“Say good-bye to boring lunches and hello to healthy, nutritious food! Colorful and creative bento lunches encourage healthy eating by making fruits and veggies look fun,” the back cover states in Anna Adden’s cookbook, Happy Bento: Lunches on the Go.
At one hundred and sixty pages, this small paperback targets those interested in making small lunch or snacks packed in a box. With a quarter to full-page, full-color photographs that cover all meals plus many tutorials, there are fifty recipes.
After the table of contents, introduction, and information on supplies, the book is divided into five sections of basic, fun, special day, holiday, and season bentos. Shopping, lunch boxes, index by title, dedication, acknowledgments, and the author’s biography complete the book.
In the Bento Supplies section, Adden discusses the different box options, silicone cups, sauce containers, baran dividers, cutters, picks, egg and rice molds, and craft punches. The ending on Shopping suggests places to purchase the supplies both in-store and online.
Sometimes after the recipe’s title is a sentence explaining the dish’s characteristics or writer’s personal memory. Supplies, ingredients, and numbered directions that include matching pictures are given over one to four pages. No preparation or cooking times or nutritional or caloric information are given.
Some of the concoctions include Sandwich Sushi, Hamburger Patty, Thermos Lunch, Hippopotamus, Mashed Potato Pandas, Hello Kitty Onigiri, Shark Week, 100th Day of School, Pi Day, Groundhog Day, Easter, Independence Day, Christmas, Spring, and Winter.
With many of the detailed, time-consuming designs displayed, there are artistic healthy creations of apple cut outs filled with peanut butter, bread cut or marked into objects, molded rice balls, shaped cheese, dyed rice, and altered hard boiled eggs.
Although there is no list of recipes in each section, this would make a good book for someone who has plenty of time on his or her hands to make creative bentos geared toward children. Hopefully using leftovers of dinner items, the food boxes can be made in advance, cutting back on some of the time involved.
Author Adden began making bentos when her daughter started preschool, turning her passion into an online blog. She lives in Arizona with her husband and two children.
Thanks to Cedar Fort for furnishing this complimentary book in exchange for a review of the reader’s honest opinion.