“As a busy and modern career woman on the go,” tweeted writer Gabriella Paiella this spring, “it’s important for me to set aside the time every day to sloppily eat a salad at my desk like a misbehaving horse.” The tweet was widely circulated, made it onto a BuzzFeed listicle, and was a hit at the alive office. It resonated. (Also, a messily masticating horse is undeniably funny.)
If that tweet describes your lunch non-break perfectly, you need Sara Kiyo Popowa’s bento boxes in your life. Popowa, the creator of Instagram gem @shisodelicious, makes plant-laden versions of bento boxes: beautiful boxed lunches that originated in Japan. Her cookbook, Bento Power: Brilliantly Balanced Lunchbox Recipes, stands to benefit desk-lunch eaters everywhere. No more thrown-together, mindlessly scarfed-down midday meals for us!
Each recipe is a little work of art—no surprise considering Popowa has a degree in dance and visual art and has worked as a graphic designer. Her boxes include five colors, five flavors, five different food prep methods, and five food types: grains/carbs, leafy greens, protein and fat, fruits and vegetables, and what she calls “sprinkles and boosts” (think nuts, seeds, seaweeds, and sauces). It’s all packed in there!
For Popowa, it’s not just about creating ’grammable meals.
“I love the concept and structure of bento—a box of delicious treasures to look forward to at lunch,” she writes in Bento Power. “Taking some time out to create something that brings a little ‘home’ into our workdays casts a protective, magic veil over our health—all while contributing less to the crazy plastic waste situation that we are in right now! I feel that anyone with a busy, modern life can do with more of this.”
We couldn’t agree more.
So what exactly is bento, you ask? “A bento is one neatly packed portion of food you take with you to work or school, prepared at home or bought ready-made on your way to work,” according to Sara Kiyo Popowa.
Recipes excerpted with permission from Bento Power by Sara Kiyo Popowa.
Busy Days Instant Noodle Bento
Red Velvet Quinoa Bento
Roast Cabbage Slaw Bento
Don\’t forget to read this article on How to Make Onigirazu (Sushi Sandwich)!
Sara Kiyo Popowa is a London-based photographer and recipe developer who’s known for her colorful, plant-celebrating bento lunch boxes on Instagram. @shisodelicious; shisodelicious.com