Bento-making and healthy eating with AIA Vitality

Posted by ~Summer~ on April 14, 2014

It was only when I was staying in Europe that I started learning how to cook. Staying in a town where there were only two Asian restaurants and a plate of fried rice could easily cost S$20 meant that we did not have the luxury of eating out every day.

On hindsight, it was probably for the better because under those circumstances, I was left with no choice but to depend on homecooked food and make healthy eating a habit for my family. For the record, Angel has always been a great eater as a toddler. She would gulp down not one, but three, bowls of porridge for every meal with no problem at all. However, as she grew older, she started to be picky about what she ate, taking over an hour to finish her meal, and at times, even refusing to eat altogether.

It was a problem then and continues to be a problem now. We have tried the soft approach by teaching her the importance of eating a wholesome meal so as to stay healthy and avoid falling sick. We have also tried the hard approach by reprimanding and taking away her privileges. But nothing seemed to work!

So one day, when I was still staying in Sweden, I was surfing the internet, looking for ideas on how to improve my daughter’s eating habits, and chanced upon pictures of Japanese bentos. It suddenly inspired me to give it a try in the hope that Angel would be more excited about mealtimes if I could make food look more appealing and attractive. I placed my order for some bento-making tools online and upon its delivery, we were all set to explore! Angel was thrilled to see her ham, cheese and rice transforming into animal shapes and to my relief, finally started to show a keener interest in her food.


AIA Vitality Bento Making Challenge

So when I was approached to be one of the five mummy bloggers to take part in the AIA Vitality Bento-Making Challenge, it certainly brought back memories of those experimental days but quite honestly, did freak me out a little at first as well! I don't make bentos every day and even when I do, they don't end up looking as exquisite or imaginative. Nonetheless, I knew it was the perfect opportunity to motivate myself to start making visually appealing and healthy bentos for the kids again.

The first thing on my agenda was to pay a visit to Cold Storage in search of healthy food items for my bento set.

Shopping with my AIA Vitality card, I found myself to be spoilt for choice. I was amazed that there are actually over 6,000 items in the HealthyFood™ list at Cold Storage, which are not that hard to spot in the stores. Most of them were clearly marked with a printed 'V' on the shelf price tags.

To enjoy cashbacks at Cold Storage, all you have to do as an AIA Vitality member is to complete the following: 

- AIA Vitality Health Review and get 5% cashback on HealthyFood™ purchases OR 
- AIA Vitality Health Check at Guardian and get 15% cashback on HealthyFood™ purchases OR 
- Both the AIA Vitality Health Review and AIA Vitality Health Check and get 15% cashback on HealthyFood™ purchases 

On your receipt, the letter “V” will also be reflected next to the HealthyFood™ items. For every $4 spent on HealthyFood™, you get to earn 10 AIA Vitality Points and enjoy the cashback. Remember to present your AIA Vitality card to the cashier when you make the purchase and with a swipe, the amount spent will be added into your account. 

Your total points might take up to two weeks to be reflected in your Vitality Points statement and after you receive your cashback in the form of vouchers by email, print them out and bring them along on your next visit to Cold Storage. 

When we got home, I decided to involve Angel in the process. We made funny shapes, laughed over uneven eyes, placed whiskers in the wrong places and while the end product was important, we made sure we had plenty of fun and laughter in the process as well.

Proof that preparing a bento or homecooked meal need not only be healthy, but fun as well!
Even though I had prepared some of the ingredients the night before, it was still a rushed affair on the morning of the event as I scampered around the kitchen trying to get all the things ready. With the hubby overseas and no one else at home, it didn't help that I had a pre-schooler who kept asking me questions and a toddler who hugged my feet as I did the frying. So, it was not a surprise that I was kept busy till the very last minute and was the only one who arrived on scene without makeup. Well, at least we made it in good time!

With fellow mummy bloggers. From left: Adora of The Gingerbread Mum, Dominique of Dominique's Desk, Regina of MummyMoo, me, Shermeen of Meeningfully

My goal that day was to complete the challenge and make a bento arrangement that my girls would love. With a stroke of luck, we surprisingly managed to emerge champion and win the first prize, much to Angel's delight. Yippee! A big thank you to my parents, in-laws, friends and readers who showed up to support, and kudos to all the fellow mummy bloggers for a job well done! I also wish to thank AIA Vitality for inspiring me to cultivate the habit of healthy eating for my family and reminding me that small lifestyle changes go a long way.
This was the end result!

A strong factor that has urged me to cultivate a habit of healthy eating is that I did a blood test recently and to my dismay, the results showed that I have borderline high cholesterol levels. The healthy range is between 140-200 and currently, my cholesterol level stands at 195. Therefore, in order to know more about my eating habits and find ways to improve my well-being, I did the Vitality Online Nutrition Assessment.

All it took was ten minutes for me to fill up a questionnaire about my dietary intake and once that was completed, I received a brief summary about my healthy indicators and lifestyle habits. For completing this assessment which can be taken every six months, I also get to earn 250 Vitality points.

The Vitality Online Nutrition Assessment results provide me with informative advice and a helpful list of food to avoid or to take in more. For example, I should avoid frequent intake of high-fat meat which contribute significant amounts of saturated fats, cholesterol and calories but eat more wholegrains which are high in fibre and can lower risks of chronic diseases.

I think bentos are a great start to a healthier way of eating for myself and my family. For the challenge, I made a korokke (Japanese croquette) bento and added rice, egg, vegetables and fruits. I think the cute factor of the animal moulds played a big part in appealing to my kids and garnering votes from the audience.

All our recipes will be turned into recipe cards for distribution at Cold Storage stores so stay tuned! But if you’re eager to try out what I’d prepared, here is a quick look at how it was done.

Korokke (Japanese croquette) Bento 
Serves 3-4

2 potatoes, peeled and halved
200g minced pork
1 tsp corn starch
1 baby carrot, finely diced
1 Swiss brown mushroom, finely diced
½ large onion, finely diced
1 egg
2 tbsp oil
Salt and pepper to taste

For coating:
2 eggs
1½ cup Panko bread crumbs
½ cup flour
Oil for frying

1) Put the potatoes to boil in a large pot. Once they are soft enough for a skewer to pass through, drain the water and leave the potatoes as dry as possible. Turn off heat and mash the potatoes, leaving small chunks, and leave aside.

2) In a pan, heat up the oil and sauté the onion. Add carrot and mushroom and cook till they are soft.

3) Add corn starch to the minced meat and mix well. Next, add the meat to the pan and break it up into small bits. When the meat is nearly cooked, add salt and pepper to taste.

4) Combine the mashed potato and meat mixture in a large bowl, leaving any liquid behind. Add an egg and mix till well combined.

5) Start rolling into Korroke balls, using 1 tbsp of mixture for each ball. Coat the balls one by one in flour, followed by egg and then Panko. Once all the balls are coated, fry them in a pan on high heat. Since the inside is already cooked, you do not need to deep fry but ensure that the outside turns to a nice golden brown. If you prefer, you can coat the balls with oats or cornflakes instead of Panko.

 6) Arrange the rest of the bento ingredients, including the rice, pre-blanched vegetables, fresh fruits and garnishes as you desire. Serve with tonkatsu sauce, ketchup or sauce of your choice.



To help you get started on a healthier lifestyle, we are now giving away 5 x S$20 Choice vouchers which can be redeemed at any Cold Storage, Giant, Market Place, Guardian or 7-Eleven outlet. Just leave a comment in this blog post and answer the following question: How many AIA Vitality Points can you earn for completing the AIA Vitality Online Nutrition Assessment? (Tip: Visit and leave behind your name and email address. Click on the widget to indicate that you have commented and follow the rest of the options to increase your chances of winning.

a Rafflecopter giveaway Best of luck and let's make healthy eating a way of life!


Disclosure: This is part of a series of sponsored conversations between AIA and A Happy Mum. All information is correct at the time of post and AIA reserves all rights to amend existing clauses at its sole discretion without prior notice. In no event shall A Happy Mum be held liable for disagreements arising between AIA and any party. Neither shall I be held responsible for any indirect, consequential, incidental, special or punitive damages or losses of any kind. For more details, please visit


  1. 250 points


  2. 250 points

  3. I like your bento set.
    250 pts

  4. Karis

    250 points

  5. You Look fine without makeup lah! Teenager! ;)

  6. 250 points
    Ho Lee Choo

  7. 250 points!

    I like ur bento!!! :D


  8. 250 point! Beautiful Bento! and this is the first time I am aware of the AIA Vitality program in Cold Storage! Will look out for it.

  9. 250 points! Hope to win the voucher and start my bento making 😃👍

  10. 250 points! Thanks for hosting the giveaway! I love making bento too!


  11. 250 points

    Thanks for hosting the giveaways, hope to make healthy and visually pleasing food for my girl too!


  12. 250 points to
    Jason Koh
    coldkohmew at hotmail dot com

  13. 250 points
    Ker Min

  14. 250 points
    Ashmika Jain

    Thanks a lot for awesome Giveaways & Interesting Ideas...

  15. 250 points.

    Joanne Ho

  16. 250 points
    Jamie chaw
    Bento in the making ;) hope to win!

  17. 250 points!

    Leila Chua


  18. 250 points

    Tiffany Lim

  19. 250 points

    walk_of_life(at) live (dot) com


Yoohoo, thanks so much for reading my blog and leaving your comment! I am feeling the love! (^.^)