• Bento
    Steamer / Lunch Box
  • According to NPR, Americans (and the rest of the world for that matter) are eating increasingly less healthy. “If Americans stay on this path, 83 percent of men will be overweight or obese by 2020. Women are right behind them, with 72 percent projected to be overweight or obese by then.” Obesity is a big risk factor for cardiovascular disease and diabetes, which are, according to the World Health Organization, among the leading causes of death in the world.

    Primarily, the reasons behind these unhealthy dietary trends are: lack of access to healthy food, lack of time to prepare proper meals, and lack of understanding of what foods and cooking methods are healthy. Hectic lifestyles often have people turning to processed foods high in fat, sodium and sugars.

    Faced with this challenge, Vim & Vigor set out to design a new concept: Bento.

    Bento is a steamer that cooks a complete and nutritious meal in one step, while simultaneously bringing a revolution in portability to warm, cooked food. It’s perfect for busy college students, young professionals, parents with school-age children, and generally anyone looking to improve their health. Bento, in effect, helps people eat healthier by providing an alternative to the convenience of fast food.

    Bento is built on the Asian tradition of the stacked lunch box, and combines it with the modern functionality of an electric rice cooker. In these boxes, different parts of the meal - vegetables, protein, and grains - are separated into various containers. Bento heats up the assembly’s base using inductive technology, creating steam from water added to the grains in the bottom container. The steam naturally rises up the assembly, simultaneously cooking the grains as well as the contents of the top two containers. Thus the cooking process is simplified, and the user has a ready-packed meal.

    Bento’s double-walled containers act like a thermos. They prevent the outside walls from getting dangerously hot while at the same time keep its contents warm throughout the day. Bento is rounded out with an elastic band which wraps around the containers, keeping them together as one unit and also serving as a handle for increased portability.

    Another of Bento’s key features is a built-in timer, which allows it to be programmed to begin cooking at a desired time. With an approximate cooking time of 45 minutes (depending on the ingredients used), the user can place ingredients in the cooker in the evening, set Bento to begin cooking an hour before the morning’s departure, and leave for the day with a fully cooked meal ready that will still be hot when lunchtime comes around.

    Ultimately, Bento brings modern convenience and healthy diet together in a new and positive way. As steaming eliminates high calorie oils and fats from the cooking process and preserves more nutrients than any other cooking method, our true hope is that Bento improves people’s health and along with it, their quality of life.