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December 2004

Laptop Lunch Times: December 2004

The Laptop Lunch Times

December 2004

Happy Holidays!


It was great to meet so many of you at the Green Festival last month. Thanks for stopping by the Laptop Lunches booth. It was a very exciting and inspirational event, one that we hope more of you will be able to attend next year. Stay tuned for information about Green Festivals in additional cities next year!

Amy and Tammy

Debi, Tammy, Amy, and Kathryn at the Green Festival 2004

In this issue, you'll find:

  • Healthy Holiday Appetizers

  • Eco-wrapping Tips: Taking the "Haul" Out of Your Holidays
  • Green Opportunities
  • Welcome New Laptop Lunch Retailers!
  • Green Games
  • Featured Web site:
  • What works...Success Stories

Laptop Lunch System with Food

Don't forget your Laptop Lunches if you're traveling this holiday season!

Healthy Holiday Appetizers

Looking for some healthy holiday appetizers that your friends and family will love? Why not give these a try?

#1: Festive Holiday Stars

  • 2 large sweet potatoes
  • 5 large beets
  • 1/2 cup plain nonfat yogurt (or soy or goat yogurt)
  • 2 heaping tbs crumbled bleu cheese
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin (or to taste)
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Festive Holiday Stars
1. Steam whole sweet potatoes in one large saucepan and whole beets in another until tender (approximately 30 minutes). Remove and set aside until cool enough to touch. Remove the skins from the vegetables and trim the ends. Cut into ½-inch slices. Using a star-shaped cookie cutter, cut the slices into shapes.
2. Place the nonfat yogurt, garlic, lemon juice, and cumin into a bowl and mix well. Refrigerate until ready to use.
3. Arrange the vegetable stars on a platter. Add a teaspoon of the yogurt mixture to the center of each, and sprinkle the walnuts on top.


#2: Nutty Cashew Dates

  • 12 dates (any type is fine, or try Medjool)
  • ¼ cup cashew butter
  • 12 whole cashews (roasted or raw) or 24 halves.
  • 2 tbs coconut (finely shredded)
Nutty Cashew Dates
1. Cut dates in half lengthwise and remove the seed. Fill date halves with cashew butter.
2. Split cashews in half. Place cashew half on filled date.
3. Arrange on a platter and sprinkle with shredded coconut.


#3: Sweet And Spicy Veggie Balls


  • 2 lbs veggie ground soy
  • 1 cup multi-grain flakes
  • 1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped finely
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbs soy sauce
  • 1 clove crushed garlic
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
Sweet and Spicy Veggie Balls

1. Mix all ingredients together in a food processor until just blended.
2. Form into small 1" balls and place in a glass baking dish.


  • 1 can jellied cranberry sauce
  • 2 tbs brown sugar
  • 12 oz bottle chili sauce (For a spicier version, substitute Thai-style chili sauce.)
  • 1 tbs lemon juice

1. Heat all ingredients together in a saucepan and stir until well blended.
2. Pour over veggie balls and bake at 350º for 30 minutes.

Serve warm as an appetizer with toothpicks or skewers.    

Taking the "Haul" out of Your Holidays

Did you know that between Thanksgiving and New Year's, most of us will throw out 25 percent more trash than at any other time of the year? Most of this trash is attributed to the packaging and wrapping from gifts. Since the average American family will buy and wrap 30 presents a year, by switching to green alternatives you can make a big impact. Listed below are some tips for making the holidays a little greener.

THINK ABOUT PACKAGING BEFORE YOU BUY. Purchase gifts with little or no packaging, or packaging that is recyclable.

Waste-free Holiday Wrapping

CONSIDER PACKAGING ALTERNATIVES. Try popcorn (enclose a note saying birds can eat it), biodegradable starch peanuts, previously used packing peanuts or bubble wrap, or crumpled newspapers. The UPS store (formerly Mail Boxes Etc.) accepts donations of used Styrofoam peanuts, so if you receive them with a gift, donate them instead of throwing them out.

MAKE FUNNY OR UNIQUE PACKAGES FROM SALVAGED MATERIALS. Visit yard sales, flea markets or your attic for old tins, hat boxes, fabric and other containers and materials that can be reused.

MAKE THE WRAPPING PART OF THE GIFT. Try wrapping in scarves, a set of pillowcases or cloth napkins or tea towels. Use an oven mitt to wrap kitchen utensils and gadgets.


  • Lessons for music, art, dance, or a favorite sport
  • A membership to an art museum, gym, or the zoo
  • Tickets to a sporting event, movie theater, play, or concert
  • Season passes to a local amusement park or a state park
  • A gift certificate to a favorite local restaurant or day spa
  • A donation to the recipient's favorite charity
  • A newspaper or magazine subscription

  • Use brown paper bags that the kids can decorate with stamps, paints, or crayons. Tie with natural raffia.
  • Wrap in pages from a magazine, old sheet music or newspaper comics.
  • Purchase remnant fabric from the fabric store and sew reusable gift bags (see instructions below). Or make reusable wrapping cloth by cutting fabric into squares (with pinking shears). Wrap it around your gift, just as you would with paper, and tie a ribbon around the gift to hold the wrapping in place.
  • Paper printed with natural inks that do not contain heavy metals.

  • Paper made in a factory where solvents are prevented from escaping into the air.

  • Paper made from responsibly harvested wood.

  • Paper from pure, unbleached pulp or pulp bleached without chlorine.


STEP 1: Decide on the size bag you want to make.
STEP 2: Cut the fabric to twice the desired bag depth and fold in half so the fold forms the bottom of the bag.
STEP 3: Turn the fabric inside out and pin the sides together. Stitch the side seams.
STEP 4: Turn outside in, fold the raw edge along the top of the bag, and hem, either by hand or with a sewing machine. (If fabric does not run, you can finish the ends by cutting with pinking shears.)
STEP 5: Attach a ribbon by cutting a cloth ribbon (at least 12" long) and stitching it to the seam about four or five inches from the top.


Green Opportunities

Some earth-friendly tidbits that have landed in our office in recent weeks...

  • If you're wondering what to do with your old athletic shoes, consider Nike's "REUSE-A-SHOE" program. Nike accepts used shoes, which they grind up for use in athletic surfaces and fields. For more information or to find a drop-off location near you, visit

  • If you're looking for refurbished PRINTER CARTRIDGES OR REFILL KITS, check out Buying recycled is good for the environment and good for your pocketbook. They actively collect empty inkjet and laser toner cartridges for recycling via bins situated in schools, offices, churches and other facilities. Call toll-free 1-877-453-3640 or email [email protected] to request a recycling bin or prepaid mailing labels.

  • California has a new ZERO WASTE Web site. When you have a free moment, check it out at

  • The next time someone tells you they don't have the time, energy, or inclination to recycle cans, make sure to provide them with the following information from the CONTAINER RECYCLING INSTITUTE: A trillion wasted aluminum cans (17.5 million tons of wasted material) laid end-to-end would stretch to the moon and back 153 times and would be worth $21 billion at a scrap price of 60 cents a pound. To replace these cans with new cans would use 77 million tons of bauxite ore (strip mined from about 14,000 acres) and would consume 560 million barrels of crude oil (enough to supply 34 million American homes with energy for a year), and would produce 72 million tons of greenhouse gasses and 1.5 million tons of SOx and NOx emissions. For more information about container recycling, visit their Web sites at and

  • 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.

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

Welcome new Laptop Lunch Retailers!

Please support these fine stores this holiday season!

Davis Food Coop
620 G Street at Sixth Street
Davis, CA 95616

Telephone: (530) 758-2667

Restore Our World
129 West Colorado Avenue
Telluride, CO 81435

Telephone: (970) 728-3553

Hartville Hardware
940 W. Maple Street
Hartville, OH 44632

Telephone: (330) 877-3631

Sammy's Kosher Market
728 Bedford Road
Bedford Hills, NY 10507

Telephone: (914) 241-4477

125 Greenwich Avenue (at 13th Street)
New York, NY 10014

Telephone: (212) 989-4300

TOM BIHN - Portable Culture
108 West 1st Street
Port Angeles, WA 98362

Telephone: (360) 565-0143

Open Harvest Natural Foods Coop
1618 South Street
Lincoln, NE 68502

Telephone: (402) 475-9069

TOM BIHN - Portable Culture
609 Second Avenue
Seattle, WA 98104

Telephone: (206) 652-4123

Green Games

    THE ADVENTURES OF VERMI THE WORM! Did you know that worms can help you throw away less garbage? Vermi the Worm is squirming to show you more about where he lives and how he eats food scraps to make fertilizer! You can go on the full adventure with Vermi or you can visit certain areas within the adventure at

    ECO QUEST Ever dreamed of saving the Irrawaddy Dolphins from extinction? Well now you can - by playing the online Eco Quest game, created to educate people about the threats to endangered species. Please note that new species will be added over the next few months.

    COOPERATIVEGAMES.COM has a great selection of family board games based on cooperative play. These fun games promote friendly and open exchanges, joint decision making, and creativity. Some of their most popular games include Save the Whales, Rainbowland, Secret Door, Nectar Collector, and Sleeping Grump. Visit their site at to see their complete selection of games and outdoor play things.

What Works...Success Stories

  • "I've found that the Laptop Lunchbox is great for sending with my 21-month old on his occasional forays to the babysitter. I can just pack the little containers with soft cooked baby carrots, Joe's O's, slices of apple and a bagel, and I know that he's set for the morning (and that the sitter won't resort to giving him something gross!)"

       -- Judy Kittleson, Freeport, NY

  • "Just want you to know that we took our new Laptop Lunches on the plane to Hawaii and they were great! Also we gave one to our grandson, and he absolutely loved it and insisted on lugging it with him to the beach. At two and a half it's like a suitcase for him! Great success."

       -- Sara Halprin, Ph.D., Portland, OR

  • Laptop Lunches make good hats too!

    A Happy Green Festival Customer!

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

Featured Web Site:


GRACE (Global Resource Action Center for the Environment) has launched Sustainable Table to help educate consumers on how to shop smarter, eat healthier, and enjoy the abundance produced by local family farmers. From the benefits of pasture-raised meat to the overuse of antibiotics in factory farms, provides useful information that makes it easier for consumers to make healthful choices. “You are what you eat. And more families than ever before want to eat sustainably,” said GRACE President Alice Slater. “We launched Sustainable Table to give families more choices about what goes into their bodies.”

Sustainable Table


    • raises healthy food for consumers
    • does not harm the environment
    • is humane for workers and animals
    • provides a fair wage to traditional family farmers
    • supports rural communities

January Highlights

Hearty bread recipes, greening your office, and tips for purchasing green appliances!

Obentec, Inc.

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

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© December 2004, by Obentec, Inc.


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