Family Meal Ideas: Bento Box Dinner

japanese bento dinner

Family Meal: Bento Box Dinner
A guest post from Cheryl Tallman, Creator of

A bento is a divided box that originated in Japan. Bento boxes are made from a wide variety of materials, including lacquer, bamboo, plastic and stainless steel. A traditional bento meal includes carbohydrates (rice or noodles), protein (fish, chicken, meat, or tofu), vegetables and fruit. Foods are arranged in the box to display a colorful, healthy meal with a wonderful variety of flavors and tastes.

We’ve developed a family-friendly Bento Box dinner to prepare and enjoy. The recipes are infused with the Japanese ingredients that you can find in the Asian Foods section of your grocery store.


Yakisoba (Stir-Fried Soba Noodles)

Grilled Salmon with Red Miso Sauce

Honeydew Melon

Steamed Edamame

If you can boil water, you can make edamame. While traditionally served in the pods, the pods are not edible. To eat simply squeeze the pod with your thumb and forefinger and the edamame beans pop right out.

  • Frozen edamame (about 10 pods per person)
  • Water
  • Pinch of kosher or sea salt

Directions: Bring about 3-4 quarts of water to a boil and place the edamame in the boiling water. Cook 3-5 minutes. Drain. When plating sprinkle lightly with kosher salt. Have another bowl at the table to put the empty pods in.

Grilled Salmon with Red Miso Sauce

Miso Sauce:

½ cup red miso paste

1/3 cup sake

3 Tbsp. chicken stock (or Dashi)

1 Tbsp. soy sauce

4 6-ounce Salmon fillets, skinned

Directions: To make the sauce, combine all four ingredients in a saucepan and stir to a smooth sauce. Place saucepan on the stove over medium heat and cook for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally until sauce thickens. Set aside and let cool.

Brush both sides of salmon fillets with miso sauce. Lightly oil and heat a grill pan over medium heat. Place salmon on the grill and cook for 3-4 minutes. Brush with sauce, turn fillets over and brush with sauce again. Cook 3-4 minutes. Remove from pan and let stand 5 minutes. Serve warm.

Yakisoba (Stir-Fried Soba Noodles)

Soba noodles are made from buckwheat flour and have a unique brown color. Yakisoba is a popular dish of stir-fried soba noodles and a variety of meats and vegetables. You can use any type of meat or seafood and any types of vegetables – including bean sprouts, green peppers, mushrooms, Chinese cabbage, celery and broccoli.

8-ounce Soba noodles

1 cup bean sprouts, rinsed

8-10 Shitake mushrooms, stems removed and sliced

8 cooked shrimp, chopped

3 green onions, chopped

2 Tbsp. vegetable or peanut oil

Yakisoba Sauce:

3 Tbsp. soy sauce

2 tsp. sugar

1 tsp. fresh ginger, minced

2 tsp. sake


Prepare Yakisoba sauce. Mix all ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add soba noodles, stirring to separate them. Boil soba noodles for 6-8 minutes, until tender. Drain in a colander and rinse with cold water. Set aside.

In wok or large skillet, heat oil over high heat. Add shitake mushrooms and stir fry 2 minutes. Add soba noodles and stir fry 3 minutes. Add the Yakisoba Sauce, shrimp and bean sprouts and stir fry for 2 more minutes. Serve warm.


Fun with Japanese Table Manners:

Certain table manners are observed during meal times in Japan. Include these practices as a fun way to help teach your kids about etiquette in other countries.

  • Add a warm, wet towel at each person’s plate to wipe hands before eating.
  • Eat with chop sticks. Kid-size chopsticks and chopstick helpers can be found in specialty stores or online.
  • Before you start eating, put your palms together and say “Itadakimasu.” This translates to “I gratefully receive.”
  • Soup can be sipped straight from the bowl – no spoons necessary!
  • It is okay to make slurping sounds when eating soup and noodles from a bowl, as long as it’s not excessive. Slurping tells the chef that you are enjoying the meal.
  • When you are done using chopsticks, lay them in front of you with the tips pointing to the left. It is considered bad manners to leave them pointing upright in a bowl.
  • When you are finished your meal, say “Gochisosama,” which means “Thank you for the meal.”

About the author: Cheryl Tallman is the co-founder of Fresh Baby, creators of the award-winning So Easy Baby Food Kit, and author of the So Easy Baby Food and the new book So Easy Toddler Food: Survival Tips and Simple Recipes for the Toddler Years. Visit Cheryl online at for more delicious tips.

Learn more about Cheryl’s work:

So Easy Baby Food Kit: Make It Natural, Make It Fresh.
So Easy Baby Food Kit: Make It Natural, Make It Fresh.
Price: $23.85
An award-winning, all-inclusive solution for making baby food in less than 30 minutes per week. The month-by-month Cookbooks uses fresh ingredients with no additives. Kit includes a cookbook, freezer trays, how-to video, and nutrition card, and pays for itself in just three weeks compared to jarred baby food.

So Easy Baby Food Basics: Homemade Baby Food in Less Than 30 Minutes Per Week
So Easy Baby Food Basics: Homemade Baby Food in Less Than 30 Minutes Per Week
Price: $8.95
Baby Food Cookbook including recipes and instruction for making stage 1, 2, and 3 baby foods. This book also includes the basics of introducing solid foods and developing healthy eating habits. Available in English and Spanish.

So Easy Toddler Food: Survival Tips & Simple Receipes for the Toddler Years
So Easy Toddler Food: Survival Tips & Simple Recipes for the Toddler Years
Price: $8.95
When it comes to eating, toddlers can be tough to please. So Easy Toddler Food is the perfect resource for parents looking for survival tips and 35 simple recipes that will win over even the pickiest toddler. Available in English and Spanish.

Things We Love – Graduation Announcements from Tiny Prints


If you’ve got a child who’s graduating this year – whether  finishing high school of college – you can announce the big event in style with Tiny Prints’ Graduation Announcements and Graduation Invitations.

We love Tiny Prints because:

* Every card is reviewed by Tiny Prints’ professional team of designers and etiquette experts.

* You can customize your cards front to back with photos and text for free!

* They have a huge selection with more than 1,000 graduation designs.  Find the perfect design from their selection featuring the class year and school colors, then add your  own text and pictures. New for this year they even have designs including their Greek Collection for sororities.

These announcements and invitations are classy, stylish, and eye-catching.

There’s even an affordable Super Rush Delivery option that can get your graduation announcements to you in 2 days.

So share the excitement with custom college graduation announcements from Tiny Prints!

Shop Tiny Prints Graduation Announcements and Invitations

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

Things We Love – The Biggest Loser’s SLIMCOACH

If you love fitness gadgets and you’re a fan of NBC’s hit show The Biggest Loser, you’ll love having a SLIMCOACH to call your own…

Price: $129.99 (with free ground shipping, for a limited time only)

The Biggest Loser SLIMCOACH is the same system used by the trainers and contestants on NBC’s hit show The Biggest Loser. Like the contestants, your daily goal is to turn the Health Circle red to green. With a simple touch, it shows where you are and where you need to be. The SLIMCOACH helps to put you on the right track and keep you there to reach your goals.

The Biggest Loser SLIMCOACH:

* Senses, tracks, and analyzes your movements in real time to help you reach your fitness goals

* Is like having a Biggest Loser trainer at your side all day long

* Monitors your caloric balance to help you make good decisions

* Tracks your progress with your own personal online dashboard


* Clips conveniently to your side or in your pocket

* Provides real-time feedback with a push of the button

* Tracks your body’s heart-healthy activity

* Includes a USB cable

Your SLIMCOACH includes a 1-year membership to the MYTRAK online system and the MYTRAK online Health Community, which features:

* Interactive graphs displaying your daily, weekly and long-term progress towards your goals

* Dynamic Lifestyle Rating System

* Interactive Daily Summary of calories burned vs. daily target

* Interactive Weekly Summary of Energy expenditure, predicted health benefit and heart activity

* Daily status of your steps taken and distance traveled

* Interactive Goal Summary and prediction page

* Your favorite activities are used to calculate time required to go green

* Access to advanced Nutrition Planning and monitoring system

* Syncs with coded Polar WearLink heart rate monitor (not included) to monitor activities such as yoga, swimming, cycling, etc.

* MYTRAK Health Community: create friendships, be a part of social groups, and communicate with others with similar goals.

The Biggest Loser is a registered trademark and copyright of NBC Studios, Inc. & Reveille LLC. Licensed by NBCUniversal Television Consumer Products Group 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Get your own SLIMCOACH from 24HourFitness here.
For a limited time, the SLIMCOACH is just $129.99 with free ground shipping in the continental United States. No coupon code required. Click through the link above to see today’s pricing.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

Read Momscape’s Diet Reviews >
See today’s Weight Watchers Coupons >

Things We Love – Holga iPhone Camera Lens


Holga iPhone Camera Lens
Price: $29.99

Now you can easily take those iPhone images and make them Holga images.

The Holga iPhone Lens and Filter Case (Black) snaps onto the iPhone 4 or 4S and once fitted, there are 9 different special effect lens and filters the go over the phone camera lens using the spin wheel, including a clear tenth hole to shoot regular photos with the case on – all without any software or app installed.

So cool.

Here’s what the 9 lenses/filters do:

  • Dual Image Lens: Produces 2 identical images similar to a Holga 2 way split image filter
  • Triple Image Lens: Produces 3 identical images similar to a Holga 3 way split image filter
  • Quadruple Image Lens: Produces 4 identical images similar to a Holga 4 way split image filter
  • 60mm Macro Lens: For taking photos at approximately 60mm from the lens
  • Empty Hole: For taking images with no effect
  • Red Filter with Clear Heart Shape Centre: Reduces absorption of blue & green lights with clear heart shape centre to stand out
  • Red Filter: Reduces absorption of blue and green light
  • Green Filter: Enhances green colors
  • Yellow Filter with Clear Center: Clear circular spot in center to stand out with surroundings in pale yellow to mimic sunset
  • Blue Filter with Clear Center: Clear circular spot in center to stand out with surroundings in blue to mimic gentle moon atmosphere

Holga iPhone 4 and 4S Lens and Filter Case, Black

Comes in black, white, red, silver and purple. Available online from

Things We Love – Inlaid Natural Stone Bracelets from Worldstock

Here’s an idea for a pretty Mother’s Day gift – or a little something for yourself…
Inlaid Natural Stone Round Bracelet (India)
Inlaid Natural Stone Round Bracelet (India)

This bracelet features natural rocks from India and silver inlaid in resin. Each piece is unique and handcrafted by artisans in India.

Story Behind the Art: The inlay work is done in a particular village in Northern India famous for its inlay artisans. The inlay craft is passed from one generation to the next. Alok the artisan, watched his parents do this work and learned the techniques as he got older. Unfortunately it is one of the shrinking crafts in India. Many artisans leave their craft to find day labor and migrate to cities.

Worldstock (a division of will help these artisans feed their families and keep the craft alive for future generations.

We also like:


Goldtone Inlaid Natural Stone Cuff Bracelet (India)
Goldtone Inlaid Natural Stone Cuff Bracelet
(from the same artisans in India).

Available online from Overstock. Get the latest Overstock coupons and deals here.

Things We Love | SPIBelt – the Small Personal Items Belt for Runners

I love to run, but I don’t like to have things in my pockets, and I don’t like to hold things in my hands. At the very least, I need my iPhone and my car keys, and, lately, I’ve taken to carrying a small canister of bear spray due to very, very large footprints I’ve come across on my daily route.

This SPIbelt (that’s short for Small Personal Items belt) fits the bill nicely. It’s like a fanny pack, without the fanny:

SPIbelt - Small Personal Item Belt - Great for Runners!

Invented and manufactured in Austin, Texas, the SPIbelt has caught on as a great accessory for runners and non-athletes. It features Spandex and elastic stretch material that will fit your waist and all your small items. The length of the zipper is just 6 inches, but don’t let that fool you. This pack will expand in all directions to hold everything you need:  your iPod, Blackberry, cell phone, keys, GU packs, wallet, and more. The SPIbelt is designed so the goodies in your belt don’t bounce, ride, or shift while running or doing other activities.

Beyond your daily run, you can use your SPIbelt for sporting events, traveling, carrying diabetic supplies, shopping, and more.

Available in: Black, Black w/ Lt. Pink Zipper, Black w/ Dk. Pink Zipper, Blue, Olive, Polka Dots, Red, Turquoise, and Reflective.

Made in the USA and available as seen above for $19.95, as well as in a waterproof version for $28.95 (Prices subject to change.)

The SPIbelt is available online here from (Get coupons here.)

Mother’s Day Goodness – Mom Quotes and More


In honor of Mother’s Day, here are some of our favorite articles, essays and ideas – designed to celebrate you and the important role you take on each day.

Top 50 Mom Quotations
50 inspiring and truthful quotations about your mother and about being a mom yourself. Perfect for scrapbooking, cardmaking – or simple reflection.

Funny Mom Quotes
Sixteen funny quotations to celebrate motherhood.

Mother’s Day Traditions
10 Memorable Ways to Celebrate Mom this Mother’s Day

Joyful Parenting Articles
Inspiration and ideas for soulful, balanced, centered parenting.

Practical Parenting Articles
Budgeting, sibling rivalry, organizing the kids’ rooms. He

Mother’s Day Gift Ideas
from our Great Gifts blog


Things We Love – Free App Adds Hollywood Flair to Your Videos


We love this new free app, Vibop 2.0, which makes it a cinch for you add “Hollywood flair” to videos.

Vibop 2.0 offers a variety of nine (and counting) themes to help enhance homemade videos.

We love:

* Vibop’s Hollywood-like themes: With just a few touches, you can add any number of different themes to your movies, complete with an intro, title, font, video effect, soundtrack, and outro. Available themes include Silent Film, Super 8, Comic Book, Love Note, Tech Talk, Beatz, Postcard, and a theme to create videos with the look of your Twitter profile.

* Create your own: Shoot with Vibop or use video from your camera roll. Vibop’s “Customize It” option allows you to mix and match effects and create your own theme.

* Easy saving and sharing: You can save your videos to the NewBlue Video Cloud, or your camera roll. Sharing via email, YouTube, Facebook, or Twitter can be done quickly right from the app.

Vibop 2.0 is a free app and is available in the App Store here. Upgrades will be available as in-app purchases.

Recipe – Stuffed Pork Chops {from Eating Light}


Here’s another slimmed down version of a family favorite, from Eating Light, a new Hearst Special, now on newsstands nationwide.


Stuffed Pork Chops

374 calories per serving (makes 8 main-dish servings)
Active time: 30 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes


2 slices thick-cut bacon, diced

2 shallots, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

8 oz. mustard greens, stems removed, and leaves torn into small pieces

1 cup finely diced cornbread (from store-bought or homemade cornbread, corn muffin, or toaster corncake)

3 oz. sharp Cheddar cheese, finely diced

1 Tbsp. freshly grated Parmesan cheese

8 boneless pork loin chops, 1 ¼ inches think (8 oz. each)

Kosher salt and pepper

1 Tbsp. olive oil


1)      In large skillet or Dutch oven on low, cook bacon slowly, until fat is rendered and bacon is crisp; remove with slotted spoon to paper towel to drain. Discard all but 1 tablespoon bacon drippings from skillet.

2)      Add shallots and garlic to drippings’ cook on medium 2 minutes, or until fragrant. Add greens; cover pan and cook 7 to 9 minutes, or until greens are tender, stirring twice. Cool completely. Stir in cornbread, Cheddar, Parmesan, and bacon.

3)      Place pork chips on flat surface; with sharp paring knife, make 1-inch incision on meaty side of each chop. Swipe blade back and forth inside chop to make pocket all the way back to fat side of the chop, without cutting through chop. Stuff each chop with heaping ¼ cup stuffing.

4)      Preheat oven to 375°F. Season chops with ½ teaspoon kosher salt and ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper; secure openings with toothpicks. In large ovenproof skillet, heat oil; add chops and cook 2 minutes per side, or until browned. Cover skillet and transfer to oven; bake 15 minutes, or until internal temperature registers 155°F on an instant-read thermometer. Remove chops to platter; cover with foil and let stand 5 minutes. Remove toothpicks before serving.

** This Stuffed Pork Chops Recipe is courtesy of Eating Light, which features recipes from Good Housekeeping, Redbook, Country Living and Woman’s Day, all with no more than 400 calories. Get the latest edition at your local  supermarket or bookstore today, or buy a digital version at or

Get more Momscape Recipes

Recipe – Fettucine with Spinach Pesto {from Eating Light}


Here’s a slimmed down recipe for Fettucine with Spinach Pesto we think you’ll love, courtesy of Eating Light

Fettuccine with Spinach Pesto

394 calories per serving (makes 4 main-dish servings)

Active time: 10 minutes

Total time: 40 minutes



1 lb. fettuccine or linguine

2 cups baby spinach leaves

1 ½ cups fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

¼ cup chopped fresh chives

3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

4 Tbsp. pine nuts (pignoli), plus additional for garnish

¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus freshly shaved Parmesan for garnish


1)      Heat large covered saucepot of salted water to boiling on high. Add pasta, and cook as label directs. Drain pasta, and return to pot.

2)      Meanwhile, in blender, combine spinach, parsley, chives, oil, 4 tablespoons pine nuts, and ¼ teaspoon salt. Puree pesto until smooth. Stir in grated parmesan.

3)      Drain pasta and put in serving bowl. Add pesto to pasta; toss to combine. Garnish with shaved Parmesan and additional pine nuts, if desired.

** This Fettucine with Spinach Pesto recipe is courtesy of Eating Light, which features recipes from Good Housekeeping, Redbook, Country Living and Woman’s Day, all with no more than 400 calories. Get the latest edition at your local  supermarket or bookstore today, or buy a digital version at or

Get more Momscape Recipes