Friday, April 30, 2010

Dolly: a preschool bento lunch

My daughter picked the name for this bento. :)

preschool bento for autism awarness

This bento is packed in a Sassy box.
On the right: pretzels, sandwich bites cut into puzzle shapes with The Lunch Punch (peanut butter & cherry preserves), and in the little dish are deli rolls: salami, turkey, swiss cheese.
On the left: strawberries, with cucumber in the silicone cup.

It is the last day of April, the last day of Autism Awareness Month! My last message about autism to share.

Amy says:
"Person with autism or autistic?
Many autistics themselves prefer autistic. They see autism as an integral (& often positive) part of their personalities & argue that saying "person with autism" is like calling women "people with femaleness.""

Tomorrow we will be back to our regularly scheduled bento programming! :)
Supplies used to pack this lunch:

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Thursday, April 29, 2010

bento lunch for a 2nd grade boy

Wow, it took me a long time to come up with that title! 
Clearly, it's time to move to Plan B for the post titles!  I think I'd name this one Barney.

2nd grader bento yum!

Packed in a Sassy box my son has:
On the left - carrots, deli pickles (got a bit smushed on the way home), cheddar cheese puzzle pieces cut with The Lunch Punch puzzle set.

On the right - strawberry cereal bar (cut in half), a couple animal crackers, a homemade granola bar (wrapped in wax paper as it's a bit crumbly), raspberries.

Only 2 days left for Autism Awareness Month!

My spectacular spokesperson friend Amy shares:

"For many people, Rain Man is the image of autism. However, only 10% of autistic individuals have savant skills & half of all savants are not autistic. Kim Peek, the savant who inspired the character of Raymond Babbitt, was actually not autistic, but instead is suspected to have had a genetic condition known as FG Syndrome. This is Autism Awareness Month and this is me making you aware!"

This message reminds me of one of my favorite Flair buttons on Facebook. :)

Supplies used to make this lunch:
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and the winner is...


Congratulations to lucky commenter #49, winner of the bento goodie giveaway!

Thank you to everyone who commented to enter! I truly enjoyed reading each and every one of the comments. :)

This contest was fun. We will have to do it agian sometime. :)
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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

pizza pizzazz: a preschool bento

Back to our regularly scheduled's bento for my preschooler girl.

pizza for preschool

We have pizza. Jamie Oliver might be horrified. ;-)

Along with the pizza my little lass has a dish of organic yogurt covered raisins and a piece of fruit leather cut into a puzzle piece shape using The Lunch Punch. On the right side are cucumber and strawberries.  

She also had plain, low-fat, non-flavored milk to drink. Much less sugar than fizzy pop.  Hopefully that will put me back in Jamie's good graces? :) 

And if you don't catch those references it's because you missed Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution series and you need to catch up! :)

April is almost over! And with it, Autism Awareness Month will be over too. Until then you get another autism awareness message from my friend Amy:

"Early intervention (&  just understanding!) can greatly improve school performance & life for autistic people and their families. But there is no quick, reliable, standard test for autism now; diagnosis requires observing behavior. The average age of Asperger's (no speech delay) diagnosis is ~7 yrs old & of classic autism.../PDD-NOS is ~3 yrs old (when it's clear toddlers aren't "growing out of" speech/social delays)."

Supplies used to pack this lunch:

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a few Public Service Announcements :)

Green My Lunchbox!!
I recently came across this fantastic campaign called Green My Lunchbox.  They are wanting 15,000 families to pledge to packing waste-free lunches in order to save an estimated 1 million pounds of trash!

Join them on Facebook and by sharing how you are greening up your life you will have a chance to win a cool waste-free lunch item. A winner is chosen every single day!  Spread the word to your friends! You can invite your Facebook friends to join the campaign by clicking the "invite your friends" linky under their logo on their Facebook page.  I sent an invite to all of mine! :)

In other news, did you all watch Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution? Did you love it? I think I might have a wee little crush on that cutie. I tried with all my might to get Jamie to tweet to me on Twitter, but he didn't return my affections. Sigh.  Anywho, I think you can still catch the episodes on Hulu if you missed the series. It was only a six episode run, but it packed a great message about the state of school food in America. Definitely a must-see. :)  If you believe in healthier lunches for our kids, and who the heck doesn't?!, and if you haven't done so already, then you must head over and sign his petition. Right now. Do it. :)

Another must-see? Food, Inc.  This Academy Award nominee film is an expose on the food industry. There an no scare tactics of sensationalistic views, just the cold hard facts about where our food is coming from. Some of it may make your toes curl, and some of it may really tick you off. PBS ran this documentary last week and it is still available to view on their website here, but only through April 29, so don't wait!**  Do what you will with the information.  In my opinion ignorance may be bliss, but knowledge is power. :)  Being informed is never a bad thing.

**Many thanks to Frosty of My Love/Hate with Packing Lunches, who urged me to share this info with all of you. :) 
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Monday, April 26, 2010

anti-bento lunchbox, part 2: an update

Considering this IS Autism Awareness Month, I didn't think it would be right for April to pass without a lunch belonging to my autistic child shared and pictured for the blog!

A couple months ago I shared with you the contents of his anti-bento lunchbox.  Today I will share with you an update.

Shockingly (or not) ;-) it hasn't changed all that much. But the changes that have taken place are pretty awesome.

The contents are pretty much the same: organic milk box, natural applesauce, something crunchy (on this day it was pretzel sticks). A new addition is yogurt, something that he used to only eat at home (and then, only through a straw).
Missing is the daily mini-fruit roll-up. These days he gets the fruit roll-up just once or twice a week (when he remembers to ask for it in the morning).  I'd like to have him eat fruit leather, but so far that's a no-go.

I'm very excited that he will now happily eat applesauce from large jars instead of the single-serving containers!!! YAY!  So now he takes his applesauce in a small Lock & Lock container and he eats it with a spoon that comes back home each day.  Currently he is averse to eating his yogurt the same way, so a single-serving container still stands for that. I'm confident though that he will be weaned off those soon. :)
The one thing that won't be changing anytime soon are the disposable milk boxes. In the words of my boy: "milk boxes make my tummy HAPPY!".  :)

My lovely friend Amy shares:
"Many autistics are resistant eaters (eat fewer than 15 foods) or suffer other severe eating disorders. They are NOT typical picky eaters & NOT motivated by hunger to change/eat. The cause may be sensory (extreme sensitivity to taste/texture/smell or inability to recognize hunger), obsessive/compulsive, muscle weakness,... oral motor (chewing/swallowing) problems and/or neophobia (terror of new things) - all common in autism."

Um, yeah. What she said! While I know a few autistic children who are much better eaters than my son, I know just as many who eat much less.  Owen falls somewhere in the middle, and while his eating habits leave me frustrated and worried, I'm thankful that he does have some flexibility in the things he DOES eat. For instance, he'll eat a pretty good variety of crackers and crunchy foods: saltines, Ritz, pretzels (any shape or size), Cheez-its, Goldfish crackers and most chips (sigh). He will eat peach or strawberry yogurt. He started eating vanilla ice cream last summer and will happily eat that no matter what brand or variety of vanilla it is. ;-)  He will drink any brand of orange juice, anything from no pulp to lots of pulp (what I tend to buy most).... he is not picky (anymore) about dishes, cups or utensils. He has his favorites, but he can stray from the familiar without any fanfare. I have a lot to be thankful for and we count our blessings.  And when a little breakthrough happens, like eating applesauce from a jar poured into a container rather than only eating from the single-serve cups? Well, then we celebrate like crazy!  The gift of having a special needs child comes in never taking for granted "the small things". With a special needs kid those "small things" are HUGE.  :)

Items used in this lunch:
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Saturday, April 24, 2010

from the archives

I was reading through the comments on the bento goodie GIVEAWAY (don't forget to enter!) post and was struck by this one from Melissa who wrote:
"I made an attempt to bento today, using our crayola sandwich boxes.
They got animal crackers, a granola bar, a nutrigrain bar, a cookie,
peanut butter on crackers, and some fruit snacks. I somehow managed
to fit all that into one sandwich box, and then a sandwich in another box.
They seemed to enjoy it, so I might have to do it more often!"

Do you know the sandwich boxes she's talking about? They are sort of shaped like a piece of bread and you can find them for sale everywhere. I see the Crayola ones at Publix in the bread aisle. I don't have Crayola ones (I've resisted, but I've wanted them!)(and I'm probably going to cave in after writing about them), but we have Wonder Bread ones (I'm a sucker for polka dots), and have collected some character-themed ones from Target's Dollar Spot and also a couple from Dollar General. (Okay, it sounds like a I have a ton of them, but really it's only about five. Okay, yeah, five does sound like a lot too, but remember I have four kids and my husband and I eat too. LOL) :)

Anywho, the reason this caught my attention is because I used to pack little bentos in those sandwich boxes all the time. :) You can really make a bento box out of just about anything. This is a bento I made for my daughter a couple years ago. She would have been about 15 months old at this time:
I used a banana cut in half as a barrier to contain fishie crackers to one side, sandwich pieces on the other side (no idea what was in that sandwich, probably pb&j), two mini silicone cups held raspberries and organic yogurt covered raisins (cut in half).

There was no fancy gear involved, but the bento came together just fine anyway! :)
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Friday, April 23, 2010

popcorn for two

It was an EasyLunchbox kind of day.

My big boy's lunch for the day:
ELB popcorn lunch

He had popcorn in the big section, a strawberry cereal bar and granola bar in the smallest section, and an orange in the middle spot.
Magoo LOVES to have popcorn at school, but it doesn't fit well in most boxes. So happy to have the EasyLunchboxes for popcorn days! :)

My little girl's lunch for the day:
ELB lunch for miss P.

Paige had a ham & cheese sandwich on half a kaiser roll and corn puffs (Trader Joe's brand of "pirate booty") which my little girl calls "yummy popcorns" :) in the big section, an assortment of organic raisins and yogurt covered raisins in the smallest section with a piece of fruit leather cut with The Lunch Punch, and finally some broccoli (with ranch in the little dip cup).

The little puzzle piece of fruit leather is a reminder of.... what was it again?
(all together now!) It's Autism Awareness Month!  Very good class! :)

Our Autism Awareness message of the day, written by my amazing friend Amy:

"Eye tracking experiments show that non-autistic people (as young as three months old) will look at people's eyes for social cues and clues about emotion, meaning and intention. But autistic people, from infants to adults, will tend look at mouths instead to find the source of the sound. This is Autism Awareness Month and this is me making you aware. :)"

A lack of eye contact as an infant was the first thing that tipped me off that something was going on with my son. His gaze would skirt all around my head and settle in the distance, wholly refusing to look at my face. Gradually this faded, he makes great eye contact now. :)  

Don't forget that in celebration of Autism Awareness Month I am having a fabulous bento goodie giveaway! Don't forget to leave a comment (on that post!) to enter. :)
And speaking of comments, I think I have the nicest readers on all of the internets! My goodness, you are all so sweet and flattering. Don't make me go and get a big head. ;-)  Some of the comments regarding your own experiences with autism have had me in tears. Happy tears. :)  You all are the BEST.

Supplies used to pack these lunches:

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Thursday, April 22, 2010

preschool lunch: mini-burrito bento

This turned out to be a pretty random assortment of food for my little miss.  I'm a bit of Old Mother Hubbard and the Old Lady Who Lived in a Shoe this week. Not only do I have so many kids I don't know what to do, but my cupboards are bare. A grocery run is on the agenda.

burrito bento with melon puzzle piece :)

From top to bottom: a mini blueberry muffin, a little cup of almonds, a mini burrito of leftover chicken, rice and cheese, purple & green grapes with a piece of cantaloupe cut into a puzzle piece shape using The Lunch Punch on top.

Our autism awareness message today from my awesome friend Amy:

When autistic individuals do learn to speak, they often have difficulty with pronouns and will reverse "you" and "I." For example, an autistic child might say "you want milk" when she means "I want milk." They may require help in learning grammar that other people pick up naturally. This is Autism Awareness Month and ...this is me continuing to make you aware.

Supplies used to pack this lunch:

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

bento goodie GIVEAWAY!

In honor of Autism Awareness Month I am having my very first blog giveaway! I'm a little nervous because I've never done anything like this before ;-) but I am so excited to share this with all of you!

One VERY lucky winner will get this little prize package courtesy of me:
bento giveaway!!
a bento box, two silicone cups, a package of barran and a set of my favorite bento picks!
bento goodies!

bento fun for you!

I'm also including an upcycled Capri-Sun lunchbag from TerraCycle. It fits this bento box perfectly, holding the lunch upright while being carried. Somehow the pictures I took of that are not ready to be uploaded, so I'll attach those pictures later.

And that's not all. In honor of Autism Awareness month the winner, the very VERY lucky winner, will also receive.... (drum roll, please)....

their own set of Match & Munch puzzle piece sandwich cutters, courtesy of The Lunch Punch!!!


The lovely folks at The Lunch Punch are also going to give that lucky winner a set of their Critter Cutters animal shaped sandwich cutters!

Just color me jealous! I've been dying for the adorable elephant press for ages!
I mean, just look at it! It's adorable!

Many thanks to The Lunch Punch for participating in this giveaway! :)  They have some new designs rolling out soon that are just as cute and fun. You all really need to check them out!


Leave a comment.

That's it. Simple, right? Leave a comment on this post. That comment is your entry.
Leave a comment telling me how autism has touched your life.  Or leave a comment about which Lunch Punch set is your favorite. Or leave a comment to let me know what you are planting in your garden this summer or just leave a comment to say "hi! you have the greatest blog ever in the history of the blogoshere!!!". Go ahead, I won't stop you. ;-)  Just leave a comment, one per person. Contest winner will be chosen at random in one week and I will announce that lucky lucky winner next Thursday.

Good luck!!!
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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

bento with a missing piece

Oops, I forgot to incorporate puzzle pieces into this bento! 

I even had fruit leather cut out for it, totally cute little puzzle piece ready to go!, but it totally slipped my mind at the end. Eek!  *foreheadslap*

preschool bento with forgotten puzzle piece!

My little miss has a peanut butter & honey sandwich with SunChips on the right, and on the left is cheddar cheese and a mix of purple and green grapes. I don't usually cut her grapes in half any longer, unless they are very big, which was the case with these green ones!

Despite my missing puzzle shapes in this bento, I'm still going to treat you with an Autism Awareness message today! :)

My amazing friend Amy shares:
"Both autistic & non-autistic people may engage in "stimming" (a type of repetitive behavior) to calm anxiety. For autistics, stimming more often takes the form of stereotypical, socially unacceptable behavior like rocking, hand flapping, spinning or unusual vocalizations. But if you nervously bite your nails, twirl your hair or drum your fingers, you're stimming too, just in a more socially acceptable way."

Items used to pack this bento:

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Monday, April 19, 2010

the "it's not really a bento" bento

Last week my kids were on Spring Break and one day we took a day trip to the aquarium.  We had plans to have lunch at a brick-oven pizzeria that was within walking distance of the aquarium and therefore packing lunches was not necessary. Of course, being that we have a gaggle of children, packing snacks is always necessary. When I was in the kitchen putting together snacks for the day my husband said several times "remember, we are having lunch out, you don't have to pack lunches!" and I would say, "I know, I know!". And as he was packing the van he called in again "no bentos!", and I replied "I know, I know!".

But these things have a way of coming together, you see, I was practically powerless to stop it.

off to the aquarium

Little girl's snack - hummus on whole wheat white bread, cucumber and fishies.
It only took like two minutes to throw together. So it's not really a bento, is it? ;-)

*packed in a sandwich-sized Lock & Lock box.
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Thursday, April 15, 2010

new gear! EasyLunchboxes for easy bento meals :)

I am very happy to tell you about some really great new containers for packing bento-style waste-free lunches. I've been trying them out for a few weeks now and I love, love, love them!  They were created by a mom, so you know some good thought was put into their creation. ;-) They are called EasyLunchboxes and I'm gonna tell you alllll about them.

EasyLunchboxes come packaged as a set of four:
EasyLunchboxes are awesome

The lids come in really bright, cheerful colors:
EasyLunchboxes stack up!

You can pack lunch in them fast. It's brainless really, plop, plop, plop and you are done. What could be easier? :)
easylunchboxes croissant lunch
turkey and havarti with lovely green ruffle edge lettuce on a croissant (are you drooling yet? yummmm!), baby carrots, SunChips.

I know what you are probably thinking, "those look like the disposable containers I see at the grocery store". Right? You were thinking that, weren't you? ;-)  I confess, when I first saw them I wondered the same thing. And I can't recall now where I first saw them, it was on a blog somewhere, and I was instantly wanting to try the boxes out (I am ALWAYS wanting to try out new lunch gear!), but I was hesitant to purchase something that wasn't going to be durable. So imagine my surprise and delight when Kelly, head honcho of, contacted me to try them out! Happy day! :)
And let me assure you, the EasyLunchboxes are nothing like the disposable containers you are familiar with. They are very sturdy and not bendy at all and simply a really good product I feel good about endorsing. :)

Another great item that is part of this lunch system is the EasyLunchbox insulated cooler bag. These allow you to carry the EasyLunchboxes while keeping them nice and flat, and leaving enough space to pack additional snacks, ice packs and drinks:

coolerbag all filled up
This cooler bag is holding one EasyLunchbox, two ice packs and one stainless drinking bottle with room to spare!
2 EasyLunchboxes in the cooler bag!
This time I've packed 2 (count 'em, two!) EasyLunchboxes in the cooler bag and there is still space for ice packs and drinks!

I've been finding these EasyLunchboxes fantastic to have on hand. I used them often during Spring Break when my family was off on outings and such.  I predict I'll be getting a lot of use out of them!
ELB sandwich bento
egg salad sandwich on whole wheat (goodbye Easter eggs!), baby carrots with container of ranch, homemade puzzle-piece shaped cheddar crackers (it is Autism Awareness Month afterall!).

More details!
- EasyLunchboxes are dishwasher and microwave safe. They are BPA free and lead-free and free of all that other icky crud you wouldn't want near your food. :)

- The lids are nicely fitted, they close securely, but the compartments are not water-tight. You probably wouldn't want to put something like applesauce in one of the smaller squares without using an additional barrier like Glad Press n' Seal over it. But the lids fit much more closely than the Lock & Lock boxes or Sassy boxes I frequently use. There is definitely not enough of a gap for raisins or even granola to hop across the barrier!

- While the lids are a good fit, they are not difficult to remove. Even my little 3 year-old can take off the lid (not very gracefully, but she can do it)!

-  I love them.

-  They are super affordable. The set of 4 (four!) EasyLunchboxes is only $13.95. The insulated cooler bags are $7.95. This is a great way to outfit your whole family with reusable, waste-free lunch gear without pinching the pocketbook. :)

And speaking of pocketbooks, check this out...
pay no attention to the snobby handbag on the table

Yes, it's my pretentious handbag. No, that's not really what I wanted to show you. But if you come a little closer and take a peek inside....
surprise! EasyLunchbox fits inside!

Ta-da! Another really great use I've found with the EasyLunchboxes...taking them to restaurants to bring home our leftovers. The sizes of the compartments has worked out GREAT for this!  Since it fits in my purse, I don't feel like a dork carrying it into the restaurant. ;-)

So there you go, folks! Awesome new containers for making fast and easy waste-free lunches. I urge you to go to the website and check them out. Kelly has a cute little video of her packing lunches there,  a gallery of lunches packed in the EasyLunchboxes, and even pictures of how you can customize your lunch bags by using that clever grommet on the handle!

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