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August 2009

Laptop Lunch Times: August 2009
August 2009

In this issue, you'll find:

  • From Our Desk to Yours...
  • Favorite Photo
  • Recipes from the Garden
  • Green Opportunities
  • Laptop Lunches in the News
  • New Retailers
  • Top Ways to Green Your Next Dinner Party or Event
  • What works...Success Stories
  • Featured Web site:

From Our Desk to Yours...

We've been swamped! Please help us help you by ordering early this back to school season. With the launch of our Laptop Lunches 2.0 line and the fabulous media attention we've received, we've been busier than ever. Ordering early will help ensure that you receive your lunchboxes BEFORE the first day of school. We're very excited about the launch of our new Laptop Lunches 2.0 line, and we hope you'll visit our Web site to see these great new lunch-toting options! Enjoy the rest of the summer!
Laptop Lunches 2.0

BENTO SET 2.0: We're excited to announce the launch of the Bento Set 2.0, now available in three color combinations: blue/lime, black/pink, and black/blue. You can see these and other Laptop Lunch 2.0 products at

NEW INSULATED CARRYING CASES: Our new insulated carrying cases made of 100% polypropylene recycled fabric will be available in four designs around August 15th. Look for them at
The Healthy Lunchbox

THE HEALTHY LUNCHBOX: We've just added another fabulous lunch book to our growing list of titles being sold through our Web site. This informative book is loaded with recipes, menus, and tips that will help you pack healthy lunches your kids will love.

VEGAN LUNCHBOX- AROUND THE WORLD: This delightful new book from Jennifer McCann is now available on our Web site at If you loved her first book, this around-the-world "sequel" is absolutely a must-have. And did we mention that we love the cover?
Vegan Lunch Box - Around the World
Bento Sleeve

BENTO SLEEVES ON SALE: We're running a special on our original insulated bento sleeves this month. They're normally $14.99, but they're on sale for only $11.99 through August. Pack your Laptop Lunches bento set inside this sleeve for use inside your backpack, brief case, or book bag. Comes with an Ice pack too!


Amy and Tammy

Got a favorite photo to share?

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


  • Grilled chicken
  • Tuna salad on pita bread
  • Edamame salad
  • Confetti couscous

                     -- Liz in NY

Summer Squash Saute

Food always tastes better when you've grown it yourself. If you've got squash in your garden this summer, try this light, delicious recipe. It's great with any type of summer squash. (Pictured here in the Bento Set 2.0 with Bento Buddies inner containers.)

  • 1 zuchinni squash, sliced
  • 1 patty pan squash, julienned
  • 1/2 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 2 medium tomatoes, diced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • dried, crushed hot peppers (optional)
  • grated parmesan cheese (optional)

Summer Squash Saute

1. Cut the squash and tomatoes, and chop the basil.
2. Heat the olive oil in a skillet.
3. Add the minced garlic and stir to heat.
4. Add the squash and tomatoes, and saute until tender but not mushy.
5. Add the cannellini beans and basil, and stir to heat thoroughly.
6. Season with salt and pepper.
7. Top with parmesan cheese. (optional)
8. Like it spicy? Add dried, crushed hot peppers. (optional)

Seared Baby Cabbages with Rice

Perfect for a hearty, well balanced meal! Try experimenting with various grains like wild rice, quinoa, and cous cous.

  • 4 baby cabbages, seared and quartered
  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced into "coins"
  • 1 can of chick peas, drained
  • 2 cups of diced fresh tomatoes (or 1 - 14 oz can of canned diced tomatoes)
  • 2 cups of steamed brown basmati rice
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
  • salt and pepper to taste
Seared Baby Cabbage
1. Prepare the rice per the instructions on the package and set aside in a large mixing bowl.
2. Sear the cabbages as follows: Cut the cabbages in half. Heat a teaspoon of butter or olive oil in a skillet. Place the cabbages in the pan and sear until golden brown on one side. Add about 1/2 cup of water, cover the pan, and simmer on low until the cabbages are cooked all the way through. (Add more water if necessary.) Slice into wedges and set aside.
3. Combine the tomatoes, carrots, onions, and garlic in a sauce pan, and bring to a boil.
4. Simmer on low until the carrots and onions are tender.
5. Add the tomato mixture and the chick peas to the rice, and mix gently.
6. Add the lemon juice, ground cumin, ground turmeric, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix again.
7. Add the seared and quartered baby cabbages and toss.

Green Opportunities

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

  • GREENING YOUR SCHOOL – Are you a teacher, parent, or school administrator hoping to effect change at your school? is a primer on transformative education for sustainability. Here you'll find what you'll need to genuinely green your classroom, your curriculum, your students' learning, your school community, and your life's work as a teacher.

Laptop Lunches in the News

The Wall Street Journal

This set includes a “laptop” bento box—a rectangular box with separate food containers inside. The set comes with a stainless-steel lunch jar (vacuum technology maintains hot or cold temperatures for four hours), a stainless-steel drink bottle and a recipe book. To keep the bento box cold, the set has a sleeve and ice pack.

The box itself fits more food than we expected. Our tester fit a burrito, refried beans, chopped tomato and cut-up fruit. We were afraid that the food inside the containers without lids would spread around the lunchbox, but they stayed put.

[Read the rest of the article at:]

New Retailers

Babies and Beyond
23040 Brighton Place
(813) 929-9698

KD's Treehouse
2900 Devine Street, Suite C
Columbia, SC 29209
(803) 748-0185

Whole Foods Market
3300 N. Ashland
Chicago, IL 60657
(773) 244-4200

Whole Foods Market
10 Columbus Circle
New York, NY 10019
(212) 823-9600

Whole Foods Market
1717 41st Avenue
Capitola, CA 95010
(831) 464-2900

Whole Foods Market
7635 N Academy Blvd
Colorado Springs, CO 80920
(719) 531-9999

Green Living
1904 Abrams Parkway
Dallas, TX 75214
(214) 821-8444

Whole Foods Market
303 Marshall Road
Superior, CO 80027
(720) 274-1415

Whole Foods Market
525 N. Lamar
Austin, TX 78703
(512) 542-2246

Whole Foods Market
2103 Carlisle Blvd. NE
Albuquerque, NM 87110
(505) 260-1366

Whole Foods Market
7401 West 91st Street
Overland Park, KS 66212
(913) 652-9633

Whole Foods Market
2375 E. First Avenue
Denver, CO 80206
(720) 941-4100

Whole Foods Market
645 E. 400 South
Salt Lake City, UT 84102
(801) 355-7401

Whole Foods Market
444 S.Wadsworth Blvd
Lakewood, CO 80226 USA
(303) 935-5000

No Sugar Added
141 Yale Avenue
Claremont, CA 91711
(909) 626-1969

All Green Things, Inc.
5321 Topanga Canyon Blvd
Woodland Hills, CA 91364
(818) 346-7763

Childs Play
1661 Rockville Pike
Rockville, MD 20852
(301) 230-9040

O Baby Organics
33 Miller Street
Winston, Salem, NC 27104
(336) 723-7066

Whole Foods Market
8688 E. Raintree Drive
Scottsdale, AZ 85260
(480) 368-1279

Stowe Kitchen Bath and Linens
1813 Mountain Road
Stowe, VT 05672
(802) 253-8050

Creative Kidstuff
3939 E. 46th Street
Minneapolis, MN 55406
(612) 876-3963

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 Ways to Green Your Next Dinner Party or Event

Everyone should host at least one party every 12 months – it is your ticket into all the other parties you attend throughout the year. Even if you can’t “do parties” at your home because of limitations in space or other reasons, it’s easy to host friends for a simple happy hour or take your friends on a walk to the local park for a casual picnic. How we plan for a party and what we eat can help solve the Global Warming Diet, and you can enjoy being part of the solution by following some of the ideas outlined below. For a truly green affair, first aim to reduce consumption and waste and plan for a plant-based, seasonal menu, then offset your carbon emissions. Set a goal of zero-waste – throwing away little or no garbage. For more information, check out Cool Cuisine: Taking the Bite out of Global Warming by Laura Stec with Eugene Cordero. (Gibbs Smith, 2008)

Cool Cuisine

Party Prep

1. Send electronic invitations. Send invitations via your email account or a free online service like These services are easy to use, eliminate paper, preserve some trees and use less energy than mailing out paper invitations.

2. Think about transportation for your guests. Encourage your guests to carpool and pair up people who live close to one another. For those who come by public transportation, by bike, or on foot, give low-waste door prizes like a coupon for a cup of fair-trade, organic coffee from the locally-owned coffee shop or a bag of freshly baked cookies made from organic flour and “Bird-Friendly” chocolate.

3. Decorate with creativity – not disposables. Don’t purchase decorations you use once and toss - use compostable, recycled and recyclable options.

I look outdoors for decorations such as flowers, unique foliage/plants, rocks, interesting branches, fall leaves, etc. Look to farmers' markets for freshly cut, organically grown flowers. Highlight the time of year by filling tall glass vases with seasonal produce like lemons, limes, cranberries and winter squash, or with pinecones, leaves and rocks.

Turn searching for recycled decorations at yard sales or thrift stores into a scavenger hunt with the kids. Old clothes are especially useful; they inspire creativity and there are plenty around to reuse. For example, cut up checked clothing for napkins at a Raggedy Ann party, use shiny fabrics for signs or table decorations for a Star Wars theme, and wrap plain glasses in the colors of the season and tie with raffeta.

Choose tablecloths made of organic cotton or hemp. Buy unbleached, brown paper napkins, or make your own reusable ones from ready-to-recycle, colorful clothing.

Use petroleum free candles like bees wax or soy candles. These natural candles don’t emit sooty fumes and produce a pure and clean-burning flame.

4. Give unique party favors. Local foods and products like honey, cheese, seed packets, native plants, or even compact fluorescent light bulbs make nice favors. Incorporate them into multilayered table centerpieces for double duty use.

Planning the Menu

1. Work with seasonal, local and organic foods. Shop for local produce at your local farmers' market and bike there if you can. Try the 100 mile idea – look for foods grown or produced within 100 or so miles of your home, or within, or nearby, your home state. If you’re having a potluck – encourage your guests to do the same. They will enjoy the hunt! (See: Cool Cuisine, chapter 5)

2. Don’t use disposable plastic water or soda bottles. Cans and glass are easier to recycle than plastic. Try biocompostable or dish- washer safe cups and glasses. Tap your own water to make sparkling soda or purchase it from a home delivery seltzer service that offers refillable bottles. (See: Cool Cuisine, chapter 4)

3. Bring your own bags to the store when you shop. Keep a running count with your kids of how many trees you save each year by reusing your own cloth bags and eliminating your use of paper and plastic. (See: Cool Cuisine, chapter 4 )

4. Buy in bulk and purchase and serve things with less packaging. Don’t serve appetizers or drinks with throwaway plastic spoons, stirrers or bowls. Use biocompostable products like peppermint sticks or wooden popsicle stirrers for drinks. For food, try hollowed out cucumbers for individual appetizer bowls, a wide carrot slice when you need a spoon for something savory, and ice cream cone bowls with a thin biscotti spoon for dessert.

5. Grow some of your own food. If you’ve never tried planting a vegetable garden before, now is the time to begin. Start with easy to grow vegetables such as: radish, squash, beans, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, peas, and herbs. Try growing your own “signature salad” for the event.

6. Reduce the amount of meat you serve or consider a vegetarian menu. In relation to our diet, animal products are one of the largest contributors to global warming. Plan your menu so that there is less emphasis on large meat portions and replace with either tasty plant-based options, or with grass-fed, pasture-raised products instead (See: Cool Cuisine, chapter 6 for information and recipes).

7. Be sure to serve vegan appetizers or entrees. Serving plant-based foods at a party not only improves the Global Warming Diet but also keeps your guests feeling great. How many parties have you left feeling bloated and overloaded? That’s a sure sign of a meal too high in fat and rich foods. Incorporating cheese, egg and meat-free foods creates a healthful balance, adds exciting new flavors, greens your event and pleases your guests, all at the same time. (See Cool Cuisine, chapter 8 for a flavor-rich vegan appetizer recipe)

8. Choose foods from the Most Local Plate. Fruits, vegetables, cheese, and beer are some of the items on the “Most Local Plate.” These are foods produced in most, if not all, of the 50 states of the United States. (See: Cool Cuisine, chapter 5). Local, artisan cheese and roasted vegetable platters are perfect menu items for your next party. They are simple to prepare, can be put out before the guests arrive, and can be left out with no additional fuss. Learn how to find, cook and present these foods in chapters 9 and 11 of Cool Cuisine.

9. Insist on Sustainable Seafood. Serving seafood at your event? Make sure it is sustainably grown. Download a wallet-sized list of what is available in your area from the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Sustainable Seafood program: (See: Cool Cuisine, chapter 3 for how global warming is affecting our oceans).

10. Serve green drinks. Organic spirits and “green” wines (sustainably grown) are becoming more popular and there are some excellent choices. Unfortunately, the “USDA Organic” label isn’t always enough to really know what is the best quality. Look for products from smaller companies that can be contacted for information on growing and production practices (See: Cool Cuisine, chapter 3 for information and chapter 4 for recipes).

11. Offer rainforest certified coffee and chocolate. Organic, fair-trade and shade-grown products can still be problematic to our diminishing rain forests. Look for one of two seals: “Smithsonian Institute Bird-Friendly,” or “Rainforest-Friendly.” To accompany your coffee, don’t forget to serve organic cream, organic GMO-free soymilk and fair-trade, organic sugar (See: Cool Cuisine, chapter 3)

12. Hiring a caterer? If you can’t find a “green” caterer in your area, ask your caterer if they’d be willing to use some local, organic or seasonal foods. Offer to pick up things from the farmers market and drop them off at their kitchen. And while you’re at it, drop off your own platters to reduce disposable containers used in food transport.

13. Choose the right tableware. Invest in a sturdy set of dishes and eating utensils that can be washed in the dishwasher, and let people borrow them for their parties as well! It is purported that less energy is used to wash dishes in a dishwasher than by hand. If you must use disposable tableware – use products that break down in your compost pile like polylactic acid (PLA) cups made from corn, forks made from potato starch, and plates made from sugar cane fiber. Find these products online at places such as

Green Cleaning after the Party

1. Set out tubs for waste collection. You will need 3 large tubs – one for recycling, one for compost and one for trash. It’s also helpful to set up a small display showing what goes where, so guests know exactly what to do. If using biocompostable tableware and utensils, make sure that your guests know to place these in the “compost” tub. Make a sign that reminds everyone “This is a zero-waste event.”

2. Compost your food waste. Food scraps make up a large majority of the waste stream. If you don’t have a compost pile or worm bin, start one – they are amazingly easy to do and offer a great sense of satisfaction. If you can’t start a compost pile, ask a guest to add the waste to their pile or feed it to their chickens. I find composters to be surprisingly accommodating and helpful in this regard. (See: Cool Cuisine, chapter 7 to learn how to start your own compost pile)

3. Clean up with green cleaning products. Natural cleaning products are gaining in popularity and work well in the kitchen. Wash your tablecloths, napkins and towels, and clean counters, dishes and tabletops with biodegradable, earth-friendly detergent. Use only as much as needed. If you must use paper towels for cooking or cleaning, get unbleached, brown paper towels. And for whatever waste you have (hopefully, it's not too much), use biodegradable trash bags; either brown paper bags or biocompostable ones. Find all these products at natural foods stores, online, and even at some of the larger chain grocery stores.

Carbon Offsetting your Event

Got leftover carbon waste? We all do. It comes from the energy used to do things like drive to the store to pick up party supplies, grow the food for the meal, and manufacture our chips and salsa. After reducing and recycling as much as possible, consider offsetting (mitigating) what’s left. Carbon offsets are payments you can make to a third party to remove or offset your own carbon emissions from the atmosphere. They can help to create new industries that work towards improving the Global Warming Diet and global warming in general, for example in areas such as renewable energy. Learn more about carbon offsets in the Cool Cuisine appendix. You can offset the miles your guests drive to get to the party through sites such as Click Cool-It.

Laura Steck
Chef Laura Stec partners with to lecture and consult with corporations and institutions on ways to bring regionally responsible food systems into their food service. For more information, visit

Article courtesy of

What Works...Success Stories

"My 3 year-old is the picky eater of the family. If it's green or belongs to the veggie family, he won't eat it.  I just wanted to say that the lunch baggies still full of food have stopped coming home.  For a 3 year-old, getting the food out of those baggies is a hassle.  Now he opens his lunch and digs in.  It's our ritual now that when we get in the car to go home, we open the lunch to see what is left and he eats that on the way home for snack:)  One day I packed cucumbers which he says he doesn't like. They were the only thing he had left, but he ate every single one on the ride home!!!!  I can lay the box open on the passenger seat, see what he wants at a glance, and I'm not fumbling with baggies to pass him the food, my hands stay clean and his diet has so improved!  Thanks!"

        -- Renae Al-Fdeilat, Maine

"I am a teacher with no children of my own yet. I am trying to be more conscious of what I eat and I saw the article featuring your product in Parents Magazine. I visited your Web site, and I love your ideas of waste free, healthier lunches. I did have reusable containers, but I found your system to be much more user friendly. Also, I enjoy modeling healthy lunches while eating with students. I just wanted to write to say how excited I am to start using my Laptop Lunch set and how your book and Web site have gotten me out of my usual lunch recipes as well! Keep up the good work! Thanks!"

        -- Jenn Labuz, Cortland, NY

"I wanted to say thank you for making such a creative and easy-to-use product. Your product gently guides me towards making my sons' lunches healthier. Veggies and fruit fit perfectly in the containers. My sons eat most of their food but don't over eat. The portion of each container is perfect. I can't rave enough about Laptop Lunches. Thanks again. Keep those recipes and visual aids coming; they really help."

        -- Kelley Maggetti, Ladera Ranch, CA

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

Featured Web Site:

Laptop Lunches on Planet Green is filled with solutions-oriented tips and information that can help you make your life a little (or a lot) greener. Their eco-minded community includes fan sites, articles about how to go green, and forums where users can interact. With expert advice and info from our on-air personalities such as Annabelle Gurwitch, Emeril Lagasse, and Steve Thomas,

plus their team of eco-savvy writers, Planet Green is your user's guide to living mindfully on this big blue marble we all call home. Their experts will help you navigate the options for detoxifying your home, life, and planet so you can start being the change you wish to see in the world. Passionate, positive, and always practical, Planet Green is bursting with smart tips and inspiring advice.

For more information, visit (And don't miss the episode on Greening Your School, which includes a section on Laptop Lunches!

On this site:

  • Online Videos
  • Tips, Guidelines, and Instructions
  • Community Forums
  • Games and Quizzes
  • Partners and Links
Planet Green - Composting Quiz

September Highlights

Nutritious Back to School Recipes, Green Opportunities, and an Obentec Article


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