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February 2007

Laptop Lunch Times: February 2007

February 2007

In this issue, you'll find:

  • From Our Desk to Yours...
  • Favorite Photo
  • Winter Soups
  • Green Opportunities
  • Laptop Lunches In the News
  • Real Food From the Start
  • The Skinny on Water
  • What works...Success Stories
  • Featured Web site:

From Our Desk to Yours...

Replacement Parts

We are pleased to report that we have just completed a re-design of the Laptop Lunch dip lid. This change was initiated in response to intermittent reports of cracked lids. If this has been your experience, please click HERE for more information. We apologize for the inconvenience and thank you for your continued support! We are committed to providing high quality products that are built to last.

Winter Special

Cold out there? It's not too chilly here in Santa Cruz, but other parts of the country (and world) are experiencing temperatures well below zero. To help keep your lunches hot during this cold spell, we're offering a small lunch jar special. Order two or more small lunch jars (item 320010) during the month of February and receive $2.00 off each one. (Offer not valid with other discounts.)

Price Increases Coming Soon

Because we're committed to offering quality products at excellent prices, we have absorbed our suppliers' price increases over the last five years. We wish we could continue to do this forever, but unfortunately the time has come for us to re-align our prices as well. As a courtesy to our newsletter subscribers, we're giving a heads up that our prices will soon be going up. If you've been waiting for the right opportunity to purchase Laptop Lunch products, this could be a good time to take the plunge.

Amy and Tammy

Got a favorite photo to share?

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

  • pineapple chunks
  • cherry tomatoes-organic
  • pretzels
  • low sodium ham & pepper jack cheese on whole grain bread
  • fat free ranch dressing

  • baby carrots
  • cheddar cheese & co-jack cubes
  • Roast chicken on french bread with lettuce & tomatoes
  • low sodium pretzels and mini rice cakes

First, I want to thank you for your awesome customer service!!

I bought 2 Laptop Lunch systems this summer-- for my husband and 7 year-old daughter. My husband works for a school, and I own a day care, and I can't even begin to count how many times we've shown off our lunch boxes or written down your Web address for people! They are so easy to use and easy to clean!

I'm purchasing another Laptop Lunch system today for my father who has some
health issues and needs portion control and a healthier eating lifestyle. Thanks!

        -- Candi, Dawson, IL

Winter Soups

Hearty Chili

  • 1 cup dried beans (kidney, pinto, white, or a mixture of these)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup raw bulghar
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 5 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup celery, chopped
  • 3/4 cup carrot, chopped
  • 1/2 cup green bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 2 1/2 cups tomato juice
  • 1 Tbs 100% maple syrup
  • Salt, pepper, and cayenne (to taste)

Chili, field greens salad, corn bread and dates

1. Soak the beans in six cups of water for 3-4 hours. Drain thoroughly, refill with water and 1 tsp salt, and cook for about 1 hour until tender but not mushy. (Substitute well-drained canned beans if you're short on time.)
2. Pour the boiling water over the raw bulgar, cover, and let stand until most of the water is absorbed (about 15 minutes).
3. Saute the garlic, onions, carrots, celery and bell pepper in olive oil until tender.
4. Combine all ingredients in a large pot and heat thoroughly.

Miso Soup

  • ¼ cup sliced dried kombu seaweed
  • 6 cups hot water
  • 1 Tbs. minced ginger
  • 12 oz organic firm tofu, cut in ¼ inch cubes
  • ½ cup minced scallion
  • 4 Tbs. red miso paste
  • ¼ tsp. white pepper
  • salt to taste
  • Optional: Add 1 Tbs. dried bonito fish flakes to water.

Miso soup, cantaloupe, sliced cheese, rice crackers, lemon-ginger cookies, and wasabi crackers

1. Heat 1Tbs. water in a medium soup pot.
2. Saute ginger in water over medium low heat for about 1 minute stirring constantly.
Add the rest of the water along with the tofu, seaweed, and bonito flakes (optional), and bring to a boil. Remove the kombu and simmer for about 10 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
Add minced scallion, miso paste, salt and pepper. Mix and serve.

Green Opportunities

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

  • RECYCLED ART PROJECTS – The Imagination Factory is an award-winning site that encourages children to creatively reuse and recycle materials. Some of the featured activities include drawing, painting, sculpture, collage, papier-mâché, marbling and crafts. Just posted are many activities that can be used with the Flat Stanley Project. Based on a children's book, the Flat Stanley Project was created by Canadian schoolteacher Dale Hubert. The activity is an international collaboration among students and teachers, and the project is designed to encourage children to read and to communicate with others. They also offer special Flat Stanley art activities that are designed to reuse materials. The projects can act as starting points in talking about conserving natural resources and landfill space, and they may be used to tie in to Earth Day and America Recycles Day. Discussing reuse while creating the art is also a good way to encourage environmental stewardship and social responsibility. To access the information, go to and click on The Flat Stanley Project.
  • BARNEY ALMOND BUTTER – Looking for an almond butter that's as creamy as creamy peanut butter, doesn't separate, and doesn't need to be refrigerated? Check out Barney Butter at Barney Butter was created by Jennifer Barney, who began making the delicious spread, one jar at a time in her Fresno California home. Her friends, family and the neighborhood kids all loved it and wanted more, so Jennifer decided to start supplying Barney Butter to a much larger audience. Jennifer's Barney Butter contains no trans fats or hydrogenated oils and is high in calcium, magnesium, vitamin E, and iron. Read about Jennifer's success in next month's issue of the Laptop Lunch Times.

  • FAIR TRADE AND ORGANICS FOR VALENTINE'S DAY – Before you head out in search of chocolate and flowers this Valentine's Day, be sure to check out the Organic Consumer Association's buying guide at for Fair Trade and organic options. Over 40 percent of the world's conventional chocolate (i.e. non-organic and non-Fair Trade) comes from the Ivory Coast, where the US State Department has reported widespread instances of child slavery. At the same time, commercial flowers produced in countries such as Colombia are the most toxic and heavily sprayed agricultural crops on Earth. To learn more, watch OCA's entertaining Valentine's Day flash video "Slammed" at

  • IDLE NOT – Many people believe that idling is necessary or even beneficial—a false perception that has carried over from the 1970s and 1980s, when engines needed time to warm up (especially in colder temperatures). Fuel-injection vehicles, which have been the norm since the mid-1980s, can be restarted frequently without engine damage and need no more than 30 seconds to warm up even on winter days. For more information, visit the Union of Concerned Scientists Web site at

    • STAPLE WITHOUT STAPLES – Never run out of staples again with the Staple Free Stapler. It cuts out tiny strips of paper and uses the strips to stitch up to 5 pieces of paper together. This cool gadget claims to be environmentally friendly and safe for kids. Check it out at

    Laptop Lunches in the US News

      "TAKE NOTE: Packing your kid's lunch? Check out Their bento box styles are reusable, dishwasher-safe, and lead-free."

    Nick Jr. Magazine

    Laptop Lunches in the UK News

    Will your child be taking a Laptop Lunch box?

    Laptop Lunches have arrived in the UK, courtesy of Jomoval. “We believe that this lunchbox could do for packed lunches what Jamie Oliver has done for school dinners” says Valerie Salomon, Managing Director of Jomoval.

    Invented in California and inspired by the Japanese Bento Box, Laptop Lunches was developed as a response to:

    The poor quality school lunches
    The soaring levels of childhood obesity
    The high levels of waste generated by food packaging

    Reprinted from UK Parent.

    This trendy and environment-friendly lunchbox is ideal for school packed lunches. The modular, tray-like layout enables parents to create healthier and more appetising lunches by replacing processed and pre-packaged foods with more nutritious, fresh alternatives, saving money in the process.

    Thanks to its design, there is no need to use extra packaging materials such as cling film or plastic bags when preparing the packed lunch, thereby reducing the environmental impact of packed lunches.

    The complete system (which is available in four attractive colour schemes) comprises the Laptop Lunch box, the Laptop insulated carrying case, a re-usable water bottle and the Laptop Lunch User’s Guide.

    The Laptop Lunch box (which can be personalised with stickers to keep it up to date) features a sturdy hinged outer container housing 5 brightly coloured re-usable inner food containers and a stainless steel fork and spoon. The inner containers (which are recyclable, dishwasher, microwave safe) can be included or omitted as needed to accommodate food choices. The insulated carrying case, which resembles a laptop bag (with a carrying handle, shoulder strap and ID tag), includes an internal mesh pocket for an ice pack (not included). The Laptop Lunch User's Guide is a 96-page book full of ideas and recipes to help the user get the most from their lunchbox.

    More information can be found at:

    Real Food From the Very Start

    by Sara Cabot

    What we feed our children should be our top priority from the very start. Bodily functions such as immunity, strength, and brain development are all set within the first year of life. And, what we give our babies and how we feed them from the very start will form their eating habits for the rest of their lives.

    During later childhood, having a positive attitude towards food continues to be a determining factor for a number of health and social conditions, including obesity and anorexia, attention and sleep disorders, and negative social behaviors. Socially, sharing food is a great way to enjoy quality time as a family, forcing us to slow down and sit together around the family dinner table.

    Babies usually have their first solids at around 6 months old and move on to table food at around 1 year to 18 months, though this varies from child to child. While it is advisable to consult your pediatrician or baby food manual for advice about what specific foods to introduce at what stage, keep in mind these general points when introducing nutritious foods to babies:

    1. Homemade is best.

    • For freshness and flavor. Even the organic jars of baby food are processed to some degree, which takes out a lot of the flavor.
    • For texture. As a baby's palate develops, he or she should be introduced to lumpier foods. Providing homemade baby foods makes this possible. Jarred baby foods are very smooth even at the later stages, which doesn't prepare babies for table food.
    • For color. Research has shown that babies need to get used to the color green in order to enjoy green foods. Homemade food is much stronger in color than jarred food.

    2. Organic is a must for children. Children's bodies are metabolizing more quickly and contain more water proportionately than those of adults. This makes exposure to chemicals, antibiotics, and hormones more potentially harmful for children. Also, eating organic food is the only way to avoid genetically modified foods, which are present in most non-organic corn- and soy-based products on the market today.

    3. Variety. Introducing babies to a wide range of foods appropriate to their age will help set the foundation for healthy eating habits. A reliable Web site or book on baby food will tell you which foods are appropriate at each stage.

    4. Perseverance. Babies are not going to miraculously take to every new food. It is incredibly frustrating for a parent to have slaved for hours over a gourmet baby meal only to have it thrown on the floor! Remember, however, that babies, like us, are not perfect. They could be teething, full of milk, feeling a little under the weather, or just not hungry. Remain confident and committed to providing healthy food--and persevere.

    5. Model good eating habits. (This is really important !) Babies watch adults for guidance. If you want your child to eat healthfully, then sit down and eat a healthy meal with them.

    Good eating habits are formed by a partnership between parents and children. The whole family needs to be part of a nutritious eating program in order for it to work. Enjoy a balance and variety of fresh foods, and teach your children not only where foods come from, but how they work in our bodies.

    Sara Cabot is an English mother of four, who has always cooked for her children. A year ago Sara started an organic baby food company because she knew that laying a solid foundation for healthy eating habits needs to start in babyhood. She also noticed that many moms are health-conscious but have little time to prepare baby food. Little lettice baby food is available at Whole Foods market at Fresh Pond, Cambridge. For more information, visit

    The Skinny on Water

    by Sanna Delmonico

    We all know water is important, but did you know that water is one of the six basic nutrients, along with carbohydrate, fat, protein, vitamins and minerals? And water is the most important nutrient. We can survive months and even years without some vitamins and minerals. We can survive several weeks without calories from fat, protein, or carbohydrates. But without water, we last just a few days.

    Our bodies are mostly water. There is water inside cells and in between cells. There is water in our blood and in our joints and in our digestive tract. Babies' bodies are about 85% water. Adults are just a little drier, about 60% water.

    What is a nutrient?

    A nutrient is a substance provided by our diets which the body needs and uses for growth, maintenance, metabolism, and/or repair. Water fits the bill.

    What does water do?

    Water is vital for transporting everything in our bodies. It carries those water-soluble vitamins like vitamin C. The kidneys filter the blood, which is mostly water, and water carries waste out of the body as urine.

    Water acts as a cushion for joints and the spinal cord, and amniotic fluid cushions a developing fetus. Water lubricates and cleans mucus membranes like the digestive tract and sinuses. Our tears clean the eyes.

    Water is essential for keeping body temperature constant. When we get hot and sweat, sweat evaporates from our skin, cooling the body.

    What if we don't get enough water?

    Losing just 5% of body fluid can cause dry mouth, headache, fatigue, and confusion. If we have chronically low water intake, it can increase the risk of gallstones, kidney stones, and urinary tract infections.

    How much water do we need?

    Every day we lose water through urine, feces, sweat, and also when we exhale. Replacing that water is critical.

    Infants need 3 to 4 cups of water, according to the Dietary Reference Intakes, which they get from breastmilk or formula. Young babies should usually not be given extra water. Once they start solid foods around 6 months, a little water in a sippy cup is appropriate.

    Children between a year and 8 years old need 5 to 7 cups of liquid a day. Some of this will come from water and other beverages, and some will come from food. Fruits and vegetables are full of water, usually 90% to 95%.

    Teenagers need 9 or 10 cups of fluid per day, men need about 15 and women need about 11 cups. Again, fruits and vegetables provide a significant portion of this fluid. When you are pregnant you need more water than usual. Breastfeeding women also need plenty of fluid to keep milk production going.

    When we exercise and when it's hot out, we lose more water through sweat. Many athletes weigh themselves before and after a game or event. They need to drink at least 2 cups of water to replace every pound of fluid lost.

    What if my kids won't drink water?

    I know adults who don't drink water. They only drink flavored things: soda, milk, juice, iced tea. But water is the cheapest and by far the best way to stay hydrated. Start your kids drinking water early. Instead of juice, serve plain water. Nutritionally, kids don't need juice, they need fruit. Too much juice, especially apple juice, can cause diarrhea in young children.

    Since kids often prefer cold water, try keeping a pitcher of water available in the fridge. Add a squeeze of lemon or lime juice to flavor it if they like it better that way. Home water filters remove lead and chlorine from tap water, sometimes improving the taste dramatically.

    What about bottled water?

    As for bottled water, most people think it tastes better than water out of the tap. But it costs 250 to 10,000 times the price! Not only that, bottled water is subject to less rigorous safety standards than tap water. A survey of 103 brands of bottled water found that one-quarter was simply bottled tap water and one-third was contaminated with bacteria.

    Sanna Delmonico, M.S., R.D., is a pediatric nutritionist, a mother, an avid cook and vegetable gardener. She is the owner of Tiny Tummies, a children's nutrition consulting company, and teaches classes about feeding families to parent and professional groups. For more information, visit her Web site at

    What Works...Success Stories

    "I saw your Laptop Lunchbox displayed at our local organic co-op. I was immediately taken by the attractive design and functionality of the Bento Box system in order to pack healthy lunches with so much less environmental waste for my entire family. Oddly enough, it was my 16-year-old daughter who fell in love with the concept as much as I did; she didn't find it "dorky" at all! The ability to order on-line is helping me to conveniently order Bento Box systems as gifts for all of my family & friends. Thanks so much for such a fantastic product!"

            --Jenna Benz, Shorewood, WI

    "My daughter saw the Laptop Lunch featured in the Rachael Ray Magazine and just had to have it. At first, I was hesitant, thinking the novelty would wear off when all of the other second grade girls had character lunch boxes. I was wrong. She loves picking something from different food groups to go in each container. She eats her entire lunch every day, which is a big change from last year. The lunchbox helps me with portion sizes (it is so hard to guess), and I now know she's getting just right serving sizes. And the added bonus is that the water bottle has yet to leak! Thanks, and keep up the great work!"

            --Elizabeth Paige, Newark DE

    "Near the end of summer I purchased two Laptop Lunch kits, the Laptop Lunch System for my son and the Lunch Date for myself. My son receives compliments every time someone notices his lunchbox, and his teacher has told me he is the child with the healthiest lunch in their class."

            --Brandi Armstrong, Sault Ste Marie, ON Canada

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

    Featured Web Site:

    The Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004 requires all school districts with a federally-funded school meals program to implement wellness policies that address nutrition and physical activity. In response to requests for guidance on developing such policies, the National Alliance for Nutrition and Activity (NANA, brought together a group of more than 50 health, physical activity, nutrition, and education professionals to develop a set of model policies for local school districts.

    This comprehensive set of model nutrition and physical activity policies, available at, is based on nutrition science, public health research, and existing practices from exemplary states and local school districts around the country.

    View the Model School Wellness Policies HERE.

    Help Implement a Wellness Policy at Your School!

    • Read the Model School Wellness policies
    • Locate Useful Resources
    • Learn About Relevant Organizations

    All schools with a federally funded school meals program were to have a wellness policy in place by the start of the 2006-2007 academic year.

    March Highlights

    Fun With Barney Butter, Green Opportunities, and a Taste of Environmental Education!


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    © February 2007 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."