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September 2011

  September 2011  


In this issue you'll find:


What works...Success Stories

Beautiful Designs on the Laptop Lunches Holders

"I wanted to thank you for the fast shipping! I wasn't expecting to receive the Laptop Lunches® so quickly.

I am amazed at the great thought and effort that was taken into consideration when making these wonderful lunch sets. As soon as I opened up the box, my children's eyes lit up and all good foods started coming into their minds as to what they wanted to put in each section. My children love junk food, and I know that this will help them, and me, prepare better lunches. Not only were they excited about all sorts of food they can eat, but they were extremely ecstatic to see the beautiful designs on the Laptop Lunches® holders and absolutely loved the silverware. Thank you so much!!!!”

    -- Stacy, Brentwood, CA

Laptop Lunches for Air Travel

"I was happy to find a very cute bento box my young daughter can use to bring food on an international flight.  She has a nut allergy and cannot eat airline food.  The Laptop Lunches® bento box makes her feel special rather than inconvenienced.  Thank you."

    -- Heather Carroll, Ixonia, WI

Something Engaging About Those Colorful Boxes

"After washing Laptop Lunches® daily for about 3 years, I decided we needed a 2nd set, and when the new set arrived, my kids, ages 9 & 12, were so excited they eagerly asked if they could make their lunches every day instead of doing other chores. With 4 containers, it's easy--the kids pick a grain, protein, fruit, and veggie. The kids have now made lunches for 5 months and they're more involved in grocery shopping so they have what they want to make lunches. I never hear that they don't like what's packed, and there's seldom food waste. There's something engaging about those colorful boxes, and the Laptop Lunch System sure makes this easy--and appealing!”

    -- Liesl, Farmington, NM

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

New Retailers

Whole Foods Market
10601 San Jose Boulevard
Jacksonville, FL 32257
(904) 288-1100

Whole Foods Market
11701 Lake Victoria Gardens Boulevard
Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410
(561) 691-8550

Tree Huggers
12331 James Street
Suite 246
Holland, MI 49424
(616) 396-1710

Tree Huggers
947 Wealthy Street S.E.
Grand Rapids, MI 49506
(616) 502-4016

Whole Foods Market
1400 Glades Road, Suite 110
Boca Raton, FL 33431
(561) 447-0000

Whole Foods Market
442 Washington Street
Wellesley, MA 02481
(781) 235-7262

Joseph Wahl Arts
5305 Topanga Canyon Boulevard
Woodland Hills, CA 91364
(818) 340-9245

Melonhead Children's Hair Salon
110 Place D'Orleans Drive
Ottawa, ON K1C 2L9 Canada
(613) 845-1020

Whole Foods Market
2323 Wisconsin Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20007
(202) 333-5393

Giggle ‘n Bloom
11-1161 Sunshine Coast Hwy
Gibsons, BC V0N 1V4 Canada
(604) 886-2335

Polly Wolly Doodle
607 Main Avenue
Norwalk, CT 06851
(203) 803-1003

Gaming Etc
180 Watson Boulevard
Stratford, CT 06615
(203) 870-4867

121 Old Highway 26
Meaford, ON N4L 1W7 Canada
(519) 538-0777

The Joy of Sewing
713 Lawn Drive
Chico, CA 95973
(530) 898-8361

New Seasons Market - Progress Ridge
14805 SW Barrows Road
Suite 103
Beaverton, OR 97007

Whole Foods Market
1548 North Dale Marby Boulevard
Tampa, FL 33607
(813) 874-9435


From Our Desk to Yours

Happy September!

It’s been a very busy summer here at Obentec! We introduced new products and colors, added a large number of new retailers, and welcomed several new team members. In addition to those successes, our bento boxes were featured in an impressive number of national and regional publications, including Women’s Health, Family Fun, Better Homes and Gardens, the Chicago Times, and the Dallas Morning News! And, last month we celebrated a Facebook milestone with more than 10,000 “likes” at Whew! No wonder we’re all exhausted (and happily so)! We hope your summer was more relaxing than ours and that you enjoy a wonderful school year ahead.

AUGUST CHALLENGE: Let’s start by saying that last month’s challenge of eliminating sweets wasn’t nearly as easy as we had expected - at least not for most of us. Without our afternoon sugar boost, the mid-afternoon lull was certainly more noticeable at first, but we all survived. A challenge, by definition, is supposed to be difficult, and there should be some kind of payoff, right? Did we get this? YES! Towards the end of the week, cravings for chocolate dwindled and eating fruit in the afternoon kept our energy levels consistent. At the end of the challenge, we all agreed that the noticeable difference was worth a permanent change in our afternoon eating habits. Although we won’t say “goodbye” to sweets forever, we will be cutting back significantly. Have you tried cutting back on sweets? How did you feel? Do you have any tips or recipes you want to share? We hope you’ll share them with us at

September Challenge: This month’s challenge is a bit daunting. We’re eliminating commercially processed foods, not only to eliminate food additives, but also to find new ways to cook, create, and enjoy more fresh, homemade meals. Considering the past challenges we’ve taken on, we know we can do it! Please join us and share your experience with us, your friends and your family.
BACK-TO-SCHOOL PACKAGES: Please take a moment to check out our THREE back-to-school packages: Easy A, Honor Roll, and Top of the Class. We’re hoping to have these in stock through the month of September—while supplies last!


From Your Kitchen to Ours

"Homemade doesn't have to mean spending forever in the kitchen--I can put together a lunch that's appealing and nutritious in just a few minutes. I find that using the Laptop Lunchboxes encourages me to check the crisper drawer and ask myself, 'What vegetable could I put in this compartment?' I only wish that I'd heard of the products sooner!"

    -- Michelle,     (Scroll down to see some of Michelle's Alphabentos.)
Food for Thought: Apples

Photo by: Melissa Braun

Apples are rich in flavonoids, which help prevent stroke and heart disease. High levels of pectin, fiber and water content help support the colon. The pectin in apples helps lower blood cholesterol levels, detoxifies the blood and soothes the intestines, relieving diarrhea and helping to prevent constipation. The high antioxidant content in apples helps reduce the risk of lung cancer and asthma. Eating apples on a daily basis can help the complexion and prevent tooth decay. And eating an apple before a meal supports weight loss by decreasing the amount of food eaten in that meal.

Apples can be eaten raw, dried, baked, or as applesauce and apple juice. Add apple chunks to fruit salads, green salads and Waldorf salads. Apple slices add flavor to sandwiches, and grated apples make pancakes, muffins and other baked goods very yummy. Consider adding them to smoothies and stir fries.

For healthy apple recipes and cooking tips, visit:


  • Contains an Unique Combination of Phytonutrients
  • Provides Strong Antioxidant Benefits
  • Heart Healthy Food
  • Helps Regulate Blood Sugar
  • Good Source of Dietary Fiber
  • Protective Against Lung Cancer
  • Decreases Risk of Asthma

Alphabentos from Basic Bento

These three lunches were created by Michelle at Basic Bento. To view more of Michelle's lunch images, visit:

Alphabento - A is for Airplane

Alphabento - U is for Umbrella

  • U Cookie

Alphabento - X is for Xylophone


In the Spotlight - Article by Michelle Stern

Cooking With Kids: Using Cutting Tools

Michelle Stern is the author of The Whole Family Cookbook and owns What’s Cooking, a certified green company that offers family kitchen coaching for parents and cooking classes for children in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Her classes not only teach kids and their families to enjoy delicious homemade foods, but they also motivate families to use food and cooking to help those less fortunate. Michelle was invited to the White House, where she attended the launch of Michelle Obama’s Chefs Move to Schools initiative. She has appeared on ABC's View From the Bay 7 and her blog won the 2010 Parent & Child Green Blog award from Scholastic.  When she isn’t in the kitchen or at the computer, she’s the head chauffeur for her two children, dog walker to her two mutts, and chicken feeder for her backyard flock.

The biggest complaint I hear from parents is that their children don’t eat enough vegetables.  I can totally relate – even with my own kids.  But one thing I know for sure is that when kids get to spend time in the kitchen, they become better eaters. 

If safety is a concern for you, have no fear.  There are lots of tools that are safe for kids to use, without you having to invest in a stockpile of specialized gadgets designed for children.  Since all children have varying degrees of motor skills, you will need to decide which of the suggestions below are suitable for your kids.

Cutting, of course, gives parents the greatest source of unease when cooking with their children, so age-appropriate cutting tools are a must.  But a quick word of caution before I share: you will need to take a deep breath first. If you are a nervous wreck, your kids will notice, and they won’t feel safe in the kitchen.

  • The Blender:  We love to use the blender in my cooking classes for kid-friendly recipes, such as hummus, smoothies and pesto.  When you make pesto with your kids, they can tear the basil leaves from their stems.  Tell them to put the leaves into the blender, but not to put their fingers inside the jar.  If they are good at following directions with the blender, then they may be ready to move on to other cutting tools.
  • Food Chopper: Food choppers are magical to use with children.  They make lots of noise when a young chef pounds on the plunger and the blade hits the cutting board (which is probably one reason that they will beg you to let them cook with you more often.)  Simply put pieces of food onto your cutting board, place the cup of the food chopper over the ingredients, and pound away!  The beauty is that when this tool is on the cutting board, there is no way that your child can come in contact with the blade.  In my classes, I ask my students to use teamwork when they use the chopper – one child holds the chopper on the cutting board while the other one presses the plunger.
  • Vegetable Peeler: This tool is simple, and it will help your child develop confidence in the kitchen.  We don’t use the peeler very often in our kitchen since I like to retain the fiber and vitamins found in the skin of most of our produce.  But some recipes are better when the ingredients are peeled.  And sometimes we even use the peeler to slice veggies into thin strips.  They are delicious when sautéed quickly with herbs and served with pasta.  Be sure your child has a firm grip on the food he is peeling.  Then sweep the peeler away from the holding hand.  When he is ready to peel the “handle,” turn the food around and have him peel the part he was holding before
  • Egg Slicer: These tools are sort of silly – after all, how often do you slice a hard-boiled egg?  But if you can think outside of the box, you can use them to slice a variety of other ingredients, from black olives to strawberries and mushrooms. (This is a great cutting tool for people like me, who are impaired when they try to cut anything into even pieces. Sssh. Don’t tell!)

And then there are knives.  If you are nervous, you might want to start with something safer than what occupies your knife block.  Feel free to begin with a table knife in your silverware drawer.  But don’t have huge expectations; they aren’t fancy and won’t make your child feel like she is doing something special, but they’re great for soft substances like bananas or chunks of tofu.

Begin with some specific guidelines:

  • Use a larger cutting board than seems necessary for the ingredients you are using. It is harder to cut items if you feel crowded.
  • Wear closed-toe shoes when you are handling knives.  A friend of ours learned that lesson the hard way when the tip of a knife pierced a tendon in her foot when it fell from the counter.
  • This isn’t the circus – don’t try to catch falling knives!
  • If anyone has to carry a knife, be sure to point the tip towards the floor.
  • It’s best if your child waits for you to select the suitable cutting tool for them.
  • Always hold the food you are cutting with one hand, while the other hand uses the knife.
  • The holding hand should always be shaped like a claw, with the fingers tucked under in a “C” shape. I always joke with my students that fingers aren’t on the ingredients list – so they have to keep them out of the way of the knife!
  • The tip of the knife should always remain on the cutting board. The cutting can be done by carefully lifting and lowering the handle.
  • The shape of a chef’s knife might be more comfortable for your child – it may prevent her from rapping her knuckles on the cutting board every time she lowers the handle to cut the food.
  • If you are working with round or wobbly objects, slice them in half (or cut off a thin piece) so that you can put the object on their flattened side.
  • Be sure your knives are sharp. Yes, that sounds counter-intuitive for working in the kitchen with beginners. But when you use dull knives, you have to push much harder. And if you miss…Yikes! The resulting bloodshed will scare everyone away from the kitchen.

When you are ready for your child to practice his cutting, be sure that you are cooking something delicious. There is nothing like a little yummy incentive to do a good job.  

The Whole Family Cookbook
Celebrate the Goodness of Locally Grown Foods
By Michelle Stern

There's really no better way to teach your children to eat fresh, healthy, organic food than with recipes you can cook and eat together – which is where The Whole Family Cookbook comes in!

This cookbook gives your family the resources you need to cook delicious, local food in any season. With more than 75 organic, family-friendly recipes, complete with beautiful 4-color photos, practical advice and color-coded instructions that guide kids of all ages.

To learn more about Michelle and The Whole Family Cookbook, visit her Web site at:

In the News

Mercury News

'Zero-waste' Lunches Catch On

Fremont resident Heidi Carroll started taking her lunch to work because that was cheaper than going out for a meal. A voracious reader of articles about preserving the environment, she quickly clued in to the benefits of packing a lunch that's as close as possible to "waste-free." Now she relies on a combination of reusable fabric sandwich and snack bags and reusable plastic containers to take lunch to her job in records management for a health-care company.

Carroll is part of the growing "zero-waste lunch" trend, in which individuals, schools and businesses pursue the goal of lunches that don't generate heaps of plastic baggies, single-serve containers and packaging or juice boxes that get dumped in the trash.

In 2002, Santa Cruz residents Amy Hemmert and Tammy Pelstring started Laptop Lunches®, whose container products are manufactured in the East Bay of BPA-free and phthalate-free plastic. They also started the website, offering information for parents who want to pack healthy, no-waste lunches for their kids and help schools cut down on waste. Hemmert estimates that packing a waste-free lunch, rather than one that includes three plastic bags, a yogurt container and a juice pouch, costs about $250 less per school year per child.

Yes, you could have your child bring home the plastic bags to rinse and reuse, and some parents do. But plastics designed for one-time use will eventually deteriorate, and could leach chemicals into food -- so eco-minded parents shun reusing baggies, Hemmert and others say.

Much more useful than rinsing baggies is getting your kids to help make their no-waste lunches, Hemmert says. "Just get them started on it. When your kids are 10, 11, 12, they can totally take it over themselves, and you taught them what a waste-free lunch is," she says.

To read the full article, visit:

Redbook Magazine

10 Easy and Healthy Kid's Packed Lunches

Are you always packing your kid's lunchbox with the same old boring foods? Branch out with new ingredients found in these vegetarian menu ideas that incorporate leftovers and finger foods. Amy Hemmert, co-founder of Laptop Lunches ®, lets us in on quick and easy packed lunches for kids that are still healthy and nutritious. These recipes are so yummy that you'll be tempted to pack an extra for yourself to take to the office!

But after repeating this mundane process day after day, it quickly becomes clear that kids, too, will eventually find lunch boring and end up ditching their so-called home-made lunch and instead, file into the school lunch line or trade snacks with their friends. So, how can we keep them interested in home-prepared lunches?

All it takes is tapping into the mind of the child, some creativity, and a concentrated emphasis on variety.

To read the full article, visit:

Nickelodeon Parents Connect

Laptop Lunchboxes: An environmentally friendly way
to pack kids' lunches

The Reality
Who knew a simple packed lunch could make a mom so crazy? Between chemicals in plastic, lead in lunchboxes, tree-wasting paper bags and landfill-bound baggies, how are you supposed to fill your kid's lunchbox without filling yourself with guilt?!

The Laptop Lunchbox is sort of like bento ware (those little boxes that fit inside each other that they sometimes serve food in at Japanese restaurants). They are designed to help families pack nutritious, environmentally friendly lunches for their kids. And they even come with a book of healthy lunch ideas and suggestions that is just fantastic.

I Recommend: Laptop Lunchbox
These lunchboxes are reusable, recyclable and dishwasher safe. They contain no phthalates, bisphenol A (BPA) or lead, so no more need for plastic zipper baggies that clog up the environment and deposit who-knows-what into your child's food. Plus, they are fun to use and ageless. My daughter loves hers.

To read the article online, visit:

Green Opportunities

26TH ANNUAL INTERNATIONAL COASTAL CLEANUP – Did you know that each September, hundreds of thousands of volunteers from countries all over the world spend one day picking up trash from the shores of lakes, streams, rivers, and the ocean. Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup has become the world’s largest volunteer effort for ocean health. This year's cleanup will take place on September 17th. To learn more, visit: To join in the efforts and sign up for a cleanup near you, visit:

40 HEALTHY SCHOOL LUNCH RECIPES – Looking for some lunch ideas to start the year off right? Here's a list of 40 healthy lunch foods with something for everyone. To find out what's on the list and access the recipes, visit:

SAVING PELICAN 895: AN HBO DOCUMENTARY – In November 2009, the brown pelican was removed from the endangered species list. Five months later the BP oil spill killed thousands of birds. 894 pelicans were rescued and rehabilitated. This is the story of the efforts to save one endangered pelican, #895. To learn more about the documentary and to watch the trailer for Saving Pelican 895, visit:

Featured Web Site: Living Without

Living Without is a lifestyle guide for people with allergies and food sensitivities. Their magazine and Web site provide guidance, direction, products and encouragement for people living on a gluten-free, dairy-free, or other restricted diet.

Living Without can help open the door to living abundantly with special needs. It's not about minimizing the challenges of living with allergies and intolerances...It's about learning to live well while living without.

To find out more, visit

On This Site:
  • Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free Recipes
  • Gluten-Free Quick Start Guide
  • Casein-Free Quick Start Guide
  • Substitution Solutions
  • Gluten Free Flour Substitutions
  • Allergies and Kids
  • Allergy Friendly Restaurant Guidance
  • Featured Blog Postings
  • Magazine, Books and E-Books

Contact Us

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

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© September 2011 Obentec, Inc.

500 Chestnut Street, Suite 250
Santa Cruz, CA 95060


Feel free to reprint or forward this newsletter with the following acknowledgment 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."