Another First Day (With Tears)

Last week I shared Sierra’s first day of school, today was Hannah’s first day. Before I tell you more about that, let’s back up a bit.

I realized that looking at the pictures on my blog gives a bit of an idyllic image. In part because I choose my favorite photos, and in part because I assume you don’t want to hear every detail of how much my kids fuss. But maybe some of you moms look at my blog and wonder- is it really so easy for her? Well if you ever wondered that I will tell you- sometimes it is so hard. So unbelievably impossible just to get through one morning. And other times it is a little easier.


The night before Hannah’s first day of school, she thought the dinner was so disgusting she couldn’t even be at the table. She laid on the ground and cried while we tried to have a nice dinner. So she went to bed with an empty belly. Then in the morning I cut her food wrong. And she cried and cried. With some extra complaining in-between the tears. I wish I could tell you some of this is unusual, but it happens on a semi-regular basis with her. I eventually gave up and spoon fed her the food so she wouldn’t go to school hungry.

Then I showed her the bento I made, and instead of any kind of excitement she exclaimed, “I don’t like some of that!”


I wish I could say I was a model of patience, but I got mad and started threatening to never cook for the family again.

Eventually we pulled it together and got out the door.


I will post a new recipe next week. In the meantime keep trucking along all you moms!

First Day of First Grade

Sierra had her first day of school today, and I sent her off with a proper cute lunch.


Her little sister doesn’t start preschool until next week, so we had a day with just the two of us. I cleaned the whole house (that felt awesome). Then Hannah and I planned a “first day of school party”. Hannah loves planning parties- she made a cute sign for the front door- it said, “You are invited to a party… surprise.” She wrote all of the letters herself and was very proud. We set the table, picked flowers, hung some streamers, and baked brownie cupcakes (I used this recipe). Hannah said she was “hoping for a hug” from Sierra (so sweet)!



Nutty Mushrooms

This is an adaptation of a recipe from “Mollie Katzen’s Sunlight Cafe”. Her recipe, Nut Crusted Mushrooms, is so clever and delicious, but it contains dairy. So we modified it a bit, but all the credit goes to her for these tasty morsels.

I was trying to decide how to incorporate these into a cute bento, so I sought my husband’s advice. He suggested a canoe. Of course he would think of a canoe; racing canoes is his favorite hobby. Some of you might be thinking, “Canoe racing? Where do you do that?” Well, there a many races and a New England Canoe club set up for people like us! (I race too sometimes.) Here is a photo from a race several years ago. I was actually 8-months-pregant in this photo but I tried to choose the most flattering angle for the blog post.

So, I really just used what I had on hand for the backdrop of the bento. Yellow Rice, a simple recipe in my cookbook- along with grapefruit, pomegranate, pistachios, and sugar snap peas.

My husband suggests preparing a warming tray or the oven on low to store these after they are cooked as they seem to get cold quickly.

Nutty Mushroom Recipe

2 Port0bello mushrooms
1 egg
1/2 cup almonds
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/8 teaspoon salt
Black pepper
Pinch garlic powder
Olive oil


Cut the mushroom caps into 1/2 inch slices.
Crack the egg into a shallow bowl and beat it.
Grind the almonds into a consistency of course sand. (Do not try to save time by using almond meal- it is too fine and doesn’t do well in this recipe.) Place the almonds, nutritional yeast, salt, black pepper, and garlic powder in another shallow bowl. (My husband suggests holding back some of the nut mixture as it tends to get clumpy when being dipped.)
Heat a bit of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Dip the mushroom slices in the egg, then in the nut mixture, and place it on the hot pan. Cook on each side until golden then place on a wire rack.


I am sharing this recipe on And love it too,

Pistachio Pesto Pasta and Scary Monster Bento


Maybe I went too far. I didn’t realize how scary this was going to look! A few years ago my oldest daughter forbid me from making scary bento, so I haven’t until now; but I just felt so inspired! I put the vegetables on the bottom, pasta on top, cut the mouth out of a cucumber and put a strawberry behind it. The eyes are raw mushroom, cucumber, and strawberry.

Pistachio Pesto Pasta Recipe

1/4 cup salted pistachios
1 cup packed cilantro leaves
3-4 tablespoons olive oil

Pasta and Vegetables
8-10 ounces gluten-free pasta
1-2 tablespoons oil
mushrooms (2 cups chopped)
2 cloves garlic
bunch of asparagus (2 cups chopped)


For the pesto, combine the pistachios and cilantro leaves (and garlic if using) in a small food processor and pulse until it is a chunky paste. Pulse in the olive oil and set aside.

Cook the pasta. (Remember to salt the water and if using rice pasta it tastes best if rinsed after cooking.)

Saute the vegetables in a bit of olive oil, then toss with the cooked pasta and pesto.

Enjoy hot or cold.

* If you make the pesto for another recipe, you might want to add 1-2 cloves garlic- I did not do that here because the garlic in in with the vegetables.

Shared on Bento Blog Network, Allergy Free Wednesday, Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays, Wellness Weekend

First Day of School

Not just the first day this year… but the first day of kindergarten!

Sierra was only slightly nervous as she left the house looking prepared for her new future as a kindergartener.

She requested maki rolls for her lunch. Her favorite. That’s pickled ginger on the side (she could eat a whole jar if I let her). I tried to make the maki look like a school bus. I colored the rice with turmeric and filled them with yellow peppers.

Sierra bravely climbed on the bus and as the school bus pulled away I noticed my knees shaking. My body was remembering my first day of school so many years ago…

Sierra and I agreed to a tradition of “Freaky Friday” lunches. We don’t have time for fancy bento everyday, but Monday’s are “Maki” Mondays and Friday– it’s scary monster time!

Shared on Motivate Me Monday,

Creativity for Joy and an Award

Indian Food Bento

Some people look at my bento lunches and say, “That’s too much work.” And I can see where they are coming from. But it doesn’t feel like work to me. In fact it is the opposite. Fixing lunch day after day feels like work. Fetching snacks and sippy cups for toddlers all day feels like work to me. Creating art is my pleasure. Thinking of fun ideas and watching them come into form is a treat. Sometimes I don’t have time or don’t feel inspired and then I make a regular lunch packed in bento form. But often I need the break from being a “mom servant” and I treat myself to 15 minutes of creativity. Just for me. And my kids love it too, but really I do it for me because I am an artist at heart.

I am enjoying reading other blogger’s thoughts on creativity as self care during the July Self-Care Retreat. Art has always been my way of relaxing and enjoying life, so the Creativity posts really speak to me. Before kids I was into fabric art (and no worries I will be back to that in a few years).


Amber from The Tasty Alternative sent me this award recently. It was so thoughtful of her and I am really grateful to the entire blogging community. I have enjoyed a very warm welcome during my first six weeks of blogging!


I enjoy blogging because it is an extension of the art and creativity of bento. It is fun to edit the photos, look at them again, write about the bento, and have a permanent record of a very temporary piece of art. And of course blogging is about sharing. Sharing my fun with other people. Thank you.

The award comes with a suggestion that we might enjoy passing it along to other bloggers. And I would like to mention a couple of blogs that I have been reading for a few years.

1) Gluten Free Fix. Michelle writes recipes with skill and precision. She can write the steps to a recipe in about 3 short sentences when I would take a long paragraph to do the same. I read her blog not only for the great food, but also for lessons on how to be a concise recipe writer.

2) The Spunky Coconut. Kelly uses at lot of ingredients that I enjoy (coconut being one!). She has nice stories, and her photos are lovely.

Pumpernickel Bagels (grain-free) and Rescue Bento

Rescue Bento

I love bagels. I ate 1-2 bagels everyday for years before going gluten-free. I missed their chew texture, delicious varieties, and versatility. I loved them as sandwiches, with cream cheese, as mini pizzas…

Pumpernickel Bagels

I do have Everything Bagels and Raisin Bagels in my cookbook. They are great and quite different from this recipe. But it is always fun to have options, so now I can add this grain-free pumpernickel bagel to the lineup.  Stay tuned as I am sure more bagel recipes are soon to follow.

For the bento, I was having a bit of fun telling a story. I used a paper punch for the face on the Avocado Lady and for the mouth of the Kumquat “Victim”. I baked the bagel in a miniature donuts pan (rather than full sized) and wrapped a chive around it.

My daughter thought it was too worrisome that the kumquat was yet to be rescued, so she placed him on top of the raft. She had quite a bit of fun playing with him.

Rescue Bento

Can these be made as muffins? Probably but I haven’t tried it. Does baking soda work too? Yes but use about 1/4 teaspoon. Can you substitute the eggs? I doubt it, but I feel free to experiment. I learned about baking with almond butter and eggs from Elana’s Pantry, so thank you Elana!

Pumpernickel Bagel Recipe
makes 6 bagels

3/4 cup roasted almond butter, smooth, unsweetened
3 eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons molasses
2 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon dried dill weed
2 teaspoons caraway seeds, toasted

Standard sized donuts baking pan (required)


Preheat the oven to 350 F. Prepare the donuts pan with oil (6 slots). (I had one batch stick- that was frustrating, so I recommend being thorough here.)

Mix all of the ingredients together in a mixing bowl and then  fill the donut slots about 3/4 of the way.

Bake for 15-20 minutes. Be sure not to overcook or they become dry. They are done when a toothpick comes out clean and they feel firm but still have bounce.

Remove from the pans and set out on a cooling rack.

Enjoy hot out of the oven, toasted, or at room temperature.

This is shared on Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays, Fat Tuesday, Bento Blog Network, and Allergy Free Wednesdays

Sesame Broccoli Slaw and Star Spangled Bento

Star Spangled Bento

I love candied nuts on salad. I decided it would be a fun change to try candied sesame seeds. (It was fun and delicious by the way.) Also, with this salad, you could skip the cabbage and use all broccoli instead.

The bento was very quick and simple. The music notes are the flesh of a white peach and the stars are the skin side of the same peach. This is one of those two minute bentos, but I think it influenced my older daughter toward tasting the salad. She ate most of it.  My younger daughter cried through dinner and refused to try any of the food. Sometimes that happens. (OK, I confess, it happens often. She is very resistant to trying anything.)

Sesame Broccoli Slaw

Sesame Broccoli Slaw Recipe

2 cups shredded Napa cabbage
2 cups broccoli, briefly steamed, still crunchy
1/4-1/2 cup chopped red onion
1 red apple, chopped

1/4 cup toasted sesame tahini
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon honey or agave
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
Salt, to taste

Sesame Candy (Buy it at the store or try this recipe.)


Combine the salad ingredients in a large bowl.

Whisk together the dressing ingredients and toss with the salad.

Top with sesame candy.

I am sharing this salad on June 2012′s Go Ahead Honey, It’s Gluten-Free Season Salads Theme and Wellness Weekend.

Cilantro-Pistachio Cream and Sunny Garden Bento

Sunny Garden Bento

While on vacation, I acquired a new cookbook, a beautiful bowl of soup, and I found several fun recipes to try (no caps on the title- their quirk not my mistake). So far my favorite recipe is the curried carrot soup with cilantro-pistachio cream (really this book uses no caps on titles– a very lovely book actually). If you decide to make this at home you can; buy the cookbook, or make any nice carrot soup recipe (they’re out there). I made my own curry mix because I avoid nightshades and I omitted the dairy in the recipe– it came out great.

But, to the point: Cilantro-Pistachio Cream. This is my new favorite condiment. It makes a delicious salad dressing, soup topping, vegetable dip, etc, and the recipe follows the next photo.

My daughter loves it too, so I kept the bento simple.  Corn on the cob with water melon tops, boiled eggs, and raw carrot and beet flowers. Of course the star; Cilantro-Pistachio Cream to dip the vegetables and to smear on the corn. I have no idea how she ate the corn because her four front bottom teeth have barely grown in and the top fronts are loose. She said she managed.

Cilantro-Pistachio Cream

Cilantro-Pistachio Cream Recipe
adapted from
a beautiful bowl of soup

1 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves
1/4 cup salted pistachios
2 cloves garlic
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1/4 cup canned coconut milk

Optional for salads:
apple cider vinegar, to taste (about 1-3 teaspoons)


Combine the cilantro, pistachios, and garlic in a small food processor.  Pulse until it is a thick paste, then add the pepper and coconut milk. At this point I like to enjoy the cream with a slightly course texture, but you could process it until smooth as the book suggests.

Shared on Diet, Dessert, and Dogs,  The Daily Dietribe

Good Humor Taco

Taco Cone

This looks so much like mint chocolate chip ice cream that I started getting worried it would melt before I photographed it. I had to remind myself it wasn’t really ice cream!

I love waffles.  So, while researching waffle ideas online I came upon a waffle cone maker. I told myself no. It’s not practical. Too expense. But I wanted it. For months. And I bought one, love it, and would never give it up. This cornmeal waffle is an experiment gone right– it is delicious.

The savory cornmeal waffle cones are filled with black bean hummus, guacamole, and topped with black beans. The side dishes are Daiya Foods Cheddar Style Shreds, tomatillo salsa, and chopped onions. I propped the cones up for the photo shoot, then tucked them in to be packed up.

Taco Cone2

Tomatillo Salsa Recipe

10 medium sized tomatillos
1 lime, juiced
2 tablespoons minced cilantro
2 tablespoons minced red onion
Salt, to taste


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Quarter the tomatillos and roast them for about 15-20 minutes until the juices start to release and they get slightly colored. Cool them completely.

Puree the tomatillos (but leave them ever so slightly chunky). Transfer to a bowl and add the other ingredients.  If you eat nightshades you might enjoy adding a bit of jalapeno.

Cornmeal Cone Recipe
Admittedly Experimental and Frivolous


1 egg
1 egg white
2 tablespoons agave
2 tablespoons oil
1/3 cup Namaste Perfect Blend (all-purpose gluten-free flour)
1/3 cup finely ground cornmeal
1/4 teaspoon salt


Combine all of the ingredients in a mixing bowl.

Use your waffle cone maker according to manufacture’s instructions … but here is what I do.

Preheat the Chef’s Choice Waffle Cone Maker at level 2.5-3. Scoop 1 tablespoon of batter onto the iron. Cook for 1.5-2 minutes. Take out and immediately shape like a cone (I rubber-band these in place because they don’t form as well as the sweet version.)

Shared on Real Food Forager