In this blog post I’m sharing a white bean hummus recipe and shredded chicken and white bean hummus bento box idea that’s delicious for you or your kids! Pin it for later here.
We’ve all been cooking (a whole lot) more the last couple months and trying our hand at recipes we never thought we would! Today I’m bringing you a classic homemade hummus recipe that pairs perfectly in a shredded chicken wrap bento box great for adults or kiddos! I love make-ahead meals that make lunchtime a breeze. This hummus recipe uses MSG as a culinary ingredient, flavor enhancer and sodium reducer; I’ll explain the science and safety of MSG and give you a permission slip to use it to bring more nutrition into your kitchen.
Disclosures: This recipe was created in partnership with Ajinomoto using my own opinions. Thanks for supporting this blog!
Shredded Chicken Wrap Bento Box with Classic Homemade Hummus
A bento box is a single-portion, compartmentalized boxed meal that usually includes an umami-rich, well-balanced combination of carbohydrates, protein, vegetables and fruit. Although we have a Mediterranean spin on this bento box with homemade hummus, bento boxes are traditional in Japanese culture where they are a symbol of balanced nutrition, convenience and transportability for both kids and adults.
In this shredded chicken bento box I have a:
- Shredded chicken wrap
- Chopped baby carrots – I cut mine lengthwise
- Mixed berries
- Chocolate chips (because what is lunch without some chocolate?!)
I always strive to balance my meals with a lean protein, non-starchy veggie, a source of healthful fat, and fruit.
Other bento box swaps I like are sliced cucumbers, whole grain crackers or snap pea crisps. Bento boxes are highly customizable, complete meals, so mix it up how you’d like! Each bento can be its own experience.
Shredded Chicken Wrap
For this shredded chicken wrap I used:
- A whole grain wrap (1 wrap) – a tortilla, pita, or even two slices of bread would work
- Shredded chicken (~1/2 c) – I bought mine pre-prepared but you can definitely make at home
- Homemade hummus using MSG (~2 Tbsp)- recipe below
- Havarti cheese (1 slice) – you can use whatever you prefer!
- Spinach (~1/2 c loosely packed) and tomato (2-3 slices) – other nice veggie fillings I like are chopped romaine lettuce, bell pepper, or sliced cucumber
Feel free to use your imagination while customizing your shredded chicken wrap! I really enjoy using a hummus spread (see recipe below!) to bring extra flavor to my wrap and use the leftovers for veggie dipping.
What is MSG?
Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a seasoning, sold as Ajinomoto or Ac’cent, made up of sodium and glutamate that provides added dimension and flavor to dishes by adding umami. Ajinomoto can be purchased at local specialty Asian-food stores, while Ac’cent is sold at major grocers nationwide.
You’re familiar with sodium because it’s found in table salt. Glutamate is an amino acid; the most abundant amino acid found in nature. Glutamate provides the fifth taste, umami, and is found naturally in foods like aged cheeses, tomatoes, mushrooms, salmon, steak and green tea, among many others. Inherent dietary glutamate and MSG are digested the same way by the body. MSG breaks down to sodium and glutamate when it comes in contact with saliva or any other liquid and your body cannot tell the difference.
Why use MSG?
Most importantly, my ultimate goal is to offer opportunities to get more nutrient-rich foods into the diet. The best way to achieve this is to create meals that are craveable.
MSG has two-thirds less sodium than table salt, so it adds dimension and flavor to a dish while reducing the overall sodium content. Further, the taste of umami is not something that can be achieved with salt alone. MSG seasoning can be particularly helpful in enhancing the flavor of plant-based dishes, as a number of plant foods are inherently low in glutamate (and we pretty much all ought to be eating more plants!).
Is it Safe?
Yes! Over 30 years of rigorous research, along with regulatory agencies like the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives and the FDA, support MSG’s safety (1,2). MSG is also noted as a sodium reduction tool by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (3).
MSG got its tainted reputation from an anecdotal letter to the editor published in a prestigious medical journal in 1968 based on the author’s personal account of eating at a Chinese restaurant. Unfortunately, subsequent research was poorly conducted, like injecting extremely large volumes of MSG into abdomens of rats, which doesn’t test the effects of MSG as a food ingredient. Fortunately since then, decades of well-conducted research has refuted negative claims and strongly supports its safety.
For more information on MSG’s history and safety, check out WhyUseMSG.com.
Could You Be Sensitive to MSG?
You can be sensitive to a wide variety of foods, but double-blind randomized controlled trials using MSG in individuals who claim to be sensitive to MSG have not consistently triggered reactions (4). MSG has also been removed from the International Headache Society as a possible cause of headaches due to lack of evidence (5).
Classic Homemade Hummus Recipe
For this bento box, we’re using my classic homemade hummus as a spread in the shredded chicken wrap and as a dip for our sliced baby carrots. As a mom I find my daughter is most likely to eat raw veggies if she can dip them in something yummy! (Okay let’s be honest, me too!) And you know my husband won’t eat any derivative of a sandwich without a spread!
Hummus is most often based on a combination of garbanzo beans, also known as chickpeas, along with olive oil, tahini, lemon juice, garlic and salt. Here we’re using less salt than would be used traditionally for hummus, and adding MSG. The results are delicious and a great vehicle to add more nutrition into the foods you already know and love!
Pin this homemade hummus recipe + shredded chicken bento box for later here.