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  • Bento Is A Pinay Mom's Answer To Make Her Three Picky Eaters 'Magana Kumain'

    She says her kids are more excited to eat and she has been called "Best Mommy."
    by Regine Paz Malong .
Bento Is A Pinay Mom's Answer To Make Her Three Picky Eaters 'Magana Kumain'
PHOTO BY Regine Paz Malong
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    If you’re a fan of Pinterest like me, you may have already seen a lot of Bento box lunches and Bento sandwiches. Aside from being cute, there’s something about it that attracts kids’ attention. I have three kids, all girls — Sam, Audrey, and Anri. Anri’s the pickiest eater among the three, but she loves eating her bento.

    What got me interested in Bento?

    I started researching when Sam was in Grade 1 and Audrey was in Nursery. I looked for a way to improve their appetite. I tried many things and that's when I discovered bento.

    I started doing bento-style food in January 2020. I bought tools and accessories. Their Aunt Cynthia also bought my daughters bento lunch boxes.

    While using bento materials, you can compare my excitement with a kid seeing their favorite toy on Christmas Day. When I completed my first bento, I admired it so much that I didn’t want to eat it!

    Here are some of the Disney-inspired Bento lunches that I made.

    Anna’s Gulay na Bitsuelas (inspired by Frozen!)
    PHOTO BY Regine Paz Malong
    Snow White’s Parmesan and Panko Baked Chicken
    PHOTO BY Regine Paz Malong
    Alice’s Pork Kaldereta (sauce and meat not yet included on her plate!)
    PHOTO BY Regine Paz Malong

    What are the challenges of bento making?

    Elsa and Olaf’s Pork Sinigang
    PHOTO BY Regine Paz Malong
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    As I improved my bento making, some companies sent me plates and other items which I’m grateful for. There are still a lot of things to learn.

    I am still looking at a lot of samples from Pinterest. My inspirations are mostly found in Google, Pinterest, and Instagram.

    Some designs are very challenging and hard to do. Sometimes, the results are not what I’d expect and it can make me feel like wanting to give up this beloved hobby.

    However, I persevere. And with practice, I become even better at my craft.

    At the onset of the pandemic, I stopped making bento lunches temporarily. However, the extra time proved useful as I was able to practice more.

    I opened a Facebook group called Toddler & Kids Bento Art. The goal of this group is to give tips on how to prepare bento lunches as well as where to get tools, supplies, and ingredients.

    The moms in this group are a varied lot. Most love to design food and their homes, just like me. Now, I know I’ve found a home for my artsy self.

    What can you make for a bento box?

    Cinderella’s Pea Flowers
    PHOTO BY Regine Paz Malong

    Here is a sample of how I make Bento:

    Snow White Bento

    What you'll need

    For the rice

    • Powder-based dragon fruit
    • Butterfly pea flower
    • Turmeric
    • Ketchup
    • Dragees nori
    • Carrots
    • Apple

    For the chicken

    • 4 to 6 boneless skinless chicken strips
    • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
    • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
    • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan
    • 1/2 tsp of paprika
    • 1 tsp of garlic powder
    • 1 tsp of onion powder
    • Salt to taste
    • Olive oil

    For the marinade

    • 1 cup of water
    • 1 cup of soy sauce
    • 2 to 4 cloves of crushed garlic
    • 1 whole lemon halved (squeezed half of the lemon into the marinade, and with the other half, cut into 6 wedges and drop them into the marinade)
    • 6 sprigs of thyme


    1. Into a bowl, whisk your marinade together and add chicken strips. Make sure your bowl isn't too shallow. You need to completely submerge your chicken. Wash hands after handling uncooked chicken. Place the bowl in the fridge and let it marinate for 2 hours
    2. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
    3. In a shallow bowl, mix together parmesan, panko, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, lightly beat the egg, and set aside.
    4. Set up a wire rack over a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil.
    5. Take the chicken strips and dip them into your egg wash, then roll them into your panko and parmesan mixture.
    6. Place the chicken strips on the wire rack and spray the top of the chicken with cooking spray and bake for 10 to 15 minutes (until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit).
    7. Remove the chicken from the oven and allow it to rest for 5 minutes.

    The benefits of bento making

    I am happy with bento making. My kids have become more excited to eat! My youngest, Anri, is 22 months and she’s the pickiest eater among the three girls. I started focusing on how to make her eat more, and bento was the answer.

    They kiss and hug me to show their appreciation. There are also exclamations of how I’m the best Mommy and I’m very good at bento. Even Anri who’s able to talk a few words now, says that her food is cute and nice.

    Bento-making became a stress-reliever for me. I realized that if you do things with love, it doesn’t matter what the outcome is. 

    This piece was submitted by SmartParenting.com.ph reader Regine Paz Malong, a mom of three beautiful girls. Follow her creations and get inspired to make your own bento by joining Toddler & Kids Bento Art, a Facebook group for artsy Moms.

    Edits have been made by Smart Parenting editors.

    This mom makes the funniest 'bento'-style lunches for her hubby! Click here to see.

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