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January 2007

Laptop Lunch Times: January 2007

January 2007

In this issue, you'll find:

  • Happy New Year!
  • Favorite Photo
  • Pastas for Lunch
  • Green Opportunities
  • New Retailers
  • Interview with Ann Cooper, The Renegade Lunch Lady
  • What works...Success Stories
  • Featured Web site:

Happy New Year!

Wishing you all a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2007! If you're looking for some creative new ways to combat the lunchmaking blues this year, please check out our new books and DVD at

Amy and Tammy

Got a favorite photo to share?

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

  • Baked Fish
  • Garden Salad
  • Raspberry Vinaigrette Dressing
  • Baby Carrots
  • Sliced Orange
  • Crackers
Thanks for making such an awesome product. I am an AmeriCorps member serving in a school district and I love taking my lunch to school in my Laptop Lunchbox. Students and staff always comment on it, and I am able to keep to my tight budget by bringing my lunch from home every day. I find I am more likely to spend the time in the evening making a lunch because I love my lunchbox so much. :) --Alyss

Pastas for Lunch

Kids love these simple pasta recipes from Lunch Lessons: Changing the Way We Feed Our Children, available on our Web site at Thanks, Chef Ann Cooper for sharing these with our readers!

Baked Pasta with Tomato and Ricotta

  • 1 pound any variety of dry pasta
  • 1 Tbs. shredded mozzarella cheese
  • ½ cup ricotta cheese
  • 2 Tbs. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 large egg, beaten (you may need another)
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 ½ cups tomato sauce
1. Cook pasta very al dente.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Baked Pasta, Spinach Salad, Tamari-roasted Cashews,  Artichoke Bruschetta
Makes 8 servings
 3. In a small bowl, beat together the ricotta, 1 tablespoon of Parmesan, the beaten egg, salt, and pepper. The mixture should be loose and easy to scoop. If it is too firm, add an additional egg.
 4. In a 9 x 13-inch baking dish, layer sauce, pasta, and ricotta. Repeat the layers. Top casserole with the grated mozzarella and the remaining Parmesan. Bake for 20 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

Broccoli Pesto

  • 2 cups steamed and chopped broccoli
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

Linguini with Broccoli Pesto, Bread Sticks and Artichoke Dip, Red Grapes, Baby Carrots
Makes 8 servings
1. In the bowl of a food processor combine the broccoli, parsley, garlic, and Parmesan and begin processing.

2. While the processor is running, add the olive oil in a thin stream and blend until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Green Opportunities

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

  • PACKING PEANUTS – Got packing peanuts leftover from shipments received this holiday season? Instead of sending them to the landfill, visit the Plastic Loose Fill Council Web site at to find a reuse drop-off site in your area.
  • A SHOPPER'S GUIDE TO HOME TISSUE PRODUCTS– The NRDC Web site now features a list of tissues, toilet papers, napkins, and paper towels made from recycled content. If you've not yet made the switch to recycled, and you're looking for more information on recycled products, be sure to consult this very handy resource at
  • NO MORE JUNK MAIL If you're looking for a hassle-free way to reduce the amount of junk mail you receive, check out Green Dimes at For just $36 a year, your name will be removed from junk mail lists and they will plant one tree per month to help farmers prevent soil erosion, retain water, and block wind so that their crops can thrive.

    • OFFSET YOUR CO2– Reducing our energy use by investing in energy-efficient vehicles, homes and factories is the best way to combat climate change, but carbon dioxide offsets can help too. In fact, purchasing a $3 EarthCooler™ will offset 500 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions.
    Native Energy invests this money in projects that produce clean, renewable technologies to replace dirty energy from coal, gas, and oil. It also supports projects aimed at capturing methane (a powerful greenhouse gas) from manure on family dairy farms and using it to generate electricity. For more information on EarthCooler and other ways to offset the carbon dioxide you produce, visit

    New Retailers

    The Good Planet Co,
    1005 Broad Street
    Victoria, BC V8W 2A1
    (250) 477-0146

    Debra Nash-Galpern, Licensed Acupuncturist
    Eugene, OR
    [email protected]
    West Orange, NJ


    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.

    Chef Ann Cooper: The Renegade Lunch Lady

    Chef Ann Cooper is the director of nutrition services for the Berkeley Unified School District (BUSD). She is working to improve meals at 16 public schools with a population of over 9,000 students. Chef Ann is at the forefront of the movement to transform the National School Lunch Program into one that values student health over the financial health of a select few agribusiness corporations. Chef Ann's lunch menus emphasize regional, organic, fresh foods, and nutritional education. Through her work, she is helping students build a connection between their personal health and where their food comes from.

    Ann: Hi Ann. Congratulations on your latest book, Lunch Lessons, and thanks for working so hard to improve nutrition education at Berkeley schools. Could you tell us a little bit about what you've got going on in Berkeley?
    Ann: Thank you, Amy. As the director of nutrition services for the Berkeley Unified School District, I'm working to educate children about the food they eat and to help redefine their relationship with food. I look at our program, called the School Lunch Initiative, as a 3-legged stool: 1) the cafeteria, which offers good, nutritious food, 2) the garden, which provides hands-on experience with growing and preparing food, and 3) the academic curriculum, which teaches students how to engage in a healthy relationship with food and the environment. Here in Berkeley we've completely overhauled our school lunch program. When I arrived, 95% of the food being served in district schools was processed. Now, 95% of the food is made from scratch or is made to our specifications by small locally-owned businesses.
    Amy: Tell us about your background. What led you to where you are now?
    Ann: I have been in the culinary business for 37 years and an executive chef for decades. After I wrote Bitter Harvest : A Chef's Perspective on the Hidden Danger in the Foods We Eat and What You Can Do About It, I became interested in nutrition and kids. I wanted to work with children because I felt I could really make a difference for them. I went to work at the Ross School in East Hampton, New York, and then came out to Berkeley from there.
    Amy: So how do you spend most of your time when you're working with a particular school? How does one achieve such sweeping change?
    Ann: I'm often in the kitchen by 5 a.m. I work there for a few hours and then go back to my office for a while. Then I serve lunch, attend meetings, work at my computer, and sometimes visit classrooms. Yesterday I spent some time in a second grade classroom talking about my Healthy Kids Meal Wheel. Earlier today I met with a group of economists who are researching the possibility of replicating our program elsewhere. I also speak with PTA groups and the greater community because I think it's important to get parents involved.
    Amy: What's most satisfying about the work you do?
    Ann: Watching kids eat salads, listening to them talk about food in new ways, and watching them in the garden. I was in one of the cafeterias last week and the students were raving about the Harvest Fruit Salad which had persimmons and asian pears in it. It was just amazing to hear them talk about making the salad in their cooking class and then choosing from the salad bar.That's how we know we're on the right track.
    Amy: Do similar programs exist in other parts of the country? If so, where can our readers go to get more information?
    Ann: Yes, but right now they're blips on the radar screen. There's an emerging program in Katonah, NY and one in Harlem at Promise Academy. There's also a pilot program in Portland, Oregon. Many districts have Farm to School programs, check out my website: for more information.
    Amy: If you could make one change to the National School Lunch Program, what would it be?
    Ann: I would take it away from the USDA and make it part of a Children's Health Initiative. Nutrition should be central to the decision-making process. The USDA isn't in the nutrition business.
    Amy: Can you tell us a little bit about your new book, Lunch Lessons: Changing the Way We Feed Our Children?
    Ann: Yes, the book is very accessible and easy to understand. We talk about the current state of the school lunch program, how we got here, and what changes need to be made. We've also included kid-tested recipes. The book is written for parents, aunts and uncles, and anyone who cooks for kids and cares about the health of the people they cook for.
    Amy: You're clearly a very busy woman. You cook, write, travel around the country promoting your books, and much more. How do you manage your time? How do you balance it all?
    Ann: I work hard and I play hard. Sometimes I'm at work from 5 in the morning till 9 at night, but I just recently spent 2 weeks in Italy. I spent 2 weeks in China last year, and I'm headed to Mexico in the coming weeks. I also make sure to eat well, exercise regularly, and spend quality time with friends and family. When I'm working, I'm very focused and efficient. When I'm at play, I focus on that entirely.
    Amy: I suspect that some of our readers may be dissatisfied with what they see going on in their school lunchrooms. What advice do you have for them?
    Ann: All public school districts were federally mandated to have a school wellness policy in place by September 2006. Every school district should be in compliance, but many are not. If your school has a wellness policy, volunteer to be on the committee. If there's no policy in place, offer to help design and implement one. Talk to the school board, and let them know that nutritious lunches are important to you. Enlist other like-minded parents to join the effort. You can also find some great information at the following Web sites:,,, and

    Finally, what's your favorite lunch?

    I like to prepare lunch according to the season. Today I'm having warm beans cooked with kale and root vegetables. I'm also having a salad with hardy greens, radicchio, endive, and a bit of persimmon. In the summer I prefer lighter, cooler meals like arugula salad with tomatoes, a bit of salt and sometimes olive oil. In general I love to eat fresh food with bright flavors. Check out Lunch Lessons for lots of wonderful delicious recipes.
    Amy: Thanks, Ann. It's been great talking with you, and I wish you lots of success with your new book! May your efforts improve the lives of many school children across North America.
    Chef Ann's newest book, Lunch Lessons: Changing the Way We Feed Our Children (Harper Collins, Sept. 2006), provides strategies for parents and school administrators to become engaged with issues around school food - from public policy to corporate interest. It includes successful case studies of school food reform, resources that can help make a difference and healthy, kid-friendly recipes that can be made at home or in the school cafeteria. For more information, visit her Web site at

    What Works...Success Stories

    We just love your products. My son started Kindergarten and has been taking two Laptop Lunches to school, one for the in-class peanut free snack and another for lunch. He refuses to use anything else.


    I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your Laptop Lunches. Last year we discovered that my daughter was severely allergic to milk, so she needed to change her eating habits. She was used to buying lunch most days and packing lunch only occasionally, but buying lunch had become too risky, so we started packing lunch from home. She begged me to let her have those prepackaged lunch meat, cheese and cracker trays, but since the cheese was out of the question (as well as the high fat and sodium), I refused.

    In early August I started searching for new lunch boxes for her and my son. I wanted something that would be fun and would stand up to daily use. I finally found your lunch kits and ordered two. My kids were thrilled when they arrived and, even though school hadn't started, we had to "try them out." My daughter's exact words were, "It's like one of those lunchable things only I'm allowed to eat it all!" School is back in session and both of my children love their lunch kits. I love them too.

    I just ordered 1 more case, 3 sets of inner containers and 2 more water bottles so I don't have to wash then repack the same set each night. I ordered the extra case for myself when I realized that they are wonderful portion controllers and, since I'm determined to shed about 10 pounds, it will be perfect to take to work. Thanks for great products!

            --Debra Wolf, RN, BSN, Washington Court House, OH

    Your Laptop Lunch System is just what I needed! I'm a vegan who is always on the go. As a practicing psychologist, I see clients, teach, and conduct research. Try as I might, I would often skip lunch. I'm just so busy and don't care much for fast food fare and the like. Now, I pack-up my left-overs (as a single person with no children, I usually have them). I also pack-up restaurant "doggy bags." When I prepare for the work week, I try and make time to put together a cold pasta salad or fruit salad for some days of the week and soup that can be frozen and used later. I buy dried items that can easily be tossed into my Laptop Lunch container. Time permitting, I dry my own fruits and veggies. I carry fresh juice in my reusable water bottle. Thanks! Your system has made a significant difference in my life!

            --Shelley Janiczek Woodson, Ph.D., Granby, MA

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

    Featured Web Site:

    The Green Map System at is a locally adaptable, globally shared framework for environmental mapmaking. It invites design teams of all ages and backgrounds to map their local urban or rural community. Using a shared visual language, mapmakers are independently producing unique, regionally flavored maps that meet local needs, yet are globally connected.

    Merging the ancient art of map making with technology, these maps help residents discover and get involved in their community's environment, and helps to guide tourists (even virtual ones) to special places and to learn more about successful green initiatives they can replicate at home.

    Every Green Map is the result of a locally-driven process, influenced by other map makers' experiences. The Green Map Web site is the gathering point for these stories, as well as the place to find out who is involved and how they are making Green Maps. These maps form a powerful impression of how communities around the world are working towards ecological and cultural sustainability.


    • Find a map of a place you plan to visit
    • Sign on to map a community
    • Get your students involved
    • Use the Activity Guide
    • Learn more about what mapmakers are doing around the world
    • Make a donation
    GMS is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization active since 1995. They're committed to using a collaborative, award-winning approach to communicating ecological perspectives on daily life in a fresh, democratic manner.

    February Highlights

    Fun with Almond Butter, Green Opportunities, and an Obentec Interview!


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    © January 2007 Obentec, Inc.

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


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