healthy bento box

How stunning are these planty bento boxes by Shiso Delicious Sara Kiyo Popowa? Sara’s beautiful, nutrient dense bentos stopped us in our tracks on Insta recently and her new plant-based food blog sealed the deal.

We asked Sara to talk to us about what inspired her Shiso Delicious journey and we think her story is one you’ll relate to 100%…

When I met my now husband, Andy, six years ago, I was surprised to see him eating fast food for lunch every day. He was (and is – even more so today after eating bentos for four years!) a healthy, sporty person who enjoyed good, healthy food, if he could. I wondered how I could make packed lunch appealing to him. The answer came when we visited Japan together.

I have roots in Japan; although I grew up in Sweden, I lived in Japan for three years as a student. During that time I had daily bento lunches made for me by the host family I stayed with. Remembering this, and enjoying on-the-go bentos while traveling with Andy, I fell in love with the idea of making him lunch in stylish bento boxes. This sort of packed lunch would be something to be proud of in the office, not eating out of a battered old clip-lock box.

So, back in London where we live, and with my knowledge of Japanese food culture renewed by our travels, I started making him bento lunches. I’ve been mostly vegetarian for the past 20 years, and have been fascinated by the healing powers of fresh plant food for a long time. The bentos I started making were in no way conventional Japanese bento lunches. I used a lot more vegetables, including raw, which is unusual in typical Japanese cuisine, and I mixed flavors and ingredients in a way that would make a Japanese person wonder why what I made looked so familiar yet so different.

Still, I use a lot of typically Japanese ingredients and techniques like seaweeds, soy condiments and quick-pickling methods. My motivation for my bento recipes is how I can get the most nutrients and flavor with the fewest possible steps, aiming to be as economical as possible with both time and raw ingredients. Most of my recipes can be batch-made for a few days’ meals.

Love Japanese food as much as we do?

Discover more of it – and why it’s so good for your health – here.

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