healthy bento ideas

A Week of Bentos

Today I thought I’d post a weeks worth of bento lunches to give you some ideas. As you can see, I didn’t have that many veggies in the house for side dishes so there are a lot of repeats. This is a bit less variety than usual but there is no reason to pretend that this doesn’t happen sometimes. Plus, the repeats are some of my favorite veggies so there was no feeling of monotony. No one, aside from bento bloggers, makes a completely different bento every day. (Note: I cannot actually back up this statement with data but I’m pretty sure it is true)

healthy bento ideas

Monday: A black olive and spinach omelette topped with parmesan cheese, red rice with green peas and steamed broccoli and cauliflower.


Healthy bento ideas

Tuesday: A homemade hamburger patty over daikon radish matchsticks, curried carrot slices, cherry tomatoes and salt pickled cucumber and rice topped with aonori and sesame seeds.

healthy bento ideas

Wednesday: Pan fried salmon, cherry tomatoes, salt pickled cucumbers, steamed broccoli and romanesco, black olives and rice and green peas topped with sesame seeds.

healthy bento ideas

Thursday: Beef and mushrooms fried in a sesame yakiniku sauce, cherry tomatoes, black olives, salt pickled cucumber and rice topped with aonori.

healthy bento ideasFriday: beef and cabbage simmered in tomato sauce (the previous night’s dinner), cherry tomatoes, black olives, salt pickled cucumbers and half a large sweet potato.

So after looking at these pictures all together, I went shopping for veggies. This is what I got at the veggie market that sells locally grown goodness.

Vegetables in japan


That’s right, you do see purple cauliflower. It looks pretty steamed.


Iron Chef Serendipity Pi Day Edition

iron chef Serendipity II

It’s time to put your cooking skills to the challenge. Two teams, two boxes of mystery ingredients, one kitchen.
Come join in the fun as two teams compete to make the best meal from a box of mystery ingredients.

Date: March 14th (Pi Day)
Time: 4-6pm
Cost: 2500 per person
RSVP: Here or on Facebook
I might be able to accommodate dietary restrictions, so please contact me to check.

Children are welcome to participate or play in the the background.


Cooking Getaway


I haven’t mentioned this on the blog before but I run an AirBnB apartment here in Yokosuka. We are 30sec from the beach and have a fantastic view of Mt. Fuji from the living room window on a clear day. I also offer cooking classes for guests. If you are looking to get away for a couple of days and learn something new, I’d love to host you. I can accommodate up to four guests at a time, so you can come with a group. We are a 25 min bus ride from Zushi station.

Classes: Okonomiyaki (savory pancake), yakisoba (fried noodles), Japanese style beach BBQ, traditional Japanese breakfast, hotpot, kabocha squash feast, hummus, how to use a whole daikon and many more topics.

I take apartment bookings through AirBnB and you can inquire about cooking classes below.


Oreo Cookie Truffles


I’ve got an easy one for you. It violates my general policy of not using processed food in recipes. But it involves Oreos, so I’ve made an exception. It is not healthy either…

This is really flexible as it goes be weight ratios. That means you can make them with one Japan-sized sleeve of cookies (nine cookies) or a whole package. I use white chocolate because I prefer it for the taste and aesthetic reasons. White chocolate is on the sweet side so if you are making these for people who can’t handle North American levels of sweetness, use dark chocolate. Double stuff Oreos are not readily available in Japan but for those of you outside of Japan, most of the recipes on the interwebs say they are not suitable for this recipe. You could probably try some of the flavored Oreos though. The recipe below is based on this one.

Oreo Truffles

2 parts (by weight) Oreo cookies

1 part (by weight) cream cheese

Chocolate for melting

Optional: mint extract


Food processor instructions

Put the Oreo cookies in the food processor and pulse until you get crumbs. Add the cream cheese and pulse until you get dough. Form small balls with the dough and place on a plate covered with saran wrap. Cover and refrigerate until firm. Try at least an hour. Melt the chocolate in the microwave or a double boiler. Dip the Oreo balls in chocolate and decorate. Cool to harden.


Manual instructions (more fun)

Put the Oreo cookies in a large Ziploc bag, seal and smash the cookies (I use a rolling pin) until you get crumbs. Place the cookie crumbs in a large bowl and add the cream cheese. Combine until you get dough. Form small balls with the dough and place on a plate covered with saran wrap. Cover and refrigerate until firm. Fifteen minutes in the freezer also works. Melt the chocolate in the microwave or a double boiler. Dip the Oreo balls in chocolate and decorate. Cool to harden.


Reader question: Clay nabe pots for IH flat top stoves

donabe-clay-pot-IHI received a question from a reader, John, about where to find clay nabe pots for flat top IH stoves. Sadly, his return email address didn’t work so I decided to post the answer here. I wrote a post three years ago when IH stoves were just becoming popular here. Now there are more available and more information to share.

What to look for on the box: IH対応土鍋 (IH taiou donabe)

An IH clay nabe pot will have a completely flat bottom, it won’t be rounded like the gas only ones. There may be a metal and/or ceramic insert that you need to use. The box will be clearly labelled as there were some accidents before people were aware that regular clay nabe pots were not okay to use.

You can even get this classic design that you have probably seen in

donabe-clay-potWhere to get them:



Hot Chocolate Spectacular (Cooking class)


Hot chocolate is the nectar of the gods.

It is time to experiment with different chocolates, add-ins and bases to construct the ultimate hot chocolate.

There will be a competition at the end so come with your creative juices flowing.

Date: Feb 28th 4-6pm
Place: Serendipity Cafe, Chigasaki
Cost: 2500 yen per person (includes baked goods to munch on)


To register, head over to Facebook or to my Akiya Kitchen Cooking School website.


Oreo Truffle Cooking Class (family friendly)


We’ll be making a box of oreo cookie truffles. This is family friendly class so feel free to bring kids. Pricing is by number of truffles so two people can work on one box.

Date: Feb 28th 2-4pm
Place: Serendipity Cafe, Chigasaki
Cost: 2500 yen for 12 truffles

To register, head over to Facebook or to my Akiya Cooking School website.


Perfect Japanese Sweet Potatoes in a Rice Cooker

japanese-sweet-potato-rice-cookerJapanese sweet potatoes can be dry. They are sometimes even dry when they are in soup. I discovered a good way to cook Japanese sweet potatoes so that they are always moist and soft. This way is also really easy and convenient. I used the rice cooker. You can do this with regular sweet potatoes (さつまいも), the golden flesh kintoki imo (金時芋) and the orange flesh annou imo (安納芋).

How to cook Japanese sweet potatoes in a rice cooker

Wash and trim the ends (if necessary) of the sweet potatoes. Put 1-2 cm of water in the bottom of the rice cooker. Poke the sweet potatoes with a fork a few times just to make sure they don’t explode. Cook small or medium sized potatoes in a quick cycle (早炊き or 白米急速). Larger potatoes should be done with a full cycle. That is all.

Note: You can wrap the potatoes in foil, if you prefer. The ones I cooked while wrapped still had a soft skin so I am not sure you can get a crunchy skin in the rice cooker with water.


Paprika-Spiced Cauliflower Soup


This was a gem I found on Pinterest when I searched for cauliflower recipes. Cauliflower is in season right now and I am taking full advantage of the white, yellow and purple cauliflowers at the local farmer’s association store. I eat relatively seasonally so when something I like is in season, I eat it every day.

You can find the recipe here. The changes I made:


  • additive free (無添加 mutenka) chicken (チキンyasai) consomme (コンソメ) –> 無添加チキンコンソメ
  • additive free (無添加 mutenka) vegetable (野菜 yasai) consomme (コンソメ) –> 無添加野菜コンソメ

Pizza Parties in Chigasaki

It’s time to kick off the new year with pizza. I’ll be hosting pizza parties at Serendipity cafe on the 24th and you are all invited.

Kid’s Pizza Party


At the kid’s pizza party we will make dough and tomato sauce, assemble and bake the pizzas. Each child will make a pizza that is suitable in size for both the child and accompanying parent.

Date: Jan 24th
Time: 2-4pm
Location: Serendipity Cafe, Chigasaki
Cost: 2000 yen for one child or 2500 yen for a set of siblings (each will make their own pizza)
RSVP:  Here or on Facebook

Adult’s Pizza Party

pizza-party-chigasakiWe will make everything from scratch and then feast on our creations.

Date: Jan 24th
Time: 4-6pm
Location: Serendipity Cafe, Chigasaki
Cost: 2500 yen per person
RSVP:  Here or on Facebook

*Older children are welcome to participate in the adult pizza party. Many of the children who go to the kid’s events are in kindergarten or early elementary school. There are toys at the cafe so you are welcome to attend the class with your child playing in the background.