Tricking the toddler into eating- the magic of bento boxes

It seems our love of Japanese food knows no bounds. I’ve gotten so addicted to the cuisine that I spend an hour at a time searching for new recipes and ingredients. One thing I definitely wanted to try was bento boxes. If you have never seen  bento box, they are really just a Japanese lunch box, but they include a wide selection of nutritional food, often leftovers with rice as the main staple. They are an every day part of life in Japan, but in the west we really only see the works of art like these

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I started doing some research and discovered the website Just Bento, It’s a fantastic resource for recipes and the basics of bento building, telling you exactly what sorts of foods should be in a well balanced bento. I raided the fridge, popped to the shop and then went mad. After cooking for hours, I managed to make 10 or so dishes to last us for the week. Of course, I then had to get the toddler to eat it

First I filled her box and hid it. Then I told her that the bento fairy had brought her a special box full of special food and we had to go and find it. We searched around the house, and she shrieked with glee when she spotted a shiny red lunch box on a chair in her room,. She clutched it tightly as we came down the stairs, and she shrieked again when she discovered the fairy had left mummy one too. She opened her box and was in awe of the (quite ordinary) treats inside (she wasn’t letting go, so I couldn’t get a better picture)

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Boiled egg, tomatoes, Japanese potato salad, French beans and rice balls with chicken inside. Mine had sticky rice woth chicken and mayonnaise, Japanese potato salad, stir fried muchrooms and mange tout

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I told her if she returned the box to the kitchen empty then the bento fairy would give her another treat. She stuffed the food into her mouth and finished every last mouthful!

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We returned the empty boxes to the kitchen, shut the door, and when we opened it again the fairy had left us a punnet of strawberries, the toddler’s favourite. She happy that she was talking about bento box all day. It was perhaps too much for an everyday lunchtime event, but the fairy definitely cast her magic and helped us out!

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