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Yum-Yum Bento Box: Fresh Recipes for Adorable Lunches [Illustrated] [Paperback]

Maki Ogawa , Crystal Watanabe
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 July 2010
Japanese boxed lunches are called bento (or obento). These cute, yummy, healthy lunches are all the rage in Japan, where mothers think of them as an expression of love for their children. Bento boxes can be made from scratch, but they are also a great way to enjoy leftovers. Easy, nutritious, super-cute meals are just minutes away! "Yum-Yum Bento Box" is a collection of simple recipes for adorable bento box lunches suitable for children and adults. They are almost too cute to eat!

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Yum-Yum Bento Box: Fresh Recipes for Adorable Lunches + Just Bento Cookbook: Everyday Lunches to Go
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Product details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Quirk Books,US; 1 edition (1 July 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594744475
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594744471
  • Product Dimensions: 20.1 x 19 x 1.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 37,895 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Wow what a journey I've been on this week. Quirk Books sent me 'Yum Yum Bento Box, Fresh Recipes for Adorable Lunches' to review and it is has taught me so much. I'm thinking about food and food presentation in a totally different light.Now let me explain... A Bento Box is a Japanese lunchbox, presented in such a way that it becomes more than a packed lunch but a thing of beauty and interest. It is the current craze in Japan for Mothers to produce these boxed lunches and the ideas for them are endless. This book gives over 100 ideas to get you started on making your own Bento Box and believe it or not these are so inspiring that my mind has been in a whirl thinking of all the possibilities. Nevertheless, I have to be truthful, when I read the brief for this book, I was interested but skeptical. I thought that Mums in the 'real world' wouldn't have time to produce a Bento Box, but when the book came and I actually gave it a try I changed my mind. I realised rather than a Bento Box taking a lot more time it is about a different mindset. You can still put in the usual suspects, sandwiches, a yogurt, some fruit or a pasta salad, but you just need to think about the presentation. Cut the your sandwiches with a interesting cookie cutter and you have animal shaped sandwiches, slice and arrange your fruit in a fan and it just looks better. The principles of the Bento Box go further than just presentation, they make you consider portion control too. The Bento Box works on the concept of 4 parts vegetable, 3 parts meat/protein, 2 parts grain and 1 part fruit, dessert or condiment. Having the 4, 3, 2, 1 principle to work from focuses you on what you're actually eating for lunch, and I say YOU, because Bento Boxes can be for adults as well as children. Using this principle it is easy to recognise when you are eating too many carbs and not enough vegetables, or too much protein and not enough fruit. The Bento Box really does get you thinking, and on so many different levels. I'm so pleased I got to read this book. I'm going to work on it, maybe not everyday but now and again, and the ideas can expand to how you present your everyday food, making your plate look prettier, especially for a birthday or dinner party....ilovemealplans dot com, December, 2010... Oh, boy obento! These cute, yummy, healthy lunches are all the rage in Japan, where mothers think of them as an expression of love for their children. Yum-Yum Bento Box is one of the first cookbooks in English devoted to these healthy and adorable meals they re fresh, they re tasty, and they re almost too cute to eat! Each step-by-step recipe in Yum-Yum Bento Box is simple and adaptable. Readers will learn how to form their favorite foods into a variety of shapes from zebras, panda bears, and monkeys to kitties, piggies, and puppy dogs. Chapters include instructions for classic bento boxes and character-driven bentos (called Kyaraben), plus shopping advice, general tips and tricks, and much more. Stop wasting money on prepackaged lunches and start making beautiful, healthy bentos ...Vals Kitchen, November, 2010...a superb example of how adorable bento food can get The instructions are easy to understand and each entry has a detailed list of ingredients and recipes. Also on each page are tips which provide guidance for those who are new to charaben creation or the basics --Lapa bento, November, 2010

If you re new to making bento boxes, it s an initial investment to gather up the tools that create the darling flowers and precious animals. But you re in luck... because included in the end pages is an index of resources for stocking your bento tool-kit!I also like this cookbook because it features more than just how to cook delightful foods. The recipes are can be prepared without bento in mind. Easy and quick, you ll be preparing teriyaki meatballs in a snap!Other cool stuff about Crystal and Maki s cookbook is that it describes all components of bento making. Colors, balance, and inspiration! With these uncomplicated instructions...it s a cinch to pack CUTE bento ...Bento central, October, 2010...The book opens with a great intro guide to bento--an intro into the foods, the boxes and the tools you might need to create fun lunches. As well, I'm especially fond of the "Happy Face" guide which suggests ingredients and shows pictures of things you can use to make faces on your food. I picked up a ton of great ideas from that section alone--did you know that corn kernels make cute beaks for bird faces? I didn't! Want to guess what I am going to try soon? Inside the book are simply amazing bentos. Pikko & Maki do a wonderful job of walking you through, step by step, how to create the cute element of each box, then suggesting ideas of wonderful foods to go along with them. They even include the recipes if you wish to duplicate the boxes. With the directions, a lot of the meals are much more manageable (I'm a big fan of instructions). Plus, everything is just so cute, why wouldn't you want to penguins or piggies instead of plain food? My favorite point, I think, is that their step by step directions allow you to follow their patterns with slightly different foods. We may not use a lot of rice in our bentos (F&B prefer it directly out of the steamer), but tons of the ideas could be adapted for a roll or biscuit or pasta salad, really anything you want! There are simply so many ways of using their ideas to make the cutest lunches for your kids (or you!)....Whats for Lunch in our house dot com, October, 2010...Yum-Yum Bento Box Review! ..exceeeded my expectations...cookblog, oct, 2010....think Yum-Yum Bento Box comes as almost an answer to my prayer. It's got a whole variety of cutesy display of food in colors, shapes, sizes and flavor. I doubt I will replicate any bento exactly (limited by food choices) but I should be able to use the authors ideas and variety to pack some 'eye candy' bento Yum-Yum Bento Box even appeals to a non charaben bento packer like me because I see that it provides me a variety of ideas, options, easy or detailed, to expand the way I want to with the availability of food and colors which appeals to my growing child....ona bentonfrenzy, Oct, 2010...breaks down the seemingly intricate process of bento-box assembly with more than fifty recipes and dozens of photos that show how to "style" a successful bento box. The book outlines which tools are necessary to create bento boxes, including condiment pencils (to draw with thick sauces); straws (to cut out rosy cheeks from salami); and toothpicks (to make tiny homemade flags). Yum-Yum Bento Box also has a short section entitled "Ingredients for Happy Faces," where heads of characters are made from rice balls, hamburger buns, and hard-boiled eggs, and noses are made from peas, black olives, cheese, and deli meats. (In fact, deli meat seems to be the key ingredient here; with it, bento-makers can fashion everything from bunny ears to scarves.) Following the introductory pages, the book is divided into three sections: "Cuties and Critters," "Fairy-Tale Friends," and "Special Day Treats," all which help make the daunting task of bento-box assembly much less intimidating. --Law weekly, October, 2010

contains 55 adorable character bentos, including a bunch of quick and easy bento-friendly recipes. The thing that I love most about this book is all of the beautiful photos that seem to leap off of the pages. Below are two of my favorite bentos from the book, the Piggy Burger and the Caterpillar. If you are into making bentos or cute food, this book is a definite must buy!..Hawaiaan weekly, Oct, 2010....concentrates on the so-called charaben (or kyaraben), featuring a few dozen very cute bento boxes with cute critters and fairytale friends or dedicated to certain occasions, accompanied by recipes and instructions. The book also contains an introduction to bento, an overview of tools and accessories, ingredients you can use to create faces, basic recipes you can adapt for one of the boxes and a shopping list. The book is clearly aimed mostly at beginners - I've been making bento for a few months only but most of the basic things were known to me already. Still, I think that it's possible to discover in it some things you hadn't thought of earlier (hole punches! Yay! I think I have four of those by now so I can dedicate one for nori punching ^^). The recipes sound pretty easy and tasty (though there were a few that made me go 'Duh!' - but well, see above :p). In any case it certainly shows that making a charaben doesn't have to terribly complicated! About the only thing that I found a bit annoying was that some things were repeated a lot - for example the tip about the bento diary was coming up at least three times! I know it sure isn't intentional but it felt a bit ... dunno, as if the reader isn't trusted to get it the first time around 0o? The book itself is designed very nicely, presenting the bentos on a whole page with the recipes/instructions on the accompanying page on the right. The binding is a bit weak, though - I only read it through once and the spine already cracked in the back ... I freely admit that I'm not too careful with my books but especially cookbooks should be able to withstand some rougher handling in my opinion as they need to be kept open and around in the kitchen. All in all it's a very nice book - as I don't have any other bento books I can't compare it to anything yet. Still, it encouraged me to try some charaben besides a moulded egg and cookie cutters! --aibento, October, 2010

About the Author

Crystal Watanabe a.k.a. Pikko Pots makes bento boxes for her two preschool-aged children. She is a contributor to 500 Bento Lunches: 500 Unique Recipes for Brilliant Bento (Korero Books 2008). Launched in 2007, her Web site Adventures in Bento Making (aibento.net) is a popular forum for bento makers worldwide; it has been featured on Boing Boing. She lives on Oahu, Hawaii, the island where Lost is filmed. Maki Ogawa is a Japanese mom famous for the cute bentos that she makes for herself, her two young boys, and her husband. Her lunches have been featured in numerous Asian magazines. She posts pictures of her bentos daily on Flickr, under the name Lucky Sundae.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars EXCELLENT EXCELLENT BENTO BOOK 29 July 2010
This book was way way more than i expected,,,EXCELLENT IN EVERY SINGLE LEVEL,,,,many pictures, explainations of ingredients and happy faces, glossary, a list of places where we can buy bento gear,,,im really really happy with this book!!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful, fun little book! 6 Nov 2011
A friend of mine sent me this book as a present for my birthday - since we both love making pretty bento boxes, and healthy, but interesting looking lunches.
This book is one of the best bento resources I have ever found. The pictures are clear, the recipes are well set out, and the instructions are not hard to follow at all.
Additionally, there are suggestions for substitutions if you don't want to use certain ingredients, or don't have them in your cupboard, and there are so many different things that you can make that you are unlikely to run out of ideas.
Definitely a worthwhile book to own!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
I wanted to make some lovely lunches when my son started school. I am going to miss him and wanted to give him a treat. He also hates sandwich so I thought this would entice him to eat! First thing that disappointed me was that the recipes needed reheating and a microwave isnt available at school! secondly some of the food choices are not what I would call healthy. There were those frankfurter / tinned sausages, processed meats lots of fried things and even SPAM!!!! So, even though it has given me ideas I wont be using the book to create his lunch so a bit disappointed as it was quite expensive
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant fun and healthy too! 11 Oct 2010
My daughter asked for this book for her 15th birthday. Since then we have eaten healthy lunches that she has made for us as well as herself and she has tried some of the extra recipes too, all of which have been successful and tasty. The book has instructions on how to make attractive Japanese-style lunchboxes and additional recipes which are often for one person but can easily be adapted for a family. It has certainly livened up our lunchboxes and encourages children to eat lots of different fruit & veg. The rice balls can be made into cute animals which are fun, or left plain for grown-ups if they want (but why be boring?)All in all, a well presented book, easy to understand instructions and a worthwhile pastime! Good for any teenager, or younger child with help from an adult.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect! 20 May 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
After spending too much time browsing through blogs, I have developed a keen interest in making food look cute. This book is absolutely perfect for making a boring lunch much more entertaining! The recipes are healthy, packed with fruit and vegetables and you could easily adjust the recipe with one of the other bento ideas if you weren't too keen on a particular food. The recipes are easy to read through and the layout is great, with clear pictures so you know what you're aiming for it to look like! Perfect for brightening up a dull day.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars review of product: yum-yum bento box 29 Jun 2012
By kitt
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
An excellent book for my collection, packed full of great ideas that the kids even want to try!! Im now spreading the word amongst my family to try it ^^
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent ideas! 16 Oct 2011
It's my first time at bento and I purchased this book based on the reviews. It's excellent, brimming with ideas (both for the simple recipes and the lovely presentation). I use it mostly to prepare my son's lunchbox and he's eating a lot better now. Recommended!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars book review 12 Nov 2010
this book is fantastic it has a lot of good ideas in it. It is ideal if you are planning a childs party. I would also recommend it for those little fussy children. My kids love the recieps in it.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars recipient broke down crying with happiness and they certainly seemed...
Gave as a gift, recipient broke down crying with happiness and they certainly seemed to enjoy it. Good presentation.
Published 15 days ago by S A Smith
4.0 out of 5 stars looks fun
I love looking through this book. The ideas are amazing. We have yet to actually make any of them, but that is because my son is at the awkward stage of beginning to care what the... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Ms. D. McCafferty
4.0 out of 5 stars So sweet!
A beautiful book! So many fantastic ideas! But honestly, what parent has the time for it? I just like look at the pictures! :)
Published 6 months ago by Lizzie
5.0 out of 5 stars OMG!!
This book has some of the cutest food you've ever seen!!! Also, as well as the inspiring Kawaii creatures, there are recipes for everything so you can make them as a main meal. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Miss T
5.0 out of 5 stars Eat for fun
The Japanese have very funny ideas. In the "kawaii" fashion, you can also find the cooking. Very complete book with funny recipes. Good for children and their parents.
Published 8 months ago by Tahnna
5.0 out of 5 stars love it
I will probably never ever make anything in this book but its absolutely adorable! A great book to look at and have on the shelf, lots of creative ideas
Published 8 months ago by Lyndsey Moore
5.0 out of 5 stars a very good bento book
a lot of great ideas and recipes for children's bento box. I tried to look for a book like this when I travelled to Hong Kong and Taiwan but couldn't find one good enough. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Maria
5.0 out of 5 stars LOVELY BENYO BOOK
for those girls who love japanese bento design
u must buy this as it write all detail how to make cute bento, also colorful print makes reader easy to understand ! love it!
Published 11 months ago by Moe
5.0 out of 5 stars Great packed lunch ideas
A friend recommended thsi book to me when I moaned to her about having no ideas beyond sandwiches and bagels for my daughters packed lunches now she's at school. Read more
Published 11 months ago by LilysMum
4.0 out of 5 stars Lovely looking book with good instructions.
I found it hard to figure out whether these lunches were intended to be eaten cold or reheated. I got the impression that it waste latter ans that was not what I needed. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Jennifer Allen
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