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Posted on Oct 29, 2007 in Bento, Eggs, For Kids, Lactose Free, Meat, Pasta or Noodles, Potatoes | 14 comments

Spinach tamagoyaki lunch

Spinach tamagoyaki lunch


I first heard the phrase “refrigerator velcro” from Alton Brown, describing dishes like potatoes and eggs that bind together all kinds of leftovers from the refrigerator. Frittatas, fried rice, and potato gratin are like that for me, accepting whatever is available. Tamagoyaki, or Japanese rolled egg omelette, can also incorporate fillings like sauteed vegetables, nori, kamaboko, fake crab, meat, etc. Just start your first layer of egg normally, and put a strip of filling down on the egg just before flipping the egg into that first roll. Build subsequent layers of egg as usual, and you’ll wind up with stuffed tamagoyaki (an easy vegetable delivery vehicle for children). If you have leftover food scraps from making bento decorations, they can easily go into this kind of egg dish. What’s your favorite refrigerator velcro dish?

Spinach tamagoyaki bento lunch for preschooler

Contents of preschooler’s lunch: Japchae Korean noodles (transparent potato starch noodles, carrots, onions and bell peppers), sweet potato simmered in mirin and soy sauce, cocktail sausages, and tamagoyaki Japanese rolled egg with sauteed spinach and onion in the middle (see my tutorials for traditional tamagoyaki and shortcut tamagoyaki). The smaller container holds frozen Thai fruit cocktail, with papaya, pineapple, guava and nata de coco. To make the spinach tamagoyaki, I quickly sauteed some bagged, chopped spinach and leftover grated onion in the tamagoyaki pan, then added the first bit of egg directly to the pan with sauteed vegetables in it to form the first inner layer.

Morning prep time: 10 minutes, using leftover sweet potatoes and deli noodles, and pre-frozen fruit cocktail. In the morning I quickly made the two-layer spinach tamagoyaki. Frozen fruit and jellies for packed lunches

Packing: The frozen fruit cocktail acts as an edible ice pack that thawed by lunchtime and kept the rest of the lunch cool. Packed in a 270ml Thomas the Tank Engine bento box, with a 100ml side dish container and two little four-pronged cat picks from Daiso that my son picked out in the morning.

Verdict: Good, over time. Bug ate everything but the noodles at preschool, saying that he ran out of time. He inhaled the noodles in the car afterwards, though, picking the carrots strips out.



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  1. You are smart to give your son such a wide variety of foods while he is open to trying new things! Muffin used to eat anything, but recently she has become a lot pickier. I am hoping it is just a phase [sigh].

  2. @snappiness, most kids, although I have none but a whole lot of education in behavioral sciences etc., go through a developmental stage where they can grow picky on food. Most, maybe even all, kids go through this even if only to a degree. It is mostly about self-determination rather than the food. Creating a nice quiet eating situation and not resolve to conflict should work in improving stress. My niece that had been an avid vegetarian from age 1 and up, frowning on meat altogether, suddenly stopped eating all veggies. At age 6 she only ate MICRO WAVE COOKED broccoli if there was to be any veggies at all. Now at almost 7 she is back at being very happy about all veggies but still very determined. She went back to a former belief that sausage?! Don’t think so…

  3. @1 from Yvo: I agree — Kukje’s japchae is good! I often use potato starch noodles (Malony brand) in nabe dishes (Japanese hot pot). They’re great in stews as they don’t disintegrate in liquid, so you can pick them up with chopsticks.

  4. @2 from snappiness: My fingers are crossed that Bug will stay open-minded about food, but I have no illusions. At the moment I’m just thankful that he’ll eat just about anything (because I don’t want to cook two separate meals if I can help it!). He and my husband both draw the line at natto, though! (BTW, Jessica wrote a reply to you on the site comments if you check back.)

  5. @3 from Jessica: What did your niece believe about sausage? Now you’ve got me curious… Anyway, good points about creating a nice eating situation without conflict. I try not to pressure Bug too much to eat (other than trying everything on the plate — Two Bite Rule), and try not to let him see that it’s important to me one way or the other. Often when he rejects something, I shrug my shoulders and keep eating, then he suddenly changes his mind and eats the rejected food anyway. But that might just be Bug, who knows.

  6. Jessica, I hope you are right. Muffin is nearly 12 though and won’t eat cheese, any seafood and a bunch of veggies. And, at any given moment she may suddenly go “off” something she previously liked. Argh! I just keep trying new things and don’t pressure her. She eats well, just not a lot of variety. I think bento is helping though.

  7. @ 6, Biggie. Being that she ate mostly veggies growing up with the occassional bite in something as boring or yucky as a piece of meat, she had decided that sausage was in fact the cruddiest thing of all to eat. Her parents are omnivores so when the child didn’t pick up on the meat eating they worried about protein intake. They made lentils and beans and she reluctantly tried those. Then came the period of no veggies but only micro-waved broccoli. Now she’s back to a huge variety of veggies but hold the sausage!!

  8. My favorite refrigerator velcro dish is frittata, but Muffin doesn’t like that either. She will eat fried rice, the other great velcro dish.

  9. wow, those Japchae Korean noodles are so intriguing!! they look like rubber, haha

  10. I remember as a child, I really liked drumsticks. Like, REALLY liked them. I’ve since changed tastes but growing up, my mom would often foist the drumstick onto my plate, and at some point I didn’t want it anymore and she’d press me, “But you love drumsticks! Why won’t you eat it” and oh my gosh I just realized I do this to my boyfriend all the time! (He is an extremely picky eater) But anyway, my mom holds on to beliefs about what I like even 20 years later. I quit eating chicken for a while (because it, um, looks like the animal it is, pork, beef, those don’t), and then my sister (7 years older than I) quit eating pork, come to think of it, we must have driven her crazy. Haha… oops. BTW, a friend of mine posted something really interesting about food tastes and genes and all that recently- ties in with what we’re talking about here- check it out if you have a chance.

  11. Are those potato starch noodles gluten free? If so, where do you buy them? I’ve never heard of them and I’m always on the look-out for a new GF noodle.

    I was a horribly picky eater as a kid and eventually my parents gave up and let me make my own PB&J sandwiches for every meal if that’s what I really wanted. Now, though, parents, aunts and uncles don’t see me as a nutritionally well-rounded adult who’s more experimental with food choices than they are. I think I’ll always be a picky little kid to them.

  12. @13 from Stephanie: Yes, the potato starch noodles are GF; I usually buy them in Asian markets. I put them in our regular rotation when my husband was misdiagnosed with celiac disease and we ate GF for nine months a while back.

    On picky eating, I now make it a point to re-try the foods I hate once a year, just to make sure I still hate them. I discovered that I’ve come to like a number of things I used to actively despise, like uni, beer and natto. Who knew?

  13. @14-15, Biggie and Yvo. I try to do the same except for one category; entrails. No liver, kidneys, whatever. Ever again. There’s only one exception to this rule; I do use chicken liver in some dishes for enrichment but then I’ve pulsed it in the food processor until it has no semblance with chicken liver ;). And there are still some things I don’t really care for whereas taste for other foods grew over time, as both of you say. I took an instant liking to uni and natto while still being picky about sushi. Not about the dish itself but if it is inferiorly prepared, why do it yourself when there are great restaurants around? I used to have an aversion to game meat. Now I could eat grouse and duck quite often, along with deer meat. Also developed something like a craving for asparagus and artichokes over the years. Sometimes when people say oh I just adore eeeeeverything I wonder if that’s true or if it is a modified little lie and that everyone has stuff they’d rather just push aside on the plate.

  14. Oh sorry, Stephanie, @13 too :).