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January 2006

Laptop Lunch Times: January 2006

The Laptop Lunch Times

January 2006

Happy New Year!

Best wishes for a happy, healthy, and waste-free 2006! If you haven't done so yet, please check out our new products at

Amy and Tammy

In this issue, you'll find:

  • Monthly Menu
  • Wholesome Snacks
  • Green Opportunities
  • Interview: What's Cooking
  • A Word on Healthy Snacks
  • Featured Web site:
  • What works...Success Stories

Monthly Menu

Wholesome Snacks

Here are two snack ideas to help start the new year off right!

#1: "Berry Delicious" Snack Mix

  • 4 cups prepared granola
  • 2 cups raspberry yogurt-covered pretzels (optional)
  • 1 cup almonds
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup dried blueberries
  • 1/4 cup coconut shavings
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds

    1. Toast almonds, coconut, sesame seeds, and sunflower seeds in a shallow baking pan in a 350°F oven for 7 minutes.
    2. Stir and toast for another 5 minutes. Let cool.
    3. Mix all ingredients in a bag and shake.
    4. Store in an airtight container.

  • #2: Applesauce Muffins

    Makes 12 muffins.

    • 2 Tbs canola oil
    • 3 Tbs brown sugar
    • 2 eggs, beaten
    • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
    • 1 1/4 cup nonfat milk or soy milk
    • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce
    • 2 cups whole wheat flour
    • 1 cup oatmeal
    • 1 tsp baking soda
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
    • 2/3 cup mixed dried fruit of your choice (raisins, cranberries, chopped apricots, chopped prunes, chopped dates)

    1. Preheat oven to 350 F..
    2. Combine the oil, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, milk, and applesauce and set aside.
    3. Combine the flour, oatmeal, baking soda, and salt, and mix thoroughly.
    4. Gently mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.
    5. Add the nuts and fruit, and stir just enough to mix.
    6. Pour into oiled muffin tins and bake for 18-20 minutes or until springy.
    7. Let cool for a few minutes before removing from tin.


    Green Opportunities

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

  • Looking for more lunchmaking ideas? Visit Mimi Ito's Web site at
      She says, "Laptop lunch boxes are a clever integration of the aesthetics of bento with the social progressivism, health orientation and design aesthetic of the San Francisco Bay Area. The compartments fit together in bento fashion, but are packed in a carrying case that look like a cross between a laptop case and a soft American kids' lunchbox. The deluxe set also comes with a plastic water bottle and a spoon and fork. Maybe if I had started off with Laptop Lunches rather than standard Japanese bento, my daughter may not have felt as strange during the kindergarten lunch hour."

    • Just because winter is on its way doesn't mean you have to stop COMPOSTING. Bring it inside! It's really quite easy to set up a small, clean and effective indoor composting system that will turn your food waste into the best organic fertilizer on the planet. Plus, you'll be the life of every party when people find out you have worms for pets! The landfills are overflowing and so are the water treatment facilities. Turn your food waste into black gold. Learn how to set-up an indoor composting system here:

    • Recent finding from the ORGANIC CONSUMERS ASSOCIATION--Produce with the lowest pesticide levels: asparagus, avocados, bananas, broccoli, cauliflower, sweet corn, kiwi, mangoes, onions, papaya, pineapples and sweet peas. Produce with the highest pesticide levels: apples, bell peppers, celery, cherries, imported grapes, nectarines, peaches, pears, potatoes, red raspberries, spinach and strawberries. (Source: ORGANIC BYTES #70 Health, Environment, and Consumer News Tidbits with an Edge! 11/30/2005)
    • Using the Internet is a great way to cut down on the amount of paper we use, and more and more children are becoming Internet savvy. THE CENTER FOR SAFE AND RELIABLE INTERNET USE at and provides information for parents, teachers, and teens on strategies for preventing cyberbullying.

    • CAR SEAT SAFETY--Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and State Farm Insurance Company have teamed up to provide in-depth information (including an informative video) on up-to-date car seat safety. Visit for information on choosing the best car seat, installing a car seat properly, and choosing the safest seat in the car. They've included information for children of all ages.

    • LIVING TREE PAPER COMPANY ( sells printing and writing papers made from nonwood fibers (flax straw and hemp) and post-consumer content. By providing high-quality papers that are environmentally responsible and economically sound, they are helping to minimize the environmental impact of paper production and use, and they're supporting the market for recycled paper. They offer coated and uncoated printing & writing papers directly to printers, distributors and end-users. They also provide a complete range of printing services, using soy-based inks.

    Tammy Pelstring Interviews Michelle Stern

    Michelle Stern, founder of What's Cooking, has parlayed her experience as a high school science teacher into a second career as a children's cooking instructor. Based in Marin County, California, Michelle's classes are designed to get young children involved in understanding how whole ingredients come together to make wonderful meals that nourish their bodies.
    T: Tell us about yourself and your background?

    M: I'm a teacher. It's in my blood. I majored in biology at UC Santa Cruz, where I earned a teaching credential so I could share my passion with other people. After graduating, I taught high school biology and environmental science for 5 years. When my daughter was born, I stopped teaching to be a full-time mother. After the adoption of my son, I started yearning to do something "professional" again and began working as a consultant with The Pampered Chef.
    T: What inspired you to start What's Cooking?

    M: My Pampered Chef customers started asking if I would hold cooking classes for children. They kept telling me that they wanted more options for children's birthday parties and wanted to learn how to be more confident in the kitchen with their children. After doing some market research, What's Cooking was born.

    T: In your classes, do you teach children about the importance of good nutrition?

    M: We talk about "growing food" vs. "treats." I try to focus my lessons on healthy recipes. Children are more likely to eat food that they have prepared themselves. I love when kids try healthy recipes that they are proud of. (Nobody needs to be convinced to try sweets!)

    T: Besides making delicious creations, what else do children gain from your classes?

    M: I believe the culinary arts foster children's self-esteem, creativity, and confidence. Exposing them to new foods helps build social skills through sharing and cooperation. They learn to make quality time with their families through cooking and eating. As for the educational and developmental benefits, children are given the opportunity to hone their fine and gross motor skills, to develop their senses and new vocabulary, explore chemical and physical reactions (such as freezing and boiling) and practical mathematical applications (such as measuring, counting and working with fractions).

    T: What is your most popular class?

    M: Every month I offer classes that feature different themes. In October, students loved my Spooktakular Snacks class. I am looking forward to the class in January: Chinese New Year. There also seems to be a large demand for classes for children between the ages of 4 to 6. The cooking birthday parties are also very popular…for children of all ages.

    T: What do children seem to enjoy most about your classes?

    M: They love that they get to play with their food…and that it usually yields something delicious!

    T: What makes your classes unique?

    M: Most cooking programs start with children who are older. I don't see any reason to put the enthusiasm of younger children on hold. So, I start with children as young as 2 ½ in parent-participation classes, and I do lots of classes with children 4 to 6. Cooking is a rare opportunity for children to be in control of their environment. If they can cook what they want, they are that much more inclined to love being in the kitchen.

    T. Who inspires you?

    M. When I was young, I was inspired by my mother and grandmother's cooking. Now I am mostly inspired by my children.

    For more information on Michelle's classes, visit her Web site at

    A Word on Healthy Snacks

    The holiday season has come and gone. The kids are back in school (or almost), and many of us are now trying to ease ourselves back into our non-holiday routine--and that includes returning to a balanced, non-holiday diet.

    Thus it seems timely to include in this month's newsletter the following information on snacking from the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI):

    With most holiday gatherings centering around food, it's fine to indulge a little in holiday treats, particularly if they are healthful alternatives to the usual fare of baked goods and sweets.

    When planning for your child's classroom party or any other gathering, consider serving these healthful foods:

    Fruits and vegetables. You might be surprised how many kids actually prefer fruit and vegetable snacks to other treats. Offer your children a wide variety and continue to experiment.

    Healthy grains. Serve whole-grain snacks, which provide more fiber, vitamins, and minerals than refined grains. Granola bars, baked tortilla chips, or sugar-free breakfast cereals are great items to keep in the car while performing errands.

    Low-fat and fat-free dairy foods or dairy alternatives. Make sure that all dairy foods you serve to your children are low-fat or fat-free. Serve small portions. Cheese goes very well with other healthy foods, such as fruit and whole-grain crackers.

    Nuts and trail mix. Because nuts are high in calories, it's best to serve them in small portions, or as part of a healthful trail mix.

    Water. Water should be the main drink served to kids at snack times. If you must serve juice, make sure it's 100 percent juice (no sugar or high-fructose corn syrup added), and make the portions small.

    Read labels carefully!

    This information was adapted from "Healthy Snacks for Children" tipsheet published by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI)

    What Works...Success Stories

    • "I am very interested in providing healthier food for my family. I’ve been getting your newsletter for awhile, and I finally decided to take the plunge and order your lunch box for my 9 year old daughter.

      "Thank you for your very informative website and links. I am on the Fitness and Nutrition Committee for the PTA at my local elementary school. We are working to improve the message our children receive at school about what good nutrition and fitness are all about and to help the food service staff and parents provide healthy lunches that kids will eat. Your site has provided us with a lot of good information."

               --Barbara Morgan, Fircrest, WA

    • "I really appreciate your prompt response and suggestions. Thanks again for coming up with such a great lunchbox! There is really nothing else like it. From working at a public charter school, I can definitely attest to not yet having come across a lunchbox half as good as yours. And I love seeing my 5-year-old walking outside in line for lunch carrying his 'Laptop Lunchbox' like a briefcase. He is so proud of it. In fact, he and my daughter (7-years-old) were carrying the lunchboxes the entire day that I received them in the mail (with nothing inside) and constantly thanking me for them. I extend those thanks to you."

               --Sumayya Allen, Atlanta, GA

    • "Just wanted you to know...I love your product, newsletter, and recipes. Thank you for doing the work you do. It is much appreciated!"

               --Gail Dutto, San Bruno, CA

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

    Featured Web Site:


    Looking for a green auto club? Better World Club provides 24-hour roadside assistance nationwide. Visit their Web site at for travel discounts, free maps, and road trip planning. You'll also find savings on eco-friendly travel opportunities like ecotours, ecolodging, and hybrid car rentals. And...they have the nation's only bicycle roadside assistance program.

    February Highlights

    Hearty Salads, Green Opportunities, and Tips for Greening Conferences and other Events.


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

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    © January 2006 Obentec, Inc.

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


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