This blog combines plant strong eating with an old hobby of mine, bento. Bento is a Japanese lunch. Bento lunches can really be any packed lunch, but traditionally there is a large portion of white rice, a small serving of protein, and some pickled vegetables. I’m on a mission to create plant strong no added fat bentos that are quick, easy, delicious and inexpensive.

I currently live in an area with few choices for food shopping. Most weeks, I have to make do with Walmart. I can’t afford to buy organic. I don’t always feel like cooking for hours. I often see posts on other blogs like “I don’t have a local farmer’s market.” Folks, for many people Walmart and conventional produce are the best option available.

I gave up eating meat 27 years ago. Sometimes I was vegan and sometimes I decided to eat fish. As a young woman, I kept the fat very low and the fruit/vegetable/fiber level of my diet high. I was demanding a lot of my body at the time and this worked for me. I became a Pritikin devotee for about a year. Then I married a man who was not as fond of eating spinach and rice vinegar for dinner as I was.

I’ve battled weight issues since I was about 12. At one point I decided that I just plain did not have the willpower and drive to eat properly and be active. “I’m going to just eat what I want and stop obsessing about it and love myself the way I am.” Loving yourself is always a good strategy. I gained nearly 50 pounds in one year, though. Is that really respecting yourself? It took years, but I developed an active lifestyle and improved my eating habits. Or so I thought.

I took up Bento in about 2006. I spent 30-90 minutes every evening packing nicely arranged meals in cute lunch containers. I packed my lunch at night and ate the leftovers for dinner. I also gained a lot of weight! All that white rice — and yes, I did use brown sometimes — and the high sodium/sugar dishes did not do me any favors. I had to give up the bento.

Plant strong diets have been in the news lately. I’ve been following the low-carb, high fat and protein diet advice that is all the rage. Moderation in all things. After doing some research on my own I cut the fat, sugar, refined flour and artificial sweeteners out cold turkey. I don’t want to start having mini strokes! That said, optimum nutrition for humans is an emerging field. The jury is out on what the “ultimate diet” for humans is. I’m not here to debate this particular choice with anyone. This is my choice.

It annoys me that a low fat plant strong diet is so often referred to as extreme. We all know that shooting up heroin is harmful. No one considers the choice to not shoot up — ever — an extreme lifestyle. Why is a choice to avoid harmful food any different? So cake makes you feel happy? I hear heroin does, too.

You have every right to make whatever choice you want for your own life. The person who is counting on you to make good choices is you. I hope I can help some people make better choices.