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March 2007

Laptop Lunch Times: March 2007

March 2007

In this issue, you'll find:

  • From Our Desk to Yours...
  • Favorite Photo
  • Almond Butter Treats
  • Green Opportunities
  • New Retailers
  • Spreading the News About Almond Butter
  • What Works...Success Stories
  • Featured Web site:

From Our Desk to Yours...Reminders

REPLACEMENT PARTS: If you've experienced problems with your dip lids and haven't had a chance to order replacements, please click HERE for ordering 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.

VEGAN LUNCHES: Whether you're vegan or not, these great photo galleries will inspire! Check them out!

Amy and Tammy

Got a favorite photo to share?

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

  • seared ahi tuna with field greens
  • mandarin orange with dried cherries and raisins
  • cucumber and bell pepper salad
  • broccoli pesto on whole wheat pasta

"This lunch was a collective meal made by my brother, my boyfriend, and me."

The main dish is sashimi grade, wild caught ahi tuna that we seared on both sides. We put it on a bed of mixed greens and covered it in a sauce made from soy sauce, fresh ginger, garlic, and sesame oil. We topped it with slices of avocado and sesame seeds. The side dish is a broccoli pesto on whole wheat pasta. The pesto sauce has steamed broccoli, caramelized onions, roasted garlic, olive oil, and a little bit of Parmesan cheese. The vegetable side dish is red bell pepper and cucumber with a light coating of a dressing we made from blue cheese, brie, yogurt, and olive oil. The dessert is a mixture of fresh orange, dried cherries, and raisins.

After we ate the meal, I packed my brother this lunch in the bento box I got him for Christmas. He works as a computer programmer and often goes out for all his meals. I thought the gift would encourage him to start making more food and bringing it to work. It has!

I'm studying nutrition, but my main interest in general is just food. I am really interested in pretty much all aspects, from nutrition to preparation to the politics of food. Your bento box is an awesome way to make a sustainable, portable lunch as well as one that is just aesthetically pleasing.

"I get your monthly newsletter with pictures of other peoples' lunchbox creations, which inspired me to take a few pictures of some of my own. You guys made a cool, cool thing!"

       --Alissa Sobo

Barney Butter Oatmeal Cookies

These cookies are wheat-free, packed with protein, and contain less saturated fat than regular cookies because most of the butter is replaced with a healthier non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening. Chocolate Chip Cookie Variation: omit the cranberries, cinnamon and nutmeg and stir in lots of semi-sweet chocolate chips instead - my husband's favorite! (From Jennifer Barney)
  • 1½ cups firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup butter (room temp - not melted)
  • ½ cup non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening (such as Spectrum Organics)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 jar Barney Butter
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups oat flour
  • 2 cups oats
  • cranberries
  • 1 tsp. each cinnamon & nutmeg

1. Heat oven to 350°F.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer combine brown sugar, granulated sugar and shortening; beat at medium speed until well blended.
3. Beat in eggs.
4. Beat in Barney Butter, corn syrup, and extracts.
5. In a separate bowl sift the oat flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
6. Add the dry ingredients to the mixer bowl while on low until well combined. Remove from mixer.
7. Stir in oats and cranberries.
8. Drop 3 inches apart onto baking sheets. Bake for 10 minutes or until just beginning to brown. Cool on baking sheets; transfer to cooling racks.

Sesame Almond Pasta

  • 1/4 cup smooth or crunchy almond butter
  • 2 Tbs. soy sauce
  • 1 Tbs. rice vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 1/2 cups cabbage, shredded
  • 1/2 carrot, julienned
  • 8 oz. whole wheat rigatoni

Makes 4 servings
1. Boil the pasta until cooked but not mushy, strain, and rinse in warm water.
2. In a bowl, mix the almond butter, soy sauce, vinegar, and sesame oil.
3. Pour the almond butter mixture over the cooked pasta and mix until creamy.
Add the scallions, carrots, and cabbage. Toss.

Almond Butter, Banana, and Sprout Sandwich

A chef told me about this combination, and I must admit at first I was skeptical, but once I tried it, I was hooked! This sandwich is best assembled on the spot so the bananas don't get brown. (From Jennifer Barney)
  • Spread Barney Butter on a slice of whole grain bread cut in half and pack it in the large container.
  • Pre-slice a banana length-wise and wrap it back up in the peel. Pack the banana and the sprouts separately in the medium containers.
  • When it's lunchtime, simply open up the sandwich, pile on the sides, and munch away!

Green Opportunities

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

  • UPDATED SEAFOOD WATCH – The Monterey Bay Aquarium has just released its 2007 Seafood Watch pocket guides, with several changes from the version that’s probably in your wallet now. They've included more specific recommendations that have come from a closer look at open ocean longline fisheries around the world. For tuna, mahi mahi and swordfish, they have specified the type of gear -- and in some cases the country of origin or ocean basin. They've also included U.S. farmed barramundi as a “Best Choice.” To see the details or to download a new pocket guide, visit

  • EARTH DAY SIGNAGE – Earth Day is April 22nd, but why not make every day Earth Day? has been providing earth day awareness posters, handouts, decals, gifts, incentives and other awareness items in support of Earth Day for years. With the "Earth Day, Every Day" campaign, they're helping promote healthy Earth-saving habits every day. Visit their Web site at
  • BEST GAS? – Oil companies are notorious for polluting air and water, contributing to global warming, destroying wilderness, exploiting workers and much more. It's easy to find ways to cut down on the amount of driving we do, but going completely "car-free" isn't possible for many of us. If you're looking to purchase gas from the companies that follow the best environmental practices, check out the Sierra Club's oil company rankings at
  • GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR APPLIANCES! – Appliances account for about 20 percent of a household’s annual electricity use. Since most of our nation’s electricity is generated from fossil fuels (such as coal and natural gas), which contribute to global warming and air and water pollution, replacing older appliances with more efficient Energy Star-rated models can go a long way toward reducing your environmental impact. However, these appliances are only as efficient as the person using them. To find out how you can improve the efficiency of your current appliances, visit the Union of Concerned Scientists Web site at
  • FIX IT OR NIX IT – Need help deciding what to do with your old electronics? The Consumer Reports "Greener Choices" Web site offers tips for repairing and upgrading computers, cell phones, and TVs. Save money and reduce landfill waste by following their step-by-step recommendations at

New Retailers

Whole Life Essentials
The Wedge
2105 Lyndale Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55405

(612) 871-3993

Mommy's Little Sweetie

Maternal Expressions
(919) 333-6094

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.

Jennifer Barney: Spreading the News About 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, a mother, entrepreneur, and Laptop Lunch user. She 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. Tammy had the pleasure of interviewing Jennifer a few weeks ago.

Tammy: Hi Jennifer. First of all, what's Barney Butter?
Jennifer: Barney Butter is an all-natural no-stir almond butter. It comes in both Smooth and Crunchy.
Tammy: What makes almond butter a better choice than peanut butter?
Jennifer: Almond butter is more nutritionally dense than peanut butter and has less saturated fat. While peanut butter and almond butter are both high in protein, almond butter is significantly higher in calcium, iron, magnesium, Vitamin E and fiber.

The new USDA Dietary Guidelines ( reveal that most American adults do not consume enough vitamin A, C,and E, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and fiber. Most children do not get enough vitamin E, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and fiber in their diets. A one-ounce serving of almonds, (or two tablespoons of almond butter) is specifically identified in this report as a good source of 4 out of 5 nutrients for children and 4 out of 7 for adults.

Watching our intake of saturated fat is essential because cardiovascular disease is the #1 killer of Americans today. Almond butter, with less than half the saturated fat of peanut butter, can help reduce the risk of heart disease.

For a nutritional comparison of almond butter vs. peanut butter and an American Heart Association Journal Report on the positive effects of eating almonds, visit
Tammy: What makes Barney Butter different from other almond butters on the market?
Jennifer: No-stir means that Barney Butter does not separate like other almond butters. No oil to stir back in also means no need to refrigerate, making Barney Butter easier to spread. I am often asked why it doesn't separate like the others. Unlike conventional peanut butters which use hydrogenated oils to achieve stabilization, Barney Butter contains a small amount of palm fruit oil to gain the same effect. Palm oil from the fruit of the palm often gets confused with palm kernel oil, which is highly saturated. Palm fruit oil has a balanced fatty acid composition and is cholesterol free. It is easily digested, absorbed, and available for energy by the body unlike it's synthetic counterpart: partially hydrogenated oil, or trans fat.

Barney Butter also has no grainy texture or speckled appearance, and has a better roasted almond taste. This is because Barney Butter is the only almond butter made exclusively from California-variety blanched almonds. I source my almonds from local growers whom I know and trust.
Tammy: What inspired you to develop and market Barney Butter?
Jennifer: I wanted my children to eat almond butter instead of peanut butter because it's better for them. I was unhappy with the taste and texture of the almond butters I found at the store, so I began experimenting with homemade almond butter. I wanted my kids to be able to grab it on their own and spread it on fruit or veggies for a snack without a big fuss, so I started to research how to make it shelf stable after opening without compromising on natural ingredients.
Tammy: Where does the name 'Barney Butter' come from?
Jennifer: The kids in our neighborhood spend a lot of time playing together. When I first started making almond butter, they would inevitably get some for a snack. Pretty soon friends and neighbors were trying it. They started calling it Barney Butter, and the name stuck.
Tammy: What's the biggest marketing challenge you face?
Jennifer: The two biggest challenges for Barney Butter are distribution and brand awareness. The consumer food business supply chain model favors large supermarket chains and multi-national food conglomerates. Small family farms and entrepreneurial food manufacturers like Barney Butter are at a distinct disadvantage in a system biased towards high volume, low cost producers. It also stifles creativity and innovation in the food industry, often at the expense of quality and nutrition. Today's system with distributors, brokers, merchandisers and sales reps taking a cut, doesn't leave much for the grower/manufacturer. The system ultimately leaves the consumer with fewer, lesser quality choices.
Tammy: Where can our readers buy Barney Butter?
Jennifer: Barney Butter is available on our Web site at and here in California at specialty and gourmet stores like Whole Foods Markets in Northern California, Draeger's and Piazza's on the Peninsula, Shopper's Corner and Bruno's on the coast, and Watson's, Sam's Deli and Bentley's in the Valley. A complete store listing is available on our Web site.
Tammy: Describe your perfect lunch.
Jennifer: It's been so cold in Fresno lately, and I've really be craving Jim Beecher's version of Killer Shrimp over rice. Mmmm, the spicy broth really hits the spot, and it's best if you eat it piping hot, so I would definitely pack it in the large lunch jar. There's lots of versions of Killer Shrimp, but his is the best. I'd top that off with a couple bites of dark chocolate, letting the last bite melt in my mouth as slowly as possible.
Tammy: Describe your children's favorite lunch.

Miles' favorite is rotelle pasta with chicken sausage in tomato sauce packed in the Small Lunch Jar.

Maddy likes a salad of winter greens and croutons with the croutons packed on the side so they don't get soggy and Caesar dressing in the dip container. Maddy also prefers to build her own cheese, salami and 3-seed cracker stacks over a regular pre-made sandwich any day.

Cami likes chicken pesto pasta made with homemade pesto and in the wet food container she likes applesauce. My mother-in-law taught me how to make incredibly good basil pesto from her garden basil and freeze it in single servings for a year's supply. Now I do it every year and I can't live without it.

Chloe wanted to say Top Ramen (!) but I told her she couldn't pick something that I don't serve. "Just kidding, Mom." Her real favorite is none other than Barney Butter sandwiches made with either jam, honey, or bananas and sprouts!

What Works...Success Stories

"I just want to thank you for making such a wonderful product! I'm in college and spend a great deal of time on campus during the week. I used to have only a few choices for lunch: bring a sandwich or yogurt or settle for an expensive (yet convenient) lunch at the food court at $5-6 a pop. I absolutely love my Lunch Date! I've been eating healthier foods that I prepare at home, have been saving a TON of money, and I've been reducing waste all at the same time. A lot of my friends and professors have been asking about my Laptop Lunch, and I've been directing them all to your Web site. Thanks again for making such a wonderful product and awesome newsletters!"

        --Kara Strawn, Mount Pleasant, MI

"I pack lunches for my "big" boy - my husband of 30 years - who works at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA. I've been sending his lunch in a plastic grocery bag - very aesthetic ;-) When I saw your Laptop Lunch System on Rachael Ray's new daytime show, I knew it would be perfect for him. Now it looks like he's got 2 laptops (very techy, going along with all the techies at JPL)! Better than a plastic grocery bag containing his lunch!"

        --Amy Putnam, Sierra Madre, CA

"The Laptop Lunchbox is terrific. I carry meals everywhere for my kids because of food allergies, and this makes it so easy and convenient to take food wherever we go. My kids love the containers and the cool carry bag. The lunchbox gives inspiration to be creative with my children’s lunches, and they always come home empty. I am amazed at how much easier it is to pack a lunch with this instead of using plastic bags. It saves time because the containers are all in one place. All I have to do is fill them. It saves money because I am no longer throwing away plastic bags and single use containers. Thanks for a great product!"

--Angela, Illinois, POCHA of Will County Food Allergy Support Group

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

Featured Web Site:

Grassroots Environmental Education is a non-profit organization dedicated to educating the public about the links between common environmental exposures and human health. Their mission is to cultivate a broad-based understanding of environmental issues in order to bring about positive and lasting change. They strive to shape opinion by developing materials and programs that bridge the gap between scientific research and public understanding. Their goal is to empower individuals and groups to act as catalysts for change in their own communities.

Learn more about...

  • Common Exposures
  • Kids and Toxins
  • Lawn Care
  • Programs
  • Educational Tools

April Highlights

Healthy Twists on Old Favorites, Green Opportunities, and Tips for Making Healthy Lunches!


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© March 2007 Obentec, Inc.

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


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