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July 2005

Laptop Lunch Times: July 2005

The Laptop Lunch Times

July 2005

Summer Fun!

We hope your summer has been safe, happy, and healthy so far. This month we have some 'cool' summer salad recipes for those hot summer picnics and backyard barbecues. Want to make them waste-free? Bring your own plates, cups, and utensils. Cover your potluck creation with a colorful kitchen towel instead of using disposable plastic wrap or aluminum foil.

This summer we've been working on some very exciting new products and gearing up for the back-to-school season. In the next few months we'll announce some fabulous additions to our line of waste-free lunch products. Stay tuned!

Enjoy the slower pace that summer has to offer, and remember. . . "Homemade is Healthy" and "Waste-free is Wise."

Amy and Tammy

In this issue, you'll find:

  • Personalize your Carrying Case!
  • Monthly Menu

  • Summer Salads
  • July Specials
  • Green Opportunities
  • New Retailers!
  • All About Recess
  • Featured Web site:
  • What works...Success Stories
Laptop Lunch Photo with Food

Looking to personalize your carrying case? Here's what Lisa Sebastian of Fairfax, CA says: "I took the risk of using iron on patches. I used a pressing cloth, and it came out pretty well. A small part of the neoprene fabric scorched when I ironed on the bigger patch because I had to press longer. I donít recommend using an iron on the case because the fabric might melt."'s looking good! Go Lisa!

Monthly Menu

Summer Salads

Enjoy the full flavor of summer's bounty by experimenting with various salad combinations. We're including two recipes to get you started.

#1: Asian Spinach Salad

This "wilted spinach" recipe was adapted from a recipe contributed by Elizabeth Moore via Marilyn Rigler through her daughter, Sara.

  • 1 brick firm tofu
  • 2 lbs. fresh spinach, chopped
  • 20 dried shitake mushrooms
  • 4 eggs, scrambled
  • 2 tsp. cold-pressed canola oil

Mushroom Marinade:
  • 2 tsp. sherry
  • 2 tsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbs. fresh minced garlic
  • 1 tsp. sherry
  • 4 tsp. soy sauce
  • 2 tsp. sesame oil

1. Soak the dried mushrooms in lukewarm water until tender. Remove the stems and slice into strips.
2. Prepare the marinade.
3. Pour the marinade over the mushrooms, stir, and set aside.
4. Heat 2 tsp. canola oil, add mushrooms, and stir fry until pungent (about 2 minutes).
5. Cut the tofu into 1/2-inch cubes.
6. Place the spinach in a large bowl. Add the cubed tofu.
7. Add the hot mushrooms and toss to wilt spinach slightly.
8. Sprinkle the warm scrambled eggs on top and toss again.
9. Heat the dressing, add it to the salad, toss once more, and serve.


#2: Mango Bulgur Salad

  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup dry bulgur wheat
  • 1/2 cup scallions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh fennel, chopped
  • 1/2 cup tamari-roasted almonds or cashews, coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups diced fresh mango
  • 3/4 cup fresh sugar snap peas or snow peas, cut diagonally in thirds
  • juice of 1 lime (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbs. chopped fresh green garlic, or 2 cloves minced garlic
  • sliced avocado (garnish)

1. Pour boiling water over the bulgur wheat and cover until the water is absorbed (about 15 minutes).
2. Make the dressing by mixing together the lime juice, olive oil, and garlic. Set aside
3. Combine the remaining ingredients and mix gently.
4. Add the bulgur wheat and toss gently.
5. Add the dressing and toss again to mix.
6. Garnish with fresh sliced avocado.

July Special


For many of us, school will be starting up again next month. Do you need to replace lost or misplaced water bottles or utensils? For the month of July, we're offering a discount on these items.

Order early to avoid the back-to-school rush!

For more information, visit

Green Opportunities

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

  • With gas prices up and global warming a real concern, we're all thinking of ways to minimize our fuel consumption. Visit for gas mileage tips, fuel economy ratings, and information on alternative fuel vehicles.

  • Teaching Green: The Elementary Years (240 pages, 2005, $22.95) contains over 50 of the best teaching strategies and activities for Grades K-5 contributed to Green Teacher magazine during the past decade -- all updated and revised for this special 2005 anthology. Readers will find a wealth of kid-tested ideas covering a wide spectrum of topics such as waste-free lunches, ocean pollution and migratory animals, practical projects such as investigating air quality, baking one world cakes and playing the water game, and new learning strategies such as journaling, food web dramas and single concept field trips. For more information, call toll free (888) 804-1486 or visit

  • Did you know that The UPS Store collects and reuses packing materials like polystyrene packing peanuts? Call or stop by your local store to find out what materials they accept. To find a store near you, visit and click on "locations."

  • Looking for a way to donate used items to an organization that really needs them? Check out the Excess Access database at, a project of Matter of Trust, a 501(c)(3) public charity, founded by Lisa Gautier of San Francisco and her husband, Patrice Gautier. Nonprofits, schools, and individuals can set up a "wishlist" for items they need. Check to see if you have some materials and supplies that local schools and other organizations can use.

New Retailers

We're pleased to announce that Laptop Lunch products are now available at these fine stores. Please pass this news on to friends and family in the area!

Harborside Galley
1817 Ottawa Beach Road
Holland, MI 49424

Telephone: (616) 738-3911

Orchards Ace Hardware
269 East 29th Street
Loveland, CO 80538

Telephone: (970) 663-2230

Rainbow Bridge Natural Food Store
211 East Matilija Street
Ojai, CA 93023

(805) 646-4017

All About Recess

by Jodie Leidecker

My child did not have recess when she was in 1st through 4th grades. Many parents thought this was a bad idea, but at first we did nothing about it. We trusted that the teachers and administrators knew what was best for the children. But one night I read some research about the benefits of recess, and that's when it became clear to me that the best interests of the children were not being served, and I decided to do something about it.

I sent e-mails to the principal and superintendent, attended site-based council meetings and school board meetings. I talked to parent representatives on the council. A few parents also attended some of these meetings, but we were quickly silenced. Each time, I became more frustrated with the excuses I heard:

  • There is bullying at recess.

  • The children can play when they get home.

  • Children can get dirty or hurt at recess.
  • There's not enough time during the day.
  • Recess interferes with the high school bus schedule.

  • Children move around a lot during the day, so recess isn't necessary
  • .
  • It's too difficult to calm children down after recess.

Since the research did not support these arguments, I felt I needed to educate people about the benefits of recess.

I started by talking to Rebecca Lamphere, a recess advocate who had successfully won a school recess mandate in Virginia, and then later started a national and international movement. She provided valuable advice and support.

What I Did

1. I created a petition and passed it around to local businesses. Health food stores and farmers' markets were particularly good locations. I passed out small flyers with the school board's phone numbers on it. Most people were shocked that the children were not having recess. Only 1 in 15-20 people called or e-mailed, but in our small district, that made the difference. I also stood outside school events like graduation, handing out flyers and gathering signatures. I got over five hundred signers--with only 500 children in the elementary school!

2. I went to more school board and site-based council meetings and passed out the research articles.

3. I contacted child development professionals to strengthen my case. The council could argue with me, but not with experts in the field. They sent a lot of e-mail messages to the board.

4. I was interviewed by the newspaper and was contacted by a TV station. I emailed the newspaper first and told them what was happening. It took several tries to get them interested.

Now the school has ten minutes of recess per day and next year they'll have fifteen minutes every day. It's a small amount, but in previous years students had no break in their day at all. Since I now know the importance of recess, I am beginning a campaign to get recess for all children in Kentucky.

Facts About Recess

1. Recess is necessary for the release of stress. Children process new information during their downtime when the chemicals in the brain are remanufactured after learning.

2. Children learn mainly through physical movement, but P.E. and recess are not the same. The free choice, unstructured nature of recess is beneficial.

3. Children learn and practice social skills during recess. (Bullying happens more frequently on the school bus.) More fighting occurs at schools that have inadequate playground equipment.

For more information about recess and its benefit to children's social, emotional, and physical well-being, visit:

The Association for the Child's Right to Play's Recess Handbook

National Association for the Education of Young Children

Jodie can be reached by email at [email protected].

What Works...Success Stories

  • "We LOVE your lunchboxes!!! They truly make preparing lunches in the morning an easier task than before."

       -- Ellie Fullman, Orinda, CA


  • "I am in Heidelberg, Germany where they have very strict recycling laws. I decided that packing Laptop Lunches was a great way to contribute! My kids love their lunchboxes and I love packing them--win, win for all! Thanks for such a great product."

       -- Jennifer Paugh, Heidelberg, Germany

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


Featured Web Site:

Did you know...


Choosing a car is one of the most important decisions affecting your personal environmental impact?
Avoiding certain fish can benefit your health and the environment?
Choosing grass-fed meat can be more nutritious?

Find out more about these issues and many other purchasing decisions you make at the Consumer Reports Web site,

You'll also find information on rebates, recycling, and reading eco-labels.

More and more, consumers are making environmentally friendly choices in the purchases that they make. They are actively seeking out organic foods, avoiding dangerous chemicals in products, and looking for energy-efficient appliances. On Earth Day 2005, with grants from the Surdna Foundation and the Foundation of Donor Advised Funds, Consumers Union expanded upon its longstanding, public-service commitment to consumers by launching, a free guide that offers reliable and practical advice on how to be a more environmentally-friendly consumer.

August Highlights

Travel menus, green opportunities, and tips for eco-friendly organizing!

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

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© July 2005 Obentec, Inc.

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


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