Since I went back to work, I’ve been constantly plagued by guilt every morning when I rush through our breakfast and washing up routine so we can all get out the door and off to work/her nanny’s on time.
We used to have such wonderful breakfasts, the two of us, cuddling on the couch sleepily, me and my coffee, her and her milk, before we shared a giant bowl of oats, or cornflakes – or even just simple steamed pau.
Things are a little different now. Usually I have maybe 20 minutes maximum with Sophie Rose before I really need to hustle her, and her meals have become quite rushed – she begs me to sit down with her and chat with her – which just tears me apart.
Her appetite has also been poor since the two rounds of bronchitis (if you only read my blog, you probably won’t know this, sorry! But I really update much more often on Instagram @littlebowgirl). So she’s been refusing to self feed.
Instead of being despondent and a negative Nancy about it, I decided that I’d simply wake up earlier to make her breakfast so we could still get that quality time together – and what better way to whet her appetite than to try to make her food look magical?
I’m not very creative with food, I’ve got to say. Having it warm and fresh is more important to me than how it looks. So the challenge was to make beautiful food that still tasted appetizing.
Challenge accepted! And here are some of my successes 🙂
Mee Sua never fails for my picky eater. I found the key to making her want to eat was to mix her favourite foods with stuff she didn’t like as much.
Lunch Bento 1
Mee Sua with Pumpkin and Pork – she hates pork, but loves pumpkin and Heng Hwa Mee Sua. She self-fed this entire portion!
Bring about 300 ml of chicken stock or water to boil in a small pot.
Slice up butternut squash / pumpkin into small cubes (so they cook faster) and add to the stock to cook for another 5-8 minutes until soft and tender. I use about one finger length piece of squash.
Then add half an adult’s portion of mee sua, cook for another 2 minutes, finally adding a big heaped tablespoon of minced pork (which I marinated with sesame oil, pepper and mushroom powder).
It smelled so good our dog Benjy drooled all over her feet.
Fruits-wise, I try to let her eat fruit that is the most power-packed with nutrients because she’s not a big eater – she eats till she’s full then she’s completely done. Purple Dragonfruit is not only pretty to look at, it packs a punch with antioxidants, vitamins, etc and its soft enough for her to eat quickly. Other fruits we like are golden kiwis and Packham Pears.
Many of you Mamas have asked about the juice. It’s from our favourite European organic brand Casino (we always buy this when we are in Europe). And this is their multifruits juice. She loves this because its just pure juice without any additives and its not too sweet, more tangy. We buy it from Cold Storage Parkway Parade.
Having such a cute plate also makes eating extra fun! We got this Mickey Mouse plate from Franc Franc in Tokyo, but any plate that has portioning should do the trick.
Lunch Bento 2
This is an Oat and Brown Rice Pumpkin Congee Bento
The sides are a minced pork and free range egg omelette with fish furikkake, one small bonbel cheese, and a sliced up golden kiwi.
To prepare the Oat and Brown Rice Porridge:
2 tablespoons of brown rice
2 tablespoons of quick cooking baby oats
Wash the brown rice, and then place in your rice cooker. Add the two tablespoons of oats. Add water enough to cover the mixture of oats up to about half your thumb’s height. Add diced pumpkin or sweet potatoes if you want to, and then simply set your rice cooker to the “porridge” function! 🙂 It’s that easy, and your bub is getting extra protein and fiber from the whole grains 🙂
Sophie loves color and variety so I tried to add that to the plate. For the omelette, I simply beat one free range egg together with 1 tablespoon of minced pork (sesame oil, pepper marinade) and cooked it like I would a rolled tamagoyaki.
For sides, Bonbel Cheese is always a hit! Easily available at Cold Storage or NTUC Fairprice Finest. You can help them train up their fine motor skills by allowing them to slowly peel the wax off themselves before savouring the cheese. Its a little salty so I only give her one every other day 🙂
Golden Kiwis are softer and sweeter than their green counterparts and are full of Vitamin C. I prefer to give her naturally occurring Vitamin C rather than in a supplement form, so she gets a kiwi a day unless she’s having a cough.
Finally, Natura Vanilla Soymilk. I’ve been searching for a good shelf-stable soymilk without additives like carageenan, citric acid, etc and this is the cleanest ingredient list I have seen. It’s also quite delicious! You can find this at most organic stores or MotherCare Harbourfront 🙂
I get to make her breakfast much more often than lunch 🙂 And after sharing my breakfast bentos on Facebook groups many of you have asked about where I get my materials and how I make them. I hope this post will answer all your questions 🙂
For the next three bentos, this is what I used:
I bought the Winnie and Hello Kitty character cutters from Hong Kong, but I have seen similar cutters available at Takashimaya, Isetan as well as on Qoo10 🙂
The Heart and Star Cutters are from my favourite bento supplies place – Daiso!
All these cutters can be used for bread, cheese, vegetables, cookies, etc. Very versatile and I feel, worth the investment!
All our wooden plates are from Table Topics. Its a local handmade shop run by a lovely lady, Ling and I love their products! We were not sponsored for anything in this post 🙂 All come tried and tested with our stamp of approval.
Breakfast Bento 1
Hello Kitty Bento!
Hello Kitty is always a hot fav with the bub, especially since we got back from Tokyo!
For this bento, I tried to have a little of everything.
Cranberries – for fibre and a healthy urinary tract. These are sweetened with strawberry juice, not refined white sugar. You can buy these at Pat’s Oven at Parkway Parade. I’ve tried many brands and this is the only one I’m happy with in terms of nutritional content and no additives.
Edam Cheese – Not salty at all. This cheese stick was brought back specially for Sophie by my Dad from Amsterdam. I wish we had more but our stash is dwindling. For calcium and protein.
Whitemeal Bread – She won’t take wholemeal, so this is my compromise, because it is slightly better than refined white bread. In between I spread a mix of Almond Butter (Justin’s, you can find it on Iherb) and Honey Roast Peanut Butter (Peter Pan). Both are not too sweet and give her the energy she needs, slowly.
Breakfast Bento 2
Winnie the Pooh Bento!
For this bento, I kept it simple. Winnie the Pooh bread shapes which Sophie stamped out herself, and a honey dip for her to dip them in (see the yellow container?) She loved getting busy with her fingers, opening and closing the container and dipping her bread in just so. Since starting her on breakfast bentos, she never asks for TV to distract her or anything else, she is so focused on her meal!
I dotted her plate with popped corn, rice and quinoa cereal from Hale and Hearty in two flavors, Honey and Chocolate. These crunchy nutritious wholegrain balls are not sweet at all but still very moreish and easy for her to self-feed. I get her to count out the balls as she eats them 🙂
Breakfast Bento 3
Starry Starry Night Bento!
This is my favourite one yet! It may be hard to tell, but its actually “clouds” and stars!
The stars are made using the cutter from Daiso. I used a slice of cheddar cheese for this – you actually use very little cheese so don’t worry about the salt content.
The clouds are made from oatmeal. I cook 2 heaped tablespoons of baby oats with enough oatmilk to cover the oats in a small pot, let it cool for a minute and then shape the clouds. I then use cranberries to outline them like a “silver lining”.
She had so much fun with this one! She was singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star with every bite!
I’m pretty proud of our fledgling o-bento journey so far and I hope my creative juices haven’t completely run out yet! Wish us luck and I will keep sharing whenever I can, but meanwhile, you can find us on IG!
Please ask away if you have any other questions!
Libby and Sophie Rose