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December 2008

Laptop Lunch Times: December 2008
December 2008

In this issue, you'll find:

  • From Our Desk to Yours...
  • Favorite Photo
  • Lovely Latkas
  • Green Opportunities
  • Laptop Lunches in the News
  • New Retailers
  • Greening the Holidays
  • What works...Success Stories
  • Featured Web site:

From Our Desk to Yours...

Happy Holidays and best wishes for a "green" December. This month we’ve included an article featuring easy-to-incorporate ideas for giving back to Mother Earth this holiday season. We hope you can find some time this month for good friends, delicious food, and some hearty laughter.

GREEN FESTIVAL: It was great to meet new friends and reconnect with current Laptop Lunch users at the Laptop Lunches booth at the Green Festival in San Francisco last month.  The event hosted a wealth of sustainable businesses and attendees looking for ways to make their lives greener. It's always inspirational to participate in this innovative event. Look for Laptop Lunches at the Green Festival in Chicago on May 16th and 17th.

Laptop Lunches at Green Festival 2008
PHOTO CONTEST WINNERS: We're pleased to announce the following photo contest winners: Ann Bennett, Alyss Broderick, Heather Buckser, Candice Chenoweth, Maggie Downs, Michael Fitch, Deborah Hamilton, Jennifer Haslam, Peg Ihinger, Tracey Kaplan, Ilisa Nussbaum, Cindy Prost, Patricia Teller, and Jennie Wehmeier. Congratulations to you all, and many thanks to all who sent in submissions. With so many creative submissions, the decision was a very difficult one. If you missed the opportunity but would like to send us your photos for inclusion in our newsletter, please email them to [email protected].

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.
Lunch Date LUNCH DATE SPECIAL: We're currently offering a 20% discount on our signature LUNCH DATE this holiday season--a perfect gift for the people in your life who appreciate good food and value sustainable style! To take advantage of this offer, please place your order online at using coupon code LD208 when checking out. (Offer valid through December 15th only.)

EXTENDED MULTIPLES DISCOUNT: We're pleased to offer an "extended multiples" discount for the month of December. If you need Laptop Lunches for more than three family members or plan to buy Laptop Lunches for more than three friends or colleagues this month, you're in luck. We've extended our multiples discount on our Bento Sets, Systems, and Inner Container Sets. Details available at
(Offer valid through December 31st only.)

GIFT CERTIFICATES: Please consider Laptop Lunches gift certificates this holiday season. We offer a range of denominations to meet your budget and gift-giving preferences. These gift certificates, which arrive by email, are specially convenient if you miss our holiday shipping deadline.

Laptop Lunches Gift Certificates

Amy and Tammy

Got a favorite photo to share?

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

  • do-it-yourself shepherd's pie
  • baby carrots
  • hummus
  • homemade low-fat peanut butter chocolate chip cookies

"I saw your product in a local store a few weeks ago, and I was trying to decide whether they would be a good fit for us. I am a Weight Watchers member, and I try to pack a healthy, nutritious, interesting lunch for my fiance and myself each day. I was in the habit of using a combination of Tupperware containers, plastic bags, plastic cutlery and saran wrap and, while all of those things were holding our food effectively, I didn't like the impact they had on the environment.

I bought a set for both of us yesterday and packed our first Laptop Lunch (pictured above). I've been telling everyone I know about the system because I think it's fantastic and will be picking up some sets for friends of mine. I had to write and tell you how much I love the product!!

I've become absolutely obsessed and have even posted on my blog about it. Thanks."

                     -- Ashley Gibson, Toronto, ON

Lovely Latkas


These heavenly latkas are a perfect match for any main course. Serve with salsa or a dollop of plain nonfat yogurt.

  • 1 large yam, peeled and grated
  • 8 scallions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp. ground black pepper
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 100% extra virgin olive oil (for pan-frying)
potato pancakes
1. Mix the grated yams, chopped scallions, fresh cilantro, salt, pepper, and lime juice in a large bowl and mix thoroughly.
2. Add the egg to the mixture.
3. Add the flour and stir gently to mix.
4. Oil the pan with just enough olive oil to prevent sticking.

Form pancakes and cook until tender and crisp.

Pictured above:

Organic Apples
Yam Latkas
Steamed Brussels Sprouts
Sausages (Tofurky Sun-dried Tomato and Basil) Tomato Cilantro Salsa

Potato Latkas

This recipe is a bit more traditional than the one above--but no less delicious!

  • 3 potatoes, peeled and grated
  • 1/2 onion, grated
  • a handful of fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour (or corn flour)
  • 1/8 tsp. paprika
  • a dash of ground black pepper
  • 100% extra virgin olive oil (for pan-frying)

Potato Pancakes with Applesauce

1. Combine the grated potato, onion, and parsley.
2. Add the egg and stir.
3. Add the flour, paprika, and black pepper and stir gently to mix.
4. Oil the pan with just enough olive oil to prevent sticking.
5. Form pancakes and cook until tender and crisp..

Pictured above:

Cinnamon Applesauce
Potato Latkas
Spinach Salad
Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing
Sausages (Tofurky Sun-dried Tomato Basil)

Green Opportunities

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

As seen in the
gift guide
eco-friendly socks
  • RECYCLED COTTON SOCKS – Check out the stylish comfy socks at Made from regnerated cotton, these socks prevent pre-consumer textile waste from heading to the incinerator or landfill. Fibers are collected after the cut and sew process, and are sorted by color and blended, requiring no new dying. Made in the USA.
  • PHONE BOOKS – Don't need your phone book? Visit to opt out. Over 500 million phone books are printed every year, nearly two books for every person in the US. These directories produce a staggering amount of waste. Not only are they produced from natural resources, but they're often hauled off to the landfill unopened. If you don't use yours, consider opting out.

opt-out phone book
Fair  Trade Balls
  • FAIR TRADE SPORTS BALLS – Basketballs, footballs, and soccer balls are great gifts that encourage kids to get out, have fun, and benefit from exercise too. Fair Trade Sports offers a wide range of balls for a variety of games. Their products are certified by the Fairtrade Labeling Organization (FLO), which means they've been stitched by adult workers who earn fair wages and work under certified working conditions. Fair Trade Sports is also certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). Visit them online at

Laptop Lunches in the News

Real Simple (November 7, 2008)

New Ideas for Lunch (or Why Are Baggies So Uninspiring?)

By Lygeia Grace

Some women struggle to come up with interesting dinner ideas. For me, the challenge is packing lunch for my 7 1/2 year old daughter and myself. No matter how many exotic cold cuts I buy at the deli or articles I read (or even write!), I find myself resorting to unimaginative standbys like peanut butter and jelly, turkey sandwiches, and—when I'm super lazy and desperate—pasta with olive oil and Parmesan. (The mommy police will come get me one day, I know it.) The situation has become even more desperate since September, when my daughter started attending a new school. Not only do the children need to

Healthy Lunch

bring lunch, they also have to bring a morning snack (with beverage), and post-school/pre-school bus snack to tide them over before they arrive home (where most of them will likely be plied with even more food).

I am not alone. Tanya Singer,'s Executive Editor, also struggles with putting together healthy, tasty lunches for her five-year-old son. But as a true web wizard, she's found a new source of inspiration: the Laptop Lunches photo gallery. Created by Amy Hemmert and Tammy Pelstring, the site features dozens and dozens of improbably compelling photos of lunch. (See the bottom of this post for a sample.) And though you will find inspiration on their pages no matter what kind of containers you use, I suspect the key to creativity may be Amy and Tammy's ingenious plastic bento lunchboxes.

[Read the rest of the story at

The Lawrence Journal-World (October 13, 2008)

Break Out of the Lunchtime Blues with Bento

By Sarah Henning

When the school year started up again, Lawrence mom Ginger Hodison decided to brown-bag it.

She was tired of her daughters, Rachael, 15, and Amaya, 8, skimping on lunch.

“When they come home, they’re starving to death, not only because it’s time to eat again, but because they didn’t eat as much as they would have if it was something they really liked,” Hodison says.

So this year the family is trying something different — bringing a sack lunch. “It’s hard with kids, because sandwiches are pretty much it, unless you have a container to keep things warm,” Hodison says. “And they kind of get tired of sandwiches after a while.”

That’s exactly what got Amy Hemmert thinking outside the lunch box. Hemmert is the co-founder of California-based Obentec, maker of bento-style lunch boxes. She is inspired by her time living in Japan, where health and variety aren’t necessarily sacrificed for convenience.

[Read the rest of the story at

NY1 (September 10, 2008)

Parenting: Healthy Lunch Boxes

By Shelley Goldberg

NY1 Parenting Consultant Shelley Goldberg speaks with nutritionist Maria Pari-Keene about ideas for healthy lunch boxes. (October 27, 2008)

Woman Creates Program for Healthy School Meal, Less Waste

By Laura Christman

Lunchtime is fast and furious at North Woods Discovery School in Mountain Gate. On a recent day, 9-year-old Jessica Nickell made her way to one of the school's busy outdoor tables and plopped down a hard-plastic, rectangular blue container that looked similar to a laptop computer. When she flipped up the lid, however, there were no bytes, just nutritious bites - a beanie/cheese wrap, green salad with cucumbers and cherry tomatoes, plump strawberries and a carrot-zucchini-coconut muffin.

"They're really healthy and good," Jessica said.

Garrett Stevens, 10, described his wrap as "a weird type of bean thing," but said it tasted great. He gets one of the lunch boxes most days. "Everything they put in it tastes good," he said.

The lunches were from Healthy Lunch & Lifestyle Project, a nonprofit program that emphasizes healthy foods and less waste. About 100 lunches are assembled early morning every school day at a downtown Redding restaurant. At midday, the lunches are at two north state schools. By day's end, appreciative turkeys and chickens on a Redding-area ranch are taking the leftovers.

[Read the rest of the story at: /]

Fox 59 (August 15, 2008)

Shopping Smart: Laptop Lunches

Packing from home is less expensive than a school lunch or an hour out with your co-workers, even if you think outside the box. With a waste free lunch concept, it can be even more affordable. You'll need to start with the lunch box-consider plastic lunch totes, a Bento box or-my personal favorite-laptop lunch boxes which can be purchased at

[Read the rest of the story and view the video at]

New Retailers

Copper Ox
135 Broadway St.
Black Mountain, NC 28711
(828) 669-9334

Tsuda's Old Town Eatery
103 Sacramento St.
Auburn, CA 95603
(530) 823-2233

Green Alternatives
Ship: 801 Boush St. Suite C
Norfolk, VA 23510
(757) 622-1444

Black Sheep Productions
Sagamore Hills, OH 44067
(330) 468-2941

858 G Street
Arcata, CA 95521
(707) 822-6972

Peoples Pharmacy
2801 South Lamar
Austin, TX 78704
(512) 444-8866
Bilambil, NSW 2486


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.

Greening the Holidays

Before the festivities begin and you make a mad dash to the shopping mall, take a moment to read these ideas for making your holiday green.  Easy to incorporate, these suggestions will serve as a small gift to Mother Earth.


  • Take your own re-usable shopping bags along so you can say no to both paper and plastic.
Reusable Shopping Bags
  • Take public transit or ride your bike. It’s a great way to de-stress, and you’ll feel good knowing you didn’t contribute towards climate change.
  • Reduce the number of gifts you purchase. Consider organizing a Secret Santa drawing. Purchasing just one meaningful gift instead of many will help reduce your environmental footprint.

  • Purchase gifts that help recipients live a little greener. (Yes, Laptop Lunches definitely fit into this category!)

Eat Drink and be Merry

  • Choose seasonal and local food and drink. Your local farmers' market or natural foods store should have a nice selection of produce that hasn’t traveled thousands of miles to your table.
Seasonal Produce
  • Buy loose rather than pre-packed vegetables. Bring produce bags from home instead of using single-use plastic bags.

  • Use cloth napkins, table cloths and non-disposable plates, glasses and utensils.  If you don’t have enough place settings for all your guests, borrow, rent or purchase extra settings at your local thrift shop.

  • Be sure to compost all those peels and pieces you generate while preparing food for your holiday dinner.

  • Take the time to carefully plan your meals. This helps prevent food waste.

  • Pack your leftovers for lunch instead of relying on single-serve lunch items or packaged take-out meals.

  • Reuse the aluminum foil and plastic bags that went into preparing your meal. Gently wash with hot soapy water, air dry, and reuse.

  • Avoid the use of paper towels. Keep a few kitchen towels on hand to dry your hands or wipe up messes. At the end of the evening, throw them in the wash with the napkins and table cloths.
Christmas trees, cards, lights, batteries and wrapping paper 
  • If you purchase a Christmas tree, make it pesticide-free. Over 40 different chemical pesticides are used by tree farms. Search for an organic tree farm or a tree lot that sells pesticide-free trees. If you have a large yard or a green thumb, purchase a potted tree that you can use year after year.

Organic Christmas Trees
  • Purchase charity cards or cards made of recycled paper. Better yet, make your own out  of reused / recycled paper or repurpose the fronts of last year’s cards.  Cut different shapes and glue them to the front of a blank piece of recycled paper, then fold into a card.
  • Fortunately, indoor light strings don't use much energy. Instead of using the large outdoor bulbs that require more energy, consider decorating the inside of your windows with indoor lights. It's just as festive and costs less too. 
  • Make a point of supplying re-chargeable batteries with any gift that requires batteries.
  • Skip the wrapping paper. Instead, create bags in mulitple sizes that you can use year after year. After the gifts are opened, mention to the gift recipient that you you'd like to reuse the bag.  Reusable bags save time as well.

  • Reuse holiday cards. Cut the holiday cards you received to use as gift tags next year.

  • Reuse, donate, or recycle cardboard boxes.
Homemade Holiday Cards
  • Save wrapping paper to reuse next year. Approximately 50,000 trees each year go into the making of gift wrapping. Neatly fold the wrapping from gifts and store for use next year.
  • Greencycle your Christmas tree. Each year, 10 million Christmas trees end up in the land fill. Call (800) CLEANUP or visit to find the tree recycling program near you.

What Works...Success Stories

"Last year we learned our youngest daughter has a life threatening peanut allergy. I pack her lunch every day for school. I spend a lot more time in the grocery store reading food labels and we had to change our eating habits. I am so thankful for her Laptop Lunchbox. It has made packing her lunch more exciting for the both of us. No one else has one like hers, and that makes her feel special. Thank you so much."

        -- Serina Norman, Hope, Arkansas

"I just wanted to share with you my seven-year-old son's reaction yesterday when I told him that the new Laptop Lunch carrying case belonged to him. As he was tearing the box open, we told him that it wasn't a toy. He found the case, got a big smile on his face, and hugged me. He still loves his Laptop Lunch after nearly three years. It's a great product backed up by excellent customer service, and we recommend it to everyone we know. Thanks again."

        -- Gail S.

"I would like to say how much I love your lunch kits! I bought four complete sets for my children. I wrote their names on their boxes with a paint pen, and they each got to decorate the outside of their boxes with water-proof stickers of their choice. They were the talk of the lunch room at school. Their friends love seeing what they bring for lunch each day. The containers give me more flexibility to pack a lot of fruits and veggies that would get bruised or smooshed in a plastic bag. Everything has a place, and there is a place for everything! I like knowing what my children are eating each day for lunch and where it came from. I try to feed my family as much organic food as I possibly can and cut down our waste by using reusable containers. Your product makes it easy for me to achieve that. Thank you for a great product. I will be purchasing three more - one for me, one for my husband and one for my new son.
Thank you again."

        -- Tricia Millix, Willington CT

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

Featured Web Site:

The community is a trusted source of credible information written by people like us--to benefit one another and and to promote local green businesses. Their mission is to help catalyze a shift to a sustainable world. Whether you're a greenie or just curious about all the green talk you hear these days, visit to find something of interest:

Find local, green-friendly businesses near you (20,000 green business listings and growing).

Read recipes and how-tos, like how to make a natural ant spray (goodbye toxic Raid!), or safe, homemade play-doh.

Read (and add your own!) news and product reviews of green products the whole family can enjoy. Connect with other reviewers, and ask them questions to help you along your way.

Watch the leading children's online animation Gorilla in the Greenhouse, featuring a small band of kids who resolve environmental issues through madcap adventures...with a little help from a wise green gorilla

See how green your city is on the 2008 Sustainlane City Rankings, a proprietary, peer-reviewed national survey ranking the 50 most-populous US cities on their sustainability practices.


On this site:

  • Green Product and Business Reviews
  • Recipes, HOW-TOs and DIYs
  • Top 10 Lists
  • Sustainlane GreenSaver Coupon Guide
  • US City Rankings
  • Animated Environmental Shorts

For more information, visit

January Highlights

Cooking with Cabbage, Green Opportunities, and an Obentec Interview


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

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© December 2008 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."