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luxe and the lady

Perfect Bar Back to School Bento

Forever on the lookout for healthy and delicious on the go food options, I came across Perfect Bar about a year ago after hearing the founders on one of my favorite podcasts. I was intrigued by the fact that their bars are refrigerated (the first I’ve ever heard of), and I also loved that they are made from only recognizable whole foods. What really won me over though is the flavor! They taste like a cookie, and unlike the typical cardboard textured protein bars (you know what I’m talking about haha) these bars are soft and almost melt in your mouth. I’ve talked about them so much to my family that they are now fans too (my sister especially enjoys their limited edition flavors around the holidays). When I found out that they’d released Perfect Kids snack size bars I couldn’t wait to collaborate with them to create a cute back to school lunch inspired by their peanut, Piper!

Elephants and peanuts are a perfect match in my mind, so I decided to make this “out of the box bento” circus themed with a Dumbo style elephant noodle salad, circus “cookie” fruit cutouts, and Piper as a mini waffle. Don’t let the noodles intimidate you though – I promise they are much more forgiving than they look, and when you break the process down into shapes it’s simple. Please feel free to swap out any ingredients for your little one’s favorites. Kids can even go nuts 😉 helping to decorate the fruit cutouts and twirling the noodles (which are the funnest parts).

Ingredients: (serves 1-2)

This post is sponsored by Perfect Kids. All images and opinions are my own.

 

Soba Noodle Salad:

3 ½ ounces Soba Noodles

½ tablespoon toasted sesame oil

1 cup mixed greens, chopped

1 green onion, finely sliced

1/2 cup sweet pea shoots or sprouts

1 slice cheddar cheese

1/2 red bell pepper

1 sheet nori

1 slice nitrate free ham

2 tablespoons ginger salad dressing

Circus Animal Fruit:

1 Mango (or your favorite fruits – watermelon, kiwi and strawberries would work well too)

2 teaspoons organic confetti sprinkles

1/4 cup blueberries

Piper the Peanut Waffle:

2 mini waffles, toasted

1/8 cup chocolate chips

Tools:

Large round piping tip

Small scissors

Sharp kitchen knife/kitchen scissors

Small animal cookie cutters (I used lion, giraffe and elephant shapes)

Toothpicks

*All cutting should be done by an adult.

Directions:

  1. Cook the Soba noodles according to the package directions, and after rinsing with cold water (and draining), stir in the sesame oil to prevent the noodles from sticking. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
  2. In a medium size bowl combine the mixed greens, onion, and sweet pea shoots (I find it easiest to use kitchen scissors to chop everything up into bite size pieces). If you are making this meal to enjoy away from home (for school or work) transfer the greens to a bento box.
  3. Remove your noodles from the refrigerator and use chopsticks or a fork to twirl them into an oval on top of the salad (once you lay the noodles into the right shape you can use your utensil to move them around a bit to fill in any gaps
  4. Twirl a few strands of the noodles around your chopsticks or fork to form little circles for the arms and legs, and add on top of the oval shape.                                                                                                                      
  5. Create two larger circular shapes of twirled noodles for the ears and place one on each side of the oval.
  6. Use a sharp kitchen knife to carefully cut the ruffled collar out of the bell pepper (I cut two pieces out and laid them next to each other to make it long enough).
  7. To add the yellow decoration to the collar just cut a thin piece from the edge of the cheddar cheese and add it on top of the pepper, bending slightly to give it a curve.
  8. Create one more twirl of noodles for the elephant’s trunk, and place just above the collar.
  9. Cut the hat shape out of the rest of the cheese and place on top of your elephant.
  10. Use the large round piping tip to cut the cheeks out of the ham, and then use the kitchen scissors to cut 2 semicircles for the inside of each ear. Add the ham to your elephant.                            
  11. Fold the sheet of nori in half, and cut out an oval shape for the eyes, and 4 lines (2 for each eyebrow expression, and 2 for eyelashes on each eye).     
  12. Use a toothpick to carefully transfer the nori cutouts to your elephant. To prevent the nori from curling place the shapes with the smooth side down.
  13. Now that the hard part is over :), let’s make the fun sides! Toast 2 mini waffles and allow them to cool slightly while melting the chocolate chips.
  14. Place the chocolate chips in a heat -proof bowl and microwave in 30 second intervals at 50% power, stirring after each interval, until smooth.
  15. Cut a little of the end off of each mini waffle, and lay them together with the cut sides connected to create Piper’s peanut shape.
  16. Dip a toothpick into the melted chocolate and use it to draw a smile on the waffle, and 2 dots for Piper’s eyes.
  17. Cut the mango (or other fruit) into sections, and use the animal cookie cutters to punch out as many shapes as you can.
  18. If eating the lunch right away, decorate the shapes with the confetti sprinkles, and enjoy your elephant-astic creation! If you are packing your meal to go, keep the sprinkles separate until lunchtime.

Any leftover noodles can be covered and stored in the refrigerator. If you try this cute circus themed lunch I would love to see! You can find Perfect Kids at Target stores in the refrigerated section.

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