Hi, I’m Kristie, and I’m really glad you’re here because that must mean that you’re interested in making healthy food more fun!
Whether you’re here for bento ideas, help with food allergies, looking for weight-loss friendly foods, or how to do weekly food prep to manage it all – I hope you’ll find the resources on this website to be very beneficial ( ooooh, see what I did there?)
Are you here because you have some questions for me? Well then:
Here’s How to Reach Me
My email is: Kristie@beneficial-bento.com , but it’s even easier to reach me right here on my Contact Page.
You can visit my Facebook page to leave me a comment or question, and scroll through old and new things I share there (sometimes it helps to see old favorite recipes and lunch ideas pop up when you need some meal planning inspiration).
You can say hi to me on Instagram, see the things I share there ( that you won’t find on my blog), or best of all – if you make one of my recipes, copy a bento, or use a good idea you found here, share a picture! I WANNA SEE!
Do you want to see some really Lovely Lunches? Learn some mouthwatering ways to Eat Your Vegetables? See my favorite Gluten Free and Healthy recipe ideas? Then by all means, please follow me on Pinterest!
Do you want to have a conversation with me in 140 characters or less? Then feel free to follow me on Twitter!
My Blog’s Origin Story
Back in 2011 I was looking around for some fresh ideas on how to pack healthy lunches and snacks for my family – and myself, too, so I could more easily stick to my weight-loss goals.
I discovered the interesting concept of bento – Japanese lunches that are packed in compact little bento boxes, and are artfully arranged to make healthy foods more appealing to eat. Being the artistic soul that I am, the idea of creating little pieces of food art and making lunch a little silly and just plain FUN really hit home with me in a big way!
I was very frustrated to discover that there wasn’t a bento box or nori punch to be found at any store where we live. But a very happy occasion (my oldest son’s wedding) gave us the opportunity to travel to San Francisco, which is probably the Bento Supply Capitol of America. Needless to say, I got busy and went shopping! My daughter and I squealed with glee and exclaimed “oh how cuuute!” about a hundred times as we bought bento boxes, tiny dressing bottles, adorable molds and nori punches, etc. etc. etc.
After my shopping spree was finished, I lamented to my husband that I needed some little kids to pack these adorable lunches for (we had no grandchildren at that time, and our youngest was 14). He told me to practice on him, since no one would see his food (ha), and he didn’t care if it was cute as long as it tasted good.
After a few weeks of unleashing my creativity on him, friends started asking me how I made all those cute foods. It turns out my dear husband had been taking pictures of all his lunches and posting them on Facebook for everyone to see! Back then, I wasn’t really much on the Facebook train yet, so all this slipped by my radar, ha ha ha!
My daughter convinced me to start this blog where I documented our family’s lunches, offered bento tips, and showed the best places to buy bento tools.
Then in 2012, I was offered an opportunity to submit some of my recipes for this fun, lunch packing cookbook: Cooking With Trader Joe’s – Easy Lunch Boxes. I found that I LOVED the recipe creation process, and making recipes lower in calories and healthier. I have been cooking for my family for nearly 30 years, so I have developed a lot of original recipes of my own.The cookbook experience sparked my interest in sharing my own recipes on my blog, which I do all the time now.
But where does the food allergy part of this story come in? Our youngest son was diagnosed with non-celiac gluten sensitivity when he was in kindergarten, and he also was intolerant to dairy at that time. I worked very hard to learn how to cook for him – almost everything he ate had to be homemade, as there were not many gluten free options at that time ( thank goodness for the current gluten free “craze”! It’s been a real benefit for our family) and developed a lot of my own gluten free recipes.
I personally have always had problems with having an upset stomach, and lots of other (ahem) “digestive issues”. I figured that’s just how life was for me. But since I cooked gluten free for my son I often ate his lunch leftovers, or bread or pancake experiments that didn’t work out super well ( hey, those ingredients are expensive! I hated to see food go to waste). After a few months of doing this, I realized that I felt SO much better when I didn’t eat gluten, and my “digestive issues” totally cleared up. Avoiding gluten = functional digestive system for me, so I just don’t eat it anymore. I haven’t been officially diagnosed by a doctor, but I suspect that I also have non-celiac gluten sensitivity ( and my son probably inherited it from me).
When our first grandson came along, he had some health issues that led his parents to take him to an allergy specialist. They learned that he is very allergic to peanuts! That inspired me to start learning how to make peanut-free foods for him like my Coconut Cashew Butter.
And now he has a little brother, who is allergic to eggs. So, I am currently learning how to make egg-free recipes, like my post on How To Make Egg Free Cupcakes Using a Cake Mix.
Ever since I started this blog, one of my main interests has been clean eating, portion control, and healthy meals for weight loss. The best way I know how to accomplish all these food goals is to write up a weekly meal plan and have a weekly food prep session- preparing food in advance once a week to make it easy to stick to a diet, or have allergy friendly foods ready to grab and go. I share more and more food prep ideas and meal planning tips here on this site, which I hope you will love and use like I do. My personal health coach (and good friend) is John Gibson, who is the fitness and weight loss expert at fatlossevolution.com. He has a wonderful weight loss program that I am currently a part of right now, and I hope to share my food tips here and weight loss success( fingers crossed!).
Hey, if you made it this far reading my story, I just want to say thanks – wow, that was long 🙂
Resources You Can Find Here
( This list is currently being developed and will be frequently added to as we work on updating the website)
Do you want to know where to find the best loaf pan for baking gluten free bread?
Are you looking for a bento box, but are not sure which one will fit your needs?
Did you know I sell lunch packing items that I design myself in my Etsy shop?
I am very pleased to announce that now you can find these things and much more here in my Store!
What makes my Store unique:
- These are all things that I personally own and use. You can read my personal recommendation on each item, where I tell what it’s for and why it’s worth having.
- It represents all the stores featured here on Beneficial Bento (Amazon, Fit & Fresh, Bento USA, Etsy, Gumroad) all on one page.
- It has an awesome Search feature that is so easy to use – go check it out 😀
- It has been really helpful (to me) to have an alphabetical list of all the recipes here on Beneficial Bento, and I hope you will like it, too! Use it to look up recipes quickly, get ideas for what to make for dinner, or to help you when you’re making a meal plan.
- I’m always adding to my Meal Ideas Resource Page. Check there to find lots of lists of meal ideas, like what to make for breakfast, lunch or dinner, what to take to a party, low carb meal ideas, and more.