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November 2011

  November 2011  


In this issue you'll find:


What works...Success Stories

Wonderful Web Site

“Just wanted to let you know how wonderful I think your Web site is! I recently used it as a resource on a college project I did entitled, "Making the 'good for you food' FUN!" I am a preschool teacher and took a nutrition class this summer. Invariably, one of my students will say, "Can I eat this first?" holding up some sweet treat he has in his lunch. I always say, "No, you have to eat the stuff that's good for you before you eat the FUN stuff!" It always sounded odd to me, like WHY can't the "good for you stuff" be FUN, too? In my research, I stumbled on your product. Just wanted you to know I will be sending your Web site information out to parents on "Meet Your Teacher" night. I think they will find it as inspiring as I did! Don't ever go away!”

    -- Cindy

Makes Packing Lunches Easy

"Just wanted to commend you all for such a great product. My son’s original Laptop Lunchbox just recently gave out after almost five years of use, but my daughter’s original lunchbox is still going strong. I'm looking forward to the new 2.0 version. Your product makes packing lunches really easy. Thank you again."

    -- Sheryl B., Brentwood, TN

Appreciate The Newsletters  

"I have bought several items over the past few months and am very pleased with them - most recently the salad sets.  My favorite is the dual compartment  carrier with the plum blossom on it!  I really appreciate the newsletters also."

    -- Roslyn, Pensacola, FL

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

New Retailers

Bumble Tree
1117 Baker Street
Cranbrook, BC V1C 1A7
(250) 489-4499

Larkmartin & Co.
340 Ouachita Avenue
Suite A
Hot Springs, AR 71901

New Leaf Community Market
13159 Central Avenue
Boulder Creek, CA 95006
(831) 338-7211


From Our Desk to Yours

Greetings from Santa Cruz!

As we move into November, the month of giving thanks, we’d like to take a moment to express our gratitude to all of you, our readers, friends, family, supporters, customers, vendors, and the many other partners who make what we do possible. With the holiday rush nearly upon us (and with two sons preparing to go off to college next year!), we’re reminded of how important it is to enjoy each moment, to breathe deeply, to take notice of what we’ve got, and to express gratitude along the way. So thank you for all you do for us. We wish you a happy Thanksgiving filled with nurturing meals, personal joy, and a wealth of gratitude.

DEALS AND STEALS: November is “Deals and Steals” month. If you’re a fan of great deals or you’re on the lookout for a steal, then our Facebook page is the place for you this November! We’ll be showcasing a deeply discounted product every few days throughout the month, so if you’re looking for some good deals this holiday season, be sure to check it out at:
URBAN SWING LUNCH TOTE: Looking for a new carrier for your bento box? Be sure to check out our stylish Urban Swing totes at Available in two color options: plum and black.

BACK IN STOCK: Our Bento Buddies were in higher-than-expected demand this back-to-school season! While this is great news, it left us a bit short-handed this month, but we’re pleased to announce that our Bento Buddies are officially back in stock in all colors: berry blue, purple party, red, lime, pink, and avocado. More information can be found at

MY FOOD PLATE: When the USDA released its MyPlate guidelines earlier this year, we jumped for joy, not only because the MyPlate graphic so closely resembles our bento box, but also because it reaffirms what we’ve known for years: packing wholesome, balanced lunches is essential to our health and well-being. Be sure to keep an eye out for more Laptop Lunches MyPlate information on our Web site and in stores. We’ve got some cool new ideas designed to help you further simplify your lunch-packing routine.

OCTOBER CHALLENGE: Last months’ challenge was, hands down, the best challenge we’ve had so far. Taking the week to learn about gluten-free diets was eye-opening, and eating a gluten-free diet was much more difficult than we had imagined. However, our reward came at the end of the week with the collaborative gluten-free lunch we enjoyed surrounded by Halloween decorations. We savored the good food together, taking a little extra time to relax and talk about things other than work. Do you have some gluten-free stories, tips, or challenges you would like to share? Please do so at We look forward to hearing from you!

NOVEMBER CHALLENGE: Most of us here at Laptop Lunches volunteer in the community on a regular basis, but in celebration of Thanksgiving this month, we’ll be taking it up a notch. What do we do in a normal month? We volunteer individually for the following organizations here in Santa Cruz County and beyond:, the Homeless Services Center, Hospice of Santa Cruz, Kirby School, Kuumbwa Jazz Center, the St. Francis Soup Kitchen, Santa Cruz High School, and the United Workman’s Association.Why do we volunteer? It helps others, it connects us with folks within the community, and…well… it feels good. Why do you volunteer? What organizations do you volunteer for? What are some of your favorite ways to give back to your community? Let’s get everyone involved this month! Please share your ideas at

Thanks for your support!

From Your Kitchen to Ours

"I think back to my childhood and how my mother would wrap my sandwiches in aluminum foil and put sides in wasteful little plastic baggies, for her four children daily. I feel so fortunate to have Laptop Lunches to provide waste free lunches and the most convenient way to pack my daughter's lunch. I don't even keep plastic baggies in my house. I'm also delighted that my collection of Laptop Lunches has grown over the past couple of years. I am amazed how my original set still looks just as great as our newest one."

    -- Denise, Boulder, CO

Food for Thought: Garlic

Garlic has been used to both flavor foods and to prevent or treat disease for thousands of years. It is an antibiotic and a blood cleanser. Unlike medical antibiotics, bacteria does not develop a resistance to garlic. Much of the health benefits can be attributed to the allicin content within the garlic. Allicin acts as an anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-oxidant. Garlic is used to treat acne, digestive problems, toothaches, earaches, coughs, parasites and more.

Garlic is a popular ingredient used in Greek and Italian foods. Garlic bread and garlic mashed potatoes can be found on many restaurant menus and are easy to make at home. Add some garlic to pastas, sauces, salad dressings and pestos to spice up any meal. It's also great in any vegetable dish and breakfast scramble.

Be Aware: Too much raw garlic can cause side effects, including stomach discomfort and skin irritation. Garlic may interfere with some prescription medications, including anti-coagulants.

For garlic recipes, visit:


  • Good for the Heart
  • Acts as an Antibiotic
  • Acts as an Immune Booster
  • Helps Lower Cholesterol
  • Helps Regulate Blood Sugar
  • Used to Treat Parasites

This Month's Recipes: From
The following recipes are reprinted with permission from Kids Cook Monday, a Web site that provides the tools and support for families to cook and eat together.

Sweet Potato Pecan Pizza (Ages 8-11)

A sweet potato mixture stands in for marinara sauce atop a zesty whole-wheat crust in this playful pizza. The whole family can have fun decorating the dough with cheddar cheese, toasted pecans and citrus slices. This family friendly recipe comes to us from Kids Cook Monday participant Kathy of Healthy.Happy.Life.

For the whole wheat pizza dough*:
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp yeast
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • a little olive oil for brushing the dough and pan
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp dried Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp garlic powder

*Whole-wheat pizza dough is sold in stores, but if time allows, you can make your own.

Yield: 8 Servings

To complete the Sweet Potato Pecan Pizza:

  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • juice from 1 clementine
  • 3 clementines or tangerines
  • 3/4 cup cheddar cheese
  • 3/4 cup chopped roasted, unsalted pecans
  • a drizzle olive oil or maple syrup, for top (optional)

To make the whole-wheat pizza dough:

Together: Place the water, salt, sugar, olive oil, whole wheat flour, all purpose flour and yeast together in a bread machine set to its pizza dough setting. Place the ingredients in the order indicated in the bread machine’s manual.

Adult: Process the pizza dough according to the manufacturer’s instructions. If the dough appears too wet or too dry, add a little flour or water to the dough, 1 tablespoon at a time.

To complete the Sweet Potato Pecan Pizza:

Together: Whether you are using store bought pizza dough or have made your own dough, fold the olive oil and dried Italian seasoning into the pizza dough.

Together: Prepare a pizza pan or baking tray with a layer of oil or nonstick cooking spray. Roll or hand-stretch the dough into a large disc shape or pizza shape of preference. Let the dough rise in its pizza shape for 30 minutes.

Adult: Preheat an oven to 350 degrees. Prick the sweet potato several times with a fork. While the pizza dough is rising, bake the sweet potato in the oven for about 30-40 minutes, or until tender. Set the sweet potato aside and turn the oven up to 415 degrees.

Kid: Prick the pizza dough several times with a fork. Brush the top of the pizza with a little olive oil. Sprinkle the pizza dough with the garlic powder.

Adult: Bake the crust in the 415 degree oven for 5 minutes. Set aside.

Together: Peel the sweet potato and place in a large bowl. Add the olive oil, clementine juice and maple syrup. Season with the salt and mash well with a potato masher or fork.

Kid: Spread the mashed sweet potato over the partially baked crust as you would a traditional pizza sauce.

Adult: Peel the clementines or tangerines and slice into rounds, removing seeds whenever possible. Cut the cheddar cheese into thin slices.

Kid: Sprinkle a thin layer of pecans over the top of the sweet potato. Top with the Clementine rounds and cheddar cheese slices.

Adult: Top with an extra drizzle of maple syrup or olive oil, if desired. Bake at 415 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until the pizza is cooked through and the edges begin to brown. Cool for a few minutes, cut into 8 slices and enjoy!

Sweet Potato Fries (Ages 12-15)

These sweet potato fries are baked in the oven and make a delicious healthy snack. Or substitute cinnamon sugar for the salt and pepper and have them for dessert. This recipe is from The Kids Cook Monday pilot with Columbia Teachers College and Harlem Health Promotion.

  • 2 large sweet potatoes
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste


Yield: 4 servings

Adult: Preheat an oven to 450 degrees.

Together: Peel the sweet potatoes and cut them into thin strips.

Kid: Drizzle olive oil on a baking sheet. Add the potatoes and drizzle more oil over the top.

Together: Season with salt and pepper. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until golden brown.

In the Spotlight: An Article From

Tips to Turn Mealtime into Family Time

From Kids Cook Monday

Having meals together as a family is probably one of the easiest and most important activities you can do to promote healthy eating. Surprised? It sounds easy; but honestly, sometimes the simplest things turn out to be the most important. Kids are little sponges and they are learning and forming their nutrition habits throughout the day. During mealtime kids learn about foods and their parent’s food preferences. Children are starting to form lifelong associations with food (positive or negative) and their own food choices (what they “like” and “don’t like”).

Here are some easy tips and guidelines to help you turn mealtime into fun family time:

  • Start each week with a The Kids Cook Monday family dinner night. When the whole family pitches in during mealtime, kids are more likely to eat the finished product. Use the cooking time to teach your child about nutrition and serving sizes. Remember adults and older kids can be nutrition role models for younger kids who are developing lifelong health and eating habits.
  • Gather round the table. On family dinner night, eat around a table and let family be the focus by turning off the TV, cell phones and ipods. Use The Kids Cook Monday dinners as an opportunity to check in, catch up and share thoughts with each other.
  • Don’t be a short order chef. Prepare only one meal for the entire family, but feel free to give your kids “cuter” proportions. An adult-sized plate can be daunting for a child, so be sure to start small. Try breaking up the meal into several tiny portions (with healthy foods first) so your child can feel that they’ve successfully cleaned their plate.
  • Make healthy eating fun. Sometimes all a child needs to embrace nutritious eating is a bit of excitement! Try offering dips, finger foods, interesting shapes, meal themes or a wide range of colors. Avoid forbidding foods or using certain foods for punishments or rewards. Instead, let your kids pick a special day when they can indulge occasionally, so kids learn the different between “everyday” foods and “sometimes” foods.
  • Sneak in produce: You can boost the nutrition of any meal by mixing in fruits, vegetables or nuts. Add cucumbers or carrots to sandwiches, veggies to pasta sauces or nuts to salads. Put a teaspoon of flaxseed oil or yogurt in dressings to provide your child with brain building fatty acids. Keep an open dialogue about what foods your kid likes and serve them new foods with similar flavors to expand their palate.
  • Don’t give up: Studies have shown that many kids won’t try a new food until it’s been offered several times, so keep trying! Don’t become upset if your child rejects a new food; after a few attempts, it may seem more familiar. Offer unfamiliar foods as an appetizer or with tried and true favorites. Encourage your child to try at least two bites of anything new, and be sure to applaud adventurous eating.

These tips were developed in collaboration with Nourish Interactive and Laptop Lunches.

The Kids Cook Monday is a new project of the Monday Campaigns, a public health initiative associated with Columbia, Johns Hopkins and Syracuse Universities. 

The Kids Cook Monday initiative encourages families to set aside the first night of every week for cooking and eating together as a family. The Kids Cook Monday Web site has guidelines, recipes and tips that can help even novice cooks organize family dinners.  Their weekly recipes are structured with age group suggestions as well as “parent,” “kid" and “together” cooking tasks.  

To learn more visit

In the News

St. Petersburg Times

Lunch boxes will reduce school lunch footprint

According to the New York State Department of Conservation, a child taking a disposable lunch to school will create an average of 67 pounds of trash per school year — a pretty heavy load for schools to haul off to landfills and incinerators.

In an effort to address this issue, parents, teachers, administrators and students across the country are teaming up to implement waste-free lunch programs aimed at reducing lunch waste.

Here's what they recommend: Pack a waste-free lunch every day.

If that seems daunting, start with "waste-free Wednesdays," and work your way up to full time. It's easy once you make it part of your daily routine. To read the full article, visit


Parents should learn to pack it healthy

Today, it’s back to school for kids. It’s also time for parents to consider how to help their students succeed.

Nutrition is one of the keys to giving your student the concentra­tion, energy and brain power to do well in school. And a big part of the nutrition equation is what stu­dents eat during the school day.

Packing lunch for your child can save money while allowing better control over food choices to limit empty calories and maximize nutri­tional value. Often, the midday meal gets short shrift when it comes to eating more healthfully, so don’t let this opportunity pass you by.

Better Homes and Gardens

The Bite Stuff

These lunch, breakfast and snack ideas will keep kids going strong, from top of the morning straight through afternoon practice.
Stealth Wealth
Fast food style with a health food twist. Make these complete with a complete lunch by adding milk and a piece of fruit. To view the page, check out the September 2011 issue of Better Homes and Gardens.

Green Opportunities

TO REPAIR OR REPLACE? THAT IS THE QUESTION. – Do you have items around the house that need to be replaced? It may make more sense to repair some of them, while saving money and being kind to the environment in the process. This article discusses 5 rules to help determine when it pays to repair an item rather than replace it. To learn more, visit:

THE EDIBLE SCHOOLYARD PROJECT – In 1995, Alice Waters founded the Edible Schoolyard in Berkeley, CA. Now, in Fall 2011 they are launching the Edible Schoolyard Project to bring every child into a new relationship with food. To learn more, visit:

A GREAT SITE FOR RECIPES – Looking for some new recipes to add flavor to your life? Here's a site with recipes for meals, snacks, holidays and the joy of eating. Isa Chandra Moskowitz created Post Punk Kitchen, to foster a vegan cooking and baking community. Visit: to see all that it offers.

Featured Web Site:

The Fun Times Guide to Living Green supports those looking to make the plunge towards a greener life. Their focus is on sharing the many simple ways that anyone can go green. Articles range from do-it-yourself projects to eco-friendly summer camps. You'll find tips on saving energy, green holiday gifts, and greening your morning routine.

At The Fun Times Guide to Living Green they believe every little step counts and that maybe TOGETHER we can change the world.

To find out more, visit:

On This Site:
  • Do It Yourself Project Ideas
  • Green Products
  • Energy Information
  • Green Travel
  • Simple Ways to Go Green
  • Featured Articles

Contact Us

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

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© November 2011 Obentec, Inc.

500 Chestnut Street, Suite 250
Santa Cruz, CA 95060


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