Trying to eat healthy is harder than it sounds, especially to someone who would just as soon deep-fry a stick of butter as eat chocolate. In the old days, I might have dusted the fried butter with a little cinnamon as my nod to health. Today, I am committed to modifying my eating habits so that I still get to enjoy deep-fried food, just not entire bushels of it. The part that makes me saddest is having to cut way way back on cheese. Why oh why would the powers that be bless us with the miracle of cheese and then put a cholesterol and fat pox on it?? WHYYYY?
A few days ago, I poached four of the five pounds of chicken breast I’d ordered from Fresh Direct and was then faced with the prospect of getting creative with it. Luckily I’d also ordered a container of arugula and other bento-friendly produce, and with stuff I already had in the house, I slapped together a lovely healthy bento for school.
Cut-up jicama, one sliced roasted baby beet, 3-oz poached chicken, 1 teaspoon dried cranberries, 1/2 oz crumbled feta with basil and sundried tomato on a bed of arugula.
Ciliegini (wee little balls of fresh mozzarella) dipped in balsamic vinegar and basil-wrapped cherry tomatoes threaded on a toothpick, and 4 oz mango. Just writing all that makes me feel healthier!
I also cheated. Nearly everything was bought prepared (the mango was pre-cut, the beets roasted and peeled by someone else, and the feta already had the basil and sun-dried tomato mixed in). The only work I put into this meal was in peeling and cutting up the jicama, washing the cherry tomatoes, arugula and basil, and slicing the chicken. And dipping the mozzarella in balsamic vinegar. It was mostly a matter of assembly. Unfortunately, there’s a premium to pay for prepared ingredients but it does save time.
Upside? Arugula and feta are such strongly-flavored ingredients that I didn’t need dressing, so I saved calories there.
I pulled this bento out for my dinner at work (I work for the English department at my university) and no fewer than four faculty members (including my department head) stopped to gape at and ask about it. I know it’s terribly vain of me but I was tickled pink by all the attention. It makes me feel better about not scarfing a pile of fries!