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DIY Clean Bento Box

'Tis a new year of wellness and the season to change, refresh and clean up your whole life! The new year can also be a magical time to be inspired by other unique and healthy cultures.

Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.

Put something delicious in your box. Try Candice Kumai’s Roasted Winter Squash Bento Salad. 

Start with a Japanese bento box. My ancestors have been packing bento boxes since the samurai days; they are a simple, nutritious and convenient way to get proper fuel into your beautiful on-the-go body. Here, my mother shares some of her favorite bento box tips, and I’ve got one of my favorite winter squash salads to add to what just might be your very first bento box!

My Mom’s Insider’s Peek at Bento

May my wise mother’s tips inspire you to breathe new life into lunch!

: A boxed, convenient and portable meal, typically prepared for lunch, featuring a wide and vibrant selection of compartmentalized goodies.

Today’s Bento
: Modern-day restaurants serve bento for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Japanese families like to pack bento boxes for picnic meals, too. Today’s Japanese women make bento lunches for their kids and husbands. Get creative with additions like deconstructed salads, quinoa and beans, veggie or turkey wraps, and mac & cheese.

Bento Background Check
: The word ‘bento’ is thought to have originated in the 16th century, when a samurai commander named Oda Nobunaga distributed food to large numbers of people stationed at his castle.

Perfectly Portioned: The Japanese limit their meat intake by rationing small portions in each bento meal among a variety of other tasty offerings. Try a ratio of one part meat, two parts veggies and three parts grains along with occasional single servings of dairy or fruit.

Packed to Perfection: To keep their food fresh while on the go, the Japanese used salted fish and meats as well as fermented foods such as pickles.

Moritsuke: The Japanese eat with their eyes first. Moritsuke refers to the seven traditional ways that food should be arranged and what vessels it should be presented in. They believe that the more beautiful the food is, the more likely you are to eat it – and we concur!

Bento Box Regulars
: Hard-boiled eggs, red radish, steamed fish paste, steamed spinach, salads, pickles, seaweed salads, fresh parsley and my favorite, umeboshi on top of gohan (Japanese pickled plums on top of rice).

What to Use in DIY Bentos

  • Paper, silicone or foil muffin cups for sectioning off sauces and saucy foods
Mini squeeze bottles for dressings and soy sauce

See also Top 8 Superfoods for a Fall Refresh

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