprise, she ate the entire salad - leaves and all!

She was never a huge eater, partially from pickiness and partly due to reflux. Once we got her reflux under control and I started became emboldened by my creativity, she began actually finishing her lunch.

My very first attempt at a Bento lunch was for Valentine's Day.

It's a small salad with hearts cut out of Watermelon radishes, carrots, and beets. The top container is filled with strawberries, blackberries, and a homemade tart. I packed salad dressing and milk separately. She was so excited for her friends to see it. She ate every single bite.

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