Banner Health Services  

Bento Boxes for Healthy Meals

Bento box image  

The artful food arrangements in a Japanese-inspired bento box are a pleasure to behold—and they can help you eat more healthfully too.

In the traditional single-serving meal divided into compartments, you can let your imagination run wild and incorporate carved fruit, appealingly arranged meat, poultry or fish, perfectly rolled rice in edible wrappers, and maybe even paper-thin slices of pickled vegetables. And by design, you can’t fit too much of any one offering into the small, defined spaces of the bento box.

Eating your fill

If you’re familiar with choosemyplate.gov, the government-developed tool that encourages you to eat a nutritionally balanced meal, the bento box may not look so foreign to you.

“A bento box can be nutritious and visually appealing, making them an easier sell with kids as well,” says Dr. Jennifer McCabe Lentz, a family medicine physician practicing at the Banner Health Center in Loveland.

In fact, using the model from choosemyplate.gov can help you create a flavorful and healthy bento box meal, she says. First, fill half the box with fruits and vegetables, adding a little more vegetables than fruit. Then add lean protein for another quarter of the box, and fill the final quarter of the box with grains, mostly whole ones.

You may want to toss in a few nuts for their crunchy texture, Dr. Lentz adds.

To make an appointment with Dr. Lentz, call (970) 619-3999, or find other Banner Health physicians.


Bento box in an instant

  • Lightly spread mayonnaise on a deli chicken breast slice. Place a strip of red bell pepper crosswise on the chicken. Roll up tightly from the short side. Repeat, making two rolls per serving.
  • Prepare an egg omelet using two eggs, seasoning to taste. While the omelet is cooking, cover with a thin layer of baby spinach leaves. Refrigerate overnight to chill. Tightly roll up the omelet and slice into 1-inch thick slices. Place in small cupcake liners and arrange in a bento box or other carrier.
  • Thinly slice a baby cucumber, and lightly sprinkle with rice wine vinegar and coarsely ground pepper. Add halved grape tomatoes.
  • Shred red cabbage and toss with balsamic vinegar, a tablespoon each of sliced almonds and chopped scallions.

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