FREE e-Newsletter. Receive menus, photos, recipes & lunch ideas.

Follow Us on Pinterest Visit Us on Facebook View Our Photos Follow Us on Twitter Read Our Blog Weekly Lunch Menus

Newsletter Archive

Share

April 2012

  April 2012  

Highlights

In this issue you'll find:


Good
Simple
Fun

What works...Success Stories

Fun With Lunch

"Thank you! I am excited to try using bento boxes and having fun with my lunch instead of treating it as drudgery.”

    -- Kathryn Zingher, Madison, WI

Can Organize a Healthy Lunch

“I wrote to you not too long ago and explained how I came across your products and because financially I could not afford to provide, asked if you had anyone looking for a child to donate their recycled lunchbox to. You quickly opened up your hearts and talent and placed my grand girls names on your list. I applaud your customer service focus and ability to 'give back.'

I now have more lunchbox options and can organize a healthy lunch for them. These grand girls do love veggies and healthy food, so this will be an absolute joy!

Thank you to your wonderful company! You are awesome!!”

    -- Grandma Liz, Valerie, and Lexi

Helps With Growing Appetite  

"I love our Laptop Lunches bento box, and my son is getting bigger and eating more.  The carrier helps with his growing appetite too!”

    -- Mary Lou Sanzobrin, Erie, PA

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














Subscribe


From Our Desk to Yours

Happy Earth Day!

Are your local schools promoting waste-free lunches this year? If so (or if not), please check out our bento special. We’re eager to help you reduce lunch waste at your school or business. Got other plans for Earth Day? Be sure to register your pledge at http://act.earthday.org. Not sure what you want to do? Visit http://act.earthday.org to see what others have pledged. And as always, thanks for being green!


TWITTER PARTY: Wednesday, April 4th at 7 p.m. Eastern Time. Don’t miss this great opportunity to chat with other parents! What are your greatest school lunch challenges? What are your biggest concerns? Where do you find inspiration? What are your favorite “go-to” lunch items? Do you have lunch tips you’d like to share with others? Use hashtag #bentoware at www.twitter.com to join the conversation. Looking forward to connecting with you there!

ENTER TO WIN: How are you using your Laptop Lunches bento-ware to pack earth-friendly lunches this Earth Day? Share your story at http://laptoplunch.blogspot.com, and we’ll enter you into a drawing to win a deluxe waste-free lunch accessory pack -- an extra-large inner container, a fork & spoon set, a Klean Kanteen bottle, and a DVD chock full of creative lunch ideas.

STRESS-FREE SHOPPING: We’re streamlining our online store for stress-free shopping in just 3 easy steps! Look for our cool, new online shopping experience available in the next week or so—exclusively at http://secure.laptoplunches.com.

NEW ECO-FRIENDLY PACKAGING: Our new ECO-FRIENDLY retail packaging will begin appearing in stores towards the end of April. Keep an eye out for it, and let us know what you think!

EARTH DAY SHELF TALKER: Carrying Laptop Lunches Bento-ware in your store? Be sure to request one of our Earth Day shelf talkers!

ECO-SAVER PROGRAM: We want to help you keep your precious school dollars out of the dumpster! A student packing a disposable lunch generates an average of 67 lbs. of lunch waste per school year, leaving schools with the expense of hauling it off to the landfill. Be sure to check out our new Eco-Saver program for school discounts, fundraisers, and affiliate links at www.laptoplunches.com/schools.php. We want to help you reach your goals!

JOIN US ON GOOGLE+: Are you on Google+? Please connect with us at https://plus.google.com/117785207453844660878/posts. See you there!

CONTACT US: We owe you an apology! We just recently discovered that the Contact Us form on our Web site has not been working properly, preventing some of your correspondences from reaching us. If you've tried to contact us and have received no response, we are SO, SO sorry! It's working now, so please use it to contact us, or email us at [email protected], and we'll be sure to respond. (We really do have an outstanding Customer Support Team -- and they're mortified!)

                

Wishing you a green Earth Day!


From Your Kitchen to Ours

"When my son started school, it was a little daunting to realize that he would need 188 packed lunches (I counted!) that first year.

I was browsing at a local toy store when I discovered your lunch boxes by accident. I’ve never regretted my purchase. The quality is excellent, easy to keep clean and I love the versatility.
Using this bento system has also been a great way to connect with my son. We plan the menu for the week using flyers, grocery shop together and he 'helps' me pack but best of all - he eats his lunch every day. I am pleased that he eats a nutritious meal, and I get to be a little creative each day. It has actually made packing lunches 5 days a week fun."

    -- Cori MacFarlane, Toronto, Ontario Canada

Food for Thought: Sea Vegetables

Photo Credit: Melissa Braun

Sea Vegetables are packed with nutrition. They provide an excellent source of minerals, including iodine. In fact, seaweed is richer in mineral content than most land based vegetables. It is also rich in vitamins, providing an excellent vegetarian source of B-12. Seaweed has very few calories, virtually no fat, and is high in fiber and protein, making it an excellent choice for weight loss diets. In addition, it helps the body rid itself of toxins, including heavy metals, assists in balancing the thyroid, and helps support the digestive system.

Sea vegetables can be incorporated into a daily diet in a number of ways. There are several different types of seaweed. Nori has a mild flavor and is commonly seen in sushi rolls. It is easy to wrap your own sushi style creations, using any ingredients. Nori sheets can be broken into pieces and added to grains, soups, stews, or even sprinkled into salads and breakfast scrambles. And for gluten free diets, moistened nori can replace slices of bread to wrap your favorite sandwich ingredients. Kombu is great for adding flavor to soups and broths or used as a vegetable with fish or rice dishes. Try making a seaweed salad for a change of pace, using wakame or sea lettuce. Wakame might also be added to miso soup. Also, consider adding seaweed to casseroles, quiches, and sauces.

For a guide to sea veggies, visit: www.wholefoodsmarket.com/recipes/guides/seaveggies.php.

Benefits:

  • Excellent Source Minerals
  • Rich Source of Vegetable Protein
  • High in Calcium and Iron
  • Helps Strengthen Immune System
  • High in Fiber
  • Good for the Digestive System
  • Rich in Vitamins A, B Complex, B-12, C, K, D and E
  • Helps Balance the Thyroid


This Month's Recipes: Sea Vegetables
The following recipes are made using seaweed which can be found in many natural food stores and Asian food markets.

Onigiri Rice Balls


  • 1-1/2 cups uncooked Japanese sushi rice, cook as directed *
  • 1 sheet of Roasted Nori Seaweed, cut into 1-1/4 inch wide strips. (or any size that fits the formed rice ball)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • sesame seeds for topping

Filling ideas:

  • fresh veggies: avocado, cucumber, or carrots cut into small thin sticks
  • pieces of grilled salmon, chicken or tofu
  • tuna salad made with mayo or soy sauce
  • sauteed chopped veggies with garlic
  • choppped fruit and nuts
  • pieces of hard boiled egg or scrambled egg

*Sushi rice is a short grain rice that sticks to itself. Other types of rice do not work in making Onigiri (including sticky rice).



Yield: approximately 8 rice balls
  1. Cook the rice as directed. Once the water has been absorbed, allow rice to sit, covered for 10 minutes.
  2. Prepare fillings to use while rice cooks.
  3. Mix water and salt in a bowl. This will be used to rinse your hands before forming the rice balls. The salt water keeps the rice from sticking to your hands. Remember to wet your hands before forming each rice ball.
  4. Taking about 1/3 to 1/2 cup of rice for each rice ball, form it into a ball, a log shape, a triangle or any shape you choose.
  5. While forming the rice ball, stuff the chosen filling into the center of the rice. Then cover the filling so it's hidden and finish creating your shape.
  6. Wrap the nori strip around the onigiri shape.
  7. Sprinkle with sesame seeds if you choose.
  8. Repeat with the remaining rice, keeping the rice warm and moist throughout the process.

As an alternative, mix a portion of the rice with sesame seeds, crumbled pieces of nori, chopped sprouts and a sprinkle of soy sauce before forming the ball.


Wakame Seaweed Salad


  • 3/4 oz wakame seaweed, dried
  • 3 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp honey or maple syrup
  • 1 Tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1/2 tsp red chili flakes (optional)

 

Yield: 2 to 4 servings
  1. In a bowl, cover the wakame with lukewarm water. Soak for 20 minutes, until soft. Drain water and pat dry. Trim any tough edges. Cut into thin strips.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix the vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil and honey (or maple syrup). Stir well.
  3. Toss the dressing with the wakame.
  4. Sprinkle the sesame seeds and chili flakes (optional) into the salad.
In the Spotlight: Interview with Laura Moreno of the EPA


Laura Moreno on Food and Packaging Waste

About Laura Moreno:
Laura Moreno is an Environmental Scientist for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Pollution Prevention and Solid Waste (Pacific Southwest Region).

 

1. What are the repercussions of packaging and food waste on our landfills and the environment? In 2010, food waste was the number one disposed material in the U.S., with more than 33 million tons being sent to landfills. In addition to taking up landfill space, food waste in landfills generates methane, a greenhouse gas 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

Packaging is another large contributor to materials reaching landfills. Containers and packaging contribute to over 23% of material reaching landfills or about 39 million tons per year. Packaging makes up a majority of material found in litter characterization studies and beach surveys, meaning that a significant amount of packaging material ends up on our beaches or in other waterways. This leads to the ingestion of packaging by marine animals and other aquatic wildlife.

Together food waste and packaging account for over 44% of what is reaching landfills!

In addition to their impact on landfills, wasted food and packaging have significant impacts over their lifecycles including mining, manufacturing, and transportation. The acquisition of goods and food, accounts for 42% of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States.  Given this, reducing packaging use by 50% in the United States could save up to 105 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent per year, which is the same as removing over 20 million passenger vehicles from the road.

2. How can we reduce the amount of food we waste? There are many ways to reduce the amount of food we waste. One is by composting. Composting is basically turning food waste and other things like grass or leaves into a fertilizer using microorganisms and/or worms. Instead of feeding landfills, we should be feeding our soils through composting. Composting is beneficial to our soil not only because it reduces the need for synthetic fertilizers and herbicides, but it also makes the soil healthier and more able to grow plants and food.

Another great way to reduce food waste is through food donation. According to the USDA, 50 million Americans were food insecure in 2009. This means that 50 million Americans didn't know if and when they would get their next meal. Working with restaurants, venues, grocery stores, and other food generators to donate food before it spoils or before it is thrown away benefits the environment and the community.

The third and best way to divert food from landfills is source reduction -- preventing it from becoming waste by not over-purchasing, ensuring proper storage of food, and creatively using food that might otherwise be wasted. One of my favorite examples is beet tops. I love beets, and they have a leafy green top that often gets thrown away. Instead of throwing them away, you can cook them like spinach or collard greens as a delicious addition to your meal. Another great example is using moderately stale bread for croutons instead of throwing them away.

3. How much of an impact can one person make by reducing the amount of waste they create?
Individuals can have a large impact! In 2010, the average person in the United States disposed of 2.92 pounds of waste per day, approximately 1.3 pounds of which was food and packaging waste. That means that if one person diverted all of their food and packaging waste for one year, they would prevent 460 pounds of waste from reaching landfills.

4. Besides decreasing the amount of waste in our landfills, what are some other benefits to living a more waste-free lifestyle? In general, creating less waste saves money because you’re buying less and reducing your disposal costs.

For food waste specifically, you can benefit the community by donating fresh and wholesome food to those in need. Additionally, closing the loop through composting transforms food waste into a fertilizer that can be used to grow more food.

Other benefits to a waste-free lifestyle are ecosystem and wildlife protection. Most of us have heard of the Pacific Gyre, or the Pacific Garbage Patch, which is an area in the Pacific Ocean with a large amount of debris. Packaging is a known contributor to the Pacific Garbage Patch, and a significant amount of packaging material ends up on our beaches or in other waterways, which leads to the ingestion of packaging by marine animals and other aquatic wildlife. In addition to harming wildlife, waste in the ocean also causes navigation hazards for boats and results in losses to industry and the economy.

Finally, the things we buy, the food we eat, and what we throw away contribute significantly to greenhouse gas emissions. Over their lifecycle, the goods and food we consume account for 42% of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. There’s the direct environmental impact at the end of their life (landfilling) and the impact from mining, manufacturing, and transportation as well.

5. What types of waste-free/waste prevention programs is the EPA involved in? EPA has several programs to support the movement towards zero waste. Two include:

1. The new Food Recovery Challenge (www.epa.gov/wastes/conserve/smm/foodrecovery/index.htm) challenges businesses and universities/colleges to reduce the amount of food waste reaching landfills through food donation, composting and anaerobic digestion.

2. Reducing marine debris (www.epa.gov/region9/marine-debris) that endangers marine and aquatic wildlife and causes economic loss is another issue that EPA is addressing. EPA is using existing programs and resources to prevent trash from entering the ocean and to clean up existing marine debris.

6. What is source reduction/ waste prevention and is the idea becoming more popular? Source reduction or waste prevention is the idea of stopping waste (or conserving water or energy) before it is created or used. This can be done by redesigning products or packaging or by buying less. For instance, a company can design their packaging to use less material in order to prevent waste. Restaurants can make sure that they’re not over-purchasing or over-preparing a certain type of food.

Waste prevention is also something that individuals can do at home or at work as well. For instance, instead of using a disposable cup for your morning coffee, you can use a reusable mug. Other ideas include planning your meals carefully to minimize unused food, using both sides of your paper, and buying products with minimal packaging.

The idea of source reduction is becoming more popular because it’s the most effective way to reduce waste and save money. For instance, a company that has re-designed their packaging to use less material saves money because they don't need to purchase as much material.

7. Is there anything else you’d like to share with us? Moving towards zero waste is important not only because of the environmental impact of landfills, but also because a zero waste approach conserves valuable resources, addresses global climate change and other environmental issues, saves money, and benefits our community.

8. What is your favorite lunch? My favorite lunch is definitely a burrito! Depending on my mood and cravings I can fill it will lots of different things. One of my favorite burritos of all time is one filled with black beans, cheese, guacamole, salsa, rice, and delicious carnitas. I also love vegetarian burritos with lots of veggies and avocado.

In the News

2 Women 4 Health

Portion Control – A Nation Overfed And Under Nourished

While writing this article I found myself becoming very emotional. Over my many years in the health and fitness industry, I’ve known that the topic of food is an emotional trigger and a source of stress for many people. I too have had my ups and downs with my relationship to food. Eating poorly can harm you, so can stress. When it comes to weight loss, weight management or maintaining a healthy relationship with food, I have good news… food is NOT the enemy – portion size is usually the culprit.

It is said, we are a nation that is overfed and under nourished. We are eating great quantities of foods that are low in nutrients and while they are filling our bellies they are also expanding our waistlines and increasing our risk of disease. It is obvious that we need to increase our intake of nutrient dense foods and cut back on bad fats and other foods like, sugar, white flour and refined carbohydrates that may signal an insulin reaction that may cause our bodies to store fat.

To read the full article, visit www.2women4health.com/portion-control-a-nation-overfed-and-under-nourished.


That's It! Mommy

2011 Holiday IT Guide: Laptop Lunches Alien Bento 2.0 System Review

I always find myself looking for a new, creative way to introduce food to my boys.  They are both fairly picky eaters and I’ve found that presenting their food in a fun way is the key to getting them to try something new (or to clean their plate!).  Jack is especially fond of “fun food” and now that he is approaching kindergarten, I’ve started worrying about how he’ll eat at school when I’m not there to encourage him or create trains out of his food.  I started looking around online for a product to help out with my concerns, and I found a great one!

Laptop Lunches are the answer to my dilemma.  They have bento-style lunchboxes that come in great colors and styles.  We tried out their Alien Bento 2.0 System.  Jack loves the design and couldn’t wait to show it off to his friends at school.  I love….well…everything about this system!

To view the full posting, visit: http://thatsitmommy.com/2011/12/2011-holiday-it-guide-laptop-lunches-alien-bento-2-0-system-review.


Green Opportunities

KNOW GREEN, GO GREEN – "Know Green, Go Green" is a national campaign that promotes environmental education by providing resources for teachers. The aim is to educate and mobilize students to act on behalf of the planet. Earth Day Network has created this toolkit as a guide for educators by providing engaging lesson plans and other exciting resources and ideas. In addition, they are asking teachers and administrators around the country to tell them what they are doing for Earth Day 2012 in order to help gauge the environmental awareness of our youth. To learn more, visit: www.earthday.org/KnowGreen.


FOODUCATE – Are you confused by ingredient lists, nutrition labels, health claims and marketing hype? Fooducate realizes that you have very little time to analyze food labels at the supermarket. They provide a mobile app to help you make better choices for you and your family. To learn more, visit: www.fooducate.com/about. To download the app, visit: www.fooducate.com.


GASLAND: THE MOVIE – Interested in learning more about "fracking?" Is it a new term for you? "The largest domestic natural gas drilling boom in history has swept across the United States. The Halliburton-developed drilling technology of "fracking" or hydraulic fracturing has unlocked a "Saudi Arabia of natural gas" just beneath us. But is fracking safe? When filmmaker Josh Fox is asked to lease his land for drilling, he embarks on a cross-country odyssey uncovering a trail of secrets, lies and contamination." To view the film trailer, visit: www.youtube.com/watch?v=z0fAsFQsFAs, and to learn more about the movie and about fracking, visit: www.gaslandthemovie.com.


Featured Web Site: Inspiration Green

Inspiration Green is a resource of inspiration to turn your world green. Their goal is to help create an understanding of our environment and to answer the question, “What is green?” The hand-picked green links and resources are up-dated daily, to share information on green organizations, educational sources, issues, products, research, and more. With examples of reused materials, sustainable building methods, eco art, and green technology, this site is a powerhouse of green ideas.

To find out more and to get inspired, visit: www.inspirationgreen.com .

On This Site:
  • Alternative and Sustainable Building
  • Food Portal and Food Blog
  • Organic Choices
  • Environmental and Ecological Art
  • Reuse Design Inspiration
  • Green Technology
  • Green Inspiration from A to Z
  • Eco Travel Directory
  • About the Issues

Contact Us

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

View archived issues of this newsletter at http://www.laptoplunches.com/newsletter-archives.php.

To subscribe or unsubscribe, visit www.laptoplunches.com/subscribe.php.



Laptop Lunches Bento Lunchboxes

© April 2012 Obentec, Inc.

500 Chestnut Street, Suite 250
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
831-457-0301

REPRINT PERMISSION

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 http://www.obentec.com. Reprint permission granted with this full notice included."