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October 2004

Laptop Lunch Times: October 2004

The Laptop Lunch Times

Waste less, Spend less, EAT WELL!
October 2004

As the days shorten and nature begins to slow its pace, we hope that you'll find ways to slow down and enjoy unhurried meals filled with laughter and good conversation. You might want to check out a great book from the library and take turns reading a chapter at the end of dinner. Talk about the "best part" and "worst part" of your day. Spend some quiet time together planning menus and talking about what foods you'd like to enjoy as a family.

It's hard to believe that we are already celebrating the one-year anniversary of our on-line newsletter. We've managed to pack a lot of information into this issue, so take your time, relax, try some of our delicious recipes, and check out some of the Web sites we've featured. There's lots here for you to savor and enjoy!


    Amy and Tammy

In this issue, you'll find:

  • Maximizing Leftovers
  • Green Opportunities
  • Sustainable Style
  • Laptop Lunches in Monterey, California
  • Subscriber Contribution: Healthy Eating, Healthy Environment
  • Featured Web site:
  • What works...Success Stories

Maximizing Leftovers

Packing leftovers in your child's lunch can save time and energy, and kids love them too. When deciding what to cook for dinner, think about how you might incorporate leftovers into a lunch for the following day. Make a few extra servings for dinner and set them aside for the next day's lunch. In fact, while you're cleaning up the dinner mess, place your Laptop Lunches on the counter, fill some of the containers with leftovers, and refrigerate overnight. Put that extra set of inner containers to good use!

#1: Potato Vegetable Gratin

  • 1 1/2 pounds of potatoes, cooked in a small amount of water until still firm
  • 3 cups thinly sliced squash and carrots (or your choice of veggies)
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • white pepper
  • nutmeg
  • 2 cups milk
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbs. butter

  1. Preheat oven to 400° F.
  2. Peel potatoes and slice thinly.
  3. Grease a large, shallow gratin dish and rub with peeled garlic.
  4. Arrange the potato slices in a layer, alternating with the sliced veggies so that the layers overlap.
  5. Season each layer with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Pour the milk over the potato and veggie mixture and bake for 30 minutes.
  6. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and dot with butter.
  7. Return to the oven and bake for 15 minutes until the potatoes & veggies are cooked and the cheese is golden brown.

#2: Sesame Noodle Salad

This recipe makes 8-10 small servings and takes about 35 minutes to prepare.

  • 12 ounces dried soba (Japanese buckwheat) noodles, dried Asian wheat noodles, or angel hair pasta
  • 3 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 red bell pepper (8 oz.), rinsed, stemmed, seeded, and cut into thin, short slivers
  • 3/4 cup shredded carrots
  • 3/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
  • Salt
  1. In a 5- to 6-quart pan over high heat, bring 2 1/2 to 3 quarts water to a boil.
  2. Add noodles, stir to separate, and cook until just tender to bite, 3 to 7 minutes.
  3. Drain and rinse well with cold water.
  4. If desired, cut noodles into shorter lengths for easy serving.
  5. Rinse with cold water.
  6. In the same pan, stir sesame seeds in oil over medium heat until golden, 2 to 3 minutes.
  7. Remove from heat.
  8. Add soy sauce, vinegar, sugar and cayenne, and stir until blended.
  9. Add noodles and mix until well coated.
  10. Add bell pepper, carrots and green onions, and mix gently.
  11. Serve at room temperature.

Green Opportunities

We thought we'd take a minute to pass on a few earth-friendly tidbits that have landed in our office in recent weeks.

  • Horticulture Just for Kids features the following six links related to gardening with children: KinderGARDEN, Junior Master Gardens, Nutrition in the Garden, Composting for Kids, Human Issues in Horticulture, and Nutrition in the Garden. If you work with children or are interested in gardening with your own kids, be sure to check out these sites!

  • Want to support the environment? Vote for candidates with a strong environmental record. Visit the League of Conservation Voters at to view the environmental score cards of candidates on your ballot. If you're not currently registered to vote, or if you need to update your registration, visit for a voter registration form.

  • At The Imagination Factory, art is more than a pretty picture. Trashasaurus Rex, a giant dinosaur made of solid waste, heads the site's Public Relations Department, and there are numerous links to other art and environmental sites in the Research and Development Department. A discussion of landfills is located in the Education Department, and it's linked to Trash a Pizza! The activity shows visitors how to make a papier-mâché model of a pizza with solid waste toppings. The pizza is divided into nine segments or categories, and the toppings or trash are reflective of the composition of American landfills. Very cool!

  • Find out what a truly green economy would look like at Green Festival 2004 (September 18-19 in Washington, DC and November 6-7 in San Francisco), featuring fair trade retailers, organic food sellers, renewable energy innovators, inspiring speakers, and much more. Visit for more information. If you do attend the San Francisco festival, please stop by the Laptop Lunches booth and introduce yourself!

  • To find out about the health of your local air and water, visit Type your zip code in the right-hand corner for specific information about where you live.

  • If you're looking for step-by-step instructions for starting a waste-free lunch program at your school, consider subscribing to Green Teacher Magazine, and make sure you receive the Fall 2004 issue.

  • Non-profit E Magazine contains valuable information and in-depth stories on all aspects related to the environment. For a free trial , click here.

The Sustainable Style Foundation (SSF)

Tammy Pelstring talks with SSF Style Ambassador and SASS Magazine Founding Editor Sean Schmidt, pictured here with co-founder Rebecca Luke.

What is the Sustainable Style Foundation?

    We started in Seattle in May 2003 with the mission to educate, support and inspire people from all walks of life so that they can make more sustainable personal lifestyle choices. We strive to increase both the supply of and demand for sustainable products and services in the many and diverse style /design industries.

How do you define sustainable style?

    First of all defines 'style' as "a quality of imagination and individuality, expressed in one's actions and tastes." 'Style' is not about conformity, it's not about running out and spending lots of money on the latest fashions. True style is about individualism. It's about expressing yourself, your beliefs, your creativity and your identity through the clothes you choose to wear, the things you surround yourself with in your house, the car you drive, the food you eat, etc. We define the sustainable part by the broadest definition: increasing the quality of life for everyone with the choices you make.

The Foundation's tag line is "Look Fabulous, Live Well, Do Good." What does that mean?

    It's about having a good quality of life and making sustainable lifestyle choices.
    There was a great quote from the model Angela Lindval. She said, "Just because I wear stilettos doesn't mean I can't be interested in the environment."

So I don't have to wear Birkenstocks and tie-dye to show that I care about sustainability?

    Exactly, but I must confess I have as many tie-dye shirts in my closet as Armani hemp jeans.

Tell me about some of the designers who are incorporating sustainable practices into their clothing designs?

    One of the leaders of the movement is Giorgio Armani. He's been using hemp in his lines for quite some time. Armani is quoted as saying "It is possible to live with both style and awareness." There's Cynthia Rowley, Deborah Hampton, Richard Tyler and Bono of U2 fame--currently working on a line with Rogan Jeans using organic cotton. Sportswear maker, Nike, is in the process of completely phasing out the use of PVC in their products. Timberline also incorporates organic cotton and other sustainable practices.

As a consumer, what should I look for when purchasing a product?
    One of the easiest things a consumer can do is check the tag to see if the item is made with organic materials. You can also look to see if the item is SA8000 certified which is a social compliance standard.

Is there a universal logo or symbol that indicates an item was made using sustainable materials and processes?
    Currently there is no universal logo or symbol, but it is something SSF is looking into and considering creating.

SSF has three core values. Can you describe them?
    NO ONE IS PERFECT | SSF recognizes that no one is perfect. Fundamentalism and absolutes just don't work in the real world and issues are always more complex than they appear with their infinite shades of gray. When it comes to working with a company or individual that demonstrates seemingly opposing activities and/or value structures, SSF will focus on cultivating seeds of sustainability rather than the more arrogant option, we feel, of condemning or not associating with the company or individual.
    CREATING CHANGE | There are many ways to create change. The metaphor of using a carrot or a stick to persuade someone demonstrates that change mechanisms have positive or negative associations. Many feel that it takes pain to create change and choose to condemn or convict companies or individuals when their actions or values fall short of social and/or environmental responsibility expectations. At SSF we prefer to create change through positive mechanisms, as we say "through pudding rather than pain."
    HONOR LIVING RESOURCES | SSF understands that the welfare of animals is one of the most sensitive issues across style industries. Even within SSF we have diverse and often opposing opinions about this issue. SSF will focus on what everyone can agree upon: we need honor and respect all living resources.

Are you working on anything exciting right now?
    Currently, I'm working on our Annual Membership drive coming up in October. We're calling it Red October. We will be wearing something red the entire month of October. We are beginning our launch with our Red Dress Party where everyone, and I mean EVERYONE wears a red dress. Its going to be crazy-fun!

To learn more about sustainable style, log on to

Laptop Lunches in Monterey, California

Picnic Fun!

If you happen to find yourself visiting the scenic Monterey Peninsula or if you know someone who lives there, please look for Laptop Lunches at these fine stores:

Bay Books
316 Alvarado Street
Monterey, CA 93940

Telephone: (831) 375-1855

Book Works
667 Lighthouse Avenue
Pacific Grove, CA 93950

Telephone: (831) 372-2242


Subscriber Contribution

Healthy Eating, Healthy Environment

By Dan Brook

Eating for Health

Plant-based  Meal

More and more evidence strongly suggests that a plant-based diet is good for our bodies and good for the environment. The American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, the American Dietetic Association, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration, and the World Health Organization all agree that a diet high in fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can reduce the incidence of heart disease, cancer, and stroke, the top three leading causes of death in the United States.

Jamie Adams of the Nutrition Care Division at the Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu explains that maintaining a plant-based diet is an excellent way to promote health and reduce the risk of disease. Adams recommends reducing the consumption of animal protein, saturated fat, and cholesterol, which is found exclusively in meat and other animal products.

A well-balanced plant-based diet tends to be low in fat, especially saturated fat, and cholesterol. It is also rich in health-protecting nutrients, antioxidants, and fiber. Fiber, which is essential for good health, is totally absent in animal products.

Eating for the Environment

Adhering to a plant-based diet has many environmental benefits as well. By choosing a plant-based diet you will:

  • save massive amounts of precious water, up to 5,000 gallons for every pound of beef you don’t consume;
  • avoid polluting our streams, rivers, and other waterways, as well as our air and soil;
  • reduce the depletion of topsoil;
  • reduce our dependence on non-renewable fossil fuels;
  • prevent the destruction of tropical and rain forests, including the Amazon;
  • reduce the emissions of carbon dioxide and methane, two major greenhouse gases that significantly contribute to global warming;
  • and slow the destruction of wildlife habitat, preserving biodiversity and helping to save endangered species from becoming extinct.

Making it Work for You

If you’d like to incorporate more vegetables, fruits, grains (preferably whole grains), nuts, and legumes into your meals without going “cold turkey,” try the following tactics:

  • Educate your family on the benefits of a plant-based diet. (Get everyone involved.)
  • Serve a vegetarian meal once or twice a week. Be creative. You’ll find lots of delicious recipes in cookbooks, on vegetarian web sites, and in this newsletter.
  • As your family adjusts, gradually add more vegetarian dishes to your diet.
  • In place of meat products, try vegetarian alternatives. Visit your natural foods store to see what’s available. You’ll find much more than just veggie burgers and tofu dogs. Try tofu “ground round” or veggie sausages made with sun-dried tomatoes and basil.
  • Serve smaller portions of meat. One adult serving of meat should be no larger than a deck of cards.
  • De-emphasize the meat you serve by including it in a dish that also contains vegetables and whole grains. As your family adjusts, slowly decrease the amount of meat you use and increase the use of non-meat sources of protein.
  • Start your own organic garden or fresh herb garden.
  • Shop at natural foods stores and farmers’ markets or sign up to receive a weekly CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) share. Visit to find a farmers’ market or CSA near you.
  • Congratulate yourself for making a healthy, sustainable, life-affirming choice.

Remember that switching to a plant-based diet isn’t about sacrificing anything; it’s about making positive choices aimed at improving our health and protecting the planet. For more information on switching to a plant-based diet and its many benefits, visit some of the following web sites:,,,,,,

Dan Brook is a freelance writer. He can be contacted via CyberBrook’s ThinkLinks or by email at [email protected].


If you've written an article on an issue related to food or the environment that you'd like to share with our readers, please email it to [email protected].

What Works...Success Stories

  • "We received our Laptop lunch kits just in time for Back to School. I have a 2nd grader and a full day Kindergartner. They love their "laptops." The colors are fun, the food stays fresh and "unsmashed" and best of all they fit inside the soft lunchboxes with characters on them that they had already chosen (with room for a milk box and ice pack!). Best of all, I find it a lot easier to be creative and to resist the ease of prepackaged, nonhealthy choices since I have the chance to create my own "packages" for each food. Thanks ladies, for coming up with an idea that makes all of us happy- even mother earth."

       --Kasey McQueen, Bloomfield, MI

  • "I read about you and your program in the Body & Soul September 2004 issue. We love the alternative you've created, and hope to take your message to our son's expeditionary learning charter school. What you offer mirrors the philosophy of many of our parents."

       ---- Andi S., Boise, Idaho


  • "When I read the testimonial about taking Laptop Lunches on planes, I thought it was nuts. Who wants to carry dirty cases around all week? Well, we took meals for my preschoolers on our trip to Santa Fe and wished we had Laptop Lunches for the rest of us. While the kids enjoyed a tasty, healthy meal on the plane, the rest of us were starving or trying to make a meal out of Snickers bars from the airport bookshop. Best of all, it was easy to hand them their meals, and when their meal was interrupted at the end of the first flight, they could put it away until the next one!"

       --Ann Bieneman, Bloomfield, MI

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

Featured Web Site:

  The Center for a New American Dream's Conscious Consumer Marketplace at makes it easy to buy environmentally and socially responsible versions of everyday items-from coffee to paper to energy for your home. Click on the relevant goods category to find the nearest local or online source. Whatever you're looking for is just a few steps away.  

November Highlights

Wacky wraps, creative reuse/recycling, and green hotels!

Do you have a favorite SANDWICH WRAP RECIPE you'd like to share? Send it to [email protected] by October 20th, 2004, and we'll include it in the November issue!

Do you have some LAPTOP LUNCH PHOTOS you'd like to share? We're looking for real photos of real people. Please send them to [email protected], and we'll publish them here!

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

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© October 2004, by Obentec, Inc.


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