Best of the Food Web: Hapa Bento

By Kelli Swensen, Dietetics Student, Sargent College

Every Wednesday this semester we will be posting about a new blog or cooking website that we love! The internet is filled with food websites, and our goal is to arm you with the “Best of the Food Web”!


Hapa = Hawaiian for “half”

Bento = Japanese term for a boxed lunch

Started by a Hawaiian couple, Happy Bento provides recipes and ideas for healthy, flavorful bento meals, perfect for packed lunches. Although bento boxes are traditionally Japanese, the blog features recipes that are inspired by the couple’s combined heritages of Hawaiian, Chinese, Korean, Filipino, African American, and European. With flavors from distinctly different ethnic traditions, Happy Bento’s recipes have wide appeal.

Basics of a bento box, according to Happy Bento:

  1. The container. Traditional bento boxes are made out of wood, but you can purchase plastic bento boxes, or use regular tupperware
  2. All bentos have either rice or noodles. For best nutritional punch, choose brown rice or whole-wheat noodles.
  3. Bentos should contain a form of protein, such as tofu, eggs, fish, or meat; as well as lots of vegetables. Fruit can also be a nice addition.
  4. All ingredient should be bite-sized — you should never need a knife to eat your bento lunch
  5. Be aware if your ingredients require refrigeration. This is especially important for students who carry their lunches with them unrefrigerated. We recommend getting a couple of ice packs to keep your bento cool.
  6. Bento boxes require the use of baran. Baran is a physical separator for the foods in your box. Traditional barans are made from bamboo leaves, but you can buy special plastic separators.
  7. It should be physically appealing and colorful. The goal of a bento box is to create a well-balanced meal, filled with a variety of nutrients.

Bento boxes are not only a nice change from the traditional brown-bag lunch, but they are a great way to ensure your lunch is well-balanced.

For inspiration, check out Happy Bento’s previous boxes:

Disclaimer: The Sargent Choice blog includes links to other websites only as information to consumers, not as medical advice. When you access an external website, keep in mind that Sargent Choice has no control over its content.  Sargent Choice is not responsible for the content found at any of the sites, nor do any links imply endorsement or promotion of the company/organization, its content, services, therapeutic treatment options, or products. Accordingly, you visit any site at your own risk.  Sargent Choice is also not responsible for the policies and practices of these sites, such as their Privacy Policy, use of “cookies”, etc. We encourage you to review the privacy policies of each site that you visit through a link on our website


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