Monday, December 22, 2008

Shrimp Lo Mein Bento

This bento was partially composed of leftovers from dinner the previous night. I made a Weight Watchers version of Shrimp Lo Mein because we had tons of veggies that we really needed to use. This was one of the few WW recipes that I have not had to excessively season because it was too bland. (Their Minestrone being the only other example I can think of that actually had enough seasoning). The recipe was a hit at home, is quite low in points, and will definitely go in my regular dinner rotation. I am hesitant to post the recipe here, because it is a Weight Watchers one and I don't want to violate any copyrights or rules. But it is really just soba noodles with shrimp, veggies of your choice, ginger, garlic, oyster sauce, soy sauce, and rice vinegar. Pretty simple. This bento comes to a grand total of 6 points.

Contents of this bento:
1/2 serving Shrimp Lo Mein (2.5 points)
2 Seafood Gyoza Dumplings (2 points)
And my ever present bento salad (.5 points -- because of the chickpeas)

Not pictured:
2 tbsp Newman's Own Low Fat Sesame Ginger dressing (1 point)

Sorry about the crappiness of the camera seems to be acting up.

Friday, December 19, 2008

First Attempt Tamagoyaki Bento

This was a bit of an experimental bento because this was my first time trying almost everything in it! Overall, I think it turned out pretty well, but I think I will use some green onions and maybe mushrooms in my next tamagoyaki. This was a nice 5 point bento:

Contents of this bento:
Top: 2 servings Priya brand Sambar Rice (2.5 points)
Bottom: 1-egg Tamagoyaki - recipe from Just Hungry (2 points)
3 Shrimp Dumplings (.5 points)
Cherry Tomatoes (0 points)
2 tsp. Trader Joe's Gyoza Dipping Sauce in the blue container (0 points)
Soy sauce in the chick (0 points)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Bento Backlog

I have been making bentos everyday, I just haven't had time lately to post them. So over the next few days I will be posting them with recipes. There has been a somewhat major in Weight Watchers lately -- they introduced the Momentum plan. I guess a lot of people expressed confusion over some of the changes, but I personally like them. You can now track your hunger signals, before and after you eat. I appreciate this because by forcing me to pay attention to how full I'm feeling has helped me know when to stop eating.

I am also enjoying their 'filling foods' list. This is a list of foods that are more likely to fill you up and keep you full for awhile. Now, before I go shopping for the week, I plan my snacks around filling foods. This has kept me from eating things like the Hershey 100 calorie bars as snacks. There's nothing wrong with those bars, but I never really feel satisfied after eating them. The filling foods have really helped me stay on plan.

So, without further ado, here is the first in my bento backlog:

Contents of Breakfast Bento:

2 Fruit-Filled Breakfast Wontons (2 points)
1 cup grapes (1 point)

I am loving these breakfast wontons. They are so easy to make and very nice bento additions. The recipe is from Weight Watchers, but you can easily adapt it and put anything you want inside it. I don't want to post the recipe here because I'm sure there are some copyright issues with doing that. But if you know how to make wontons anyway, all you do is put a teaspoon or so of a couple ingredients (raisins & walnuts, cream cheese & cherry preserves, etc...). Seal up the wonton and boil it for about 1 minute. Then put them on a baking sheet, sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon and bake at 400 F for 6-8 minutes until golden brown and crispy. They keep for about 3-4 days in the fridge. So I make about 8 or 10 on Sunday for my breakfasts during the week.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Recipes Galore!

So, at the request of several people, I am posting recipes for the contents of my Diwali bento. Keep in mind that much of Indian cooking is based on personal tastes, so the exact amount of spice will vary depending on your personal preference.

Aloo Muttar (potatoes and peas)
This is a pretty standard recipe, and can vary depending on which ingredients we have on hand.

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp cumin seed
1/2 cup onion, chopped
2 medium tomatoes, diced
salt to taste
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp turmeric
3 medium red potatoes (1 lb), peeled, cooked & diced
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup water
1/2 tsp Garam Masala
cilantro (optional)

Heat the oil in a large saucepan on med-high heat. Add the cumin seed and sizzle it 15 to 30 seconds.

Add the onion, cook until golden brown. Stir in tomatoes, salt, cayenne pepper, and turmeric. Stir fry until tomatoes are softened.

Stir in the remaining ingredients except the Garam Masala. Heat until it's boiling and reduce heat to medium. Cover and simmer about 5 minutes. Uncover and simmer about 5 more minutes or until the sauce is slightly thickened. Stir in the Garam Masala.

Patta Gobi (cabbage)
Again, feel free to vary the spices based on your personal tastes.

Makes about 6-8 servings

1 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 head of cabbage, chopped
1-2 tsp mustard seeds (I really like mustard seed, so I always use a bit more)
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp red chili powder (or to taste)
salt (to taste)

If you use a whole head of cabbage, you will need to use a pretty big pan. We use a large wok-style pan.

Heat the oil and mustard seeds over medium-high heat. Sizzle the mustard seeds 15-30 seconds. Add the cabbage. If your pan is overflowing with cabbage, reduce the heat to about medium, and just put the lid on until the bottom layer wilts a bit and you have more room to stir. Then add the remaining spices and stir in. Now just put the lid on and stir from time to time. It should take about 10-15 minutes until all of the cabbage has started to wilt. If it is taking longer, increase heat to medium-high. Some people prefer the cabbage a little crisp (shorter cook time), and some like it really wilted (longer cook time).

Sooji Halwa
For this we actually just use Cream of Wheat as the sooji.

Makes about 8-10 servings

1 1/2 cups water
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tbsp crushed cloves
1 tsp crushed cardamom
3/4 cup Cream of Wheat or sooji
1 tbsp margarine
2 tbsp slivered almonds

In a saucepan, heat the water and sugar over high heat. Bring it to a boil, and cook until the sugar is completely dissolved in the water (this makes a nice syrup which ensures that the sweetness will be even throughout the halwa).

While the water is boiling, melt the margarine in a large saucepan over med-high heat. Add the Cream of Wheat and stir occasionally, until the Cream of Wheat begins to turn a reddish-brown. It doesn't have to be a uniform color, unless you really like it toasted.

When the sugar water is ready, pour it into the large saucepan containing the Cream of Wheat. Add the cloves, cardamom, and almonds. Let it cook until the water is completely absorbed. If it is still a little watery, just keep cooking and stirring, trying to let most of the water evaporate.

Once the water is absorbed, take off of the heat and transfer to a dish (like a glass pyrex dish). Pack the halwa into the pan, making about an inch-thick layer (it may not fill up the whole pan, that's okay). What you are doing here is getting the halwa to cool in a way that it will be easy to cut into little squares. Allow to cool about 20-30 minutes.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Diwali Puja Leftovers Bento

On Saturday, we did Diwali puja, which means lots of delicious leftovers! I put everything in one of my thermal jars because there is a lot of watery items in this one. This bento comes to 4 Weight Watchers points, and the snack comes to 2.5 points.

This Diwali bento contains:
1 serving Aloo Muttar (potatoes & peas) (3 points)
1 serving Patta Gobi (curried cabbage) (1 point)

Sidecar (my snack for later) contains:
2 servings Halwa (2.5 points)

Salmon Wraps Breakfast Bento

Since I've begun going to the gym in the morning before work, I now need to pack a breakfast bento as well. I try to keep my breakfasts between 3 and 4 points, and this one comes to 3.5 points -- right on target! Every morning will probably be the same thing for awhile, so I won't post these every day. This week we have:

This bento contains:
1 cup red grapes (1 point)
1 piece of Italian Herb Flatbread (1 point)
1 tbsp Fat Free Cream Cheese (.5 points)
1 oz Applewood Smoked Lox (1 point)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Tuesday's Falafel Bento

Today's bento has a bit of a middle-eastern theme with hummus and falafel patties, and comes to a total of 5.5 Weight Watchers points. These frozen falafel patties are wonderful! I found them at my local International Market and love their flavor and convenience.

Today's bento contains:
1/2 cup of mixed greens (0 points)
2 sliced shiitake mushrooms (0 points)
1/4 cup chickpeas (1 point)
2 tbsp. sliced beets (0 points)
3 cherry tomatoes (0 points)
3 falafel patties (2 points)
3 mini sweet peppers stuffed with red pepper hummus (.5 points)
Havarti cheese flower cut-outs (1 point)

Not pictured:
2 tbsp. Newman's Own Low Fat Sesame Ginger Dressing (1 point)

Monday, October 13, 2008

Monday's Bento

Today's lunch bento comes to only 6 Weight Watchers points. I try to keep my lunches between 5-7 points, so this was perfect.

October 13th Bento

In the top layer is a salad composed of:
1/2 cup mixed greens (0 points)
4 cherry tomatoes (0 points)
2 sliced shiitake mushrooms (0 points)
2 tablespoons chickpeas (.5 points)
2 tablespoons beets (0 points)

The bottom layer has:
Half a serving of leftover Pasta with Olives (2.5 points)
1 slice (cut into leaf shapes) of Havarti cheese (2 points)

Not pictured:
2 tablespoons of Newman's Own Low Fat Sesame Ginger Dressing (1 point)

Recipe for Pasta with Olives

WW Points: 5 points per serving
Serves: 8

1 lb uncooked penne, bow-tie, or any other pasta of choice
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes (not packed in oil)
10 large kalamata olives
1 tbsp. capers
2 tbsp. olive oil
salt & pepper to taste
2-3 tbsp oregano
1-2 tbsp thyme
1-2 tbsp basil

Boil pasta according to cooking time on package. Meanwhile, slice olives and sun-dried tomatoes. Once pasta is done boiling, strain, and return to pot.

Mix olive oil, olives, capers, sun-dried tomatoes, and spices.