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March 2012

  March 2012  


In this issue you'll find:


What works...Success Stories

Easy Healthy Lunches  

"I'm starting the DASH diet, and I love how your Bento box fits the diet like a glove.  No more fast food, just easy, healthy lunches with the perfect mix of fruits and veggies."

    -- Pat, MI

Glad to Have Found Your Site

"I am really, really glad I found this site. My son, the Phi Beta Kappa, has become a vegetarian and I've had NO earthly idea what to feed him since he came home from his studies in Germany. Thank you."

    -- Patricia, North Kingstown, RI

No Trash with Laptop Lunches!

“My son's school has promoted waste-free lunches. Inadvertently I found out that my 7 year-old was much happier when I packed a waste-free lunch because it meant he didn't have to stand in line after lunch to throw away his trash!”

    -- Lisa Waeltermann, Saint Louis, MO

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

New Retailers

New Leaf Market
5667 Silver Creek Valley Road
San Jose, CA 95138
(408) 513-8200

Whole Foods Market
201 West 63rd Street
Willowbrook, IL 60527
(630) 655-5000


From Our Desk to Yours

Happy Spring!

We hope all is well with you and that you’re starting to see signs of spring in your neighborhood. Santa Cruz is a bit warmer now, and we’re looking forward to the even warmer months ahead. Did you know that March is National Nutrition Month? We’d love to hear what you’re doing to celebrate! Let us know at

It’s hard to believe that Earth Day (April 22) is just around the corner as well! Do you have everything you need to pack wholesome, waste-free lunches this year? If not, please check out our offerings at

AFFILIATE PROGRAM: We’re so excited about our brand new affiliate program! If you’re passionate about Laptop Lunches Bento-ware and would like to earn cash and prize incentives for yourself, your business, your school, or your favorite organization, please check out our affiliate program at

PAY IT FORWARD: Wow! We had no idea how popular this program would be, and we’ve been having a great time matching up donors and recipients. If you’ve got an original bento box to give away, please contact us at [email protected]. Information about our Pay It Forward program can be found at -- through March 31, 2012.

IT'S NATIONAL NUTRITION MONTH: Be sure to subscribe to the Laptop Lunches blog at so you won’t miss what these informative guest bloggers have to say: Paula Sirois – The A, B and C’s of Lunch, Andrea Metcalf – Kids and Cholesterol, Marissa Vicario – Making Lunches Work, and Randy Rabney – The Conscious Guide to Snacks.

ONLINE STORE: Have you visited our online store recently? If so, you’ve surely noticed our new look and feel! If not, please take a peek at

EASY AS 1-2-3: Coming Soon! Look for this cool, new online shopping experience available exclusively at We’ll let you know when it’s up and running (hopefully in the next few weeks), so you can experience it for yourself.



From Your Kitchen to Ours

"When first faced with making lunches for my two children, I felt overwhelmed and uninspired. It was like a blank canvas had been placed before me and I had no idea where to start. When I came across the Laptop Lunches system, I knew it was the perfect solution for me. The structure of the box and the inner containers provided me with a colorful canvas and allowed me to better visualize how to put together all of the various components of their lunches. Basically, the Laptop Lunches system helped me to build better lunches! Making lunches was immediately a much less onerous task and even became a creative outlet for me. Most of all it makes me feel good that the children are eating better foods and that we are doing our part to minimize waste. We love our Laptop Lunches!"

    -- Tami Moore, Albuquerque, NM

Food for Thought: Bok Choy

Photo Credit: Melissa Braun

Bok Choy is a super low calorie vegetable that is also known as Chinese white cabbage. It is high in fiber, rich in phyto-nutrients, vitamins and minerals, and is a good source of beta carotene. Beta-carotene is an antioxidant which has been shown to reduce the risk of cancer and help prevent cataracts and macular degeneration. The calcium and potassium in bok choy can aid in reducing blood pressure. With a high content of vitamin C, bok choy is helpful in supporting the immune system. Bok choy is rich in vitamin K which is known to strengthen bones and play a positive role in the treatment of Alzheimer's.

Bok choy is often used in stir fries, salads and soups. Try some in veggie scrambles, sauces, stews, or in any dish you might consider using cabbage, including coleslaw.

To learn more about bok choy, with recipes, cooking instructions, and nutritional information, visit:


  • Excellent Source of Vitamins C, A, and K
  • Aids in Digestion
  • Rich Source of Beta Carotene
  • Very Low in Calories
  • High in Fiber
  • Good for Eye Health
  • Good Source of Calcium

Photo Credit: Melissa Braun

This Month's Recipes: Bok Choy

Quick and Easy Bok Choy Stir Fry

  • 1 Tbsp safflower oil or other cooking oil
  • 1/2 cup red pepper slices, cut into thin 1-1/2 inch
    long strips
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped or sliced
  • 1/2 red onion, halved and sliced
  • 3 baby bok choy, cleaned and chopped

Yield: Approximately 3-1/2 cups

1. Cook garlic in oil, over medium heat, until soft and slightly golden but not brown.
2. Stir in the red pepper and onions, cook for 3 to 4 minutes.
3. Add in the bok choy and cook until it's soft and wilted.

Bok Choy Salad

  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce or tamari
  • 2 to 3 tsp honey
  • 1 large head of bok choy
  • 1 small to medium red leaf lettuce
  • 2 carrots, sliced and shredded
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds


Yield: Approximately 8 servings

1. Place the oils, vinegar, soy sauce and honey in a glass jar with cover. Shake jar until all ingredients are well mixed.
2. Clean and dry lettuce and bok choy. Place chopped leaves in large salad bowl with carrots.
3. Toss salad with dressing. Sprinkle sliced almonds on top.

In the Spotlight: Article By Adria Vasil

Top 5 Eating Habits to Keep the Planet (And Your Body) Healthy
By Adria Vasil

About Adria Vasil :
Adria Vasil has been writing the practical and humour- filled ECOHOLIC advice column for Toronto's NOW Magazine since the spring of 2004 and has covered environmental and social justice issues for NOW's news section for nearly a decade. Vasil has a degree in political science and cultural anthropology from the University of Toronto and a degree in magazine journalism from Ryerson. An advocate for the earth, women's issues and human rights since her teens, Vasil has appeared on CTV, Global, CBC, MTV Canada, MuchMusic as well as countless print and radio publications to promote green living.

Photo Credit:

Maybe it's the half-Greek in me, but there's nothing that makes me giddier then the sight of a table full of food (well, other than actually eating the food). Trouble is most of what we stack onto our plates isn't just weighing on our hips, hearts and cells, it's also bloating the planet with packaging, pesticides and climate-changing gases. How can you get your fill without, er, tipping the ecological scales? Just follow Ecoholic's 5 earth- and body-friendly tips. 

1. Eat Close To Home: And by that I don't mean ordering takeout from your local pizza joint! Search for produce grown in your own county/state. If you can't find homegrown garlic/greens/grapes at the grocery store, don't be shy, ask the produce manager for more local options and trove farmers' markets for freshly picked goodies. Not only does buying locally translate into fewer dirty fossil fuels trucking or shipping that food to you, it also means you're helping to preserve nearby farmlands and valuable green spaces. Plus, betchya didn't know that the vitamin content of a just-picked tomato is higher than in one plucked before it was ripe then carted 2500 miles. It tastes a hell of a lot better, too. To track down the greenest local food sources near you, punch in your zip code at

2. Try Tofu Tuesdays: Eating fewer meaty meals isn't just good for your cholesterol count, your waistline and your pocketbook -- it's also one of the top moves you can make for the planet. Gassy livestock literally burp and, um, expel more of the world's greenhouse gases than cars, trains and planes combined! In fact, one University of Chicago study found that eating 20% fewer animal products every week reduces your greenhouse gas footprint as much as switching from a sedan to an ultra efficient Prius! And since, despite what your mom told you, there won't always be more fish in the sea, pick your seafood choices wisely with the help of a pocket-size guide from Smaller fish like sardines aren't only more sustainable than big daddies like tuna, they're also way lighter in pollutants like mercury.

3. Get It Fair and Square: Quick, pick three things that get you through the day and I'll bet you twenty bucks that coffee, chocolate and sugar make the list. Since none of the above is grow on U.S. soil (well other than beet sugar), you want to be sure you buy the kind with a Fair Trade Certified label on the package. Why? Well, the workers that pick those ingredients are generally paid so poorly they'd have to work 3 days just to afford a Starbucks grande latte! Fair trade certified farms, on the other hand, pay farmhands in developing countries a decent wage, give their families access to health care and education and forbid the use of ultra toxic pesticides (which makes them better for your health, too). Bonus: your sugar-/caffeine-/chocolate-rush blissfully guilt-free. 

4. Pass on packaging (especially the plastic kind): What goes into a Ding Dong is one thing; what's wrapped around it is a whole other ball of plastic. Just stop emptying your kitchen's trash bin for a week and you'll find yourself knee deep in the food packaging (think milk cartons, cereal boxes, frozen food trays and all the double to triple layers of wrap around cookies, crackers, you name it). No wonder nearly a third of all the garbage we toss every year is packaging! Avoid the whole landfill bound mess by buying in bulk and bringing your own storage sacs shopping (you'll find some at Choose loose lettuce instead of the boxed stuff. Buy concentrated ingredients like broth in dry form instead of bulkier watered-down cartons.

5. Fork out for the right organics: In my dream Ecoholicland, everything in the grocery stores would be deliciously organic and we could all afford to eat chemical-free 365 days a year. But in the real world, most of us have to budget our pesticide-free picks. If you have young children, look at what they eat the most of (like milk or grapes) and switch those items to organic first. And though, yes, 73% of the fruits and vegetables checked by the FDA tested positive for pesticide residues, to be fair, some are worse than others. Spend your money on certified organic peaches, peppers and spinach before buying, say, organic broccoli (since conventional broccoli is quite low in residues). For a guide to the 12 worst and best produce items you can print or download to your phone, head to Of course the cheapest (and tastiest) organics are the ones you grow yourself in your backyard.  Money can't buy greener greens.  

©2009 Adria Vasil, author of Ecoholic: Your Guide to the Most Environmentally Friendly Information, Products & Services

To learn more about Adria Vasil and her books, visit:

In the News

Harrison Patch

Green Parenting: A New Way to Brown Bag Lunch

Here are some ideas for sending kids off with a unique, well-balanced meal for lunch.

There's hope for the fate of the lackluster brown bag lunch, and it comes with a convenient eco-friendly twist. In my last Green Parenting column, I listed Bento lunchboxes as an eco-friendly back-to-school shopping choice. The more I think about these modern day lunch boxes, the more I really like the idea.

Basically, your standard Bento lunch box has about four small containers inside of it. There are various varieties of Bento lunch boxes: some are stainless steel, others are made of plastic, etc. But the idea is great, because you can pack a variety of foods for your child's lunch and they'll carry much better than using baggies (there may be life for the old fashioned PB&J after all!) To read the full article, visit

2 Women 4 Health

Packing Healthy School Lunches with Laptop Lunches Bento Box

This subject is close to my heart because it's so important to my son's overall health. When Gavin first started school I packed his lunch so he would have a healthy meal. I packed a Yoplait yogurt, a kid’s Cliff Bar, carrot sticks, Fig Newton’s and an organic apple juice. I had no clue the sugar content in that lunch was through the roof.

I finally realized the choices I made for his lunch were not healthy. I gradually learned how to pack more nutritious food. I’m still learning but may have some useful thoughts for you and your children. Gavin is now in the fourth grade and I am constantly researching and reading about nutrition to help him have a solid, health base. 

To view the full posting, visit:

Green Opportunities

'GET YOUR PLATE IN SHAPE' DURING NATIONAL NUTRITION MONTH – March is National Nutrition Month and this year's theme is “Get Your Plate in Shape.” The campaign focuses attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits. To learn more about how to "Get Your Plate in Shape," visit:

LOCAL HARVEST – The best organic food is what's grown closest to you. Use the Local Harvest Web site to find farmers' markets, family farms, and other sources of sustainably grown food in your area, where you can buy produce, grass-fed meats, and many other goodies. To find a CSA near you, visit:

WHOLE TREE ARCHITECTURE – Whole Tree Architecture uses trees that no one wants (overcrowded, diseased, fallen, invasive, wind-bent, young growth) and creates amazing buildings with them. These "whole trees" provide a strong, durable, and affordable alternative to milled wood, while helping to promote healthy forest management in the process. To learn more, visit:

Featured Web Site: Ecoliteracy.Org

The Center for Ecoliteracy is a leader in the green schooling movement. Smart by Nature™, the Center’s framework and services for schooling for sustainability is based on two decades of work with schools and organizations in more than 400 communities across the United States and numerous other countries.

The Center is best known for its pioneering work with school gardens, school lunches, and integrating ecological principles and sustainability into school curricula. 

The Center for Ecoliteracy offers books, teaching guides, professional development seminars, a sustainability leadership academy, keynote presentations, and consulting services.

To find out more, visit:

On This Site:
  • Schooling for Sustainability
  • Smart By Nature™
  • Rethinking School Lunch Guide
  • Essays on Education and Sustainability
  • Essays on Environmental Issues
  • Blog
  • Current News
  • Resources
  • Publications

Contact Us

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© March 2012 Obentec, Inc.

500 Chestnut Street, Suite 250
Santa Cruz, CA 95060


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