Adult Bento Lunch Box

First off, I’ll explain what a Bento box is incase you are unaware like I was.

Courtesy of Merian Webster:

Definition of bento box: a multicompartment box used for containing the different courses of a usually Japanese lunch

Here is a cute bento box I found at Albertsons locally in Baton Rouge

The first item I have chosen is:

Bagel Chips from RRR 3, pg. 258

Ingredients:

  • 6 bagels
  • Non-stick butter flavored cooking spray

Instructions:

Slice bagels as thin as possible, approximately 6 slices per bagel. Places slices on ungreased cookie sheet. Spray moderately with cooking spray. Add salt, onion, garlic, etc, if desired. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes.

Makes 18 servings of 2 chips.

I have selected cinnamon sugar mini bagels and here is a picture of my bagels.


To pair with the bagel chips, I have selected:

Sweet cream cheese with peanuts

RRR 3, pg. 30

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces of light cream cheese
  • 3/4 cup of brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/3 cup of chopped dry roasted peanuts
  • 3 or more apples, cut into wedges

Instructions:

Combine first three ingredients and mix together well. Gold in peanuts. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Serve with slices of apple as a spread.

Serving size: 25 servings of 1 apple wedge and 1 tablespoon dip

Here is a picture of the spread.


The last item I have chosen for the box is:

Asian Chicken Wraps, RRR 4, pg 265

Ingredients:

Dressing:

  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons minced ginger root
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cracked red pepper

Wraps:

  • 1 rotisserie chicken
  • 1 cup chopped cabbage
  • 1 cup chow Mein noodles
  • 1/2 cup shredded almonds
  • 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 4 green onions chopped
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds toasted
  • 4-6 large tortilla wraps

Instructions:

For the dressing, combine the canola oil, vinegar, ginger root, soy sauce, garlic, sugar and red pepper in a bowl and whisk until the sugar dissolves.

I have added pictures of the ingredients below.

Here is the minced ginger root.

Here is the dressing mixed together.

Now for the wraps, chop the chicken into bite-sized pieces, discarding the skin and bones. Combine the chicken, cabbage, noodles, almonds, bell peppers, green onions, and sesame seeds in a bowl and mix well. Add the dressing to the cabbage mixture and toss to coat. Spread the cabbage mixture over the tortillas and roll to enclose the filling. Wrap each roll individually in baking parchment paper and secure with tape. Cut each wrap diagonally into halves.

Serves 4-6

Here are the almonds and sesame seeds toasting. Be careful because the almonds are easy to burn! They should be light brown.

This is what the mix should look like.

Add the mix to the tortilla then close up the wrap!

Here is the finished wrap.

Here’s a few pictures of the bento box put together!

Member Spotlight: Dining with Our President, Kathy Victorian

Every Friday evening, my family has what we call a “special night.” I pick up our three year old daughter from daycare; we get “freats” (we are still working on that “tr” phonetic combo) – usually our favorite Talenti gelato to share and a nice bottle of Malbec for Mommy and Daddy; then we pick out a movie to watch as a family. One of her favorite  movies for nights like these is Disney’s The Princess and the Frog. At the beginning of the movie, Tiana’s dad, James, makes the following observation while helping his daughter make the perfect pot of gumbo: “You know the thing about good food? It brings folks together from all walks of life. It warms them right up and it puts little smiles on their faces.” I could not agree more!

Kathy Victorian, President of the Junior League of Baton Rouge, also knows that there is truly something special about sharing a meal with loved ones. Growing up, Kathy remembers fondly the meals she shared with her family. “My mom was an amazing cook, and I remember vividly her preparing a home cooked meal for us every day, but she made Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas magical in our home with her cooking.” Today, Kathy continues this tradition with her own family. “I LOVE to cook,” she says, “because cooking a meal is one of the most personal things I can do for someone. I’m literally providing plated ‘love’ made with my own hands and creativity – even if I’m following a recipe, I picked the recipe and planned the meal!

Kathy Victorian

Kathy Victorian, Junior League of Baton Rouge President 2016-2017

Like most of us, the typical weeknight dinner at Kathy’s house varies, depending on how busy everyone is. “The typical weeknight can consist of take out or a sit down dinner with my husband, Michael, but Sunday after church, my cooking skills are on display at Chateau Victorian!” One of Kathy and Michael’s favorite River Road Recipes is the Chicken Stew found on page 195 of River Road Recipes III – A Healthy Collection. Another favorite from RRR III is the Creamy Risotto, featured below. “I had never prepared homemade risotto until I got my hands on RRR III, and when I turned to the recipe, I found my elegant comfort food. Needless to say, I prepare this dish often.”

Kathy with friends enjoying a casual evening dinner at home.

(Left to right) Kimberly LaMotte, Kathy Victorian, Elisha Browder, and Brunetta Adams enjoying a Memorial Day Weekend cookout and surprise birthday party for Elisha! “Food always brings me and my loved ones together,” says Kathy. “Friends plus Family plus Food equals FUN!”

In addition to cooking at home, Kathy enjoys eating out. While she has several favorite Baton Rouge restaurants, Mansurs on the Boulevard takes the cake. “If I had to pick one,” Kathy says, “it would be Mansurs on the Boulevard simply because of their fantastic staff, and every meal I’ve eaten there has been Ahhhhhh-Mazing!” Whether dining out or trying a new recipe from the River Road Recipes collection like Kathy, or even just sharing store bought “freats” with your loved ones on the couch like my family, there are so many opportunities in the Red Stick to enjoy some “plated love” and create lasting memories with both friends and family alike.

Creamy Risotto, RRR III p. 132

This Creamy Risotto, as Kathy says, makes for an elegant comfort food that works well as a side or as the main dish!

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon tub margarine
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 1 cup arborio rice or medium grain rice
  • 3 tablespoons dry white wine
  • 3 1/2 cups defatted chicken stock, less salt
  • 1/3 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese
  • 1/8 teaspoon saffron (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon basil
  • Black pepper for seasoning
Aborio is an Italian short grain rice and can typically be found at most grocery stores on the grain aisle. Photo by Lauren De Witt.

Aborio rice is an Italian short grain rice and can typically be found at most grocery stores on the grain aisle. Photo by Lauren De Witt.

Heat oil and margarine. Sauté vegetables for five minutes. Add rice and stir for 30 seconds. Add wine and stir for one minute. Add stock, cheese, and spices. Simmer until the rice is tender but slightly firm to bite and the mixture is creamy, about 25 minutes. Season with pepper. Serve with extra Parmesan cheese if desired.

Creamy Risotto. Photo by Lauren De Witt.

Creamy Risotto. Photo by Lauren De Witt.

This recipe has 208 calories, 6.4 grams of fat, and 511 milligrams of sodium per serving, which is over 5 grams less fat compared to the original! You can take the nutritional benefits a step further by omitting the olive oil and margarine and simply sautéing the vegetables in the chicken broth to save an additional 3.7 grams of fat and 33 calories per serving. Try using a sodium-free broth to cut additional sodium.

Maximizing Flavor While Minimizing Your Health Risks

Weight loss seems to be a topic of perpetual interest in our society. While we are bombarded daily with images of svelte models and fad diets, it can be easy to forget that the true goal is being healthy, not necessarily being thin. Unhealthy lifestyles lead to a variety of health issues, and unfortunately, this health crisis hits close to home. Baton Rouge is #1 in obesity in the country for cities of our size, and 1 in 3 children in Baton Rouge are obese.

What is Obesity?

Obesity it defined as having excess body fat. It is based on the Body Mass Index (BMI), which utilizes height and weight measurements. For adult men and women, a BMI between 25 and 29.9 is classified as overweight and a BMI larger than 30 is classified as obese. There is no absolute BMI that defines obesity in children; the CDC has standard reference charts (growth curves) depending on age. A BMI between the 85th and 95th percentiles is classified as overweight, and a BMI greater than the 95th percentile is classified as obese. Obesity affects all ages and increases risk for diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and arthritis.  There isn’t one single cause for obesity; there are many contributing factors. Those include: genetics, environment, types of food eaten, lack of physical activity, medical conditions and side effects, and lack of access to fresh foods.

Lack of access to fresh foods, like healthy nuts and fruits, can lead to obesity. Areas with a lack of access to grocery stores and healthy food providers are known as "food deserts," and can typically be found in impoverished areas. Photo by Lauren De Witt.

Lack of access to fresh foods, like healthy nuts and fruits, can lead to obesity. Areas with little or no access to grocery stores, farmer’s markets, or healthy food providers are known as “food deserts” and can typically be found in impoverished areas. Photo by Lauren De Witt.

Easy Tips for Cooking Light

While there are many factors contributing to obesity, eating better is a cornerstone to living a healthier lifestyle and reducing health risks. Contrary to popular belief, eating healthier doesn’t mean sacrificing on flavor. In fact, River Roads Recipes III is entirely devoted to “lightening” some of our favorite dishes while preserving the tastes we have grown to love. Additionally, River Roads Recipes III  contains helpful tips throughout on how to reduce calories, fat, sodium, and cholesterol. A few of these tips are listed below and can be incorporated into any recipe to make it healthier:

  • Cut the Fat
    • Use leaner cuts of meat and trim all visible fat
    • Limit dairy fat by using alternative skim or low fat products
    • Remove the skin from poultry and game
  • Reduce Sugar
    • Use 1/4 less sugar than the recipe calls for
    • Try substituting 1 cup of sugar for 1 cup of unsweetened applesauce
    • Try substituting 1/2 cup of fruit juice concentrate in place of 1 cup of sugar
  • Prepare Food Differently
    • Bake, broil, roast, or grill rather than frying or pan searing
    • Use non-stick skillets to cut back on the fat and oil called for in the recipe
    • Use more spices and herbs to enhance flavor and reduce your use of oils and butter
    • Toast nuts to achieve more flavor from smaller portions

Curried Chicken Salad with Mango Chutney, RRR III, p. 68

This is a great, quick and easy healthy recipe from our River Road Recipes III cookbook. Note how the recipe cuts down on the calories and fat found in traditional chicken salad recipes by removing the chicken skin, toasting the chopped walnuts, and using low calorie mayonnaise and nonfat dairy substitutes, yet maintains great flavor by adding the curry powder and mango chutney.

Curried Chicken Salad 3

Curried Chicken Salad from RRR III. Photo by Lauren De Witt.

  • 1 pound skinless chicken, cooked, and cubed
  • 2 cups seedless grapes or golden raisins (I like to cut these in half)
  • 2-3 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup lightly toasted chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup low fat/low calorie mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup plain nonfat yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • Lettuce leaves
  • 4 tablespoons mango chutney

In a bowl, combine the first 7 ingredients. Chill for 2-3 hours. Serve on lettuce leaves with mango chutney on the side. Serves 4.

Mango Chutney 2

Mango chutney served with fresh mango slices. Photo by Lauren De Witt.

*Nutrition Note: This recipe has 324 calories, 14.4 grams of fat, and 190 milligrams of sodium per serving. You can take the health benefits a step further by substituting the walnuts for 1/2 cup of chopped water chestnuts (this will reduce over 4 grams more fat per serving). You can also try using a fat free mayonnaise to trim an additional 4 grams of fat per serving.