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March 2005

Laptop Lunch Times: March 2005

The Laptop Lunch Times

March 2005

Marching along...

We have two major announcements to share with you this month!

First of all, we're pleased to announce the official launch of our Web affiliate program! If you have a Web site, you can let others know about Laptop Lunches and, at the same time, earn extra cash for your school or organization by adding a link from your Web site to ours. It takes only a few minutes to set up, and it's a great way for us to help you help us help you. If you're interested, please email us at [email protected].

Also, our free "Waste-free Lunchbox" pamphlets are now available for download at If you're promoting (or want to promote!) waste-free lunches, and you're looking for an easy way to explain how to pack them, why they're important, and how to incorporate waste-free lunches seemlessly into your daily routine, then take a look. Oh, and don't forget to print the pamphlet on recycled paper!

Amy and Tammy, 'The Lunch Moms'

In this issue, you'll find:

  • Creative Calzones

  • Green Opportunities
  • Growing a Kitchen Garden
  • The Waste-free Lunchbox
  • Featured Web site:
  • What works...Success Stories
Laptop Lunch Photo with Food

Creative Calzones

Kids love calzones because they're fun to make and good to eat. Parents love calzones because they can be packed with fresh veggies. Try these varieties or make up one of your own. Make them for dinner and pack the leftovers for lunch the next day. If you can, get the kids involved. Have them mix and roll out the dough. Then set out your fillings and let them choose what they want to include, making sure that they include at least two vegetables and one fresh herb. If you have more than two helpers, you may want to divide the dough into four balls instead of two so each helper can make at least one calzone. If you have more than four helpers, consider doubling the recipe.

Calzone Dough

1 cup lukewarm water
1 package dry yeast
½ tsp. salt

2 tsp. sugar
3-5 cups whole-wheat flour

  • In a large mixing bowl, combine water and yeast and stir well to dissolve.

  • Let stand for 5 minutes.
  • Add the salt and sugar, and beat well.

  • Add 1 ½ cups whole-wheat flour and beat until smooth.

  • Add 1 ½ cups more flour and stir as much as possible.

  • Turn onto a floured board and kneed dough until smooth, adding more flour if necessary (about 5 minutes).

#1: Italian-style Calzone

  • marinara sauce (Choose your favorite spaghetti or pizza sauce.)
  • 2-3 cloves fresh minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup grated low-fat mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • fresh basil, chopped
  • chopped vegetables (Broccoli, asparagus, spinach, zucchini, mushrooms, onions, bell peppers, artichoke hearts, and olives all work well.)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Divide the dough in half and, with a rolling pin, roll each half into a ball and then into a crust 1/2-inch thick. (Make sure you have plenty of flour on your board.)
3. Spread some marinara sauce into the half of the dough that's nearest to you, leaving 3/4 inch of space along the edge of the dough.
4. Sprinkle the grated cheese on top of the sauce.
5. Add the minced garlic and fresh basil.
6. Top with chopped vegetables.
7. Gently fold the calzone in half by lifting the bare half over the half with the sauce, cheese, vegetables, and basil.
8. Press the dough around the edges to seal.
9. Lift gently onto a cookie sheet or pizza pan.
10. Bake at 400 degrees for about 15 - 20 minutes or until crisp.
11. Remove from oven and slice with a bread knife.
12. Serve with warm marinara sauce as a condiment.


#2: Mexican-style Calzone

  • salsa
  • 3/4 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • grated low-fat mozzarella or cheddar cheese
  • red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2/3 cup chopped onion
  • chopped raw green vegetables (Broccoli, spinach, zucchini, bell peppers, and green beans work well.)
  • fresh mango and avocado (garnishes)

1. Divide the dough in half and, with a rolling pin, roll each half into a ball and then into a crust 1/2-inch thick. (Make sure you have plenty of flour on your board.)
2. Spoon salsa onto the half of the dough that's nearest to you, leaving 3/4 inch of space along the edge of the dough.
3. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of grated cheese on top of the salsa.
4. Top with 2/3 cup black beans.
5. Add 3/4 cup chopped vegetables and 1/4 cup chopped cilantro.
6. Gently fold the calzone in half by lifting the bare half over the half with the salsa, beans, vegetables, and cilantro.
7. Press the dough around the edges to seal.
8. Lift gently onto a cookie sheet or pizza pan.
9. Bake at 400 degrees for about 15 - 20 minutes or until crisp.
10. Remove from oven and slice with a bread knife.
11. Garnish with fresh mango, avocado, and cilantro.
12. Provide extra salsa and hot sauce as a condiment.

Green Opportunities

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

  • Global Exchange is an international human rights organization dedicated to promoting political, social and environmental justice globally. Since their founding in 1988, they have been working with communities across the world to build a greater awareness of global trade issues and translate that awareness into Fair Trade activism. If you're looking for eco-friendly gifts, visit their online store at
  • .

  • Every organization makes decisions that affect the environment. When the decision involves energy efficiency, the environmental option can also be the best financial choice. EPA’s ENERGY STAR offers a suite of free Internet-based training sessions. They'll demonstrate how your organization can incorporate energy efficiency into its planning process. Whether you're a local government establishing procurement specs, a school district designing new buildings, or a college looking to finance new equipment, ENERGY STAR offers solutions. Participants in these live sessions exchange ideas on a toll-free conference call while logged into a presentation on the Internet. They interact with experienced energy or financial consultants during a 30 to 60 minute session. Full descriptions of each presentation, online registration and the March schedule are available at:

  • Seafood Watch has just recently released two new regional pocket guides; one for Hawaii and one for the Northeast United States, completing the series of regional pocket guides for the entire United States. There are now six versions of the Seafood Watch pocket guide available for download at

  • WindBuilders provides a way for people who are concerned about global warming to do something about it. Visit, where you can build a new wind farm and keep global warming pollution out of the air. Choose to keep 6, 8, or 12 tons of carbon dioxide out of the air, or use the SafeClimate Carbon Calculator provided by the World Resources Institute to calculate your own CO2 footprint. Choose 12 tons, and you'll have the same impact on global warming as powering and heating the average U.S. home entirely with wind energy for a year!

  • If you're looking for a farmers' market in your area, click on the map at

  • Each year the gold mining industry consumes a great deal of energy, pollutes our air, soil, and water, and adversely affects communities and workers around the world. Since 80 percent of all processed gold finds its way into jewelry, jewelry purchasers can make a difference. Before buying gold, ask yourself if you really need it. Find out if family or friends have something they're ready to pass on to you. Check second-hand stores and auctions, including eBay. Look for new jewelry made from recycled gold. Visit to see examples of recycled gold jewelry or to purchase jewelry for a wedding or commitment ceremony.

Growing a Kitchen Garden

By Sanna Delmonico

           Someone lovingly waters the scrappiest patch of dirt in my neighborhood for the sake of a few fragrant cucumbers. Someone else makes green beans wind improbably up telephone poles, and the cemetery groundskeeper nurtures slender, fiery-red chilies behind his shed. These are sure signs of the basic human needs to grow food, to make magic, and to be connected to the earth. A kitchen garden, whether full of vegetables, fruit, herbs and flowers, or with a single tomato plant, meets those needs and helps us understand and celebrate food in the simplest ways.

           Small gardens, container gardens, and pots in sunny windows can be as imaginative and gratifying as larger plots. Since we have a small kitchen garden, my daughter Juliana experiences the earth, not only the supermarket, as the source of her food. She learned the hard way that sweet lettuce and bitter radicchio look similar in the garden but don't taste the same in her sandwich. The garden stimulates her senses with colors, smells, textures, flavors and sounds. Astonishing changes happen from day to day; last night pole bean seedlings were chewed to within millimeters of their lives by earwigs, chard sprouts pushed up through the soil, and dainty white flowers gave way to tiny green strawberries. Every day there is something new to taste or smell or study. A garden provides children lessons on the cycle of seasons, patience while seeds sprout, and quiet observation when a butterfly visits.

           The satisfaction of growing even a bit of food is enormous. Last week we had a salad of our peas, our baby artichokes, our fennel and the zest and juice from our Meyer lemons. It was the most delicious salad ever, if only because we grew it. After appearing indifferent to the tomato seeds we planted last summer, Juliana checked on them regularly, gauging the plants' growth and finally picking the tomatoes, telling anyone who would listen, "Aren't these good? I grew these!"

Here are a few things to keep in mind when starting your kitchen garden:

Choose a spot with at least 6 hours of sun a day.

Almost all vegetables and most flowers like basking in full sun. Slightly shadier spots protect tender lettuces and leafy greens and keep them from wilting in the intense summer sun.

Start small.

If you are starting out as a kitchen gardener, prepare a small patch of ground or a few big pots for your first endeavor. Large gardens take time to prepare, maintain, weed, water and harvest, and can be overwhelming. You will be more successful by starting small, easing the kitchen garden into your family's routine, and adding more each year.

Prepare your soil.

Ideally, start in the fall by breaking up the soil, removing large rocks, then adding compost or other organic material and perhaps a cover crop to make the soil more fertile for spring planting. "Yeah, yeah, but we're starting now!" Well, do take time to remove sod or weeds from your plot, and add compost and manure. After planting, be sure to mulch with straw, wood chips, and/or cocoa bean hulls to keep the weeds down and the water in.
If you garden in containers, use good-quality potting soil and fertilize every week.

Grow up.

In small gardens, growing vertically saves precious space. Peas, pole beans, cucumbers, sweet peas, the sprawling vine-like indeterminate varieties of tomatoes (determinate varieties grow into tidier, bushy plants), and even small pumpkins and melons can be grown up trellises, fences or poles.

What goes in a kitchen garden?

Kitchen gardens are most fun when they are both practical and pretty. Mix up vegetables and flowers because eating your own food at a table set with a vase of your own flowers is as good as it gets. Here are some of our favorites:

PUMPKINS leap to mind immediately as great vegetables for children to grow. Large pumpkin seeds are easy to plant. Harvesting and carving their own Jack O' Lanterns makes kids so proud. Pumpkin vines get big and wander, so for small spaces or in containers, grow cute little pumpkins like Baby Bear, Jack Be Little or New England Pie.

CARROTS do well in light, rock-free soil. On the other hand, you get interesting, leggy carrots in hard, rocky soil. Varieties that are harvested as baby carrots, like Little Finger, and round varieties like Thumbelina, are good for heavy soil or containers.

GREEN BEANS taste best eaten warm and raw right out of the garden. Purple varieties, like Royal Burgundy, are easy for kids to spot among the green leaves and gobble up. Make a teepee out of four long bamboo poles, tie it at the top with twine, put it in a pot or the ground, and grow your green beans up the poles.

CALENDULA (also called pot marigold), with their prehistoric-looking seeds, and nasturtiums are two easy-to-grow flowers I love. They both reseed themselves in our garden and are bright orange, yellow and red contrasts to green leaves and vegetables.

MELONS deserve a place in a family kitchen garden. We grow sweet small cantaloupes, a French variety called Charentais, and are still trying for success with watermelon - maybe this year.

CHERRY TOMATOES like Sweet 100s, Sun Gold and red and yellow pear tomatoes make delicious, sweet snacks for kids taking a break from tree-climbing or hide-and-seek. Cherry tomatoes ripen much earlier than bigger tomatoes making them favorites of impatient gardeners.

POTATOES are indescribably amazing to dig up. They seem to magically pop out of the dirt. Potatoes are easy to grow in containers or even a bag of potting soil, and homegrown, freshly dug potatoes are the most tender you will eat.

HERBS, especially herbs with fruity fragrances, encourage children to touch and smell and taste in the garden. Some really luscious herbs are lemon basil, lime basil, tarragon, rosemary, pineapple sage, cinnamon basil, and lemon verbena.

Use vegetables as ornamental plants.

Eggplant, red chard, Bright Lights chard, oak leaf and Red Sails lettuces, kale, artichokes and many other vegetables are attractive plants that would deserve a second look even if they weren't edible. Slip beautiful vegetables into flower pots, flower beds or along the driveway to increase your harvest.

However large or small your kitchen garden, there is nothing like growing and eating your own.

Sanna Delmonico, MS, RD, is a cook, gardener, mother, and the editor of Tiny Tummies, a food and nutrition newsletter for parents. Visit her on the Web at

Free Waste-free Lunch Pamphlet Now Available Online

Santa Cruz, Calif. - February 24, 2005 - Today Obentec, Inc. (, announced the availability of its new waste-free lunch pamphlet, "The Waste-free Lunchbox," available to the general public for free download at The pamphet provides parents, teachers, school administrators, and others with essential waste-free lunch information.

According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, a child packing a disposable lunch to school will leave behind approximately 67 pounds of waste per school year. That equates to 1.2 billion pounds of annual lunch waste for the more than 64,000 U.S. public elementary schools alone!

As landfills across North America reach capacity, new landfills are created farther from where the trash is generated, leading to higher waste disposal fees, increased truck traffic and fossil fuel use, more pollution, and greater wear and tear on roads.

To reduce the amount of waste headed for the landfill, schools have started implementing waste-free lunch programs aimed not only at reducing landfill waste, but also at teaching children the importance of resource conservation and helping schools save money by reducing their waste hauling fees.

"Many parents pack prepackaged lunch items without realizing the environmental and economic impact," says Obentec cofounder, Tammy Pelstring. "We created the "Waste-free Lunchbox" so parents can easily understand why and how to make changes that will have a profound impact on the planet, their children, and their pocketbook."

Packing waste-free lunches is easy once you make it part of your daily routine. All you need is a lunchbox, backpack or briefcase, a set of reusable containers, a refillable water bottle, a cloth napkin, and a set of reusable utensils. Or, for a few extra dollars, you can purchase Obentec's waste-free lunch kit, which includes all of the above.

"The Laptop Lunchbox" offers the following tips for reducing lunch waste:
  • Pack lunches in the evening and store them in the refrigerator overnight.

  • Maximize leftovers. Prepare extra servings for dinner, and pack the leftovers into lunchboxes in the evening while you're cleaning up.

  • Stock your kitchen with fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and other nutritious foods.

  • Keep nuts and dried fruit on hand.

  • Buy from bulk bins to reduce costs.

  • Buy from a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program or farmers' market. Visit for CSA and farmers' market locations near you.

  • Write your name on all your containers before leaving the house.

Packing a waste-free lunch not only reduces landfill waste, but it costs less too. A child taking a prepackaged lunch to school spends an average of $4.02 a day or $723.60 per school year compared to $2.65 a day ($477.00 per school year) for a child who packs a waste-free lunch--a difference of $246.60 per person per year!

And that's not all. When families pack disposable lunches, schools pay higher waste removal fees. Since fees are based on volume, schools that generate more waste, pay more to have it hauled away. Packing a waste-free lunch reduces the volume of trash and thus helps schools save money. After all, if everyone in the U.S. packed a waste-free lunch, 1.2 billion pounds of lunch waste would be diverted from the waste stream. That's a lot of trash, and that translates into huge savings for our families and our nation's schools.

Contact [email protected] for more information.

What Works...Success Stories

  • "I bought a Laptop Lunch for my daughter a couple of years ago after reading about it in Prevention Magazine. I love it because it is so convenient, washable, re-usable, promotes portion control, and the food tends to be much better than the prepackaged things one might be tempted to put in their lunch under other circumstances. Many of the people who work at my daughter's school have commented that she brings in the best lunches !"

       -- Diane Waters, Sacramento, CA

  • "Aside from all the other things I love about our three Laptop Lunch boxes (one for each child and one for me for work), I really love the self-decoration idea. I had no idea how, financially or as a socially-aware consumer, that I would keep up with my young children's changing tastes. Now they can sticker up and add pictures each season. We make a fun craft project out of preparing the boxes every so often and it's big fun for everyone. And it helps us tell apart our boxes.

    Thanks! We love your products and general 'system.' It's a great fit for us."

    --Nikki Maxwell, Northridge, CA

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

Featured Web Site:


Demand for environmentally friendly products is on the rise, but consumer labels can be confusing. The governments of Canada and the European Union both have established criteria for eco-products, but the US does not. Products claim to be natural, nontoxic, environmentally preferred, and hypoallergenic, but what do these terms mean?

Visit for information on eco-labels, products that carry eco-labels, the organizations that produce eco-labels, and government and private standards for "green" products. Their aim is to help consumers make more informed decisions when purchasing products and making decisions that affect the environment.

This site was developed by Consumers Union (of Consumer Reports fame) and its Consumer Policy Institute. Consumers Union is an independent, nonprofit testing and information organization serving only consumers. They are a comprehensive source for unbiased advice about products and services, personal finance, health and nutrition, and other consumer concerns.

April Highlights

Nutritious desserts & treats, green shopping tips, and waste-free lunch strategies!

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

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© March 2005, by Obentec, Inc.


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."