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June 2010

Laptop Lunch Times:June 2010
June 2010


In this issue, you'll find:

  • From Our Desk to Yours...
  • Favorite Photo
  • Food for Thought: Apricots
  • Apricot Recipes
  • Green Opportunities
  • Laptop Lunches in the News
  • New Retailers
  • An Interview with Mrs. Q
  • What works...Success Stories
  • Featured Web site: www.GreenAmericaToday.org

From Our Desk to Yours...

It’s hard to believe that another school year has nearly come and gone and that our kids--who were in preschool and elementary school when we first launched Laptop Lunches--will be in high school next year!

The school year may be coming to a close, but opportunities to pack Laptop Lunches still abound. If your summer plans include summer camp, road trips, air travel or family outings, you’ll want to keep your American-style bento boxes close at hand. And remember to visit your local retailer for additional items and new accessories.

 


LAPTOP LUNCHES -THINK BENTO VIDEO: We had great fun making our very first homegrown video, entitled “Think Bento.” If you’re looking for some easy ideas for your on-the-go meals (or you just want to see us in action), check it out at www.youtube.com/watch?v=8XO4Vag9zsY. If you like it, please give it a “thumbs up!”





IMPERFECT INSULATED BENTO CARRIERS ON SALE: We still have some slightly tweaked insulated bento carriers with alien print for sale online at http://secure.laptoplunches.com/AMAZING/itemDesc.asp?ic=ALIEN_DISCOUNT for only $9.99 (regularly $19.99). We have a handful of pink, purple, blue and flower print as well, but only the alien print is available through our Web store. If you're interested in one of these other colors, please call us at 831-457-0301. These insulated carriers fit both the original and 2.0 bento sets and are available while supplies last.


ORIGINAL BENTO SETS: Our last few original bento sets, systems, and bundles in select colors (including the very cool pink/purple pictured here) are available on special while supplies last at http://secure.laptoplunches.com/AMAZING/items.asp?Cc=ORIGINAL&Bc=. This may be your last chance to order! (We will continue to carry the original inner container sets and replacement parts for some time.)



NEW WEB SITE: We are just a few weeks away from launching our new, updated Web site! We’ll be offering the same great content along with some exciting new resources and features, including enhanced navigation and searchability. We hope you’ll like it as much as we do.



Amy and Tammy

Got a favorite photo to share?

Email it to us at [email protected], and we'll publish it here!

 


  • Sandwich
  • Blueberries
  • Summer Fruit
  • Juice Box
  • And More
  • With Little Toy Dog To Keep
    Them Company

"Grammy Joyce with her granddaughters, having lunch in the parking lot at Oak Meadow Park,
Los Gatos, CA. "

Ashley (8 yrs)– "Hooray, Laptop Lunches! You’re the best, Grammy!
Chloe (2 ½ yrs) – "Me too! "

                     -- Grammy Joyce, Santa Cruz, CA  


Food for Thought: Apricots

Photo Credit: Melissa Braun

Apricots are low in fat, calories and carbs. In fact, they have fewer calories than many other fruits. Apricots are a good source of fiber and an aid to healthy digestion. This low-glycemic index fruit, is rich in nutrients and vitamins. Dried apricots contain a higher concentration of nutrients than other forms of the fruit.

While fresh apricots are available in season, dried and canned apricots can be found throughout the year. They make flavorful smoothies, jams and sauces. Try adding apricots to salads, yogurt, breakfast cereals, baked goods and grains.

To learn more about apricots, visit http://extension.usu.edu/energyconsumer/files/uploads/Preserving%20apricots.pdf

Benefits:

  • Excellent Source of Vitamins A, C and E
  • Good Source of Fiber
  • Rich in Beta-Carotene and Antioxidants
  • Benefits Eyesight
  • Helps Prevent Heart Disease
Photo Credit: Melissa Braun

Recipes with Apricots

Apricot Smoothie

This smoothie is easy to make and refreshing at any time of day.

  • 3 small ripe apricots
  • 1 sliced banana
  • 1/2 cup enriched soy or rice milk
  • 1/2 cup apple juice
  • 1/2 cup vanilla yogurt

NOTE: If you'd like it sweeter, use 1 cup of apple juice and no milk. If you'd like a smoothie with more protein that's not as sweet, use 1 cup of the enriched milk without the juice.


Yield: 1 to 2 servings

1.

Cut the pitted apricots into chunks. (approximately 1/2 cup)

2.

Place all the ingredients into a blender. Blend until smooth.


Apricot Marinade

This marinade calls for fresh apricots but dried or canned apricots may be used when the fresh fruit isn't in season.

  • 1/2 cup fresh apricots
  • 1/2 cup apple juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 2 Tbsp fresh mint
  • 1/3 cup olive oil or canola oil
  • 3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp lime juice
  • 2 Tbsp orange juice
  • 3 Tbsp tamari
  • 2 Tbsp basil

Note: If dried apricots are used instead of the fresh fruit, use 1/4 cup dried apricots, cut in pieces.



Yield: about 1-1/2 cups marinade
1.

Using a blender, puree apricots, apple juice, garlic, honey and mint.

2.

In a bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients.

3.

Add the mixture from the blender to the ingredients in the bowl and stir.

4.

Marinade your tofu, veggies, chicken or fish.


Green Opportunities

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


  • ECO-FRIENDLY GIFT WRAP Check out these beautiful cloth gift bags that not only decorate your gifts with style, but help eliminate waste. They are reusable and come in a number of colors, patterns and sizes. To find out more, visit: www.livingethos.com.



    • ECO FRIENDLY KIDS' BIRTHDAY PARTY IDEAS If you'd like some inspiration in planning your child's next birthday party, check out the ideas provided by Kiwi Magazine. Visit: www.kiwimagonline.com/articles/kids-birthday-party-ideas.php for a list of eco-friendly, healthy or socially responsible party ideas.
    • MAKE YOUR OWN DRIP IRRIGATION SYSTEM Have you ever forgotten to water your outdoor potted plants? Need a method of caring for your deck plants while you're away? Here's a way to reuse plastic bottles and provide a steady water supply to your plants. Visit: www.yougrowgirl.com/garden/dripsystem.php.



    • AUTOMATED E-CYCLING STATIONS Do you have old mobile phones or other, no longer used, electronics taking up space in your home? The ecoATM is an automated eCycling station for the pricing and buy-back of used consumer electronics and mobile phones. To find out more, visit: www.ecoatm.com

    Laptop Lunches in the News

    ANewsCafe.com

    PROMOTING, PROVIDING AND PROPAGATING HEALTHY SCHOOL FOODS: Chico Eat Learn Grow

    May 22, 2010
    by Jennifer Jewell

    Chico. Eat. Learn. Grow. did not have to look very far for a working model of the idea they had in mind. In 2008, Bridgette Brick Wells founded the start up non-profit organization Healthy Lunch and Lifestyles project in Shasta County.

    Wells is married to an emergency room doctor “who treats an increasing number of children and adults suffering from diseases directly related to overweight and poor nutrition,” and being the mother of children ranging in age from 21 to 13, these two realities in her life inspired her to found the Healthy Lunch and Lifestyles program. HELP Shasta will be a partner in Chico. Eat. Learn. Grow., del Real said, and Wells will be the Food Service Director for the new healthy lunch program coming into Chico being offered first to the private and charter schools in the area for the 2010/2011 school year. The program produces healthful school lunches in commercial grade kitchens in each of their regions. They use as many whole and unprocessed foods as possible, and as many locally sourced foods as possible and all to National School Lunch standards. Each lunch is about $2.50 (a bargain) and comes each day in re-usable plastic Laptop Lunch Boxes, so that portions are appropriate, consistent and very little waste ensues. All boxes and utensils are collected, sanitized and reused. To read the entire article, visit http://anewscafe.com/2010/05/22/promoting-providing-and-propagating-healthy-school-foods-chico-eat-learn-grow.

     

    Working Mother

    THE SECRET TO GREEN LUNCHES GALLERY

    April 2010
    By Suzanne Riss

    You think about the food you pack for your kids’ healthy lunches and snacks, but what about the containers you put the food in? Working Mother has unearthed some great tips on green alternatives for the kids and you.

    BPA-FREE PLASTIC
    Where to put the dips and fruit so they don’t leak onto your child’s sandwich? Laptop Lunches has solved this with their Bento System lunchboxes. The Flower Bento System 2.0 offers lots of little compartments in sturdy containers that prevent squishing and are manufactured from material that has no BPA, phthalates, or PVC. The insulated carrying case keeps foods fresh. The full set includes the outer container and inner containers, all-stainless utensils, insulated carrying case, a water bottle, and one copy of The Laptop Lunch User's Guide. ($39.99 Laptoplunches.com)

     

    New Retailers

    Earth Fare Auburn
    1550 Opelika Road
    Auburn, AL 36830
    (334) 821-0211

    Earth Fare Huntsville 5900 - C University Drive NW
    Huntsville, AL 35806
    (256) 721-7017

    Serenity Wellness Center
    24 Breakers Lane
    Aliso Viejo, CA 92656
    (714) 742-2740

    Little Red Hen
    14555 Camaren Park Drive
    Chico, CA 95973
    (530) 897-0100


    Whole Foods Market
    94 Derby Street
    Hingham, MA 02043
    (781) 741-8050

    Whole Foods Santa Rosa
    1181 Yulupa Avenue
    Santa Rosa, CA 95405
    (707) 575-7915

    Childish Things
    3183 Walnut Street
    Boulder, CO 80301
    (303) 442-2703
    www.childishthingsconsign.com

    Kitchen Essence
    905 Linden Road
    Pinehurst, NC 28374
    (910) 215-0775 www.elliottsonlinden.com

    Green Diaper Store
    West Hills, CA
    (818) 340-0099
    www.greendiaperstore.com

    www.ecobabybuys.com

    Visit www.laptoplunches.com/retail.html for a complete list of retailers.

    Want to see Laptop Lunches at a store in your neighborhood? Email us at [email protected], and we'll give them a call.


    The School Lunch Project: An Interview with Mrs. Q

    Mrs. Q is a teacher who is eating school lunches every day throughout 2010, just like the kids. Her reason for doing so is to raise awareness about school lunch food in America. She keeps a record of her lunch experiences, with photos, on her blog, Fed Up With Lunch: The School Lunch Project .

    Mrs. Q has chosen to remain anonymous throughout the project.


    Amy: What inspired you to undertake this challenge to eat school lunch every day for a year?
    Mrs. Q:

    There were a couple days last fall when I was running late in the morning and thought, "So what? I'll buy lunch today," and I was dismayed each time by what I was served. I think the meal that really bothered me the most was the "bagel dog," which came with tater tots (defined as a veggie by the USDA) and a fruit cup. In my school some kids come from homes where their families are living below the poverty line, and I know that their school lunch could be the best thing they get all day. This realization hit me hard.

    The idea itself came in December when I was looking at my 2009 resolutions and writing new ones for 2010. I'm one of those people who devotes time to writing goals. I thought, "What could I do that would be completely crazy?" I came up with the idea for the blog, and when I told my husband about it, he said, "Let it go. We have enough to think about." A couple weeks went by, and I just couldn't get the idea out of my head, so I decided to go for it.

    Amy: You have been eating school lunches for about six months now. How are you feeling? Have you experienced any unexpected side effects?
    Mrs. Q:

    Before the project, I didn’t have milk at lunch. Days would go by where I wouldn't drink a drop of milk. Right after starting the project I discovered that I was lactose-intolerant. When I was drinking a pint at lunch, I noticed the effects immediately. So I've had to stop taking the milk with my lunch.

    Otherwise I haven't gained any weight. In fact, I've lost two pounds. People always ask if I'm gaining weight, but I do eat healthy foods for breakfast and dinner, so I'm covered. It's the kids who aren't food secure who have it rough.

    Amy: Has this changed the way you pack your children’s lunches?
    Mrs. Q: We're in the daycare years so our weekly fees cover meals. I've taken a closer look at the menu and substituted food from home. For example, they were serving fish nuggets, and we couldn't figure out where the fish was sourced. So the staff no longer serves them to our family. This week I brought quiche instead.

    Amy: You are blogging anonymously. What is your reason for doing so?
    Mrs. Q:

    I am blogging anonymously because teachers are getting pink slips for far less. State budgets are tight, and school administrators are looking to cut positions. I believe that if I were to be found out now, I would be giving the principal and staff a reason to look closely at me. Why not ax the teacher who is eating school lunch every day and posting lunch photos that are being viewed by thousands of people per day? I'm handing them my head on a school lunch tray, if you will.

    Amy: Laptop Lunches was founded with a mission to help promote waste-free lunches. It looks like the school lunches at your school have a lot of packaging. Is there a lot of trash at the end of the lunch period? Is your school doing anything to address lunch time trash? Are they promoting waste-free lunches?
    Mrs. Q: There is so much trash. It's appalling. There have been no efforts to reduce lunch time trash from what I know. I do keep my head down (but my ears open) during those kind of discussions, but I don't think anyone is really thinking about it.

    Amy: What do you hope to achieve, both locally and on a national level, in terms of implementing changes in school lunch menus?
    Mrs. Q: You know, I happened to step into the fray at a critical time. I had no idea when I started the blog that school lunches would be such a large part of the zeitgeist and that the school food reform movement would be reaching the attention of major networks like ABC and Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution. My initial goal was to simply raise awareness of school lunches. I seem to have already met that goal, which makes me feel really good. I do have specific recommendations for changing the USDA regulations. They include: offering real fruit every day instead of fruit cups, fruit jellos, fruit bars (frozen juice) or fruit juices. I realize that real fruit doesn't have the shelf-life of processed fruit, but I believe kids are worth it. I'd like to see a salad bar in every school. I don’t think fried potatoes (tater tots and fries) should be considered veggies. Lastly, I would like kids to have access to less processed foods like hot dogs, chicken nuggets, and pizza. They should serve real chicken instead of chicken nuggets, which are less than 50% chicken anyway.

    Amy: What is your favorite school lunch?
    Mrs. Q:

    I really like the pasta, chili, and the bean burrito.

    Amy:

    What’s the worst school lunch you’ve eaten to date?
    Mrs. Q:

    The peanut butter and jelly "sandwich" and the cheese lasagna. I can't go into details or I'll gag. You'll have to check out those meals on the blog.

    Amy:

    What else would you like to share with our readers?

    Mrs. Q:

    I think I'd also like to stress to parents that the quality of school lunches has declined since they were in school. School lunches always got a bad rap, but they've gotten even worse than what people remember. It's a disgrace to our kids.

    For more information about Mrs. Q's school lunch project, visit http://fedupwithschoollunch.blogspot.com/.

    What Works...Success Stories

    "My daughter is 11, and we just started using the Laptop Lunch System. She’s in love with it! I started making all these ridiculously wonderful lunches, so every day her lunch is a surprise. It's so much fun and she's eating so much healthier and learning new tastes.THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, AND THANK YOU AGAIN!!! It’s wonderful!! By the way, it was the online and newsletter pictures of "what's in the bento box today" that opened up my creativity. If it weren't for those pictures, I would have been stuck in bagel-and-cream-cheese land! Keep the pictures coming!! "

            -- Francine Litz, Ambler, PA

    "I just received my Laptop Lunch for my Grade 2 child and I want to say I LOVE IT!!! The best part? Your book that you send along. At first I thought it was just another “fast food” suggestion book and I wasn’t even going to open it – but to my surprise – it is an excellent book that goes right along with my current values. Any book that mentions John Robbins – A Diet for New America – is number one for me. And I have had the Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen for oh, around 20 years or so! I am also using a few of your suggestions and recipes for me and my daily intake as well. So I just wanted to write and say how pleased I am that you were listed on the “Parenting” newsletter I receive in my inbox. So THANKS!!!"

            -- Kathleen, Calgary, AB Canada

    "I placed my order yesterday (Tuesday) and I received it today (Wednesday)!!!! I cannot believe such fast service; it is amazing! I wanted to use my new Laptop Lunch systems this weekend, but didn't see how I could ever get them that fast. I did not pay for or request any special one day shipping, yet one day shipping is what I received. My daughters and I will be able to use our new Laptop Lunch systems this Saturday after all :-)!! We are very happy with our order and very, very happy with the speedy delivery. Thank you very much! "

            -- Carolyn Navarra, Tracy, CA

     

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


    Featured Web Site: www.GreenAmericaToday.org


    Green America is a not-for-profit membership organization. Their goal is to empower individuals to make purchasing and investing choices that promote social justice and environmental sustainability.

    Green America programs strive to empower you to make changes in your personal life and join together with others in economic action for a better world.

    To find out more, visit www.greenamericatoday.org

    On this site:

    • The Green America Programs
    • Green Business Network
    • Strategies for Socially Responsible Investing
    • Opportunities to Take Action
    • National Green Pages

    July Highlights

    Summer Snack Boxes, Green Opportunities, and an Obentec Article


    Obentec

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

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