Smart Kids Eat Bento

My smart kids are eating Totoro creations all week and perhaps unawares are pushing me to work through my pain and fatigue and moments of hopelessness to meet our goal of a different Totoro bento everyday.  I am very challenged by by this week’s theme and thought for a moment last night that I would be unable to manage today’s lunches at all, let alone pull off another Totoro creation, but morning came and symptoms improved and my kids won’t go hungry.

My kids have a better grasp on what I need to be okay than I do or my husband does.  I feel I have little value because I bring in no income and I see the skills I have as impractical.    My husband balances support for my convalescence with frustration at my limitations and takes a rather traditional perspective of what recovery looks like; If I am well enough to houseclean or fundraise with the boys, then I amI contributing to the household.  My kids, on the other hand, give me tasks that encourage fun and creativity.  They see the benefit of  anything I do that lifts my spirits or allows me to experience something new.  They encourage me to try things, and don’t judge an idea by its practicality.  My kids prioritize in a very wise and simple way; their belief systems are not yet jaded by adult responsibility.  When I allow my kids to determine my course of treatment, I get better results.


Magical creatures!  Totoro and Soot Sprites in yet another form in today’s bento box.

Totoro ingredients:  Sprouts brioche sandwich roll, muenster cheese, nori, uncooked pasta.  Soot Sprites ingredients: Easy Thyme Meatballs recipe,  muenster cheese, coarse ground pepper.


The kids were so excited for today’s bento!  DIY  Meatball sandwiches with sides of Soprano Night Sunday Gravy, shredded Italian cheeses and Sprout’s organic purple cauliflower. What fun!


I added a pouch of Costco’s organic apple sauce, a fresh peach and a thermos of my new, Almost Compost Smoothie to round out lunch.

Easy Thyme Meatballs

1/2 pound ground pork

1/2 pound ground beef

1 medium onion, finely chopped

2/3 c milk

1/2 c bread crumbs  (we make our own)

1 egg

3 cloves garlic, through press

1 tsp fresh thyme (from our garden)

salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients and knead until mixed.  Form into 24, 34 ” balls.  Brown slowly over medium heat, turning often to keep shape.  Once all sides are browned, reduce heat and cover, cooking for 10 minutes longer or until cooked through.  I froze half for a later lunch.

Soprano Night Sunday Gravy

(This recipe came about when my brother was staying with us after college and we would cook dinner and eat together while watching the Sopranos.  After attempting a sauce made with three kinds of meat, we reverted back to our old vegetarian stand-by.  I cook and freeze to have small portions available.  My husband likes me to use tomatoes from the garden, but it tastes better with canned)

Oil to coat skillet (or meat-fat if you want non-vegetarian option, I alternate between olive oil, coconut oil, and bacon fat)

3 cloves garlic, pressed

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 tsp fresh oregano

1 tsp fresh thyme

1/2 tsp fresh rosemary

fresh basil leaves

1 small can tomato paste

2 28 oz cans pureed tomatoes

1 c red wine

salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil and add garlic and onions, sauteing until translucent, add herbs and more oil if necessary to coat.  Stir in tomato paste and cook for 5 minutes on medium.  Lower heat and add tomatoes, stirring often.   Simmer from 1 hour to all day, continuing to stir and adding wine.  Add basil 1/2 hour before serving and salt and pepper to taste.


Almost Compost Smoothie

(Today’s smoothie uses all the fruit and vegetables on the cusp of being discarded at our house)

Parts of ripe bananas to equal 1 medium

1/4 c kale

2 Sierra Honey plums, sliced

1/2 cup blackberries

1/2 c almond milk

3/4 c yogurt

1 Tbsp organic agave

Place all ingredients in 24 oz cup of Nutri Ninja and blend for 30 seconds.  Makes 3 -8 oz servings.

I haven’t said enough about this blender.  Filling the 24 oz cup with fresh ingredients makes exactly enough smoothie to fill  our three kittycat thermoses.  When I say blend 30 seconds, I probably mean more like 10.  This blender/extractor out-performs any machine I have tried previously and we paid less than $80 for it at Costco.  It is more than paying for itself because we are not buying any more Naked Juice and we are using all of our fresh produce before it goes bad.  A surprise benefit is that the kids are amenable to trying all kinds of ingredients and realizing they like a lot of formerly “forbidden” foods.


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