Saturday, March 31, 2012

Waste Not : Bento Scrap Veggie Soup Stock

Occasionally someone asks me what I do with all the wasted food when I cut it into shapes - I don't just throw it away do I? Well, it doesn't make that much waste, the pieces I cut off are pretty small...

... but no, I don't throw it away! There are many ways that I make use of my bento scraps. One of them is making vegetable soup stock! It can take a while to make enough scraps for stock though, so I toss all those little bits of carrot, peppers, cucumber and celery in a vacuum bag in my freezer. I also add celery and carrot tops, potato peelings and onion skins from other meals, and any veggies that are no longer looking their best - my sproutlets won't eat ugly tomatoes :) I even toss in apple scraps when I make things like apple flowers. I really like the vacuum seal bags because I can add to the bag then pump the air out again, and my scraps don't take up much space in the freezer.

This is the recipe I follow for stock.  When I realized bento lunches were going to make veggie scraps, I looked at a few online, and tried this one from Simple Bites' Homemade Vegetable Soup 101
I've only tried Method 2 so far - delicious!
Vegetable Stock: Two Methods

4-6 cups of scraps
bay leaf
black peppercorn
clove of garlic 
Method 1: The Quickie

Add all ingredients to a 5 quart pot. Cover with cold water and bring to a boil over high heat.
Reduce temperature to medium and simmer stock for one hour.
Follow directions for straining and storing below. 
Method 2: The Flavor Booster

Preheat oven to 450°F. Toss scraps and garlic lightly with 1 Tablespoon olive oil and place in a shallow roasting pan.
Roast for 20-30 minutes (depending on size and variety of scraps) until caramelized, but not charred in any way.
Transfer roasted vegetables to a large pot and cover with cold water. Add bay leaf and peppercorn and bring to a boil over high heat.
Reduce temperature to medium and simmer stock for one hour.
Follow directions for straining and storing below.

Straining and Storing the Stock

Cool stock completely to lukewarm, then strain and discard (or compost) the solids.
Pour stock into clean jars, leaving a good half-inch of headspace. Cool completely in the refrigerator.
Freeze for up to three months or store up to five days in fridge.

Making homemade veggie stock is just one of the ways I've made use of bento scraps. It's not all vegetable scraps after all, there are all those little bits of ham and cheese too ...  one of the things I like to make with those leftovers is quiche, which I shared about in this post, and I hope to share more bento scrap recycling ideas in future posts :)

Friday, March 30, 2012

Read.Explore.Learn. - How did that get in my lunchbox?

New lunchbox! Sprout was super excited about her pink Goodbyn Bynto. She wanted her lunch in it even though we ate at home :)

I packed her some carrots, a clementine, tomatoes, apple juice, a cheese sandwich, and a chocolate chip cookie - just like the lunch in our new book,  How Did That Get In My Lunchbox? The Story of Food. 

The book tells about the journey foods make from where they begin until they get to us, depicting orchards, farms, greenhouses, factories, dairies, and finally, all the foods  together in a child's lunchbox. It does not talk about meat, which was a relief. The girls and Pickle do not like to hear about animals becoming food. It does talk about healthy eating, what each food group does for our bodies, and how much we need of each. The small sproutlets & I liked it ... 3 thumbs up!

Sprout was pleased with her lunch except for the clementine - she has suddenly decided she doesn't like them anymore (this week) but she did like that everything in her lunch was in the book :) These pages of the book tell how cocoa beans end up chocolate chips like those in her cookie :

Today was a half day, school let out for Spring Break at noon, so everyone was home for lunch and had pretty much the same thing as Sprout, but on plates. Well, except Pickle who had his usual PB sandwich and yogurt.  Boy, was Birdie mad that she didn't have a Goodbyn lunchbox too!

It's Friday! It's Spring Break! Sailor Boy comes home soon! Wheee! 

Shibley Smiles

Stuff I used for today's lunches:

Thursday, March 29, 2012

A Sassy Bento for Bella

Bella has an exciting day at school today - it's her class's "Museum Opening Day"! And Opening Days need balloons, so there are tomato balloons in her Sassy box bento lunch :) She also has green "rainbow" cauliflower, carrots, rice cakes, and under the Lunchbox Love note, cheese. 

Her class has been learning about ancient Egypt, and as a project they are pretending they are archaeologists. Each student has researched, written about, and made an Egyptian "artifact" to be displayed in their museum. Bella's artifact is the board game Senet. With her Grandpa's help, she made a wooden box with the game board on the lid, and wood & clay game pieces that are stored inside. Bella drew the hieroglyphs herself. We even learned to play the game! She worked hard on it, and I'm proud of her :)


Beanstalk has been coming home with a lot of uneaten food in his lunchbox lately. He hasn't been touching his fresh fruit. He's lost weight too :( So, we are back to the protein shakes and Clif bars for him for the time being - which won't make for a very interesting lunch, but if he's not going to eat much, it needs to be as nutrition-dense as possible. I'm hoping wanting to take his PlanetBox will be incentive for him to finish what I pack for him.


Last night was soooo windy, and the wind was noisy! So noisy it woke the little girls! They were a bit freaked out by it and didn't want to leave me, (and their Daddy is away for a bit) so I let them sleep near me on the couch while I did laundry. I can understand their fear, the wind had blown their trampoline across the yard and onto it's side the day before...

Here's an Instagram snapshot:

I had a point, what was it... right, rather than carry them both upstairs to their beds I just went to sleep on the couch next to them, completely forgetting that I wouldn't hear my alarm from there... 

Of course, we woke late, it was a mad rush getting everyone ready - and somehow I forgot to make Pickle a lunch! We were on our way out the door when he asked me for it too, so I had to run back in and quickly pack his sandwich, apple juice and yogurt. I had no time to think of something cute so I just stamped his name into the top with cookie cutter letters.

And he loved it!

Tomorrow is only a half day, Spring Break begins, yay!


Stuff I used for Bella's bento:

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

It's Lunch Time, Bee Happy!

Part of Bella's lunch today was inspired by yesterday's Today I Ate A Rainbow! blog post, Be Amazed By Bees!  I've always been fascinated by bees, ever since I was a little girl and visited the Nature Park in my hometown, where there was huge hive with one side all glass so we could see the bees at work. They really are quite amazing.

Anyways, the medium section of Bella's EasyLunchbox has the bees in it, as well as a message to Bee Happy, and some grapes :) The small section has a chocolate chip cookie, and the main section has a hearty honey ham & cheese bagelwich and some carrot hearts.   - Oooh, I just learned from Myra of Mommy + Me Lunch Box that today is National Food On A Stick Day! Sweet, that's a swizzle stick those carrots are on :)

I snuck some "bees" into Beanstalk's bento :) He has an organic Clif Kid Z Bar, sliced in half, in between golden popcorn cakes... kind of bee-ish, no? He also has a small orange, a little peanut butter sandwich topped with a cookie J (his initial), and some yogurt raisins. Where are the other "bees"? Look:

The mandarin orange bag is labeled "Bee Sweet"! And the peanut butter in his sandwich (my new favourite brand, Justin's) is the honey variety:) Okay, so that's not another bee - but it's made by them ;)

Pickle has a beehive and bee peanut butter sandwich too :) I was going to embellish his bee with some Hershey's syrup stripes but ran out of time. Probably just as well I didn't add any other flavours to it, I want to see if he'll accept the new peanut butter.

Coincidentally, between the time I read the Today I Ate A Rainbow! bee post and decided to put some bees in the lunches today, Sprout randomly asked to watch Bee Movie, and I came across some adorable bees in Biting the Hand That Feeds You's The Birds And The Bees muffin tin meal!  Might bee some kind of sign... heheh :)

Bento Lunch 

Stuff I used for Bella's lunch:


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Rainbow Connection: Edible Art!

Thank you to all who linked to the Rainbow Connection last week! I loved seeing all your colourful rainbow creations!  ♥ The post with the most views was Rainbow Pain de Mie by Astrid of Lunches Fit For A Kid. It's pretty amazing :) Thank you for sharing your recipe post Astrid!

The Lunchbox Love rainbow goes to Kat of Obento Momma! Thanks for sharing your rainbow bento Kat! I hope you'll link up again sometime soon - maybe this week? :)

My sproutlets enjoyed doing the Cereal Rainbow Project shared by Praises of a Wife and Mommy. I liked it because it was simple, inexpensive, and not too messy. Some days I just don't feel like giving everybody a bath after a craft :) The little ones had fun sorting cereal colours, counting how many they could fit, and of course they all loved glueing. The older ones were home sick from school too so it gave them something quiet to do. Some of them even snacked on the cereal while they created :)

Bella added a sunshine above and a flower below her rainbow. Birdie did her own thing, no sticking to rainbow order for her - although she did do a bit of an arch :) Sprout added lots of embellishments to the golden sky above her rainbow. And Pickle made his very precisely :)

I was inspired by JDaniel4's Mom's Spinach Hummus Under a Rainbow of Colored Peppers to make a pepper rainbow in Bella's EasyLunchbox:

Under the pepper rainbow, she has a sun-shaped cheese quesadilla. On the side, popcorn clouds and an apple umbrella over some mystic grapes. I didn't plan it, but it turned into a weather themed lunch :)

♥ ♥ ♥  ♥ ♥ ♥

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Springy Sassy Bentos

Busy day today - is there ever a Saturday that isn't?  :) Hasty but tasty Springy kid's choice Sassy box bentos for Sprout & Birdie:

Almost didn't get a pic, and she did already eat one pink bunny-topped grape :)

A bunny hopping over a flower peanut butter sandwiches for Pickle. He was annoyed that I took a picture before letting him eat - he impatiently informed me that my hobby was for school days and my job was to take care of him and feed him, that I needed to get my priorities straight... (He had been watching Hop - he tends to repeat phrases he hears in movies whether he means them or not)...  it made me laugh :)

Bella had lunch at a baking birthday party (which was decorated SO fabulously - multicoloured cupcake liners strung together as garland, for one). I made her a healthy snack to balance out all the sweets, celery with a peanut butter dip cup, and one for each of her sisters too.

Beanstalk has a sore throat and fever. The sproutlets seem to be trading bugs back and forth - hazard of a big family I guess *sigh*. Soup & orange juice for him, when he feels like eating.

Bento of the Week

For the girls' lunches I used Sassy boxes & various bento accessories: Bento Products

Friday, March 23, 2012

Food Adventure Friday + Rainbow Kit Winners!

I'm trying food colouring markers again. So many times I've been making a lunch and thought, "This could be so much cuter if I could use food markers to colour it",  but Pickle just hasn't been keen on me colouring his food. I read this interesting article about colour and appetite - which makes a lot of sense - but I don't think that's the case with him, I think it's more to do with his preference for the familiar - even though his sandwiches are always different, they are alwasy just bread and peanut butter. The last time I coloured on one I used Hershey's syrup, which he loves, and he didn't eat the coloured parts.

I decided to give the food colouring another go with this hopscotch sandwich. I gave Pickle the box to read and explained that the markers had the same stuff in them that is used to colour candy, and it wouldn't change the taste of his sandwich, just make it look more fun. He seemed OK with it this time! And hey, I guess this is a Food Adventure! So I'm linking to Food Adventure Fridays at Teaching Good Eaters :)

Another basic Lock & Lock for Beanstalk. I opted to leave the dishes by the sink and go to bed as soon as I tucked the sproutlets in, so his PlanetBox was not clean. I really ought to pick up a 2nd stainless container for him - he prefers the metal to the plastic these days. Maybe a LunchBots. If anyone has one of those, I'd love to hear your pros and cons. You've seen what I pack him, would you recommend a LunchBots, and if so, which one?

And what's this you see? I almost never buy fruit snacks for their lunches! It's not that I have anything against fruit snacks - I love sweets! If I knew they would eat them as a dessert, after they'd finished their healthy lunch, I'd pack them more often. But I know them, they will eat the gummies first, and I don't want them skipping out on the good stuff because they used up some of their precious 15 minutes of lunch time on the junk food :) 

Anyways, Beanstalk has Sprout to thank for these - she begged me to buy them for him because he likes Phineas & Ferb. How could I say no and squelch her thoughtfulness & generosity? ;) And the chocolate milk...  ok, I'll be honest, I had reached that point of grocery shopping with my little ones where I say "fine, just put it in the cart and let's go". And this was Birdie's choice, but then what do you know, she took a couple of sips, proclaimed it "yut" and asked for white milk. The chocolate milk boxes come in packs of 3 so Beanstalk and Bella got the other 2, surprise treats :)

Bella also has a bagel thins sandwich, with applewood smoked ham, sharp white & yellow cheddar, and red & yellow pepper flowers, and some celery with peanut butter for dipping.

Happy Weekend Everyone!

Wait, where is my head? I seriously did almost forget to pick and post winners of the Rainbow Kits from my Giveaway! Yes, Kits, plural - in case you missed the update, I've got 2 to give away now! OK, I'm off to to draw winners right now!

(hum dum dee dum ... some time passes)

We have our winners! Congratulations commenters #48, Sarah F. at Bentoriffic, and #66, Pammy V. - you'll soon be charting rainbows with your little ones! Please contact me or respond to my email within 48 hours to claim your Rainbow Kits! 
To all who didn't win, don't be too sad - I've got a fabulous 15% discount coupon code especially for my readers! (Thank you Today I Ate A Rainbow!)  When you purchase a Rainbow Kit from Today I Ate A Rainbow! enter the code BENTO at checkout to get 15% off! 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Rainbow Butterfly Pasta EasyLunchbox

♪  ♫ It's Raining Sunshine ♫ That's what Mia Bella named her lunch for today, and the song she sang on the way to school too :)

She has some of the leftover rainbow butterfly pasta I made for her little sisters the other day. In her Thermos (not pictured) she has marinara sauce to pour over it at lunch time. On the side she has carrots in a little yellow cup, peeking out from behind white cheddar clouds, and an apple quarter umbrella.

Beanstalk has a pretty basic Lock & Lock bento today. He had to be at school early, there was no time for me to embellish with fruit leather this morning! He has a clementine, ham swords, grapes, and a mix of several kinds of Goldfish crackers - the last of each bag. His class is having a birthday celebration for their teacher this afternoon so he'll get more to eat then - I contributed strawberry applesauce oatmeal muffins :)

Pickle has a dozen donuts... mini-donut shaped peanut butter sandwiches, that is ;) Made with the "O" from my Wilton 101 Cookie Cutter Set. This sandwich made a lot of excess  bread pieces - all the little "donut holes"... I've saved them in an airtight container, I'll think of a way to use them :)

Oh, happy happy, joy joy!
Kia from Today I Ate A Rainbow! has generously added a 2nd Rainbow Kit to my Giveaway! So if you've already entered, your chances just doubled, woo! It's still open until tomorrow morning, so if you haven't entered yet there's still time!

And if you've blogged any rainbow-themed lunches, crafts, activities, or experiences, I'd love it if you'd link up to my Rainbow Connection linky party!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Hunger Games PlanetBox Lunch

Beanstalk's class is reading The Hunger Games, so I embellished his peanut butter sandwich with a "Mockingjay pin" cut from apricot fruit leather :) He also has grapes, Goldfish crackers, and green apple wedges in his PlanetBox.

The arrow in the Mockingjay inspired me to make Pickle's sandwich a target. He saw it and asked if we could go there today... Heheh, he thought it was the logo for the department store! I explained that a target is also a kind of a goal, and added an encouraging  message :) 

I lost track of time and had about a minute to pack Bella's lunch, so she's lucky I even cut the sandwich in a shape!

You have 2 more days to enter my Rainbow Kit Giveaway!

And if you've blogged any rainbow-themed lunches, crafts, activities, or experiences, I'd love it if you'd link up to my Rainbow Connection linky party!

Disclosure: My posts contain affiliate links to products & services I've used & approve of  :)  If you make a purchase after clicking one of those links, I earn a small commission. Thank you!

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