Friday, January 30, 2009

Week 3, day 5.

Today is a good day; I've succeeded in all of Maki's goals for the week. I have a Middle Eastern themed bento, with vegetable protein in the form of falafel and hummus, a yoghurt tzatziki sort of sauce, carrot salad, tomatoes, and tabbouleh made with whole barley:

The hummus is heart shaped because I froze it in one of those silicon ice tray things - a batch of hummus is too much for me to eat at once. I put the little heart-shaped blocks of hummus into my bento still frozen.

barley, 1 cup = 194 Cal
carrots, 100g = 41 Cal
oil & lemon juice dressing = 33 Cal
falafels = 80 Cal
4 cherry tomatoes = 12 Cal
hummus = 50 Cal
tzatziki = 10 Cal?

Total = 420 Cal.

Not too bad at all. I bought some Cruskits at the supermarket today, I might have one of those as well - that will be another 21 Cal.

Today's lunch is wrapped in a furoshiki with paua on it - that is abalone to the rest of the world.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Prep: carrot salad & tabbouleh

Having made all of those falafels at the weekend I've been hanging out for falafel doner kebab (or giros, depending on where you live). Seeing as I'm trying not to eat too much bread, I thought I could make a sort of bento with all of the ingredients except pita. Hence tonight's carrot salad and tabbouleh manufacture.

I made carrot salad from grated carrots, toasted black mustard seed, and lemon juice:

And I decided to make tabbouleh out of whole pearl barley instead of bulghur wheat - I love the flavour and chewiness of barley. I boiled a cup or so of barley for 20 minutes or so, then drained it:

Picked a heap of parsley and mint from the garden…

…chopped it up…

… and mixed it with the cooked barley, some finely sliced spring onions, salt, pepper, lemon juice, and a dollop of olive oil:

I'll add tomatoes before eating; it'll keep better without them mixed in.

Week 3, day 4.

It seems to be a week for failing at Maki's goals. Today I have no vegetable protein at all, although my bento is pretty thrifty. I'm using up the last of the poached chicken, some shrimps from the freezer, some of the sushi rice I made and froze at the weekend, shredded cabbage, spring onion, and gherkin and pickled jalapeños from the fridge jars I'm trying to empty.

50 g shrimps = 50 Cal
30 g chicken = 63 Cal
rice = 180 Cal
cabbage = 10 Cal
jalapeños = 10 Cal
gherkin = 17 Cal
spring onion = 5 Cal
Eta lite cole slaw dressing = 30 Cal
Pam's lite & free Thousand Island dressing = 20 Cal

Total = 385 Cal.

Not much at all, which is just as well because I have a meeting over coffee at 3. No doubt I'll see something sweet and delicious at the coffee shop and be unable to resist it.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Week 3, day 3.

This week's goals are supposed to be thriftiness and trying to use more vegetarian protein, while keeping up with the weight loss. Last night I scored extremely well on the thriftiness scale, but failed miserably on weight loss; I went to a company presentation which included free food and drinks. Everything was either deep fried or encased in pastry! And delicious too, so I ate quite a lot.

Today's lunch has more of the roast vege & bulghur salad, a little poached chicken, a hard boiled egg, 3 of the small baked falafels I made at the weekend, some broccoli, three cherry tomatoes, and some gherkin and pickled jalapeños. Very similar to yesterday's in fact, but with falafels insted of mussels.

roast vege salad = 200 Cal
egg = 88 Cal
30g chicken = 53 Cal
gherkin = 17 Cal
broccoli = 5 Cal
3 cherry tomatoes = 9 Cal
jalapeños = 10 Cal
falafels = 60 Cal

Total = 442 Cal

I may go for a walk later on, but my car is in getting its biannual checkup and Warrant of Fitness so I walked from the mechanic's to work this morning, and will walk back to pick up the car later on. That's a good 30 minutes all up.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Week 3, day 2.

Today I am having what should have been yesterday's lunch. I have broccoli, marinated mussels, cherry tomatoes, gherkins & pickled jalapeños (using up fridge supplies), roast vege and bulghur salad, a little poached chicken, and hard boiled egg. It's in one of my nice Hakoya boxes, and was wrapped in the cheerful red furoshiki:

roast vege salad = 200 Cal
egg = 88 Cal
30g chicken = 53 Cal
gherkin = 17 Cal
broccoli = 5 Cal
4 cherry tomatoes = 12 Cal
mussels = 50 Cal
jalapeños = 10 Cal

Total = 435 Cal

That's quite respectable. My walk will have to be postponed today though - it is bucketing down outside. It's supposed to clear up later on.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Week 3, day 1.

Good news and bad news today. The good news is that I weigh 1.2 kg (2.6 pounds) less than last Monday. The bad news is that I left my lunch at home in the fridge this morning. I guess this is the downside of making it the night before.

However, I resisted the temptation to buy sushi and went off to the supermarket where, in addition to the cherry tomatoes that I needed to buy anyway, I bought two corn cobs ($1.25 each, still rather expensive because early in the season), two apricots, and a pottle of yoghurt from the short-dated bin. Three minutes in the tearoom microwave for one of the corn cobs (I'm saving the other in case I need a snack later on), then peel and salt. Delicious. Here is a photo of my non-bento lunch:

corn cob = 83 Cal
6 cherry tomatoes = 18 Cal
2 apricots = 60 Cal
yoghurt = 67 Cal

Total = 228 Cal

Cost = ~$4, which is half what sushi would have cost.

I'll definitely have to have the other corn cob later on though, 228 Cal is not enough to keep a sparrow going for an afternoon.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

More prep; spicy bulghur and roast vege salad.

We have had the most amazing weather this weekend. It's been in the 30s (˚C) and I have been swimming in the harbour both days. This photo is the view from my back door, and I go swimming just in front of that single tree sticking out in the middle of the photo.

This salad is adapted from one of Delia Smith's. Her recipe can be found here. I am using bulghur wheat instead of couscous, as it is less fattening and has much more fibre. I soaked it in vegetable stock for an hour or so, then left it to drain:

I roasted parsnip chunks, onion, capsicum, zucchini, and mushrooms in a little olive oil:

Then mixed the veges in with the bulghur, some crumbled feta, and the dressing, which was made with cayenne pepper, ground coriander (I'd run out of cumin), tomato paste, lime juice, and lemon juice. No oil, I'm trying to get thinner:

It looks a bit of a dog's breakfast, but I can assure you it tastes delicious. I'm having it with steak for my dinner tonight, and the leftovers will be in this week's bentos.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Some prep for Week 3; microwaved rice & falafels.


I always cook basmati and jasmine rice in the microwave, and have been wondering for a while if it was possible to cook sushi rice in it. Last night I did the experiment.

I prepared a cup of rice as per usual for sushi rice, but instead of cooking it in a pot, I put the rice, with a cup-and-a-little-bit of water, in a lidded bowl and cooked it in the microwave. I cooked it on high for 10 minutes. It overboiled a bit, but the rice was fine! I think next time I'll cook it on high for a couple of minutes, then on medium for 8-10 and see how that goes.

Anyway, that meant I had 2 cups or so of cooked sushi rice to deal with. I try not to eat rice too often, because it hasn't much fibre and does have quite a lot of calories. I decided to freeze it in the shape of one of my bento box bottoms. That way I can just unwrap it and put it in my box straight out of the freezer.

I lined the box with gladwrap and pressed 1/4 of the rice into it:

wrapped the rice in the gladwrap, leaving one side unfolded:

I used that unfolded bit of wrap to pull the rice out of the box:

Then finished wrapping it:

Now I have 4 bento box-shaped rice blocks in the freezer:


I pulled out my broad bean plants today (I should have done it a couple of weeks ago) and found quite a few over-ripe beans on them. The skins were as tough as old boots, so after I podded them I boiled them up and squeezed the soft interiors into the processor:

added the chick peas I'd been soaking all day, some tahini, salt, baking powder, garlic, onion, parsley, cumin, coriander, & cayenne pepper, and whizzed it all up:

After rolling it into little ball shapes, I gave them a light spray with olive oil and put them in the oven to bake. I had two trays like this:

I love falafels, but they are very fattening if you deep fry them, and not so nice cold either. These will go into the freezer when they've cooled down.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Week 2, day 5.

Breakfast every day this week. Yay me.

This furoshiki has kiwis all over it. The quilting shop has quite a few New Zealand themed fabrics. I must get some of the pohutukawa fabric, it's lovely.

The other day I bought a 250g packet of what claimed to be frozen whitebait. I knew it wasn't what we Kiwis call whitebait because it was only $6.95, but I thought it was worth a taste. I made some fritters last night, and included some in today's bento. It was OK, but nowhere near as good as proper whitebait. There is also a mini frittata, a few bits of feta, some coleslaw, two chilli marinated mussels, some bean sprouts, and five cherry tomatoes. I put a bit of Thousand Island on the fritters - which goes to show how much it was not like whitebait.

coleslaw = 82 Cal
mini frittata = 90 Cal
fritters = 100 Cal
mussels = 30 Cal maybe?
tomatoes = 15 Cal
feta = 75 Cal
bean sprouts = ~15 Cal?
dressing = 20 Cal

Total = 427 Cal

That's pretty good, but it has to be because I didn't go for a proper walk today.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Week 2, day 4.

This is the fourth day in a row I've had breakfast, so doing well with this week's goals.

Today's furoshiki is a pretty green pattern …

and is a necessity, because the pastel green bento box doesn't have a belt.
I have a mini frittata, some roast vege salad, 50g of shrimps, a cheese-filled belle pepper, two artichoke heart quarters, some coleslaw, and a few bean sprouts. I also put a bit of lite Thousand Island dressing on the shrimps.

coleslaw = 82 Cal
mini frittata = 90 Cal
shrimps = 50 Cal
artichoke hearts = 9 Cal
roast veges = ~40 Cal
pepper = 15 Cal
bean sprouts = ~15 Cal?
dressing = 20 Cal

Total = 321 Cal

Not very much. I can have a snack later on. I went for quite a long walk too - looking for shoes and bags. Buying shoes and a bag. Nothing fancy though.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Week 2, day 3.

Today's furoshiki is black with little white polka dots:

And the bento box is a cheap one I bought in Auckland at Christmas. It says "the life that bounced" around one of the balloons. Lunch is some of the Korean Barbecued Beef I made on Saturday, coleslaw, cherry tomatoes, a couple of artichoke hearts, some of the roast vege salad I made last night, and one of the "would be a quiche if it had pastry" things. I must think of a proper name for those. Mini frittata?

coleslaw = 82 Cal
tomatoes = 15 Cal
mini frittata = 90 Cal
beef = 130 Cal
artichoke hearts = 9 Cal
roast veges = ~40 Cal

Total = ~ 366 Cal

I went for a walk to the further away supermarket, through the Botanic Gardens. The ducks were out in force:

The construction fencing has finally been removed from the fountain in front of the willow behind the knot garden:

And the roses, although past their best, were lovely.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A bit more prep; "things that would be quiches…" & roast vege salad.

I was feeling a bit miserable after having to get Timothy put down today, so I thought I'd do some cooking to cheer myself up.

I made six "things that would be quiches if they had pastry", and some roast vege salad.

I blanched some broccoli:

and stir fried some mushrooms and onion:

layered it in silicon cupcake cases with a couple of little cubes of feta in each:

Then apportioned two beaten eggs between the six cases and baked them at 170˚C for about 15 mins, until they were set:

Then I sprinkled a little smoked paprika on them.

Because I hate the thought of heating up the oven for only one thing, I then used the dish I'd baked the cases in to roast some cubed kumara (New Zealand sweet potato - with purple skin and quite dry, pale flesh), and added zucchini and onion for the last 10 minutes of cooking:

I added a cube of frozen pesto (just one of these, a green one) …

… then tossed it around when it had melted.

I had some with my dinner, and will have some cold for bentos too.

Week 2, day 2.

It hasn't been a very good day today. I have just been at the vet's, holding Timothy cat while he was euthanased, if that is the right word. He was very sick, but I've had him for 14 years so it was a bit traumatic.

Today's bento is wrapped in a cheerful red furoshiki. I've made quite a few of these out of "fat quarters", at least I think that's what they're called - 50x50 cm squares of fabric from the quilting shop. They add another layer of security between the runny contents of your bento box and your bag.

The bento box is another of my favourite Hakoya ones, holding 530 ml. The lunch itself is coleslaw, a hard boiled egg (one day I'll make a "cute bento" using egg halves for the eyes), a cheese-stuffed belle pepper, some left-over potato salad, and some of the Thai-flavoured beef I made at the weekend:

coleslaw = ~82 Cal
egg = 88 Cal
beef = ~128 Cal
potatoes = 67 Cal
aoli = 40 Cal
tomato = 3 Cal
feta = 50 Cal
pepper = 15 Cal

Total =~473 Cal

Not too bad, but I'm not going for a walk today - I spent my lunch spare time at the vet's.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Week 2 day 1.

I'm feeling quite pleased with myself today, I weighed myself this morning and I was 70.8 kg, that's 700 g or 1.5 pounds lighter than last week. And I ate breakfast this morning too.

Here is today's cute wee bento box:

It only holds 400ml, but the lid becomes another bowl when turned upside down.

I have chicken, capsicum slices, toasted cashews, and bean sprouts in the non-leakproof bottom bowl, and glass noodles in the fish sauce/lime juice/garlic/ginger/sugar dressing in the leakproof-ish middle container. The little plastic pottle things contain miso and dried seaweed/onion/bread curl stuff to put in the miso soup I shall make in the lid/bowl:

It was a whole lot easier to put all the salad ingredients into a large bowl to mix and eat, so I did:

35g cashews = 194 Cal
75g chicken thigh, poached = 133 Cal
40g dry weight glass noodles = 150 Cal
coriander = nothing much
capsicum = 18 Cal
bean sprouts = 25 Cal maybe - they aren't very sprouted so quite dense.
dressing = maybe ~15 Cal - there's no oil in it.
miso soup = 30 Cal

Total = 535 Cal

That's quite a lot, but a lot of it is the cashews, and they're so delicious AND good for you. I'll have a virtuous dinner tonight.

Today's walk was to the closer supermarket, where I bought a pot of coriander plants to keep in the office and a cabbage with which to make salad.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sunday before week 2.

No excuse for not doing the laundry today. An absolutely glorious Otago Harbour morning.

And then the rain came, and thunder. Friday it was 30˚C and I was far too hot, last night I took a hot water bottle to bed. This is why New Zealanders and the English talk about the weather.

I prepared tomorrow's noodle salad bento; capsicum, cashews, cut up the poached chicken, rehydrated the glass noodles and put them in a dressing of garlic, lime, sugar, fish sauce, and ginger to soak and absorb the flavours, but will have to add the coriander and bean sprouts tomorrow. I might even buy a pot of coriander plants from the supermarket to keep at work. It wilts awfully fast once it's cut and I do love it.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Prep for week 2 continued; Potato salad & cooking the beef.

It took a while, but Eddie managed to get every last bit of blood from the meat bag,

leaving me free to make potato salad - beautiful waxy new season's Jersey Bennes, red onion, halved cherry tomatoes, cubed feta,

and aoli. It lasts quite well in the fridge, I'll eat some of it this weekend and if there's any left over it'll be good in a bento

I decided to cook the meat rather than freeze it raw - flash fried the Korean one in a pan brushed with a mixture of olive & sesame oils:

and sprinkled to top with more of the ground sesame seeds. Tasted it and it's yummy.

I cooked the Thai-ish meat more slowly,

until only just done. I squeezed a bit more lime juice over it and put it aside to cool. I'll probably freeze about half of each of the meat dishes.

Then I poached the chicken thighs in a little fish sauce and lime juice ready to go in my glass noodle salad.

I prepare quite a bit of food in the weekends - not just for lunches. By the time I get home from work I can't be bothered making a whole meal, and I live by myself, so if I don't have stuff prepared I end up eating something evil and quick - like licorice allsorts, or bacon and eggs, or sandwiches with loads of butter and jam, or even the most evil Brandy Snap ice cream that has half my daily calorie allowance in one scoop! My freezer is packed with aliquots of different curries and stews that I can defrost, heat, and eat in a matter of a few minutes.