This lunchbox – you should have seen Amy’s face! Inspired by our recent trip to Japan, I figured a themed lunchbox was just what the doctor ordered to prevent those post-holiday blues – close your eyes and you could pretty much be back in a Japanese convenience store! Now usually I aspire to achieve a level of food quality somewhere above the usual offerings at 7-Eleven, but my gosh those Japanese convenience stores are really a cut above. If you haven’t seen them, they have mastered the art of fast, cheap, delicious, healthy food – I could eat the fresh rice balls for days (and I did, wouldn’t have been far off causing a national onigiri shortage at my rate of consumption). Japan is also the home of the bento, and there were plenty of them to choose from, with a plethora of vegan and vegetarian choices for the discerning convenience store connoisseur. Honestly it sounds so ridiculous but it just works out, wherever you are – Tokyo, Hakone and Mt Fuji, all the way down to Kyoto and Osaka, the call of convenience store food was ever-present. Sure, we ate out at some incredible restaurants too, but i’ll never forget just how good the food is at convenience stores over there (especially when there’s no vegetarian or vegan options at my local ones – only cold, grey, day old sausage rolls).
So back to the lunchbox! Look at this thing – this was one seriously loaded lunchbox, filled with all the healthy, Japanese themed eats I could get my hands on! The stars here are the sushi and the mochi – sushi we have all seen a thousand times before, but are you guys familiar with mochi? It’s always been a favourite of ours from the local asian grocery but we got to try a whole pile of interesting flavours over there! It’s that little sesame-covered goober in the back compartment.
Black sesame mochi takes centre stage here, but green tea and cherry blossom flavours make an appearance too, because one mochi is never enough. Do yourself a favour and look up how mochi is made if you’re interested, as it’s quite humorous and involves using a comically oversized mallet to rapidly beat glutinous rice flour into shape. The sushi is standard fare – delicious, dependable, classic sushi, and you can’t go wrong sitting it on a bed of edamame. Next door we’ve just got a bit of roast Japanese pumpkin and some vegetables, some asparagus and cucumber to up the greens count, and finally some baby corn cut into thin slices – I found this especially cute, sort of like little suns or flowers – in any case, healthy, kawaii little bites. Anyway if you’re feeling adventurous, try this lunch box out – it’s absolutely one of our favourites so far 😀
- Roast pumpkin (Japanese/Kabocha, of course!), broccolini, snow peas, baby corn, red cabbage, radish, pumpkin seeds
- Seaweed, sushi rice, avocado, carrot, capsicum, edamame, kale, ginger
- Mochi, strawberry, blueberry, pomegranate, cherry, mint leaves
- Cucumber, asparagus, thyme
- Baby corn
Lunch time! And to celebrate, something really special – fig and pumpkin salad! Brimming with toasted nuts and herbs and accompanied by some dark chocolate, this is one of the most boldly flavoured lunchboxes i’ve made here at Lettuce Lunch! In fact i’d almost go as far as to say adults-only. Lettuce Lunch after dark? I suppose there’s nothing too scandalous here other than some very mature flavours. If you have smart kids that happen to like super dark chocolate and eating figs in their salad then more power to them, they could probably enjoy this lunchbox as much as anyone else. I know as a kid I was just happy with a roll-up and apple slices – fig salad being perhaps a touch beyond my limited palette at the time. That said, something must have eventually clicked because here we are – what a lunchbox this was!
So roast up some pumpkin and give it a try. You’ve got all these super hearty flavours mingling with toasty, savoury crunch from the almonds. If you’re going to make it, go the whole way and toast the nuts – totally worth it. Spoil yourself with dark chocolate and soya crisps – alright, so this isn’t the usual green goddess lunchbox, but you know, sometimes you have to treat yourself! Life hack: focus on the fruit and the broccolini section and you can trick yourself into thinking this lunchbox will provide a net gain in regards to health. It can be our little secret, I won’t tell – promise!
- Fig, pumpkin, kidney beans, almonds, tofutti cream cheese, pine nuts, rosemary, parsley
- Strawberries, raspberries, rockmelon, blueberries, starfruit
- Broccolini, spinach
- Dark chocolate
- Soya crisps
Everyone loves pasta right – easy, reliable, well-respected, near universally regarded – basically, a classic! That said, I am one of the few that don’t like pasta that much. I know, I know! Blasphemy! That just means I like to spice up pasta in some non-traditional ways, seeing as the traditional way isn’t really that exciting to me. And hey even for the most ardent pasta fans, it’s always great to mix things up in the kitchen. Enter spiced curried cauliflower!
Sure, it makes no sense from a cultural standpoint. But taste wise, what’s not to love! SO all you do is get some cauliflower, give it a little bit of oil, dredge it through a curry powder/bread crumb mix and roast it in the over until it’s looking crispy and golden all over, which shouldn’t take long. And there you have it – fast, easy, goes great with pasta. Astound your friends and family with how multicultural and diverse your palette is, smashing Italian and Indian cuisines together like it wasn’t a big deal at all. Go you! I even went a bit further and added some hummus – remember, we’re thinking about flavour combinations here! Anyway, we liked it and the whole thing had a very savoury, hearty feel, so give it a try and let us know what you think!
- Tricolour spirals, curried cauliflower, broccoli, tomato, basil, pine nuts
- Green beans, sweet potato, red cabbage, chili flakes
- Pomegranate seeds, avocado, beetroot hummus
- Blueberries, raspberries, rose petals
- Strawberries, nectarine
So excited to share this one with you! You might think, looking at it, a more suitable name would have been ‘tofu and kale salad’ or something along those lines, given that it takes up the biggest compartment and is the main dish – but just look at that watermelon. Look at it! It even has little seeds and everything. Let’s be honest, it’s the star here. Nothing that adorable can ever take second place – no, the spotlight is on you today, watermelon jelly slices!
I love these little guys. They’re so fun to make, plus they look and taste amazing. Let’s walk through it together so you can make your own! Firstly, jelly crystals. We were lucky enough to find some vegan watermelon jelly, which works for Amy. Mix it up as per the instructions, and add a bit of watermelon juice or pulp as it cools to give it that cloudy look and super watermelon taste (artificial watermelon flavour has nothing on the real thing!). Once it has cooled to room temperature, take the two halves of a hollowed out lime and fill them with the mixture. Chill this in the fridge until set, then slice into smaller wedges and cover with black sesame seeds. Talk about fun! I still can’t get over how cute the seeds are 😂
Now that they’re done, I suppose we should take a look at the rest of the lunchbox too! Marinated tofu on a fresh salad is always a good choice, and a simple rainbow fruit salad is also classic. Add a kidney bean salad for some long-lasting energy and smoked almonds for crunch, and you have an incredible lunch box on your hands. Enjoy!
- Tofu, kale, spring onion, sugar snap peas, avocado, red chilli, pine nuts, spinach
- Raspberries, strawberries, nectarine, pineapple, kiwi, blueberries, flowers
- Red kidney beans, tomato, red capsicum, micro-herbs
- Vegan watermelon jelly wedges, granola, flowers
- Smoked almonds