Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Faith's Rainbow Butterfly Bento

Today, I got the joy of switching our internet and DISH over to something else. The process started at 9am and ended sometime after 5pm. The current company cut our DSL off one day early and in the process seemed to lose our email addresses. Anyhow, it's all back, including the email addresses, so hopefully all is good, but I *hate* being offline all day, especially when our phone only works when the internet works.

So, I finally can post Faith's rather cute Rainbow-Butterfly bento!

She had a cream cheese and jelly sandwich on Nature's Own Honey 7-Grain bread, which just might be my new favorite bread ever. It's cut with a butterfly LunchPunch and topped with cheese decorations, two sugar eyes and a dried strawberry smile. Above the sandwich are some baby carrots and to the right is a homemade peach & apple fruit roll up (all natural, it's peach & apple & that's it, made with my awesome new food dehydrator). To the right is a rainbow of fruits--strawberries, cantaloupe, pineapple, honeydew, and blueberries. Perfect for my girl!

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Kids Cook Monday - Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

Ben is helping with The Kids Cook Monday project this week, and we're still on a zucchini kick! We made chocolate zucchini muffins from this recipe at AllRecipes with a few changes. I wasn't thrilled with a cup of oil, so we did half a cup oil and half a cup applesauce. I also didn't have the mixture of spices required, so I threw in a teaspoon or so of pumpkin pie spice and called it a day.

Ben got to work on slicing the zucchini so we could grate it in the mini food processor. I have a few old steak knives that are pretty dull but the serrated edges cut veggies well. They worked really well for 5 year old fingers!

Both kids like the mini food-processor, it does lock so you can't run it unless everything is assembled properly and locked in place (again, good for 5 year old fingers).

Ben finally figured out to crack eggs! And then he immediately had to wipe his hands because eggs are slimy.

Stirring the big bowl of batter ...

And our final product, 18 chocolate zucchini muffins! Well, 12 of them, the others are on a different cooling rack.

Our version of Chocolate Zucchini Muffins (made 18 muffins):
3 eggs
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup unsweetened organic applesauce
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups grated zucchini
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Preheat the oven to 350F.
In a large bowl, beat together the eggs, sugar & oil. Add the cocoa, vanilla and zucchini and mix well.
Stir in the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and pumpkin pie spice.
Spoon into muffin cups, maybe 2/3 full.
Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Muffin Tin Monday - Number Theme

Muffin Tin Monday at Her Cup Overfloweth

It's Muffin Tin Monday with a number theme this week. F&B and I went through some of our books involving counting (OK, pretty difficult when the "baby" is now 5) and finally chose Ben's suggestion of Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed!

We have:
1 monkey face sandwich (mini pita with ham inside and cheese features)
1 monkey kebab with cantaloupe & honeydew
1 monkey kebab with pineapple
1 monkey kebab with blueberries
1 monkey shaped zucchini bar (with cheese features)
for a total of 5 little monkeys!
And freeze dried bananas because monkeys like bananas. These are from Crispy Green, from a review I wrote on MomTrends, F&B love them!

Check out Muffin Tin Monday for more fun tins!

Gluten Free Bentos - guest post

With the start of school, I know that gluten-free lunch ideas are on some readers' minds. Since I'm not well versed on the subject, my friend Holly is helping out today with some ideas & suggestions for gluten-free bentos.

ETA: A friend twittered this post for Gluten-free ideas too, just wanted to share!

Being gluten free was not something I knew anything about a year ago, and within the past year I have become somewhat of an expert. As anyone knows who has a real need to eat this way, it isn’t like a diet. “Cheating” isn’t much of an option for most. At first, our house became gluten free because my son who was 2 ½ at the time was having some concerning behavioral issues. He wasn’t (and isn’t) autistic. He wasn’t exactly destructive. He wasn’t ADHD. No one really seemed to know what was going on with him. He was getting VERY little sleep though. He would go to bed at 7 pm after an epic battle, and typically wake up at about 2 am and not go back to sleep until I put him back to bed at 7 pm the following night! He wouldn’t get groggy or sleepy, he would not take a nap though I certainly tried. He would get really wild and crazy instead. I was very concerned about how so little sleep was affecting his health not to mention our sanity as parents. A friend of mine suggested that gluten might be an issue, which we both figured was a long shot. Lo and behold, it took about 2 days for us to see the change and it was pretty dramatic.

It has been a journey, but here we are a year later after two attempts to reintroduce gluten ... still gluten free. Thankfully, I was already bentoing (this is a real word, right?) before the switch and knowing how to put a bento together has helped me immensely in planning great lunches for my now 3 ½ year old.

When I build a bento, I usually look in my fridge for leftovers first and build on from there. For me, a full lunch bento should include an veggie, a fruit, a source of protein, and a high quality carb. Very occassionally, I put what others would consider a treat in his lunch. He doesn’t request them and eats what I give him without complaint so I figure why rock the boat?

I purposefully make dinners that will be easy to convert the leftovers into bento bites. Some popular meals here that wind up in the next day’s lunch are:

Meatloaf muffins (just make your fave meatloaf in a muffin tin)
Various macaroni dishes (which can be served in way to eat with a fork or can be reincarnated as a croquette to eat with the fingers)
Steamed broccoli

I look at what I have on hand and then fill in the rest based on what nutritional gaps I need to close. By category, here are things I often include:

Cheese slices or cheese stick
Nuts (check with your school to see if these are allowed)
Peanut butter or sunbutter
Rolled turkey or ham slices
Hard boiled egg (although I *still* have not convinced my son to eat these with gusto)

Carrot sticks (I do not like to put baby carrots in. they are more expensive and I don’t like the look of them. I buy large organic carrots and peel them and cute them into the right size carrot sticks or coins for a cute bento)
Celery sticks
Red pepper strips
Cucumber salad (recipe follows)

Apple slices that have been dipped in diluted lemon juice (to retain color)
Melon bites
Banana (I cut the banana in half and leave the peel on, but this isn’t my first fruit of choice)
Dried fruits

Onigiri made with brown rice
Gluten free crackers
My homemade gluten free bread
Gluten free dry cereal
Homemade gluten free granola bar

Optional treats that I sometimes include:
Gluten free pretzels
Gluten free animal crackers
Chocolate chips (if I include these, I might mix like 4 or 5 chips in a small container with dried fruit and cereal to make a trail mix of sorts)

This summer I haven’t been able to be near as creative since my son attended a day camp that did not extend into lunch time. All I did was make him a snack every day. I have noticed a tendency to give carbs for snacks to children, you know, cheese crackers, pretzels, etc. Personally, I think it’s not a great idea if you want a good eater. It’s not something I do. I would rather my son fill up on fruits
and veggies, and just a bit of protein if he is really hungry at those in between times so that he will be hungry again in the following hour or two and want to eat a good lunch. This makes it super easy for a gf’er, but even if my son wasn’t gluten free, I would feel the same way about loading a child up on carbs for a snack.

I usually pack his snack in those little plastic Gerber containers. It’s amazing how much you can fit in one of those with a well packed bento. Usual fare may include grapes, a few carrot sticks, and a couple small slices of cheese. For the carrot sticks, I often include dip which up until now I have simply been putting in an old medicine cup that I cut down to size to fit in his containers. The nice thing about a well packed bento is that a small cup of dip will not fall over and make a mess because it is wedged in nice and tight.

Cucumber Salad Recipe

Wash and thinly slice baby seedless cucumbers (they sell em’ at Costco)
Put them in a bowl and for every 4-5 cukes, add about ½-1 teaspoon sugar, a good pinch or more of sea salt, about 2-3 teaspoons of dried dill, and a good splash (between 1/8 -1/4 cup) of seasoned rice vinegar AKA sushi vinegar.
Stir. Add a dash of pepper and a good splash of oil (a little less than the
amount of vinegar you put in).
Stir and chill.

This salad is great as it is or you can change it up by adding cherry tomatoes and feta, or raisins. My son eats a ton of this salad! Drain most of the dressing off when packing for a bento so it doesn’t make a mess.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Feeding my Husband - Another Conference Lunch

Apparently, even with no one feeding them at the conference, people still don't bring their own food. Shaun mentioned that he was the only one who had food with him. Now, I know where the conference was, there's nothing but fast food nearby and lunch wasn't long enough to really go anywhere else. Needless to say, he got another lunch from home. I actually think he might have preferred it, he said he was able to just work through lunch and he had a morning snack to go with it.

Now after the first conference lunch, I got a little bit bored, so I had to decorate this one. ;o) It's almost football season!

Texas Longhorns Bento Easy Lunchboxes

He has two sandwiches, one turkey, one ham, on Nature's Own Multi Grain Sandwich Rounds (they are stacked on top of each other), and topped with a cheddar Longhorn! Yes, we really own a Longhorn cookie cutter, and yes, he does humor me, a lot. For the record, I also have one in the shape of the Alamo and another in the shape of Texas. The Longhorn is appropriately orange, with white cheddar horns & sugar eyes. In the same compartment, he has organic veggie straws from Sprouts; they are crunch like chips but a little better health-wise. On the upper right, he has zucchini bars and on the lower right, he has half a peach, strawberries & blueberries.

It's packed in one of our EasyLunchboxes. He also had another little box with grapes and a blueberry-cinnamon muffin for a snack, but no need to show you what a muffin in a box looks like! ;o)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Lunch Revolution Blog Party and Faith's Little Chickie Bento

I'm linking this post up to the Lunch Revolution Blog Party, hosted by Notes from the Cookie Jar and Fed Up with School Lunch, so you'll get a little more of me chatting than a normal lunch post. The picture is a bit below with the details just below that if you are just wanting to see that part. :o)

Why link up? Well, both of these ladies are lovely Twitter friends of mine and they've let me guest post on their blogs, which is always pretty cool. But more so, they both have vested interest in improving food, school lunches and health for kids. Fed Up with Lunch features a teacher eating school lunch daily with her students to raise awareness of what kids are being fed at school. Look at the pictures, it's not pretty, and I certainly wouldn't have volunteered to eat it alongside the kids. Notes from the Cookie Jar hosts Food Revolution Fridays as well as her family's Food Revolution Road Trip this past summer, and now is heading into a year using as little processed food as possible. (I would have failed the Food Revolution Road Trip, we stopped often for clean restrooms and Diet Coke.)

Now where this all fits in with my blog? Well, I wanted to participate and told the ladies I would. :o) And, I think the idea of bento lunches fits very well with both ideas. It doesn't have to be fancy, the basic principles of little bites of lots of items and a good variety fit in really well with better lunches. Add in a bunch of bright colors (which tend to be fresh fruits & veggies) and you've got a much healthier and probably less processed carb meals than some of the interesting nugget/fry/corn combos posted on Fed up with Lunch.

Looking at a pretty typical lunch for my kids, it's not all homemade, organic, grown from scratch in my backyard type foods. Trust me, the kids would starve if that was the case--our zucchini died from the heat and the stupid bunnies keep eating my tomatoes. Our weekly groceries are purchased at a combo of Kroger, Aldi, and Sprouts, and occasionally at SuperTarget because it's the closest in an emergency. I also shop sales (produce is a big one, produce of the week at home is based on what is on sale that week, this week Sprouts had cantaloupe for 19cent/lb and honeydew for 99cent/melon, that's the fruit o' the week!), but can't be bothered with coupons unless someone hands me the specific ones for items I already buy.

I try to buy the healthiER versions when possible. Why an "ER"? Because it's not all homemade, organic, green, harvested by kumbaya-singing persons. We've made a lot of changes in the house overall, and if I can make an easy, cost-effective change, I will. We've tried more homemade healthiER dessert items (if sweet potato tastes like pumpkin, why not make mini cupcakes out of it?), making our own jams or buying versions that are made with real fruit as the first ingredient & minimal other ingredients. Ketchup is HFCS free now(thank you Hunts!!!), BBQ sauce will be as soon as I use out the ones I already have in the pantry. When the Annie's brand Mac&Cheese went on sale for $1 box, I stocked up. It's an emergency meal and great for pasta salads on the quick. I've also got everyone in the house on whole grain breads too. If you're in an area that sells Nature's Own, I highly recommend it. I switched everyone to White-Wheat first, then Honey-Wheat and Whole Wheat, now we're mostly on the Multigrain Sandwich Rounds.

Onto the lunch, this was a Faith lunch from the other day.

Taking a closer look, she has:
1.Two mini whole wheat pitas (Toufayan brand from Kroger, whole wheat, HFCS free) stuffed with homemade chicken salad. I used boneless chicken tenders and cooked then in a bit of chicken broth on low in the crockpot all day. I shredded them in my mini chopper, and mixed in a bit of mayo and a bit of ranch for flavor. I don't remember offhand which mayo/ranch I used, but I've gotten in the habit of reading the labels for healthiER versions, so a couple of teaspoons in the whole salad are not going to kill anyone.
2.A cheese chickie decoration - it's a mini cookie cutter that is sitting on a mini pita, so you know it's not that big. It's orange cheddar with a white cheddar wing and a single sugar eye for decoration. Regular cheese actually works better than processed cheese for decorating anyhow.
3. Several baby carrots (no dressing, just the carrots).
4. Green grapes, cut in half
5. Ripe strawberry, with another cute little chicken pick
6. 3-4 animal crackers (no idea what brand, something from Canada that my mom sent back with the kids)

Cute, pretty healthy, minimal treats, but lots of yummy foods, and it really didn't take more than a minute or two extra to present it in a cute box than to put it all in baggies, assuming one was making a lunch no matter what.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

And the winner of the Mimi the Sardine set is ...

Comment #53!

Chrystyna said... 53
I love the flower power waste free lunch kit in flower power. It would be perfect for work!!!

Congratulations, Chrystyna!

Email me at scarino @ gmail with the details!

Mix & Match Dino Bentos for F&B

These bentos might actually be the highlight of my day today.

Our internet went out at 11am. My cell isn't working, but trying to decide between iPhone 3, 4 or Droid, so I haven't fixed it yet. We don't have a landline, just a Magic Jack, so no internet = no phone. Shaun got home after 5, we called AT&T, their error, but other than resetting our modem from their end, that's it. Then I discovered missed opportunities for blogging and such. :o( Not the best day ever, let's just put it that way.

Anyhow, since I have plenty of time on my hands, F&B and I made mix & match dino bentos. Why mix & match? Well, we cut out two dinos in two different color cheeses, trimmed off the spikey parts and swapped them for a cooler looking dino.

Ben had a white cheddar dino with orange spikeys, on top of a turkey sandwich on Nature's Own Multigrain sandwich rounds (sandwich rounds to make a lovely surface for sandwich artwork). He had carrot sticks, zucchini bars, and sliced strawberries & blueberries.

Faith had the same sandwich, but she got the orange cheddar dino with white cheddar spikeys. She also had carrot sticks and zucchini bars, but wanted a sliced peach instead.

I've also been guest-blogging a bit, if you're interested! I've written a few and it seems like they all published in the last week or two. Must be back to school time. :o)

Meal Planning Magic - Bento Lunch Making 101
Notes from the Cookie Jar - Food Revolution Fridays: Back to School Lunches
Notes from the Cookie Jar - Do You Bento? Great School Lunch Ideas
The Yummy Mummy Club - The Cutest Lunch on the Block

And while I didn't write this one per se, another favorite site of mine featured us yesterday:
Lunch & Snacks Bento Style on ABC and 123 Learning

I'll be back later with the winner of the Mimi the Sardine set too. I'm telling you, it has been that kind of day.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Feeding my Husband - a Conference Lunch

Shaun's at a conference/seminar this week from Tuesday through Friday. The first day, obviously, was yesterday, and I got a phone call home around lunchtime with him telling me they weren't providing lunch. They also had no coffee (which is totally wrong in any seminar). Totally did NOT expect that.

I couldn't tell you the last conference either of us have been to where they didn't feed you as part of it. My staff meetings at the little private school where I last worked? They still fed us. And no coffee at a thing that starts at 8:30 am? That's just 10 shades of wrong. And really, it could have said *somewhere* lunch is not provided.

Since he ended up having to get fast food yesterday, I offered to send him a lunch today. Then I thought again and decided he probably needed a mid-morning snack too.

For lunch, he has two chicken salad sandwiches on Nature's Own 100% Whole Wheat Sandwich Thins. I had extra chicken salad from F&B on Tuesday, so I added some onion, some relish and a few drops of hot sauce to make a more grown up version of their chicken, ranch & mayo salad. ;o) He also has some of Faith's Garden Zucchini Bars from Monday, some pasta salad (also featured in Ben's rocket lunch today), and some sliced strawberries & blueberries. It was really tempting to decorate his sandwich, but I restrained myself. ;o)

It's packed in one of our EasyLunchboxes which worked perfectly today. He also used the matching EasyLunchboxes cooler so there was plenty of room for frozen waterbottles and a mid-morning snack.

Now for that mid-morning snack, I still stayed away from "cute", but he had to use a Mickey Mouse bento because it was the right size for what I wanted to send.

He took a blueberry-cinnamon muffin and some Crispy Green freeze-dried fruit. I wrote a review for MomTrends on those and they've been quite the hit with Shaun & the kids. I believe he had the banana, the Asian pear, and the pineapple today. The mango (his favorite) is long gone and I'm rather partial to the apple ones. :o)

I was hoping to add a side salad somewhere, but we're out of lettuce, so that may just have to wait till tomorrow. I am going to assume that it's healthier, tastier and more filling than the drive-thru chicken sandwich he had yesterday.

Rocket to the Moon Bento for Ben

This would be another one of those bentos, sort of like the lion-pony-sheep, that looked a bit better in my head than it did when I made it. However, Mr. Ben liked it, so in the long run, that's what counts. He was working on a space puzzle yesterday, so we had to go with a space themed bento.

Rocket Moon Paperchase Alien Bento Box

Ben has teriyaki chicken bites (leftover from the Kroger deli the night before), a quick pasta salad (leftover pasta tossed with some dressing, peas and baby carrot stars), a cheese moon, a cheese rocket ship, blueberries, strawberries & plums, and a piece of Monday's Garden Zucchini bars. The rocket fit nicely on top without having to be stuck in place, so it's resting very gently on the dessert.

What's for Lunch Wednesday, Week 13

Welcome to "What's for Lunch" Wednesday, Week 13!!!

Thanks so much for joining in last week if you did and looking forward to seeing all the fun lunches this week!

Want to join in?

Just choose a bento you've made from the last week you want to share, copy the URL of that post from your blog (you may need to click on the title to get it), and enter it into the linky below.

Click on the "Add Your Link" button to add yours and follow the steps, it's simple, I promise!

Please add a link back here:
so that others can join in and see/share their bentos too.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Another Peanut Bento for Ben :o)

It's Peanut day again for Ben! We love our Peanuts around here, and I do have a good variety of elephant picks & cutters because of that.

Ben had chicken salad roll ups on tortillas, topped with a cheese Peanut (opposite cheese ear and a a sugar eye). He had some carrot sticks, a couple of Peanut shaped animal crackers, strawberries, cantaloupe, grapes (with Peanut picks) and a Peanut skewer of blueberries.

One of these times I'm going to have to take a picture of Mr. Ben and the Peanut brigade. :o)

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Kids Cook Monday - Garden Fresh Zucchini Bars

This week, it's Faith's turn for The Kids Cook Monday project. I found this recipe via a Twitter friend and knew we had to try it, it's for Garden Fresh Zucchini Bars!

We do like zucchini bars/muffins/cookies, and it seemed like a great entry for our "slightly healthier" dessert series. Plus how can you possibly go wrong with coconut and raisins?

Unlike her brother, Faith is more than happy to crack the eggs, I think it's her favorite part. She's also able to read the recipe which is much nicer when I'm in the pantry trying to remember why I was in there in the first place.

Stirring it all up, getting ready to blend in the flour, it looked so good!

And voila! One pan of bars, ready to go!

The house smells so good right now, can't wait to add the glaze as soon as they cool. The batter was, of course, sampled, which is why I'm comfortable posting this pre-final baking. ;o)

Muffin Tin Monday - Alphabet Theme

Muffin Tin Monday at Her Cup Overfloweth

It's Muffin Tin Monday again, complete with themes restarting this week! After last week's *highly* creative theme of "orange", I was very very grateful for some direction from Michelle (aka MuffinTinMom and my very cool Twitter friend).

We opted for a mostly breakfast themed tin for the alphabet theme.
A - Applesauce
B - Blueberries
C - Cantaloupe
D - yogurt Dip
E - scrambled Eggs
F - homemade Fruit roll-up

The letters are Nature's Own Honey Grain Bread, toasted. You can see that the letter C got a little too close to the toaster coil. ;o)

Check out Muffin Tin Monday for more fun tins!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Quick & Easy Bento for Faith

Another day of quick & simple snack bentos for the kids. We're off to a swim party in a bit, so they needed a bit of energy but not a ton of food. We do have lots of fruit handy, so that helped a ton for easy bento prep

Faith has a roast beef and cheese sandwich on Nature's Own Honey Wheat, cut into a heart. I had a bit of cheese leftover from something else, so she got an F for Faith too. ;o) To go with that, we have carrots & a cucumber flower, cantaloupe, grapes & a strawberry, and the piece de resistance, homemade fruit roll-ups. They aren't quite as red as I would have imagined, but I guess that's from using real fruit and no dyes! They are a strawberry-apple combo (real strawberries, organic applesauce that is just apples & water), with a splash of vanilla. Trust me, it smelled heavenly while it was cooking!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

A Light Weekend Snack Bento

Shaun made a lovely breakfast fried rice this morning for brunch, so we really didn't need a big lunch today. Since our church resumes Saturday services this week (yay!), a light snack is required for an always-starving Ben.

This bento features a sausage stuffed biscuit, topped with cheese stars, a mini chocolate chip muffin with a blueberry skewered on top (he wanted one, I do not know why), carrot & celery sticks, green grapes & cantaloupe. This should hold off hunger for a little while longer!

Don't forget to enter the Mimi the Sardine giveaway! As well, through BlogHer & posted on my review blog, there are giveaways for a $100 Visa card & prize pack from Juicy Juice, and a $100 prize pack including a gift card you can donate to the charity of your choice from McDonald's.

Friday, August 20, 2010

A Puzzling Bento for Ben

Time for a quick snack before martial arts and it's a puzzling affair.

I'm busy experimenting with my new food dehydrator, so we need simple & quick bentos today.

Ben has puzzle shaped cream cheese & jelly sandwiches, cut out with our Lunch Punch. He promptly tried to put them together, then complained that he got jelly on his hands. ;o) To go with his sandwiches, he has carrot sticks, grapes & a plum, half of a cinnamon blueberry muffin (we made regular size ones, so they were a bit big for bentos), and vanilla yogurt with strawberries & blueberries.

It's all packed in a 4-square Lock & Lock bento which I'm liking more than I thought I did. I've had it for the last 3 years but started using it more frequently. It's kind of convenient, especially with foods that shouldn't bump into each other (sliced plums next to muffins could be a problem).

Lions & Tigers & Bears, Oh My? Bento

Why "Oh My?" you may ask? Because after going back in to edit the picture to web size, I realized that my lion sandwich looks a bit more like a funky My Little Pony than a lion, even a cartoon one. ;o)

Faith has a sandwich or sorts with a lion-pony of cheese on top, some carrot sticks, a lion cucumber slice (humor me here), cantaloupe and a lion pick of grapes.

You can't win them all, right?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's a Bento!

OK, it's also a bird too, because I couldn't think of anything cute to turn these biscuits into.

I made a batch of stuffed biscuits (check out Susan at Hawaii's Bento Box for lots of great biscuit ideas) and borrowed Susan's owl ideas to make a little bird for Faith. This batch was stuffed with sausage slices & cheese, because I had leftover sausage to use. I also made a couple of PBJ ones for me, which are so good fresh out of the oven!

Faith has two stuffed biscuits and a mini chocolate chip muffin, topped with a silly bird face (multiple cheese make the eyes & beak, plus two cucumber pieces for the dots). The rest of the cucumber and some carrot sticks hold it all in place. To the right, she has cantaloupe and a penguin pick of bluberries. Maybe the "bird" is a penguin? I have no idea!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Mimi the Sardine Review & Giveaway!

I've been holding onto this lovely review/giveaway since June. Since the items are already at my house, I did not wish to run the giveaway when I knew I'd be traveling and thus have a hard time mailing it to the lucky winner!

Pia at Mimi the Sardine sent a wonderful package for F&B to enjoy and us to share with a lucky blog reader.

If you haven't heard of Mimi the Sardine, you must check them out! They make a wonderful line of organic kids (and a few adult) products for meals--table cloths, bibs, placemats, lunchbags, even aprons! Their materials are organically grown cotton, coated with an acrylic (non-PVC) finish to keep them soft and still easily cleanable. The patterns are to die for--bright florals, vehicles, jungle animals, stripes, polka dots, so many cute things.

We were thrilled to find a cute lunch bag and placemats for F&B to try out. Faith is loving the Lunchbug bag! It's adorable and the monkey is perfect for my monkey girl, but flip it over and there is an elephant on the flip side (for my elephant-loving boy)! It's nice & neutral, so either kid can use it, always a bonus! Faith was happy to model it for me, as you can tell.

It's also a great size, Faith has a two tier bento in the bag plus a water bottle with room to spare and the ability to still zip it up. There's definitely room for our smaller boxes, since the two layer one fit just fine.

We also received a darling two pack of placemats! We've used them at the table where I learned how well they clean up and we've folded them to take along with us. I do like the idea of portable placemats, especially when I'm less than sure about putting food directly on the surface. They fold up perfectly for the kids and they are machine washable (very important with kids, as I'm sure you know). Ben really liked the cars placemat, so Faith was a sweet sister and kept the stripes (that was the 2 combination).

Now for the giveaway! Mimi the Sardine sent us a second set to share with a reader. This set includes a blue floral Bag'ette blue floral/pink dots 2 pack of placemats! The Bag'ette is slightly larger than the Lunchbug, so more space for a grown up lunch or extra snack containers.

This would be inside the Bag'ette--a two tier bento and water bottle, with lots of extra space. (Water bottle & bento are not included in the giveaway, those are Faith's!)

So want to win the Mimi the Sardine set for yourself?

This giveaway is open to US readers only, or at least those with a US mailing address. I'm in Dallas, so I'll have to send it from here

The giveaway is now closed!

Disclosure: I was provided with 1 Mimi the Sardine Lunchbug & 1 set of placemats for the purposes of this review and an additional Bag'ette & set of placemats to be offered in a giveaway. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. No additional compensation was received.

Simple Snacks for Faith

Time for a quick little snack for Miss Faith. We did cucumber sandwiches the other week with cream cheese and she absolutely love them and has been asking for them again. No complaints from me and cucumber rounds do tuck nicely into little mini pita breads.

She has 3 mini pita halves stuffed with cream cheese and cucumbers, a bunny skewer of ham and a couple of cheese cubes (I'm thinking cucumber sandwiches may not have enough proteins). The other side holds grapes, cantaloupe and carrot sticks, all packed in her favorite Hello Kitty box!

What's for Lunch Wednesday, Week 12

Welcome to "What's for Lunch" Wednesday, Week 12!!!

Thanks so much for joining in last week if you did and looking forward to seeing all the fun lunches this week!

Want to join in?

Just choose a bento you've made from the last week you want to share, copy the URL of that post from your blog (you may need to click on the title to get it), and enter it into the linky below.

Click on the "Add Your Link" button to add yours and follow the steps, it's simple, I promise!

Please add a link back here:
so that others can join in and see/share their bentos too.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Yet Another "Peanut" Bento for Ben

Mr. Ben still likes elephants, so we opted for a quick "Peanut" themed snack bento for him. For new readers, Ben's elephant obsession is well-documented (check here, here & here for samples or just type "Peanut" in the search box for a plethora of elephant themed posts). Since I had a ton of fresh muffins that have been snacked on all morning, we just opted for a sandwich & fruit bento.

Ben has a roast beef, ham & cheese sandwich on Nature's Own Honey Wheat bread (I like the mini circle sandwiches). It's topped with a cheese Peanut, with a sugar eye and a different colored cheese ear. He has cantaloupe, a Peanut skewer of blueberries and a couple of grapes topped with Peanuts.

The perfect lunch for my Peanut-loving boy. :o)

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Kids Cook Monday - Cinnamon Blueberry Muffins

It's Monday again, so time for The Kids Cook Monday project. This week, Ben and I made Cinnamon Blueberry Muffins. I'm kind of liking having them take turns in the kitchen with mom, it is a much more peaceful experience for me!

Anyhow, we're almost out of great lunch treats minus a few little things in the freezer, so we needed something new. Blueberries were on sale for $1 a container, so I bought 3 containers of them for Ben. He's eaten most of one, I think I'll freeze one, and the third became today's muffins!

We used my mom's base muffin recipe, then added a couple of spoonfuls of cinnamon and the container of blueberries.

It was a great recipe for Ben to help with, lots of measuring, mixing, pouring, and of course, stealing blueberries. ;o)

He was proud of his muffins (so much like Ben's Taco Muffins, I was informed that these are *Ben's* Blueberry Muffins). I love his oven mitts too, my mom found them for him, so we had a puppet show by the kitchen island.

Muffin Tin Monday - an "Orange" theme

Muffin Tin Monday at Her Cup Overfloweth

It's an orange theme today, which happens to be Ben's favorite color. And it's a unique orange theme that doesn't involve any actual oranges or orange juice. ;o)

And for some reason, it's making me think of those signs that say "I am in shape, round is a shape." Almost "I have a theme, orange is a theme." ;o) Or it's just really late and I'm really easily entertained!

Anyhow, our orange tin features orange chunks of cheese, orange carrots, orange shark crackers, an orange nectarine, orange cantaloupe, and what I was hoping would look like orange sherbet in this picture but melted too quickly in the Texas heat and really was orange slush.

Check out Muffin Tin Monday for more fun tins!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Quick & Easy Bento for Ben!

Continuing on with the quick & easy theme, and using some leftovers, I managed to serve up a cute little lunch for Mr. Ben.

We had his birthday party yesterday, so we have some buns leftover. I froze the full packages, but wanted to use out the open ones. They work perfectly for mini sub sandwiches! (And if you haven't tried them, Nature's Own White Wheat buns are very good. We used them as a step to make the switch over to full wheat/whole grain.)

Ben has a ham & roast beef sub-style sandwich on half a bun, the very last granola bar, some slivered carrot sticks, green grapes (underneath on the left), cantaloupe, blueberries, and one kebab because we needed *something* cute in the box. Since I already had diced the cantaloupe, it only took a few seconds to add a kebab. :o)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Flowers for Faith Bento

There was an adorable bento article on Parents this week from AnnatheRed.. It also included directions for the 3D bows/flowers you can make out of ham. I've had my eye on those for awhile now but hadn't figured out how. Quite happy to find out that they were much simpler than anticipated.

Faith has a taco muffin, topped with a cheese flower, a ham flower, a roast beef flower (I think the roast beef looked better in the box), some grapes, strawberry and carrots.

Just a quick snack, I was mostly interested in making a meat flower. ;o)

Friday, August 13, 2010

The "Fish & Dip" Bento

Or at least that's what Ben named it!

I'm not entirely sure how appetizing "Fish & Dip" sounds, but I think he kind of has a point.

It's another really simple bento, but was different enough that F&B really enjoyed it! The kids really enjoy dipping and tuna salad was perfect for the pita crackers and veggies.

This is actually Faith's box, based on the flower cheese & the fact that there is a cucumber. Ben is not a big cucumber fan, he usually takes celery instead. They each had a scoop of tuna salad (ice cream scoopers make for neat looking dips), with carrot sticks and Faith has a couple of cucumber flowers. There's pasta salad with peas, topped with another cheese flower. Below are whole wheat pita chips and a few cubes of cheese, then purple plum slices & grapes.

It's packed in the 4 square Lock&Lock box, which is really handy for bentos and a great idea for those who want to try without investing tons of money in supplies. Mine was from Target a few years ago, but they should be available online!

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