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April 2009

Laptop Lunch Times: April 2009

April 2009

In this issue, you'll find:

  • From Our Desk to Yours...
  • Favorite Photo
  • Recipes from the Meal Makeover Moms
  • Green Opportunities
  • Laptop Lunches in the News
  • New Retailers
  • Take the Whine out of Mealtime
  • What works...Success Stories
  • Featured Web site:

From Our Desk to Yours...

With Earth Day just around the corner, it's time for each of us to think about what eco-friendly changes we want to make this year--including the way we pack lunch. If you're not packing a waste-free lunch already, this could be the time to give it a try. Doing so will not only generate less landfill waste, but will also help save money as well.

NEW TO OBENTEC: We are very pleased to welcome Michelle Neal to our growing Obentec team! Michelle grew up in the Santa Cruz area and currently resides in Los Gatos, CA. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Communication from San Diego State University with a minor in sociology. She enjoys hiking, reading, and spending time in the outdoors. She is proud to be a part of the Obentec team and is passionate about helping the environment and promoting a healthy lifestyle. If you have the opportunity to speak with Michelle on the phone, please offer her a warm welcome!

Michelle Neal

pink bento box

PINK BENTO SETS: We're currently offering overrun pink bento sets on our Web site.They're now available online at Stay tuned for more exciting new products in the coming months!

Need to replace a lost or damaged container or lid? They're available in select colors online at -- while supplies last.

Amy and Tammy

Got a favorite photo to share?

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

  • brown rice with pinto beans and rosemary
  • sliced tomato
  • jicama sticks with smoked paprika
  • hummus
  • Brussels sprouts

"Hello Laptop Lunch people! I love your product. And, because I work in IT, the little computer-style case feels extra adorable! :-) This is a photo of my very first lunch. Yum! Thanks for making lunch healthy and fun."

                     -- Karen Roberts

Recipes from The Meal Makeover Moms

Vegetable Garden Tofu Pie

If your family loves quiche, this easy-does-it tofu pie may be just the recipe for you. Made with baby spinach and carrots, each serving has half a day's worth of immune-boosting vitamin A. (Makes 6 servings.)

  • 1 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 5 or 6 oz. baby spinach
  • 1 small carrot, peeled and grated (about ½ cup)
  • 1 lb. tofu, drained, cut into six slices, and patted dry with paper towels (any kind of tofu -- firm, silken or soft -- is fine)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 cup shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese
vegetable tofu pie

Makes 6 servings
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. Lightly oil or coat a 9-inch pie plate with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
3. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until golden, (about 30 seconds to 1 minute).
4. Raise the heat to medium-high, add the spinach and carrot, and stir frequently until the spinach wilts and the carrot is tender (about 5 minutes). Place on a cutting board and coarsely chop.
5. Meanwhile, blend the tofu, eggs, Parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper in a food processor until creamy. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in the Cheddar cheese and the cooked veggies.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pie plate and bake until golden brown, about 35 minutes.

Nutrition Information per Serving: 170 calories, 10g fat (4g saturated), 500mg sodium, 7g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 16g protein, 50% vitamin A, 25% calcium, 15% iron

Kitchen Sink Bowtie Pasta Salad

This simply delicious pasta dish has not one, not two, but three kid-friendly vegetables. Broccoli, tomatoes and chick peas add great nutrition as well as convenience to the recipe. (Makes 4-5 servings.)

  • 8 ounces dried bowtie pasta
  • 4 to 5 cups fresh broccoli florets
  • 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced in half
  • One 7 ¾-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed, or half a 15-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup lite Italian or Caesar salad dressing
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
kitchen sink pasta
1. Cook the pasta according to package directions. Two to three minutes before the pasta is done, add the broccoli. Bring back to a boil and cook until the broccoli and pasta are done. Drain and place in a large bowl.

2. While the pasta is still warm, add the tomatoes, chickpeas, feta cheese, salad dressing, and salt and pepper to taste and stir to combine.

3. Serve warm or refrigerate for a cold salad.

  Tip: You could also add bell pepper strips, black olives, or sugar snap peas.

Nutrition Information per Serving: 350 calories, 8g fat (4g saturated, 550mg sodium, 55g carbohydrate, 7g fiber, 15g protein, 30% vitamin A, 90% vitamin C, 20% calcium, 15% iron

Green Opportunities

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

  • ECO-TUESDAYS – EcoTuesday is a forum for sustainable business leaders to come together to network, collaborate, and engage with one another in a structured environment. Each month EcoTuesday features opportunities for sustainable business leaders to network and learn about current issues from an innovative speaker and from one another. For more information, visit them online at
Green Ambassadors
  • GREEN AMBASSADORS – Green Ambassadors, a project of Environmental Charter High School, is an environmental education program that empowers youth to be agents of change in their communities and world. Through service learning, community partnerships, and cross-cultural and global exchange, the program fosters personal growth and leadership skills to help youth tackle the most critical environmental issues facing our planet. More information can be found at

  • RECYCLE THOSE CROCS – Did you know that you can donate your worn-out Crocs instead of sending them to the landfill? Visit to learn more about how your old Crocs can be turned into new ones to be donated to approved non-profit organizations around the world.
carpool resource

  • CARPOOL CREW – Looking for a carpool? Visit to fiind someone who lives and works near you, shares your work schedule, and maybe even has the same taste in music.

Laptop Lunches in the News

The San Diego Union-Tribune

Green-bag lunch

By Nina Garin

Spice up your mealtime – and help the environment – with a reusable lunch bag

[Read the rest of the article:]

The Boston Globe

Eat in Style

The first step toward embracing the new age of brown bagging is to forget the brown bag! The range of lunch bags and containers can turn your cluttered desk into your own cool mini cafeteria table.

[Read the rest of the article:]

New Retailers

Newton, KS 67114
(316) 283-1115


90 Maple Street
Florence, MA 01062
(413) 584-3699

Whole Foods Market
9229 N. Sheridan Blvd.
Westminster, CO 80031
(303) 650-2333

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.

Take the Whine out of Mealtime

By: Janice Newell Bissex, MS, RD & Liz Weiss, MS, RD

Having a picky eater in your family can be a challenge, and that may be putting it mildly.  But with some simple mealtime tips and tricks, all those moans and groans at the table will quickly turn into compliments.

Tempt the Senses

The first step to getting kids to try a new food is persuading them to take just a little bite. Children (and adults for that matter) eat with their eyes, so be sure to feature lots of different shapes and colors at mealtime. If kids are accustomed to bland-colored macaroni & cheese, chicken nuggets, and French fries, they’ll be wowed when bright-colored fruits and vegetables make their way to the dinner table. It’s equally important to make the food taste and smell great.  Steamed broccoli can be ho-hum at best, but when drizzled with extra virgin olive oil (or a bit of butter) and a pinch of kosher salt, the flavors and kid appeal pop.

Be a Good Role Model

If the old saying, “do as I say, not as I do,” applies to mealtime at your house, chances are your children will quickly catch on. If you grimace at the sight of peas or proclaim your objection to oatmeal, you really can’t expect your children to try them. Since kids learn how to walk, talk, and eat a varied diet by imitating what they see, parents and caregivers can make a positive impact at mealtime by making healthful food choices themselves.

Try New Foods Over and Over and Over Again

Research shows it may take 10 to 20 tries over the course of many meals before a child eventually learns to like a new food. That said, if you’ve presented your toddler (or teen) with carrots or cantaloupe a dozen times and he still says, “yuck,” let it go!  There are plenty of other fruits and vegetables to choose from, so if you fail with one, move on to the next -- just don’t forget to come back to those old “castoffs” later.

The Three Cs -- Choice, Creativity and Compromise

Kids tend to be control freaks, so present them with lots of different mealtime food choices, and allow them to decide what they want to eat. For example, by asking your children if they’d like watermelon or grapes with dinner, or both, they will likely choose at least one (or two if you’re lucky). The same goes for veggies.  If you ask your daughter, “do you want broccoli or carrots tonight or both?” she may just ask for a serving of each.

It’s also important to be creative.  Research shows that assigning fun and silly names to different foods encourages kids to try them. Telling your five-year old that, “this broc rocks,” or calling peas, “power peas,” may be just the incentive she needs to give it a try. It may seem silly, but it works.  

The last of the 3 Cs is compromise. It’s unrealistic to expect any child – from toddler to teen -- to eat A-plus meals seven nights a week. Come to think of it, it’s also unrealistic to expect adults to eat this way. So let your hair down once in a while. If your kids have been begging for hot dogs for dinner, go for it.  Just be sure to choose an all-natural brand, serve it on a whole grain bun, and offer plenty of fruits and veggies on the side.  Even a handful of chips is okay, but consider sweet potato chips instead to increase the good nutrition.  Everyone wins.

Mom Meal Makeovers
Janice Newell Bissex, MS, RD & Liz Weiss, MS, RD

Janice Newell Bissex and Liz Weiss are registered dietitians and The Meal Makeover Moms.  As two of the nation’s top experts on family nutrition, they’re on a mission to help busy families eat a healthy, wholesome, and delicious diet.

Their journey began in 2004 with the release of The Moms’ Guide to Meal Makeovers, Improving the Way Your Family Eats, One Meal at a Time. The book highlights their simple food philosophy that kids – even picky ones — will eat nutritious food without complaint as long as it looks and tastes great. To do that, The Moms give family-favorite recipes a healthy makeover by “weaving in” fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy oils and more. Their recipes are easy to make, appeal to kids, and make mealtime less stressful for parents who want their families to eat more than the chicken nuggets and mac & cheese that often end up on the table.

The dietitian duo also champions good nutrition on their website, There, readers can join the free Meal Makeover Moms’ Club, listen to the weekly radio podcast, Cooking with the Moms, and read the many articles and recipes posted on their food blog, Meal Makeover Moms’ Kitchen.

Janice is the mother of two girls, ages 16 and 9, and Liz has two boys, ages 13 and 10.

What Works...Success Stories

"I have to tell you that my one-year-old and two-year-old LOVE their Laptop Lunches. Before I purchased them, I could never find the right container for packing lunches. We are always on the go, but I don't like eating fast food. My niece was with us on a trip on a day I had packed the kids' Laptop Lunches, and she ate my daughter’s whole meal. (My niece never eats anything--but she liked the Laptop Lunch so much that she ate everything!). So needless to say, I will be ordering kits for both of my nieces for their birthdays! I am also thinking about ordering one for myself as well. This great idea makes it easy prepare healthy meals. It makes it fun for the kids and helps keep them in the habit of eating healthy and being excited about helping to prepare them. Thanks again for such a great product!"

        -- Sarah Fisher, Sherburne, NY

"Thank you and kudos for a great product. I purchased a couple sets three years ago so I could send nutritious lunches to school with my children. A great design, fun enough for my younger daughter, and cool enough for my middle school son. Well designed, durable, and dishwasher safe to keep them clean and sanitary, and it is deceptive how much they can hold for their size. And congratulations on the expansion of your products and reach outside the US."

        -- Traci O., Princeton, MN

"I've had our Laptop Lunch for about a year now. At first, it was a challenge to get used to, but now I LOVE it. It's fun to think about how I'm going to fill each of those little compartments, and it's great to be able to make truly waste-free lunches. It's the best!

"We live in Napa, California which is HIGHLY food conscious, with people committed to eating high quality, fresh, and delicious foods. At our last two preschools, we've been voted as having the best lunches at the school.

"Your mail order service is super fast, and you're just all-around a great company!"

        -- Leslie, Napa, CA

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

Featured Web Site:

Fruits and Vegetables for Kids  

Produce for Better Health Foundation (PBH) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) consumer education foundation whose purpose is to motivate people to eat more fruits and vegetables to improve public health. The foundation is responsible for a variety of nutrition education and marketing programs, including the new Fruits & Veggies—More Matters health initiative. PBH also achieves success through nutrition policy efforts and industry and government collaboration. For more information about PBH or to see how you can support the effort to increase fruit and vegetable consumption for better heath, visit

On this site:

  • About Fruits and Vegetables
  • Recipes
  • Cooking Tips
  • Planning and Shopping
  • Getting Kids Involved
  • Mom2Mom
  • Healthy Resources

For more information, visit

May Highlights

Quick Fixes, Green Opportunities, and an Obentec Interview


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© April 2009 Obentec, Inc.

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


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