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January 2004

Laptop Lunch Times: January 2004

Obentec Newsletter

January 2004

Is it really 2004?

We hope you all survived the hustle and bustle of the holiday season and that you're ready to move forward into the new year. We hope that the coming year will be one of health, happiness, peace, and prosperity.

In this issue, you'll find:

  • Savory soups
  • Tips for packing waste-free lunches

  • Strategies for dealing with picky eaters

  • January specials

  • Featured Web site: Seafood Watch
  • Excuse me, can I ask you a question?
  • What works...Success Stories

Savory Soups

The following recipes make 8 servings each.

#1: Heartwarming Black Bean Soup

  • Heat 1 tbs extra-virgin olive oil in a 4-quart pot.
  • Add 1 medium (finely chopped) onion, and 2 (finely chopped) celery stalks, and 1 (chopped) red bell pepper.
  • Sauté vegetable mixture until onions become translucent.
  • Add 2 15-ounce cans of black beans, drained and rinsed.
  • Add 2 cloves minced garlic, 1/4 tsp dried oregano, 1/2 tsp cumin, and the juice from 1/2 lime.
  • Add 1 28-ounce can of diced tomatoes (or 3 cups fresh diced tomatoes) and 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro.
  • Add 2 cups vegetable broth.
  • Garnish with scallions, chopped raw onions, chopped fresh cilantro, or sunflower seeds.
  • Add fresh jalapenos or hot sauce if you like it spicy!

#2: Fireside Corn & Cabbage Combo

  • Heat 1 tbs extra-virgin olive oil in a 4-quart pot.
  • Add 2 medium onions, chopped.
  • Sauté until translucent.
  • Add 4 cups shredded green or nappa cabbage and stir.
  • Add 2 15.25-ounce cans unsweetened, unsalted corn (or the equivalent amount of fresh corn).
  • Add 4 cups vegetable broth.
  • Season with 1 tsp paprika, fresh chopped parsley, and black pepper.

#3: Veggie-soup Delight

  • Heat 1 tbs extra-virgin olive oil in a 4-quart pot.
  • Add the following coarsely chopped vegetables: 1 medium onion, 2 celery stalks, 2 large potatoes, 4 large carrots, 1 medium parsnip, 1 small turnip (optional), and sauté until the onions become translucent.
  • Add 3 cloves crushed garlic and 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley.
  • Add 5 cups vegetable broth and 1/2 cup pearl barley.
  • Cover and simmer until barley becomes tender--about 50 minutes.
  • Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Tips for Packing Waste-free School (and Work!) Lunches

  • PACK FOOD IN REUSABLE CONTAINERS -- Avoid plastic bags, plastic wrap, and pre-packaged foods whenever possible. Using a sturdy container will prevent food from "squishing." Also, keep in mind that purchasing lunch foods in larger containers instead of single-serve packages costs less.

  • USE A CLOTH NAPKIN IN PLACE OF PAPER -- Make or buy a napkin for your child to decorate. This can be a fun family project and will provide your child with a sense of ownership, increasing the chances that the napkin will make it home again. (Make sure your child "signs" his or her masterpiece so it can be returned if lost.)

  • USE A REFILLABLE DRINK BOTTLE -- Consider using a made-to-last water bottle instead of refilling single-use bottles. It is widely suspected that single-use water bottles may leach chemicals into the water.
  • PACK REUSABLE UTENSILS INSTEAD OF DISPOSABLES -- Provide your child with utensils that will make lunch feel like a "real" meal!

Strategies for Dealing With Picky Eaters

  • Serve vegetables and new foods when your child is most hungry, for instance, before a meal as an appetizer.

  • Introduce new foods in small quantities so your child doesn't become overwhelmed. Encourage him/her to take just two bites of each new food. (That's the "two-bite" rule!)

  • Offer the same food prepared in different ways. Offer them alone and prepared with other foods. Cut foods in different ways before preparing.

  • Give your child choices within the boundaries you establish. For example, instead of asking, "What do you want to eat?" ask "Would you like an apple or a pear?"

  • Don't make a big deal when your child rejects a food. Stay calm and reaffirm the boundaries you have established by insisting that your child eat two bites before leaving the table. Don't let your child engage you in a power struggle.

  • Do not completely forbid certain foods. Allow your child to choose a special food from time to time and to eat it guilt free. Teach your children the difference between everyday foods and occasional foods. In time, they'll start making healthy choices on their own.

  • Consider the possible unspoken meanings of "I don't like it." This might really mean, "I'd rather have a cookie" or "I'm not in the mood for that right now." Insist on the two-bite rule.

  • Avoid food rewards. Neither dessert nor candy should be used as a punishment or enticement. Instead, establish and enforce rules for when and how many treats will be consumed.
  • Don't become a short-order cook. Prepare only one meal for the entire family. If your child refuses to eat dinner, remain calm, stand firm, and ignore the tantrums. Your child will not die of hunger from skipping a meal but will likely come to the next meal with a healthy appetite and a willingness to eat what you serve.

January Special!

In keeping with January's chilly reputation, Obentec is pleased to offer a free ice pack for each complete Laptop Lunch System ordered online at during the month of January.

Details can be found in our January newsletter. To find out how to take advantage of this offer, subscribe to our newsletter by sending an email to [email protected].

What Works...Success Stories

  • "About five years ago when we decided to try a gluten-free, caseine-free diet for our special needs son, we searched all over Manhattan to find sturdy, easy-to-use, reusable containers that would fit in his lunchbox. We had to settle for some unattractive Tupperware containers and wondered why no one had come up with a better product. Then this September, I picked up a Brooklyn's Parent magazine at my son's school and saw an article featuring Laptop Lunches--finally, someone had done it. My son now follows a more normal diet, but after seeing the fare provided at school, we are still preparing his lunches. Your products make it a lot easier to do so. And the carrying case and the containers in it look cool."

       --Anne-Marie Shaw, Brooklyn, NY

  • "My daughter's really enjoying her Laptop Lunch. She takes it to school every week and also uses it when we travel or go into the city for the day. In fact, we took it with us to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade and it worked just great!! It's fabulous for plane trips too. The book's also good for ideas on those days when I'm staring at the empty lunchbox trying to think of something exciting to put in it."    

       --Judy Kittleson, Freeport, NY

Do you have a success story to share? Email it to us at [email protected].

Excuse me, can I ask you a question?

We are in the process of developing our next lunch container set and would love to have your input. If you've purchased our products in the past--and you have a free moment--please click on the link below and answer just two questions for us:

  1. If you (or your child) could choose any color or color scheme for the outer and inner containers, what would it be?
  2. What first attracted you to to our products?

To respond, click here.

Thanks for your feedback! We really appreciate it!

Featured Web Site: Seafood Watch

Confused about which seafood is best for your body and the planet? The Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey, CA provides a wealth of information on most seafood you're likely to eat. Visit their site at to find out whether the fish you're eating has been responsibly caught. There's also a link to a government Web site with information on seafood contamination levels. And don't forget to print off a wallet-size Seafood Watch card to refer to when grocery shopping or eating out.

February Highlights

Better-than-candy Valentine treats, recycled art projects, and strategies for smart shopping!

Comments, questions, concerns? Please email us at [email protected].

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January 2004, by Obentec, Inc.


Feel free to reprint or forward this newsletter with the following acknowledgement and contact information clearly visible: "Thank you to Obentec, Inc. for permission to use this copyrighted material. For more information, contact Obentec, Inc. by email at [email protected] or by phone at 831-457-0301, or visit their Web site at Reprint permission granted with this full notice included."