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Newsletter Archive


April 2010

Laptop Lunch Times:April 2010
April 2010

In this issue, you'll find:

  • From Our Desk to Yours...
  • Favorite Photo
  • Food for Thought: Soy
  • Savory Soy Recipes from Jennifer McCann
  • Green Opportunities
  • Laptop Lunches in the News
  • New Retailers
  • How to Pack the Best Lunches Ever
  • What works...Success Stories
  • Featured Web site:

From Our Desk to Yours...

Happy Earth Day!

It’s hard to believe that we’re celebrating the 40th anniversary of Earth Day this year. What a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the positive changes that have occurred over the last four decades—and an even better time to think about what steps we can take this year to reduce our environmental footprint. Making change can seem overwhelming at times, but taking just one step at a time can make it manageable. Thanks for joining us on this very important journey!


NEOPRENE CARRYING CASE: We have some remaining neoprene carrying cases available in blue, navy, and a handful of purple. They’re on sale on our Web site for only $14.99 (regularly $17.99). We are phasing out this item, so if you’ve been eyeing this sporty style, this is it. When they’re gone, they’re really gone.

LUNCHBOX SPECIAL: Vegan Lunch Box Around the World by Jennifer McCann is on special this month for only $16.95 (regularly $18.95) at To entice you further, we’ve included an excerpt and two very delicious recipes below. Be sure to check it out!

CREATIVE USES FOR LAPTOP LUNCHES: Looking for additional uses for your Laptop Lunchboxes? Check out our new Web page, filled with imaginative ideas. (And feel free to send us some photos of your own!) Visit:

Amy and Tammy

Got a favorite photo to share?

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


  • Hummus in a Red Roasted Pepper
  • Potato Salad in a Yellow Roasted Pepper
  • Golden Kiwi
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Whole Grain Sandwich (hidden under the kiwi and cottage cheese)
  • Roasted Courgettes
  • Roasted Orange Peppers

"I would like to share a photo of my laptop lunch with you! Since it was the first time that I packed my wonderful Laptop Lunchbox: First time, first love..."

                     -- Meta van Gijn, Netherlands

Food for Thought: Soy

Photo Credit: Melissa Braun

Soy is a versatile food, high in protein and often used as a low fat, low cholesterol, alternative to meats. With a high calcium content, soy helps strengthen bones. Women who regularly eat soy are believed to experience fewer or no menopausal symptoms. And studies have shown that soy helps in the prevention of prostate cancer.

There are a wide variety of soy products, to choose from, when adding soy to any diet. Tofu, tempeh, miso, and edamame can easily be added to soups, stir fries, pasta and rice dishes. Many people, who are lactose intolerant, choose soy milks and cheeses.

To learn more about soy, visit


  • Helps Lower Cholesterol
  • High in Protein
  • Provides All Essential Amino Acids
  • Promotes Heart Health and Healthy Bones
  • Good Source of Essential Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Photo Credit: Melissa Braun

Savory Soy Recipes

These recipes are from The Vegan Lunch Box Around the World by Jennifer McCann.

Golden Indonesian Tempeh

This tempeh recipe is prepared with a sweet caramelizing glaze and spicy red chile. It can be served hot or cold.

  • 4 Tbs plus 2 Tbs canola oil, plus more as needed
  • 1 lb tempeh (two 8-oz pkgs), cut into 16 strips
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 6 Tbs brown sugar*
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 1 hot red chile, seeded and minced,
    or to taste
  • 2 medium tomatoes, peeled and diced

*4 Tbs honey or maple syrup may be used as an alternative to the brown sugar.


Yield: 4 Servings

1. Heat 4 Tbs of canola oil in a large nonstick saute pan or well-seasoned cast-iron skillet, over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the tempeh strips and fry until golden, about 4 minutes per side.
2. Meanwhile, mix the soy sauce, brown sugar, and 3 Tbs of water together in a small bowl and set aside.
3. Heat the remaining 2 Tbs of canola oil in the pan over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the shallot and chile, and cook, stirring until soft, about 1 minute. Add the diced tomato and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomato has softened and cooked down, about 3 to 4 minutes.
4. Add the soy sauce mixture to the pan. Stir well, then add the fried tempeh and toss to coat. When the mixture comes to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the liquid has cooked down to a syrupy glaze, about 5 minutes.
5. Serve it hot on top of brown rice or serve it cold on top of a fresh green salad.

Kasha Kupecheskaya

Crumbled firm tofu takes the place of hard boiled eggs in this traditional Russian recipe.

  • 1 3/4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup whole tasted buckwheat groats (also known as kasha)*
  • 8 oz (about 1/2 tub) Chinese-style
    firm tofu
  • 3 Tbs canola oil)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper,
    to taste
  • 2 medium onions, peeled and sliced

*To save time, look for toasted buckwheat. If you can only find raw, toast the kernels in a dry cast-iron skillet over medium heat, stirring, for 5 to 10 minutes, before proceeding with the instructions below.

Yield: 2 to 3 servings
1. Bring the vegetable broth to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Stir in the buckwheat and return to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook for 20 minutes, until the grains are tender but not falling apart. Fluff the kasha with a fork and set aside.
2. Meanwhile, finely crumble the tofu with your fingers. Heat 1 Tbs of the oil in a nonstick or cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add the turmeric and cook, stirring for 10 seconds. Then add the tofu, salt, and a pinch of pepper. Cook, stirring frequently until the tofu is starting to brown, about 8 minutes.
3. Add the tofu to the cooked kasha and set aside. Wipe the skillet clean, return to heat and add the remaining 2 Tbs of oil. When the oil is hot, add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and golden, about 25 to 30 minutes. Turn the heat down if necessary to cook the onions slowly and let them carmelize.
4. Add the caramelized onions to buckwheat mixture and stir to combine. Taste and season with more salt and pepper if desired.

Green Opportunities

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

  • HELP PROTECT THE ENVIRONMENT, EARTH DAY AND EVERY DAY Earth Day is April 22! To find out what you can do to help protect the environment at home, at school, on the road, or at work – every day, visit: They also provide an "environmental tip of the day" widget for your Web pages and a podcast of those same tips, available each day.

    • ECO–FRIENDLY POTTY Here's a potty that not only helps support the potty training process, it's kind to the earth as well. The Becopotty is made from plant fibers and can last for years in the home while biodegrading in the garden after it's no longer needed. To learn more, visit: They also make eco-friendly pet bowls and hangers.
    • RENT A GREEN BOX"Why are we cutting down our trees to make a cardboard box that’s used once, maybe twice, to just throw it away in a landfill? It doesn’t make any sense, when over 20 percent of the American population packs and moves each year." See what one company in Southern California is doing to cut down on waste and help people reduce moving costs. Read more at:

    • WHAT'S ON YOUR PLATE is a documentary film about kids and the politics of food. The film was shot over the course of one year and follows two eleven-year-old city kids as they explore their place in the food chain. Visit: to view the trailer.

    Laptop Lunches in the News

    Better TV


    Host: Audra Lowe
    March 8, 2010

    Melissa Cassera shares some simple tips that, if followed, can actually shrink your waistline during the work week. Watch the video at:

    The Gadgeteer

    Laptop Lunches Bento-Style Kits

    February 13, 2010
    by Janet Cloninger

    Okay, this isn’t a gadget, but hey – even gadget-lovers eat lunch!  This bento-style lunchbox from Obentec is a waste-free way to pack lunch for yourself or your kids.  The Laptop Lunches kits were developed by two women who wanted to reduce the staggering amount of paper and plastic waste generated each day in their childrens’ school cafeteria.  The kits consist of a plastic outer box with five inner containers and a small set of cutlery.  The plastics used in these kits are free of lead, phthalates, and bisphenol-A.  The kits work great for adult lunches, too.  The variety of inner containers encourage you to pack a variety of foods, and they also help with portion control.  You can also choose from a variety of insulated cases so you can keep your food cool until lunch time.  The plastic bento set (and a book with lunch ideas) is $24.99;  the insulated cases come with a drink bottle and are $19.99 for the child-style case and $24.99 for the adult-style case. [Read this and more at]


    The Age Epicure

    Battle of the Lunch Box

    February 2, 2010

    The fight to change the ubiquitous culture of the school canteen is hotting up.

    The days of the old school lunch box are numbered. The plastic box with an apple nestled next to a cheese sandwich wrapped in cling film is making way for a plastic container packed with vegetables, healthy leftovers and fresh fruit salad. More like a Japanese bento box, they are a result of pressures from nutritionists for healthier foods and environmentalists to cut unnecessary packaging. Picking up on these social pressures, companies and entrepreneurs have responded with these 21st-century boxes. [Read the full story on pages 4 and 5 of the February 2, 2010 issue.]


    New Retailers
    10809 Southern Loop Boulevard #1
    Pineville, NC 28134
    (800) 720-5076

    Whole Foods Market
    3761 State Street
    Santa Barbara, CA 93105
    (805) 837-6959

    Bambini Baby
    1129 A Garden Street
    San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
    (805) 782-9004

    Foods For Living
    2655 East Grand River
    East Lansing, MI 48823
    (517) 324-9010

    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.


    Excerpt from Vegan Lunch Box Around the World by Jennifer McCann

    Jennifer McCann has authored two books: Vegan Lunch Box and Vegan Lunch Box Around the World. She is also the creator of the award winning Vegan Lunch Box blog.



    Each menu in Vegan Lunch Box Around the World has been designed to provide a complete, well-balanced vegan meal. A well-balanced lunch should include the following: 

    1. VEGETABLES (cooked or raw)
    Nutrition super heroes, vegetables should be an essential part of the daily diet.  Offer a rainbow of colors (orange, red, purple, and especially green) to supply your family with vitamins, minerals, and health-protecting phytochemicals.

    2. FRUIT
    Fruit is second only to vegetables as an excellent source of vitamins, fiber, and phytochemicals.  Again, offer a rainbow of colors.

    3. PROTEIN (beans, tempeh, tofu, meat analogues, etc.)
    Protein is found in almost every food we eat, so it’s not the big concern you might expect it to be on a vegan diet.  Eat a wide variety of healthy whole foods and include a few of these protein-rich vegan options and your protein needs are sure to be met.

    4. CARBOHYDRATES (rice, pasta, bread, etc.)
    Carbs give your body energy and also help fill you up so you stay satisfied from lunchtime to the end of the work or school day.  Try to eat mostly complex carbohydrates like whole wheat and brown rice.

    5. HEALTHY FATS (soy, oils, nuts and seeds, avocado, etc.)
     I know fat has gotten a bad name, but including some fat in the diet is important for health, especially for young growing bodies.  Nuts, seeds, and avocados are great whole food sources of healthy fats. 

    6. CALCIUM
    Calcium-fortified nondairy beverage is an easy way to include some calcium with every lunch.  Calcium-fortified orange juice is another good choice (and contains more bioavailable calcium than cow’s milk!)  Other vegan sources include greens like kale, collards, and okra, quinoa, blackstrap molasses, calcium-set tofu, and almonds. 

    7. WATER
    Pack plenty of water to drink instead of consuming the empty calories found in sweetened, carbonated beverages.

    When you are packing the lunch, ask yourself:

    • Is the lunch nutritionally balanced?
    • Do the textures and tastes work well together? 
    • Is the lunch colorful and attractive?

    Use the guidelines above when switching out foods you know won’t get eaten for ones that will. If all the foods in Vegan Lunch Box Around the World are new to you, perhaps you can take the time to make one new recipe at a time and fill in the rest of the lunch with old favorites, including fast fixes like cooked frozen vegetables, a sliced apple, or baby carrots with dip. Enlist your family’s help in choosing and preparing what to pack.


  • Pack perishable foods cold and include an ice pack. Perishable foods (this includes soyfoods, beans, sprouts, rice, cooked vegetables, salad dressings, etc.) should be kept cold until lunchtime. In addition to an ice pack, freezing a container of nondairy yogurt, applesauce, juice, or water can help keep things cold.

  • Wash hands before handling or eating food. It’s best to wash hands with warm soapy water, but if you or your children don’t have access to a sink at lunchtime, consider doing as the Japanese do and pack an oshibori -- a small damp washcloth packed in a plastic carrying case. Baby-sized washcloths make excellent oshibori. Throw used oshibori in the laundry and wash and dry the plastic case along with your lunch box.

  • Throw away any leftovers. Any leftover foods that weren’t eaten during the day should be discarded when you get home. An ice pack can’t be relied upon to keep perishable foods fresh long past lunchtime.

  • Clean all lunch bags and containers after each use. Use hot soapy water and air dry overnight before repacking.

  • Vegan Lunch Box Around the World by Jennifer McCann
    125 Easy, International Lunches Kids and Grown-Ups Will Love.

    With Vegan Lunch Box Around the World, it's easy to enjoy all your favorite international and American dishes, now free of meat, eggs, and dairy products.

    Vegan Lunch Box Around the World is available for purchase at Visit for details.

    To learn more about Jennifer, visit her site at or check out her blog at .

    What Works...Success Stories

    "Thank you, thank you. THANK YOU! My kindergartener LOOOOVES her Bento Box. It's just plain fun for her!!! I'm realizing that lunch really doesn't have to be so complicated. Carrot sticks and dip are ok! I never knew, until my 6 year old started packing her own lunch, that the bar was so low on pickyness. I mean, I never knew that if she was left to her own devices she would pack the simplest things (carrot sticks, pita chips, craisins w/raw almonds and tuna). And she likes it because that's what she has chosen. I stopped asking "What should I pack for lunch?" and started asking "What did you choose to pack in your lunch box?" The Laptop Lunchbox is perfectly portioned for high energy, healthy foods. Thanks for doing what you do!"

            -- Nyla DuBois, Marblehead, MA

    "This is our 2nd year using the same lunch boxes. We are just loving them. Even my 2 year old has his own lunch. My oldest child likes to pack the lunches for me. I make up the "menu" plan using the chart you supplied. They are well worth the money and we recommend them to everyone who asks about them. Packing lunches is fun with our Laptop Lunches. I can't imagine life without them!"

            -- Catherine Bennet, Van Dyne, WI

    "I just wanted to let you know that our very first set of Laptop Lunch boxes, which are approximately four years old, and were used nearly every week day year-round, finally failed. We're recycling them, of course, and buying new ones to replace them. I don't know how much four years’ of disposable containers would cost or how much trash they'd generate, but we think your products are a great value and really appreciate their durability. And best of all, the lunch boxes go in the dishwasher."

            -- Jennifer Lantz, Sunnyvale, CA


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

    Featured Web Site:

    Supporting Good, Clean, and Fair Food

    Slow Food USA envisions a world in which all people can eat food that is goog for them, good for the people who grow it and good for the planet.

    Their Mission: Slow Food USA seeks to create dramatic and lasting change in the food system. They reconnect Americans with the people, traditions, plants, animals, fertile soils and waters that produce our food. They inspire a transformation in food policy, production practices and market forces to ensure equity, sustainability and pleasure in the food we eat.

    To find out more, visit

    On this site:

    • What is Slow Food?
    • Slow Food Programs Events Articles from the Slow Food USA Blog
    • Find a Slow Food Chapter in Your Area

    May Highlights

    Spinach Recipes, Green Opportunities, and an Obentec Interview


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

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    © April 2010 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."