Healthy food need not be boring food. I know of people who would say, "I could never eat a salad!" or "Give me a good steak any time!". I think many have a misconception about the term "healthy food" and think that healthy must definitely mean bland and tasteless. Not true, folks, so not true.
But my challenge this year is to prepare lunch boxes for my daughter to bring to school a couple of times a week which not just have to be healthy, but also visually appealing. Thankfully bentos are making a comeback and Pinterest and Instagram are full of bento ideas to copy! People all around the world are now packing healthy bento boxes, and not just for their kids too. Healthy, yummy food that's also visually appealing, who could say no?
Let me tell you this, folks, I have the utmost respect for Japanese homemakers who make these amazing bento sets for their kids to bring to school everyday! Respect with a capital R. Have you seen any before? You'd be amazed, I promise.
As part of the AIA Vitality Challenge, I was invited to a "live" Bento Making Challenge last weekend and it gave me the jitters. Having my virtually non existant bento making skills put up for all to see, on stage no less, was scary! But in all things, there is always a silver lining, and for me, it was to spur me to make more visually appealing meals for my kids.
So I experimented:
Search for "bento" anywhere and I guarantee, you won't stop clicking for the next 30 minutesas it's so fun and addictive! The challenge is to get everything done quickly.
While you're at it, make sure you buy healthy ingredients to start with. With over 6,000 HealthyFood™ items to choose from, including fresh fruits and vegetables, it's easier for you to make healthy choices when you shop at Cold Storage. Simply look out for the HealthyFood™ tag with the letter V on the shelf price tags.
Sometimes the tags are more prominent and easier to spot!
- Complete the AIA Vitality Health Review and you'll get 5% cashback on HealthyFood™ purchases OR
- Complete the AIA Vitality Health Check and get 15% cashback on HealthyFood™ purchases OR
- Complete both the AIA Vitality Health Review and AIA Vitality Health Check and get 15% cashback on HealthyFood™ purchases.
Upon checkout, don't forget to present your AIA Vitality card! You'll earn AIA VItality Points and receive your cashback in the form of vouchers by email. Simply print your vouchers and bring them along for your next grocery run at Cold Storage. For more details, go here.
So here's what I presented at the AIA Vitality Bento-Making Challenge: Creamy salmon pasta with peas and fresh strawberries as dessert. I used buckwheat pasta, and instead of cheese, added potato cubes to thicken the sauce. Peas were added for the meal's greens.
A personal challenge I set for myself was to make sure that I prepared something 'real', something that my own kids would eat, as opposed to something pretty. I mean, pretty is nice, but it's no good if it gets tossed. This is something the kids would typically eat on any given day.
|The bento I prepared on stage became Poppy's lunch! It wasn't planned, but the challenge ate into Poppy's usual lunch time and she was starving so as soon as she could, she dug into the bento box|
|The contenders! Regina, Summer (who won!), Dominique, Shermeen|
|Ready, steady, bento!!|
But folks, here's what really mattered to me: I was the first to get called up to receive my prize, and Poppy was really excited. "Did you win! Did you win!" I explained that yes, I did, kinda. I did get a prize. "Did you win the first prize, Mama?!" I explained, "No, I didn't, Auntie Summer did."
Then her lips kinda curved down a little, like she was fighting back tears. She was truly truly disappointed. Not in me, but in the fact that I didn't 'win'. Poor her. She'd been practicing her cheers ("Jia you, Mama! Don't be last, Mama!") for the past week. I almost felt like I'd disappointed her. But then, she said the most amazing thing.
"Mama, in my heart you've won. And your bento is the wonderfulest". I couldn't fight back my own tears. I may not have 'won', but in my heart, and in Poppy's, I certainly have. Thank you AIA for inviting me to take part in this challenge; and for giving me this chance to 'win'.
Ok, so not more tears, guys. Back to business!
If you're thinking of changing your eating habits, I strongly urge you to keep a food log of the things that you eat. Sometimes we need to be aware of the things that we're eating to be able to spot the unhealthy treats. I use the AIA Vitality app food tracker, available for download on Android or Apple devices - it's installed in my phone so I can track my food intake as I go along.
What's good about this app is that it calculates the number of calories I should be consuming in a day based on my weight and height, and then deducts itself according to my recorded intake. Essentially, it tells you if you have remaining calories you can afford to intake such as indulging in an ice-cream or something, you know, stuff that you need to unwind with after a long day of parenting.
I've never been much of a calorie counter, and if you're not either, this app will do it all for you, worry-free.
You can either browse through the categories to find your food and drink (which can sometimes give you an idea of what to eat as well!), or simply do a quick search, which is what I usually do.
I love that this app really makes me conscious about what I eat though the tricky bit is that I really have to be specific about the things I input. For example, this is what I had for lunch today: Baked chicken breasts without skin with tomatoes, served with baked potato strips and peas.
But I couldn't find "baked chicken breast" in the app among the list of foods, so I had to choose the next closest. Which probably affected my day's calorie count a little.
Yes, there is also a 'calories burnt' portion which looks to be reflected at zero. Not to worry, I'm doing my part in burning those calories - more on that in my next post!
To get you started on your healthy eating journey, I have 5 sets of Cold Storage vouchers worth $20 each to give away! To qualify, follow these steps!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Disclaimer: This is part 1 of a 2-part series brought to you by AIA in collaboration with Gingerbreadmum. Existing Terms and Conditions as set by the respective company and / or supporting partners apply. Please check AIAVitality.com.sg for further details. All information is correct at time of post. AIA reserves all rights to discontinue or amend existing clauses without prior notice, and its sole discretion. In no event shall Gingerbreadmum be held liable or responsible for disputes arising between AIA and any parties. Neither shall I be liable for any indirect, consequential, incidental, special or punitive damages or losses of any kind.