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May 2004

Laptop Lunch Times: May 2004

May 2004

Happy Spring! May is here!

Happy Mother's Day to all you moms out there. This Mother's Day remember to give yourself an extra pat on the back for the extra time you've taken to pack nutritious, earth-friendly lunches for your family. We all know how easy it would be to pack processed, prepackaged lunch items but, by packing home-made lunches, you're ensuring that your family gets the fresh fruits and vegetables their bodies need and deserve. Go moms!

This month we'd like to recognize Monarch School in Santa Cruz, CA for successfully implementing a school-wide low-waste lunch program. With the help of PSRCP (Public School Resource Conservation Program), teachers Lysa Tabachnick and Kim Woodland organized a Laptop Lunch fundraiser to coincide with their spring Learning Celebration. This event helped raise money for the school, and many families are now happily supporting the school's low-waste lunch goal by packing Laptop Lunches. Good work, Lysa and Kim!


In this issue, you'll find:

  • Wholesome Desserts
  • Composting Tips
  • To-Go Ware Poem by Stephanie Bernstein
  • Earth Day Special: Extended by popular demand!
  • Featured Web site:
  • What works...Success Stories

Wholesome Desserts

#1: Oatmeal Bars

These oatmeal bars are a great alternative to many similar pre-packaged products found in the supermarket. Freeze some for future use. Preheat oven to 350°F.

3 cups whole oats
2/3 cup whole wheat flour

½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt

1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup walnut oil
1 egg, beaten
3 tbs orange juice or water
1 tsp vanilla extract

  1. Combine oatmeal, flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon together in a large bowl and mix well.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine honey, oil, egg, orange juice (or water), and vanilla extract. Mix thoroughly.
  3. Combine the dry and wet ingredients and mix again.
  4. Using a spatula, press mixture firmly onto a lightly oiled cookie sheet, forming one large rectangle about 1/3 inch thick.
  5. Smooth the edges with the edge of the spatula.
  6. Bake at 350°F for 12-15 minutes, until light brown and firm.
  7. Remove from oven and cool.
  8. Using a sharp knife, cut the large rectangle into smaller 1 1/2-inch by 3 1/2-inch rectangles.
  9. Remove from cookie sheet and enjoy!
(Excerpted from: The Laptop Lunch User's Guide: Fresh Ideas for Making Wholesome, Earth-friendly Lunches Your Kids Will Love, by Amy Hemmert & Tammy Pelstring, Morning Run Press, 2002. Available online at

#2: Berry Delicious Crisp

This dessert is heavenly with fresh berries, but frozen berries work equally well. Keep a bag in the freezer for use in the off season or for unexpected dinner guests. This recipe is quick, easy, and tastes divine! Makes about 8 servings.


6 cups of your favorite fresh berries (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries) or 1 (16oz) package of frozen mixed berries (do not thaw)
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbs water


1 cup rolled oats or kamut
¾ cup unbleached flour
¾ cup firmly packed brown sugar, preferably dark brown
½ cup butter, softened
1 tsp cinnamon

1. Heat oven to 375° F.
2. Place fruit in an ungreased baking dish.
3. Sprinkle with water (omit if using frozen berries) and cinnamon.
4. In a bowl, combine topping ingredients and mix until crumbly.
5. Sprinkle evenly over fruit.
6. Bake at 375° F for 35 minutes or until fruit is bubbling and topping is golden brown.
7. Serve warm with high-quality vanilla ice cream.

#3: Birthday Cake

The following recipe was created and submitted by subscriber Amy Dov from Los Angeles, CA. Thanks Amy!


2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup applesauce
1 1/2 cups date sugar
4 large egg yolks
1 1/2 cups finely grated carrots
1 cup very ripe mashed bananas


1. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl
3. Whisk applesauce, sugar, and eggs in large bowl.
4. Mix in dry ingredients. (Add a little bit of water if the mixture feels dry.)
5. Add grated carrots and mashed bananas and stir to mix.

6. Pour batter into a cake pan and bake at 350° for 30-35 minutes.
7. Cool on a cooling rack.
8. For a two-layer cake, double the recipe and bake in two round cake pans.


8 oz. low-fat cream cheese

3/4 cups confectioners sugar
1 tsp vanilla

1. Beat the cream cheese.
2. Slowly add the confectioners sugar and vanilla.
3. Beat until smooth and creamy.

Amy doubled the recipe and made a layer cake. She took some extra frosting and tinted it with
blueberry juice to pipe and decorate the cake. (Beet juice works well too.)

This recipe makes great muffins too!

Composting Basics

Composting is a great way to add nutrients to any garden. It's easy, environment-friendly, and virtually free! If you're thinking about starting a compost pile but don't know how to begin, read on!

  • You can purchase a compost bin or put one together yourself. (I made each of my compost bins with a large sheet of chicken wire — 4 feet wide and 13 feet long — and a few plastic cable ties. I have three open-ended cylinders that sit directly on the ground. The worms love it!)
  • Balance your "greens" and "browns." That is, add both dry brown leaves and green plant trimmings.
  • Add fruit and vegetable scraps from the kitchen. Don't forget egg shells, tea bags, and coffee grounds. Avoid oils and meat products.
  • Keep your compost aerated. Mix the pile after each addition.
  • Don't let your compost pile dry out.
  • Don't let it get too soggy either.
  • For more information on composting or to order composting equipment, visit
  • Forward this email to your friends, family, and colleagues to show them how easy it is to get started.

Can you tell which lunch is waste-free?

To-Go Ware

When you get it "to-go"
To where does it go
When you're done with your burgers and fries?
'Cause when the food is all gone
Those wrappers live on
With the boxes from your hot apple pies.

In some landfills they'll dwell
With some cups used to sell
Some softdrinks and soup and some beer.
But all of this trash
Will soon come to pass
As a big problem for all of us here.

Because, even though,
It was labeled "to-go"
The trash stays within our own space,
And our home on this orb
Cannot possibly absorb
The tons upon tons of our waste.

So it just may be best
If "to-go" could be less
In how much stuff we all throw away.
And it would really be great
If after we ate
We would consider beyond just today.

And we'll still get it "to-go"
Because life on the go
Requires lifestyles conducive to pace.
But if we all are aware
Of "to-go" going where
Our Earth can be a much better place!

Copyright © Stephanie Bernstein

What Works...Success Stories

  • "I love my laptop lunch kit! You really need to market this to adults. Not only does it fit easily in my briefcase, it is crushproof. And it would be a great aid for dieters by promoting smaller portions and variety. Thank you very much! "

       --Sue Kitts, Edmond, OK

  • "We ordered boxes from you about 2 1/2 years ago and LOVE them. I was excited to see the bags, bottles and ice packs. They will really expand our possibilities. Thank you. "

       --Sarah Geschke , Spokane, WA

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

Earth Day Special: Extended by Popular Demand!

Several "Every Day is Earth Day" promoters have requested that we extend our Earth Day special for those interested in joining the waste-free lunch movement this month. For more information, contact us at [email protected].

Featured Web Site:

Community supported agriculture (CSA) benefits producers and consumers.

  • It allows small farmers to sell directly to families, eliminating the need for middle men.
  • Farmers can "pre-sell" their goods, so they know how much of each item to plant.
  • Families can receive a share of high-quality, locally grown, organic produce easily and affordably.
  • Local produce is fresher. Fruits that ripen on the tree or vine taste better and are more nutritient-rich.
  • Local produce purchased directly from the farm for immediate consumption does not contain preservatives found in foods that must be shipped great distances.
  • Trucking foods to other parts of the country creates traffic and air pollution.
  • Organic farming practices keep pesticides, herbicides, and chemical fertilizers out of our food, drinking water, and animal habitats.

While many of us belong to CSAs or are planning to join a CSA sometime in the near future, few of us realize that--and I quote from"CSA is a relatively recent phenomenon in the United States and Canada. Teikei, the CSA equivalent, which literally translated means 'partnership' or 'cooperation', was first developed in Japan by a group of women concerned with the use of pesticides, the increase in processed and imported foods and the corresponding decrease in the farm population. The more philosophical translation for teikei is 'food with the farmer's face on it' (Van En 1992). In 1965 Japanese women initiated a direct, cooperative relationship in which local farmers were supported by consumers on an annual basis."

To hear the rest of the story or to find a CSA in your area, visit

P.S. A few months ago we featured the seafood watch program, sponsored by the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Their new, updated Southeast and West Coast guides are now available for free download at: If you eat seafood, carry a copy in your wallet so you can make sustainable seafood choices at restaurants and fish counters.

June Highlights

Picnic menus, gardening tips, and bulk bin basics!

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

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May 2004, by Obentec, Inc.


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