Help with vegetables - working around allergies

Gwaeren
Bento-ing from: Trenton Area › New Jersey › USA
Joined: 6 Oct 2009
User offline. Last seen 4 years 45 weeks ago.

Hi there!

I'm a little overwhelmed as to where to start with the vegetable portions of my bento boxes. Most boxes I see have raw, cut veggies that are cute - but I can't eat them.

I'm allergic to nearly every raw fruit and vegetable out there - with few exceptions (citrus, lettuce, raspberry-family, and olives are safe, along with most beans -- except soybeans, which HAVE to be cooked well for me to eat). Key word here is 'raw'. I've learned that I can eat salsas with little problem, pickled fruits and veggies without problem, and cooked fruits and veggies with no problem whatsoever.

So here's what I'm looking for: Vegetables that are crunchy (or at least nice and solid) enough after being roasted, pickled or boiled for a long time that are still tasty, and that can be cut to make those 'cute' shapes, because lets face it - cute is GREAT for diets. The more entertaining the food, the more I'm going to enjoy it, and the less I'm going to focus on the *amount* I'm eating.

Carrots are one, I know. I can even boil them and still get a decently solid form.

I think I can grill pineapple and still cut it into cute shapes.

My other issue is that I need to be able to cook these things a week ahead of time without them going bad in our fridge.

I want to start my bentos next week (when my box gets in, as well as my ordered sauces and seasonings.... \^_^/ ), and I have access to a few asian food markets so I *can* get my hands on some not-so-local fruits and veggies. Yay!

So. Ideas would be GREAT, because at the moment, my brain is on overload trying to think about all of this at once! Sometimes a girl just needs someone on the outside to point her in the right direction(s).

Thanks ahead of time!

~Gwaeren

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rehfilet
Bento-ing from: › Germany
Joined: 11 Aug 2009
User offline. Last seen 3 years 2 weeks ago.
Re: Help with vegetables - working around allergies

hello gwaeren,
there are lost of tasty root vegetables out there that remain crunchy after cooking, steaming or pickling.
you might like to try pastinacas or parsley root, if you can find them, they look like white carrots and are rather carrot-like, but with an interesting, aromatic taste.
i guess celery, beets, chunks of squash and peppers could be cut into thick slices and steamed or cooked in salt water, then cut into cute shapes.
fennel stays crunchy when cooked, but it's a bit of an aquired taste.
or, you could try to get some white-fleshed sweet potato (or kumara, as i recently learned here: http://justbento.com/forum/easy-make-chew-vegetables ) at the asian supermarket, cut it into slices, cut those into flowers or whatever and roast them-it should be firm enough to keep the form.
rehfilet

Loretta
Moderator
Bento-ing from: London › UK
Joined: 4 Mar 2009
User offline. Last seen 1 year 3 weeks ago.
Re: Help with vegetables - working around allergies

cute and crunchy when cooked?
I can't think of anything more appropriate than lotus root/renkon
http://www.justhungry.com/how-cook-lotus-root-renkon

My father is violently allergic to raw onion and can't eat them unless they are thoroughly cooked. However, he doesn't have problems eating pickled onions. If this is the case with you also, then another ridiculously cute vegetable are radishes. Here's another recipe from Maki:
http://justbento.com/handbook/johbisai/sweet-sour-and-salty-instant-radi...

I'd recommend asparagus spears which maintain a good texture when cooked (great with a dribble of sesame oil)

I'd also suggest tinned artichoke hearts as a quick and easy (although not the most economical) option.

Kimpira made with shards of cooked gobo (burdock root) has a satisfying toothsome texture

And an economic and quick and easy to cook vegetable are bean sprouts (I like them best when sprouted from mung beans or soya beans). If you're using soy bean shoots, hopefully a minute in boiling water is all you need.
(Our favourite way of eating cooked moyashi/beansprouts is by combining cooked and drained moyashi with 1 teaspoon of douban jiang*, half a teaspoon of chili flakes, half a tablespoon of dashi concentrate and half a tablespoon of soy sauce, a couple of teaspoons of sesame oil and one large crushed/grated clove of garlic. Unfortunately, this then needs to be eaten immediately as the salt in the douban jiang/soy sauce/dashi draws out lots of water from the beansprouts. One way around this is to add salt to the cooked and drained moyashi and leave them in a colander for a while. Once the moyashi have released more water, I then rinse the salt from the moyashi, drain again and combine with the other ingredients. My husband can eat vats of these beansprouts, it's only the sesame oil that has any fat in it and the big flavours means he doesn't get bored with this low calorie food.)

*Douban jiang is a fava/broad bean and chili paste and a speciality of Sichuan in China. It's also very popular in Japan and douban jiang can be found in Chinese as well as Japanese grocery stores. The bean sprout recipe is a version of the spicy moyashi my partner loves when he eats at his favourite ramen place in Tokyo.

maki
admin
Bento-ing from: somewhere › France
Joined: 24 Jan 2007
User offline. Last seen 1 week 6 days ago.
Re: Help with vegetables - working around allergies

Hi Gwaeren, most of the vegetable recipes here on Just Bento are cooked, or 'instant' pickled. Take a look via the sitemap (look for the tag 'vegetables' or the Side Dishes section) or the recipe index. There are tons of recipes you can use I think. (I forget myself how many there are ^_^)

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Gwaeren
Bento-ing from: Trenton Area › New Jersey › USA
Joined: 6 Oct 2009
User offline. Last seen 4 years 45 weeks ago.
Re: Help with vegetables - working around allergies

Maki,

Thank you! I did notice the list, but that's half the reason I got so overwhelmed! I had no idea where to start and was going a bit bonkers (It's the problem with having ADD, too - I get distracted by things very easily, which leads to that overwhelmed feeling) so I figured asking and getting a little specific direction would be a good place to start, and that I could work my way from there.

This site is FANTASTIC, though! And everyone seems so helpful and friendly. ^_^ I never knew a place like this existed until a few days ago, and now I'm so happy I found it!

Gwaeren
~Windy~

another_amanda
Bento-ing from: › USA
Joined: 12 Aug 2009
User offline. Last seen 2 years 47 weeks ago.
Re: Help with vegetables - working around allergies

Steamed/boiled spinach seems to be pretty moldable once it's been squeezed. You could try stuffing that into a cutter with big shapes (fine details probably wouldn't work). You could do a spinach ball with a cute face like people put on onigiri.

I've also seen plenty of kyaraben that have their decorations cut out of boiled egg, lunch meat, aburaage, cheese, or usuyaki tamago. Since you haven't mentioned meat allergies, I'm assuming you're okay with meat/dairy. You could allow your cooked vegetables to be boring, then decorate them with cute bits of the stuff I've mentioned. It'd probably be okay for dieting if you do it in small amounts.

Gwaeren
Bento-ing from: Trenton Area › New Jersey › USA
Joined: 6 Oct 2009
User offline. Last seen 4 years 45 weeks ago.
Re: Help with vegetables - working around allergies

Eeee! Thank you, everyone! So many ideas! I've jotted them all down and will go out and purchase a few of these veggies today! ^_^

Hooray! You're all so very helpful!

Gwaeren
~Windy~

clarissa
Bento-ing from: Berlin › Germany
Joined: 6 Jan 2009
User offline. Last seen 3 years 44 weeks ago.
Re: Help with vegetables - working around allergies

Maybe you want to try kohlrabi too. I like it alot. But maby you have to season it a little bit stronger, some say it is rather bland. But you can cut it and make forms out of it with a cookie cutter.
You can also use it for kinpira one of the easiest to make dishes for a wide range of "crunchy" vegetables. (the "how too" is somewere around here)

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Kneesoxrock
Bento-ing from: › USA
Joined: 27 Aug 2009
User offline. Last seen 4 years 31 weeks ago.
Re: Help with vegetables - working around allergies

Finally, someone else with Oral Allergy Syndrome! I have all the same problems too so I tend to just stick with cucumbers and cabbage without cuteness (because they don't bother me).
I'm just so happy to find an allergic bento sibling!

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