The Truth Behind The American Vs Japanese School Lunch Comparison

This video comparing American vs Japanese school lunch, really upsets me. It is clearly bias, with it’s sole motive being to shame US food habits.

From an insider living and working in Japan, let me tell you, drinking dairy milk every single day, is not good for anyone’s health. The big white bread roll seen on the Japanese lunch tray, is full of sugar and perservatives and tastes more like a cake than a bread. In fact, brown bread or multi-grain bread here is almost non-existent and only sold at speciality bakeries – definitely not traditional Japanese ones. Moreover, the THREE schools I teach at, have a no fresh-food rule as in the past apparently one child died from eating a rotten fresh cucumber. So, in my schools everything is either fried or pickled. And the meat is almost always processed in the form of patties and sausages.

Yes, occasionally there will be a healthy soup or a healthy fish dish on the lunch tray, but that is not everyday. What’s more, whale is sometimes served as apparently it is Japanese “tradition”. Please don’t believe everything you see on the internet. Last week in our cooking class, my students learnt how to make fried donuts (fried, in buckets of oil), the week before, Japanese red bean paste sweets laden with sugar and before that, yaki soba, fried noodles with processed meat and sauce from the supermarket.

In all fairness, I have never been to America so I cannot comment on their lunch system…
All I’m saying is that every story has two sides to it.

Skinny Slaw

A year or so ago, I was in the best shape of my life. I started boxing with my good friend Wally and eating really well. Around that time, my father also happened to be on a diet though his “life-style change” was entirely forced by my mother. So, every morning when I made my “clean” lunch to take with me to college, I prepared dad’s as well. This slaw which I’ve named “Skinny Slaw” merely to grab your attention so you click the link but also because I actually believe in its powers, is what my father and I ate for 2 months straight and it worked, we lost weight. Which is why you should totally try it. But for the record, your ass looks great in those jeans anyway xx

1 packet of chopped cabbage or one cabbage, chopped.
1 large carrot, grated.
1 apple, diced
1/2 cup raw walnut pieces
1/3 cup pumpkin seeds

juice of one lemon
zest of one lemon
1 tsp seeded mustard
1 tbsp olive oil

Place all salad ingredients in a large bowl.

Combine dressing ingredients in a small jar and shake like a Polaroid picture.

Add dressing to salad.


Das it.

Keeps (refrigerated) for a week.

A Cheap Organic And Entirely Vegan Lunch For Under 8 Bucks

I had the most amazing lunch in Setouchi, Okayama the day I tried on that glorious Kimono. It was BIG, ORGANIC, ENTIRELY VEGAN and only 880 yen, about $8USD (the lunch not the kimono). The cafe itself, was super cute, all nice and wooden with glass windows providing a lovely sea view! Speaking of lovely, their one and only chef, an adorable woman (late 70s) sporting the sweetest uniform you ever saw is definitely another reason to go. We ate this humongous tray of brown rice topped with crushed sesame seeds alongside a bean, potato and homemade “ham” stew, daikon soup, raw daikon and kabocha squash salad, tofu and “mince”, sesame tofu and orange marmalade for dessert. Full, is an understatement.

So healthy, so cheap and so good. MMM!

Click HERE for more info.

Tomorrow’s lunch

I have been staying away from canned tuna in Japan simply because I can’t read the labels and don’t want to end up with stinky sardines by accident. Though yesterday, my beautiful friend, Mina gifted me a can of tuna (oh, a little poem) so tonight, I decided to make a healthy version of tuna macaroni salad for my school lunch tomorrow.

1.5 cups of macaroni, cooked as per packet instructions then cooled
1 can of tuna in olive oil
1 zucchini, diced small
1 capsicum, diced small
1/2 cup corn kernels
1 cup of broccolini florets or broccoli florets, chopped small

juice of half a lemon
2 tsp seeded mustard
2 tbsp olive oil
a bunch of fresh basil, torn
salt and pepper

Mix salad ingredients together.

Mix dressing ingredients together then combine with salad ingredients.


Broccoli, pecan and raisin salad

Last night we celebrated the birthday of the three youngest boys in our village ;). Well, the neighboring village to my village which I have forcefully entered myself. As usual, much tasty food was had but for me, the star of the night was Aki-chan’s Broccoli salad. It was proof that something so simple has the potential to be so delicious. I do not have the exact recipe but this is what I imagine it is according to the details Aki gave.

One head of broccoli, steamed
Raw pecans, chopped
Raisins, as is
1 tbsp grape-seed oil
1 tsp soy sauce
salt and pepper to taste

Simply mix everything together.
Yum, vegan and nutritious!

Images (from top to bottom): broccoli salad, ginger chicken, okara banana cake and chocolate chickpea cake.


Lunch with a view (review I’ve lost count)

Turns out Mimasaka ain’t as shit as what I initially thought. Apparently, good old Confucius was right: everything has beauty, but not everyone can see it or something like that. For up in the mountains in Yunogo, there is a little gem of a restaurant called Yukuru Terrace and it’s B.E.A.utiful.

Yukuru terrace is where I’d take my mama (if my mama were in Japan) for lunch. You know what I mean? It’s one of those places. Lunch with a view, free-wifi (if she starts giving you a lecture), an abundance of artsy magazines (probably for the same reason), hot sun shining through the large glass windows and slow slow relaxing (yukkuru) ambiance.

But before you start punching the address in your GPS, there’s a few things left to mention. According to my Japanese friend, they only serve 15 meals per day. After that, it’s only coffee and cake. So, if you want to have one of the two lunch options on offer, you should probably go as early as you can – they open at 11.

Both choices are 1400 yen with an option of adding a tea/coffee and cake for an extra 300.

Of course, we did that because it takes insane self-control to turn down cake and overall, everything was great.

For 1700 we were given a garden salad, sweet potato soup, octopus spaghetti, bread roll, coffee and a slice of apple ricotta cake fit for an anorexic caterpillar – you know, the usual Japanese standard.

holy moly guacamole

Today’s lunch: homemade-ish wholewheat tortilla chips, guacamole and cherries
Tortilla chips:
Preheat oven to 200C
take two all-natural wholewheat tortillas and cut them into 8 slices (like a pizza) with a sharp knife. lather with 1 tsp olive oil, a squeeze of lime and your fave spice (I used Japanese 7 spice but you can use, cumin, garlic salt or anything you want!)
Bake for about 10 min or so, turning them over once or twice
Note: be careful, they tend to burn quickly!

Guac guac guac:
smash together:
1 avocado and your desired quantity of lime juice
then fold in 4 diced cherry tomatoes.


Today’s lunch: wholewheat couscous salad, 1 mandarin and a handful of raw trail mix (sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and sultanas)


For ze salad, simply combine:
1 cup cooked wholewheat couscous,
1 small cucumber, diced small
4-5 cherry tomatoes, diced small
1/2 cup of edamame beans
handful of chopped raw almonds
1 tbsp olive oil
squeeze of lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

‘the lunchbox series’

Since I’ve started making my own school lunch, I’ve decided to document it in a little project I’m calling ‘the lunchbox series’ to give y’all some ideas for healthy noms! Each day I’ll post my vegetarian lunch alongside the recipe (if there is one) so please follow along!
TGIM! I’m having one mandarin, two strawberries and two fugly looking rice paper rolls (recipe in a previous post) filled with fresh basil, avocado, cucumber, carrot and a little dash of preservative free sweet-chilli sauce! nomnomnom