Category Archives: food reviews

Your Guide to Bento Lunch Boxes

One evening my wife Michelle asked me if I wanted to get a new lunch box like hers. She got something like this.

But this lead me to think, “I need to do some research.” So I searched adult lunch boxes. One of the results was for Mr. Bento.

Mr. Bento is a stainless steal cylinder. It looks like a very larger thermos. Inside it are 4 containers. The bottom container is for soup, next up is the main meal bowl, then a large side dish bowl and finally a small side dish bowl. All the bowls are plastic (BPA free). You can microwave the bowls but not the lids. The soup bowl stays very hot for a long time, while the meal bowl stays warm and the top two bowls stay at room temperature. Cold food stays cold as well. This is a good picture depicting how the bento box works.

Mr. Bento also comes with a spork and a carrying bag.  All these containers also help you have a variety of food.  A review on Amazon lays out the intended organization well:

This unit is optimally designed for the Japanese style lunch. A soup, Rice, entrée and pickled/salted vegetables. Normally you’d put your soup in the bottom container, fill the middle container up with rice. Your entrée would go in the third and the veggies in the fourth. Since the soup and the rice container both have insulated tops they stay warm.

I thought of it like this:  soup bowl gets soup; main bowl gets the main entree; large side dish bowl gets fruit; small side dish bowl gets veggies.  But in reality I usually use that small bowl for chips/cookies/trail mix.  I figure that at least that stuff is in the small bowl so I don’t have that much of it.

As for size, the amount of food in it is way more than enough.  I’m never hungry after lunch.  I’m very satisfied.  The thing is pretty big.  I’m not a small person either.

The reviews on the Amazon page great. They really helped me make a great decision and let me know the draw backs. For example, the bowls will stain and are not dishwasher safe. This hasn’t bothered me at all. It doesn’t take long to wash the bowls by hand. Also, I thought filling them up in the mornings would take a long time, but I’m done in 5 to 15 minutes, depending on how complicated the meal is to prepare. Also in the reviews of Mr. Bento they mention the flickr group, which I joined right away and have been posting pictures of my meals. It is a fantastic way to find great ideas for filling up your bento.

Cold quick bento today

It has been awesome having a warm meal int he middle of the day. Whatever I pack is just what I want to eat and I don’t have to settle for whatever fast food place is close, or whatever the cafe at work has that day. I can make just what I want to eat! It is really fantastic.

Mr. Bento for 2/9/2012

Another reason I bought Mr. Bento was to try to reduce the amount of food I eat at lunch. The portions at restaurants are huge and I don’t want to be eating that much. As Makiko Itoh says in The Just Bento Cookbook,

“Incorporating healthy homemade bentos into your weight-loss program is a great idea. Their compact size makes portion control easier, and also means you don’t get into the bad habit of eating fast food and high-calorie snack food for lunch…”

My First Mr. Bento Lunch

By the way the reviewers on the Mr. Bento page and on the The Just Bento Cookbook page agree that Ms. Itoh’s book is the best bento book around and after reading it I would have to agree with them! I borrowed it from the library and now I will have to buy it. I can tell it is one of those books I will constantly be going back to for great recipes. This is the only book you need. I checked out a few others and was very disappointed.

Anyone thinking about changing their lunch routine or looking to keep their portion sizes down, should really give Mr. Bento a try. I’ve had mine for a few weeks now and I’m not getting bored of it. I still use it everyday I go to work and I look forward to a great lunch everyday!

Share

Simply Organic Alfredo Sauce Packet Review

Alfredo packet

I know, but Sprouts didn’t have a white pasta sauce.  Instead they had this.  I should have just walked over to Albertsons.  This little packet was awful.  I tried to compensate by adding a bunch more cheese, but it didn’t help.  Don’t buy this stuff its not what you think.  It is not creamy at all.  Its like water mashed potatoes, and has the same flavor.  You have been warned!

Share

Trader Joe’s Food Review: Butter Chicken with Basmati Rice

I’ve wanted to do reviews on Trader Joe’s food before.  Seems like we get stuff there a lot to try out.  Some of it we like, some…. not so much.  I don’t think we are the only ones doing this.  Have any favorites (or warnings) from TJ’s?  Please share in the comments!

I thought this Butter Chicken with  Basmati Rice was pretty good.  It does have a kick so just be aware of that. I would say its  medium to high on the spicy scale.  We cooked this in the oven at 400 for 25 minutes, exactly what the instructions say, and it was a very nice temperature.  Perfectly thawed.  The chicken was not very tasty, pretty plain and uninteresting.  The rice was the best part of the dish.  The sauce was ok, like I said before kinda spicy, but tasty.  For those that are lactose intolerant this does contain dairy, but it hasn’t bothered me too much…yet.  One last odd thing, says it is a product of Canada.  I have nothing against our northern neighbors, just don’t see that very often, thats all.

Share

Food

My sister has been asking me about the recipes that I cooked out of The Kind Diet, and I have been wanting to do this post for a long time, so here it is.  I recently have become interested in eating better and that has led me to reading up on the subject.  One of the first books I read was Food Matters.

Food Matters

Then later I watched Food, Inc.,  A very disturbing documentary about where our food (American’s) comes from.  After that movie, you could say I was on my way to at least trying to eat more vegetarian food and a lot less meat and dairy.  Being lactose-intolerant makes the decision really easy.  When I looked at some vegan recipes I was ecstatic because they were good for me and none of them contained any dairy.  These revelations lead me to the book by Alicia Silverstone called The Kind Diet.

The Kind DietThe book has her thoughts on kind and “nasty” food in the beginning and then the last 3rd of the book is vegan recipes.  So far I have tried about three of them.  Here they are:

Rustic Pasa with SeitanThis is actually two recipes.  Rustic Pasta on page 147 and Pecan-Crusted Seitan.  What’s seitan you say?  Well in this recipe it is like a meat ball, but in the book it looks like a pork chop.  All depends on the size of Seitan you can find I guess.

Seitan (pronounced “say-tan”) is a meat alternative.

Wheat gluten, also called seitanwheat meatMock Duckgluten meat, or simply gluten, is a food made from thegluten of wheat. It is made by washing wheat flour dough with water until all the starch dissolves, leaving insoluble gluten as an elastic mass which is then cooked before being eaten. [wikipedia]

Back to the recipe, the rustic pasta was easy to make and didn’t really need in alternations.  The seitan, needed a lot though!  The first time I made it I just followed the directions.  It makes a ton, and I mean at least 3 times as much as you need for the marinade.  At least for the 16 ounces, two packages of seitan that I bought.  then of course the breading was WAY too much as well.  If you buy the packaged seitan buy at least four packages, 8 ounces each unless your going to alter the recipe.  The finished seitan was VERY hearty.  I could only eat about four of them.

Polenta Cassarole

From the Kind Diet I also made the Polenta Casserole with Seitan on page 223.  For this I just bought some fake chicken at Trader Joe’s.  It didn’t say seitan, but I was having a hard time finding it at the time (its not sold everywhere), so I found this stuff and thought it would work.  I was right it did, but there is one alternation that I need to make next time I make this dish.  It called for a ton of water to be added, 5 cups!  You can find seitan sold at Whole Foods.  I found Polenta at Ralphs where the pasta is.

But if you use polenta that is packaged with water (like above) you don’t need that much water.  I would say cut it in half.  Well, that is it.  I’ll let you know if I try anything else from the book.  I did buy the book because I liked it so much.  I recommend reading it and I am looking forward to making more of the recipes out of it.

Image credit for polenta tube: dissonance

Image credit for the box of seitan: phil_g

Share

Vegetarian Food

This is a call for your vegetarian recipes.  Please email me or post your favorite vegetarian recipe in the comments section below.  Once the comment is approved it will appear.  Michelle has recently taken more of an interest and I have always wanted to eat less animal products.  Substitutions are welcome.  For example, being lactose intolerant, I often eat cheese substitutes.

Image from Flickr User: museinthecity

Share

Honey Comb Cereal Makes Me Sick

And may be giving me cancer….

Last night after dinner I was still hungry so I had a small bowl of cereal.  Honey Comb cereal was readily available in the cupboard, so I grabbed it and had a little snack.  I felt just fine until about 1am this morning.  The my stomach woke me up to let me know there was an emergency evacuation going on!

Could it have been something else that made me sick?  Maybe, but I don’t think so, I ate the foods that I usually do every day.  No changes, nothing new except for the honey comb cereal.  Turns out my brother-in-law had some of that same box a week ago and was very ill as well.  Could have been just that box, but I’m not going to buy it anymore.  And not just because it made me sick, but because of what I found in it.

I was not too surprised that something called honey comb is made up of almost all corn flour, as most cereals are all corn.  What did confuse me was the last thing on the ingredients list.  BHT.  What is BHT?  Being the nerd that I am I looked it up on wikipedia.  Besides being a food preservative BHT or Butylated hydroxytoluene is also used in:

 cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, jet fuels, rubber, petroleum products, electrical transformer oil, and embalming fluid.

WHAT?!?! Embalming fluid!?!?  You have got to be kidding me.  I ate that stuff!  Oh and it gets better…

In the 1970s, Benjamin Feingold, a San Francisco MD …claimed that BHT could produce hyperactivity in some children. In addition, some controversy surrounds the link of BHT to cancer risk

Lovely!

Share

High-fructose corn syrup

I’ve been watching all the commercials that the corn growers are putting out on television lately.  I hope people are smarter than the corn refiners association.  They are pushing people to believe that HFCs are okay for you when there is plenty of evidence that it is very bad for you.  Investigate and look at the evidence yourself, but don’t believe the corn refiners assocation to tell you that their product is good for you, think man!

Watch the movie King Corn.  Read what the Mayo Clinc says about HFCs.

Share

OC Podcasters MeetUp & Fox Sports Grill

I had a great time at the MeetUp for OC Podcasters as usual.  However, I had another sub-par experience at Fox Sports Grill. All the staff there is great.  Actually, really nice people.  The only problem is I can never find anything good on the menu.

To date I have had the turkey burger, by the way the best one at the spectrum is at the Yardhouse, the buffalo chicken burger, which was extremely hot.  It came with onion rings that were more like onion strings (very limp and not crispy at all).  The fries there are good.

Also, although I am not a big beer drinker I do really like the Blue Moon beer they have there on tap.  I have also had the sliders there, they are ok, but not really good.  I’m just trying to find something that is very good there.  I once tried the chicken fingers, reasoning that no one can really screw those up.  But once again they were not what I was expecting.  I really want to find something good at this place since it seems that many groups I meet friends/collegues like to eat here.  Can anyone reccomend something on the menu that is REALLY good?

Share

VitaSpelt Pretzels

Spelt PretzelsI haven’t done a food review in a long time. So here you go. I bought these pretzels from Sprouts because pretzels are a great alternative to chips, they are less calories. These Pretzels however, do not taste right.

I have had lots of pretzels before that look just like these, and these just don’t taste like pretzels are supposed to. I would love to tell you what they taste like but there is a total absence of flavor. Its just not right. I guess Spelt is a different kind of grain. Its not for me.

Share