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Newsletter Archive


January 2009


January 2009

In this issue, you'll find:

  • From Our Desk to Yours...
  • Favorite Photo
  • Cooking with Cabbage
  • Green Opportunities
  • Laptop Lunches in the News
  • New Retailers
  • Top Ten Foods for Learning and Health
  • What works...Success Stories
  • Featured Web site:

From Our Desk to Yours...

We wish you all a very happy, healthy, and prosperous 2009! Thanks so much for all your support in 2008. We hope you'll keep in touch with us through this newsletter, our blog, and our weekly lunch feed...and we look forward to seeing your beautiful lunches throughout the coming year.

MIS-MATCHED SETS: Our discounted mis-matched sets are back in stock while supplies last. From time to time we end up with "extra" containers in combinations that, if assembled, would not equate to full primary sets or whimsical sets. Instead of recycling them, we assemble them into "mis-matched" sets, which are neither primary nor whimsical, but a combination of colors from both. We're currently offering these in cartons of 24 only for a flat price of $312.00 per carton. For more information, click HERE. (This item is available only in boxes of 24.)

Discounted Bento Boxes

Obentec BLOG: Don't miss our new blog at, a great place to find photos, lunch menus, recipes, and other resources related to lunchmaking, preparing delicious food, and caring for the environment. You'll hear from various members of the Obentec team, the lunches we like, the Web sites we frequent, and useful resources we've discovered.

Bento Box in the Bento Sleeve BENTO BUNDLES: We've just added a limited number of primary bento sets preassembled with the bento sleeve and ice pack to our Web site. If this item proves successful, we'll consider adding additional colors. Check it out at

RED INNER CONTAINER SETS: We have received a large number of requests for red inner container sets over the last few months, so we thought we'd give them a try. Look for them on our Web site in the coming weeks!

Amy and Tammy

Got a favorite photo to share?

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

  • roasted chicken with barbecue sauce
  • blueberries
  • sliced pear
  • 2-bite brownie
  • corn or tomatoes

"I took this photo this morning before sending my husband and three kids off for the day. They all have leftover roasted chicken with barbecue sauce, blueberries, a piece of pear, and a 2-bite brownie; some have tomatoes, some have corn, according to individual tastes."

                     -- Jessica Kimelman, Tallahassee, FL

Cooking with Cabbage

Nutty Cabbage Salad

Keep a head of cabbage in the refrigerator for those days when you need a fresh vegetable and don't have time to run to the store. It's versatile and doesn't spoil as quickly as many other vegetables.

  • 1 heaping Tbs. almond butter
  • 2 Tbs. rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbs. tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 Tbs. water
  • 5 cups shredded cabbage
  • 1/2 cup chopped almonds or pecans
  • 2 chopped scallions
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
Cabbage Salad
1. Stir the almond butter, vinegar, tamari and water to form a smooth paste.
2. Chop the cabbage, nuts, scallions and cilantro.
3. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly.

Pictured above:

Nutty Cabbage Salad
Homemade Macaroni and Cheese
Sliced Banana
Steamed Yams

Cabbage Pasta

  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped carrot
  • 3 cups chopped cabbage
  • 8 oz. cooked pasta
  • 1 cup chopped mushrooms
  • 1 tsp. caraway seeds
  • 1 cup plain nonfat yogurt
  • 1 cup grated lowfat mozzarella
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 3 sliced scallions
  • 1 Tbs. tamari or soy sauce

Cabbage Pasta

1. Saute the onion, carrot, cabbage, mushrooms, and caraway seeds in the olive oil until soft.
2. In a large bowl, mix the yogurt, grated mozzarella, grated parmesan, scallions, and tamari.
3. Add the sauteed vegetables to the mixture in the bowl and stir to combine.
4. Add the cooked pasta and toss gently.

Pictured above:

Steamed Broccoli
Cabbage Pasta
Satsuma Tangerine
Whole Grain Crackers

Green Opportunities

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

  • ENVIROMENTAL FILMS – Earth Cinema Circle is a DVD club dedicated to increasing social & environmental awareness through entertaining films. This bi-monthly subscription club delivers inspiring and informative DVDs to your mailbox. Each DVD features 4 films—a combination of features and shorts—on topics such as: green healthy living, wildlife and conservation, adventurous eco-travel, environmental heroes and more. Visit them online at to learn more about their program.
television recycling
  • MEATOUT MONDAYS – If you're looking for creative ways to add more plant-based meals to your diet, consider signing up for the weekly Meatout Mondays newsletter at Meatout Mondays is a colorful weekly e-newsletter that delivers delicious vegetarian recipes, nutrition and product information, and inspiring stories.
Meatout Mondays
List of Plastic Bag Bans
  • WORLDWIDE PLASTIC BAG BANS – The Florida State Dept of Environmental Protection has a cool tool for learning more about plastic bag bans around the world. You can click on a map to find out which countries, states, provinces, and municipalities have either proposed or passed bans and what those bans look like. Check it out at


New Retailers

JamTots Baby & More Store
748 Goldstream Avenue
Victoria, BC V9B 2X3
(250) 478-1737

The Stork’s Nest
1537 City Center Rd.
McKinleyville, CA 95519
(707) 840-0300

Visit 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.

Top Ten Foods for Learning and Health

By Jan Katzen–Luchenta

Want to provide your children with foods that can lead to optimal learning and health? It's clear that some foods are better for our bodies than others, but presented with so many options and so much information, it's hard to know where to start. If you're thinking about making changes this year, consider the following top ten ideas.
Nutrition for Learning

1. Eat Fats in their proper balance.

Fats are required for learning. The brain is made up of 60% fat. Fat is not only needed for optimal cell structure and functioning, but to build the myelin which is the fatty sheath that surrounds each nerve fiber making each nerve transmission more efficient and rapid. Neurotransmitters, which are chemical messengers such as acetycholine (connected to attention, learning, and memory), and serotonin and dopamine (nature’s feel good chemical messengers), rely on fatty acid intake.

DHA (docosahexaenoic acid, found in seafood) – Fish and shellfish are nature’s multi-vitamin/ mineral supplements that swim. Cold water fish such as salmon, sardines, trout, and cod contain omega–3 fatty acids (DHA in particular) that nutritional scientists call “the evolutionary staple of the human brain.” The highly unsaturated fats in fish build healthy cell membranes making cells more fluid, structurally sound, and able to protect against brain disorders, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Highly unsaturated fatty acids are needed for flexibility and adaption of magnocells which are responsible for timing of visual events in reading. Deficiencies are associated with attention and dyslexic disorders.

LNA  (alpha-linolenic acid) found in plant sources such as canola oil, walnut oil, chia seeds, hemp and flax oil) –  Children require omega–3 fatty acids daily such as LNA for optimal brain development and function. Deficiencies are associated with aggression, depression, and suicidal behavior. Flaxseed oil is not recommended for women during pregnancy and lactation because it can affect estrogen levels and reproductive development of children.  Maternal flaxseed consumption has been demonstrated to disrupt reproductive cycling in offspring in animal studies. Flaxseed contains traces of cadmium which has shown to increase the risk of mammary gland tumors in offspring of animals fed flaxseed.

Monounsaturated fatty acids (oleic acid/olive oil, avocados) –  partners in fatty acid metabolism. The myelin sheath is made up of predominantly monounsaturated and  saturated (cholesterol) fatty acids that cover nerve fibers. This sheath expedites the directive from one neuron to the next (like high speed internet).

Trans fatty acids (hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils) – Trans fatty acids (hydrogenated oils) and too many omega–6 fatty acids (soybean, safflower oil) cancel out the benefit of omega–3 fatty acids and put children at risk for mental and physical ill health. Malnourished or mothers–to-be eating “bad fats” can influence their fetuses adipose tissue development in–utero;  programming the infant for obesity and subsequent diabetes.

Saturated fatty acids – A young or maturing child on a diet of restricted fat may suffer neurologically. Remember, mother’s milk is high in cholesterol and contains over 50 percent of its calories as butterfat. Low fat diets have been linked to failure to thrive in children. Good saturated fat comes from natural fats from properly fed animals, poultry, and fish. These animal fats supply true Vitamins A and D, and cholesterol needed for brain and vision development. Butter contains lecithin which helps for better metabolism of cholesterol. Butter also contains a number of antioxidants (A and E) that protect against free radical damage.

2. Eat foods rich in B–vitamins. Increase protein intake from plant sources.

Add one serving a day of beans, peas, tofu (tempeh), asparagus, broccoli, or nuts with skin.

Good sources of Vitamin B1 (thiamine): Germ and bran of wheat, brewer’s yeast, husk of rice, whole grains, peas, lentils, beans, sunflower and sesame seeds, nuts with the skin, peanut butter, liver, kidney, pork, ham, eggs, poultry, seafood.

Good sources of Vitamin B2 (riboflavin): Organ meats, beef, lamb, dark meat of poultry, yogurt, milk, eggs, butter, cheese, whole grains, peas, beans, green vegetables, dark leafy vegetables, brewer’s yeast, wheat germ.

Good sources of Vitamin B3 (nicotinamide): Brewer’s yeast, whole grains, wheat germ, organ meats, green vegetables, meat, poultry, seafood, seeds, nuts, peanuts, potatoes.

Good sources of Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine): Brewer’s yeast, wheat germ, whole grains, molasses, peanuts, organ meats, meats, fish, poultry, spinach, sweet and white potatoes, bananas, prunes, watermelon.

Good sources of Vitamin B9 (folate): Liver, dark green leafy vegetables, asparagus, spinach, broccoli, sprouts, legumes, lentils, whole grains, wheat germ, brewer’s yeast, nuts, poultry, eggs, milk.

Good sources of Vitamin B12 (cobalamin): Meats, liver, kidney, poultry, seafood, salmon, scallops, shrimp, halibut, eggs, milk, cheese, low-fat yogurt.

3. Eat steel cut or whole grain (germ and bran intact) oats daily (plus two more servings of whole grains).

Whole grains – nutrients: B vitamins, vitamin E, and trace minerals. Inositol which is found in oats helps build the fatty acid membrane and facilitates cell communication. Food producers are milling grains, packaging them and synthetically adding the once organic nutrients back in as fortificants

 4. Eat wheat germ daily.

Wheat germ is abundant in inositol and contains 20 times the vitamin E present in flour.

5. Eat one tablespoon of raw, hulled pumpkin seeds a day.

A ¼ cup of pumpkin seeds provides nearly 50% of the daily value for magnesium, 30% of the DV for iron, 50% of the DV for manganese, 20% of the DV for protein, and20% of the DV for zinc. They have the perfect fatty acid ratio;  low in saturated – high in polyunsaturated. Built-in trace minerals to prevent peroxidation of fats.

6. Eat 1/8 cup sunflower seeds daily.

Sunflower seeds contain vitamin E – an antioxidant that protects omega-3 fatty acids + phytosterols that lower cholesterol and boost the immune system.

7. Eat low glycemic foods.

The glycemic index is a measure of how quickly a carbohydrate is digested, enters the bloodstream, and raises the blood sugar level. The more processed something is, the more quickly it will raise blood sugar, which in turn can cause you to secrete more insulin. Foods that are refined or processed such as boxed cereal, crackers, white rice, white bread, white pasta, or sugary foods like cake, muffins, candy, etc. enter the blood stream quickly, creating an insulin surge which can interfere with a child’s ability to pay attention, mood, behavior, and aptitude. Minimally processed foods with a low glycemic index enter the bloodstream slowly, contributing to a steadier insulin response and blood sugar level.

Common foods with a low glycemic index:

  • all berries, cherries
  • apples, oranges
  • peaches, pears, apricots
  • plums, grapefruit,
  • fresh vegetable juice
  • tomato juice
  • artichokes
  • asparagus
  • black-eyed peas
  • split peas, lentils
  • bulgur wheat
  • black beans
  • garbanzo beans
  • celery
  • all lettuces
  • navy beans
  • peppers
  • almonds, walnuts, peanuts

  • flaxseeds
  • pumpkin and sunflower seeds
  • all bran cereals
  • oatmeal/oat bran
  • whole grain pastas
  • barley
  • organic milk
  • organic plain yogurt
  • low-fat cottage cheese
  • stevia and agave syrup

8. Eat foods high in antioxidants.

Antioxidants; Vitamins C, E, and Beta-carotene (converts to Vitamin A), Selenium – Decreases lipid (fat) peroxidation.

Good sources of Vitamin C: Citrus fruits, strawberries, cantaloupe, watermelon, kiwi, sweet potatoes, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, snow peas, Brussels sprouts, sweet red and green peppers, pimento, parsley.

Good sources of Vitamin E: Poultry, seafood, green leafy vegetables, avocado, wheat germ, whole grains, seeds (sunflower), nuts, butter, unrefined oils (cold pressed), liver, milk, egg yolk.

Good sources of Vitamin A: Milk, butter, eggs, cheese, dark green, orange, and yellow vegetables, carrots, sweet potatoes, deep yellow or orange fruits, sweet red peppers, organ meats, liver, fish liver oil.

Good sources of Selenium: Poultry, seafood, meat from animals fed luxuriant selenium, egg yolks, grains grown in high selenium soil, whole grain breads and cereals, barley, mushrooms, Brazil nuts, onions, garlic.

9. Eat condiments high in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

    • molasses, maple syrup, *brewer’s yeast, *wheat germ, *wheat bran, *sesame seeds, pimento, parsley, garlic, onions, kelp, cloves, ginger, cinnamon.

Good sources of manganese: Whole grains, wheat germ, seeds, leafy vegetables, brewer’s yeast, egg, liver, onions, green beans, parsley, strawberries, bananas, apples, pineapple, cherries, walnuts, peanuts, pecans, chestnuts, cloves, ginger.

Zinc and Folate – Anti-oxidant qualities that counteract ROS (reactive oxygen species).

Good sources of zinc: Red meats, liver, shellfish, yogurt, nuts and nut butters, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, legumes, oatmeal, whole grains and corn, all fruit and vegetables, crimini mushrooms, spinach, asparagus, brewer’s yeast, wheat germ, maple syrup.

10. Eat the freshest, best food you can afford.

Go organic–For optimal nutritional safety and potency buy organically grown fruits, vegetables, and grains.

Go free range and wild– Many animals are artificially fed - fattening them up to obtain the highest market price, impacting all animal products such as eggs, milk, cheese, etc.

Wild fish contain approximately 6 percent body fat. Farm-fed fish can inflate to an unhealthy 23 percent body fat ratio. This is good for the market, but bad for our arteries and brains. (Sadly, the rich omega-3 fatty acid content gets washed out to sea.)

Copyright  ©  Jan Katzen–Luchenta (602) 957-2602 Nutritional therapist  (602) 370-4036 In-home nutritional therapy for children

As a nutritional researcher, author, and scientific writer, Jan has conducted extensive investigation into the unique and collaborative roles of nutrients as they impact human development through conception, infancy, and childhood. She has studied nutrition and health under the guidance of renowned professor Michael Crawford, director of the Institute of Brain Chemistry and Human Nutrition at the London Metropolitan University. She interned with Nim Barnes, founder of Foresight Pre-conceptual Care (Bognor Regis, England) and is the only Foresight practitioner and branch secretary located in the U.S. In collaboration with Foresight, Jan uses hair mineral analysis to help couples preparing for pregnancy address nutrient deficiencies and environmental influences that compromise fertility. In addition to working with individual families, Jan works as a nutritional interventionist, Montessori educator, and consultant for schools. She has published numerous articles and books on nutrition with a focus on pre-conceptional health, child development, and foods that support attention and learning.

Jan serves on the advisory committee of the Mother and Child Foundation, whose goal is to promote the physical and mental health of future generations. She is also dedicated to charities that support the nutritional status of mothers and children in impoverished areas struggling with HIV/AIDS, and she provides nutritional education to government and non-government organizations involved in world health.

What Works...Success Stories

"My daughter began a casein free gluten free diet at the beginning of the year because she has PDD-NOS (pervasive developmental disorder), and I was so excited to find your site. I never really knew what she was eating at lunch. I knew what they were serving, but I had no idea what she was actually eating. Then when her diet became restricted, I asked the school not to give her any food that I didn't send with her. I was really nervous about what to pack and what she might reject. My fears were unfounded. She loves her lunches and will even help me choose what to put in them in the morning. When I have filled each container and shut the lid, I hand it to her and she says "Yay! Lunch!" She does this every day. When the boxes come home, I know what she has eaten and what she hasn't. The Laptop bento box has been such a blessing. I am happy to report after three full months she is improving with the diet as well. Thank you so much."

        -- Tammy Eshom, Vancouver, WA

"I purchased your set 6 months ago and this made the whole lunch routine so much easier and fun for everyone. It is in use every single school day! But I want to comment specifically on your great user`s guide. This was the very first time that I found my "philosophie of food" written down. We just recently moved from Germany, where I worked for our small communal kindergarten. There we started changing the nutrition exactly as you describe, step by step - a long process. If we had had your guide at that time, it would have saved us a lot of research and time. Now we´re living in Canada and are little bit shocked about the way people and children are eating here. I will do my best to implement some of your thoughts in our school here. Wish me luck! Good luck with your great company, and as I said - congratulations to your wonderful user`s guide."

        -- Isabella, Burlington, Canada

"I just saw an article in Parents Magazine which featured your Laptop Lunch kits. I ordered 3 and the kids LOVE them! When they arrived, my 5-year-old said, 'I'll be the only one at school who has one!' I can prepare stuff the night before and be better organized with the Laptop Lunches. It makes preparing and storing the food so much easier and fun (for me and my kids). They love bringing these unique kits to school every day and the colorful little organized containers help motivate them to eat more. The design also motivates me to create more interesting lunches for them too. Thanks for the great product--I will recommend them to my friends."

        -- Meri Fleischman, Hamden, CT

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

Featured Web Site:


Check out this great Web site for some "real life" cooking demonstrations. They're informative and are guaranteed to put a smile on your face!

Their mission is to educate viewers about how to prepare high-quality wholesome food within the context of busy family life. Do the cooks in your house ever get interrupted? If so, you'll be able to relate to this family!

Cookus Interruptus utilizes and advocates for foods that are sustainably produced, emphasizing whole fresh local organic ingredients made into recipes that taste great. These choices help maintain health and provide pleasure for individual family members and well as for our community and our environment.

Their belief? Education should be both entertaining and informative. 

On this site:

  • Cooking Videos
  • Recipes
  • Menus
  • Blog

For more information, visit

February Highlights

Creative Curries, Green Opportunities, and an Obentec Interview


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

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© January 2009 Obentec, Inc.

849 Almar Ave., Suite C-323
Santa Cruz, CA 95060


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 Reprint permission granted with this full notice included."