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July 2006

Laptop Lunch Times: July 2006

The Laptop Lunch Times Cool-iscious
July 2006

Happy summer to all! We apologize in advance for a rather long newsletter this month. As we embark on the 2006 back-to-school season, we find ourselves with much news to report. Thanks for reading on...

Amy and Tammy

New Pink Bento Boxes are Here!

With so many families requesting Laptop Lunches in pink, we just had to introduce just one more color. All four color choices are now available online at and through select retailers.

Laptop Lunches: On their way to the UK!

Laptop Lunches are due to arrive at their UK destination In just a few short weeks. As of August 1st, all Laptop Lunch orders destined for the UK will be shipped directly from the UK, resulting in lower shipping costs and faster shipping. For more information or to place an order from Europe, please visit

Here are some photos and a few words from our UK distributor, Valerie Salomon:


"We are very excited to be launching Laptop Lunches in the UK. This unique, waste free lunchbox is hopefully going to help children and adults to make more wholesome, delicious lunches and thereby reduce the amount of junk food that we tend to pack so easily. We think that it is high time to set the example of good eating habits for us and the next generation."

Laptop Lunches in AUSTRALIA? Yes, LUNCH MATTERS!

Lunch Matters is delighted to announce that from September we will be selling the Laptop Lunchbox system and various components locally in Australia and New Zealand. To coincide with the arrival of the lunchboxes we will be launching a Web site that will provide a hands-on, user friendly approach for parents and schools who want their children to develop healthy, safe and sustainable eating practices. The Laptop Lunchbox system is an integral part of this new initiative.

In the lead up to our Web site launch, all enquiries can be forwarded to [email protected].

At Lunch Matters we are driven by the belief that our children's future is a product of the choices we make today.

Got a favorite photo to share?

mail it to us at [email protected], and we'll publish it here!
  • Potato Samosa
  • Fresh Organic Strawberries
  • Blintzes with spinach, diced fresh tomatoes, scallions, mushrooms, and crumbled feta cheese

In this issue, you'll find:

  • Monthly Menu
  • Travel Menus
  • Green Opportunities
  • New Retailers
  • Laptop Lunches in the News
  • Obentec Interviews Jan Katzen-Luchenta
  • Featured Web site:
  • What works...Success Stories
Nutritious, waste-free lunches for the whole family

Monthly Menu

Travel Menus

#1: Divine Roll-ups

Planning a trip this summer? Don't forget to pack healthy lunches along the way. Whether you're going by car, plane, or taking some exotic form of transportation, these simple yet delicious travel menus will help you start off on the right foot.

  • Organic Field Greens Salad
  • Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing
  • Selection of Cubed Cheeses
  • Organic Red Flame Grapes
  • Veggie Roll-ups (Made with lavash bread, roasted bell peppers, sauteed portobello mushrooms, fresh spinach, tomatoes, and cream cheese/sun-dried tomato spread.)

#2: Cherries Plus

  • Japanese somen noodles sprinkled with soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, and sesame seeds
  • Pan-fried soy sausage
  • Steamed edamame
  • Fresh organic cherries

Green Opportunities

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

  • HOW TO RECYCLE PRACTICALLY ANYTHING–Don't throw away those exercise videos and ubiquitous AOL CDs. Jim Williams wants you to mail old videotapes and CDs to him, so that more than 40 disabled staffers at his ACT Recycling in Columbia, Missouri can recycle them. And, oh, don't toss out those used Fed-Ex envelopes or broken smoke detectors; their manufacturers take them back for recycling.

    Indeed, these days, it seems that more cast-offs than ever can be recycled. No matter where you live, you can recycle a wide range of discards - aseptic juice packages, printer cartridges, ordinary batteries, iPods, PDAs, and even cell phones.

    Surprised? Recycling has leap-frogged ahead, meaning if you haven't checked the recycling scene since the mid-1990s, it's possible that much of what you thought you knew is wrong. Not only can you recycle more things, but your discards are very much in demand, perhaps more than you realize. To read the rest of this article published in E Magazine, visit

  • There's no need to water more than an inch per week. Over-watering is unhealthy for lawns and invites lawn disease. Placing a tuna can under the sprinkler will help gauge water depth. Water early in the morning to avoid excessive evaporation from midday sun.

  • Taller grass has deeper roots, causing the plants to need less watering. Set mower height to 3 inches and cut grass when it reaches 4.5 inches.

  • Sharpen mower blades. Dull blades harm grass blades, inviting disease.
  • Return grass clippings to the lawn. Grass mulching decreases weeds up to 60% and is a free natural fertilizer.
  • Avoid cheap grass seed, as it typically has weed seeds mixed in. Buy good quality perennial ryes and fescue's.
  • Each time you mow, try alternating your pattern and path. This prevents the soil from compacting.
  • Soil biota helps provide a stable healthy lawn. If your lawn has been treated chemically, it will take a couple of years for the soil microorganisms to rebuild.
*Reprinted from Organic Bytes #84, The Organic Consumers

  • VEGETARIAN RECIPES AND NEWS–Looking for interesting vegetarian recipes and vegetarian news? Meatout Mondays is published each week by: FARM - Farm Animal Reform Movement 10101 Ashburton Lane Bethesda, MD 20817. For more information, visit their Web site at

New Retailers

Nest Natural
5809 Clarksville Square Drive Clarksville, MD 21029

(443) 535.0212

New Leaf Community Market
1134 Pacific Avenue
Santa Cruz, CA 95060

(831) 425-1793

Wheatsville Co-op
3101 Guadalupe Street
Austin, TX 78705

(512) 478-2667

Sign of the Times
112 Main Street
Nyack, NY 10960

(845) 353-4059

Nutrition Smart
4155 B Northlake Blvd.
Palm Beach Garden, FL 33410

(561) 694-0644



Laptop Lunches in the News

First-class carry-on: Homemade food
can make flying more pleasurable

Sunday, May 21, 2006

By Maeve Reston, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

WASHINGTON -- We've all had one of those days. There wasn't a moment to spare before my flight. I had underestimated the rush-hour traffic, the snarling line at the security checkpoint, the time it would take the Transportation Security Administration to do that mysterious test on my laptop for traces of explosives -- and how hungry I would get after skimping on lunch.

With T-minus 10 minutes to the closing of the cabin door, I was careening through the terminal in wildly impractical shoes, barely hanging onto my suitcase. The restaurants along my path were a neon blur. Time to grab a sandwich or hit the ATM? Forget about it.

As I limped toward my window seat, my stomach was already growling. The reality of the five-hour flight to Los Angeles yawned before me. With no cash, my best bet was going to be hanging around the back galley begging the flight attendants for extra pretzels.

As we all are learning -- often the hard way -- complimentary food on most airlines in economy class is a distant memory.

The airline meals of recent years were hardly the gourmet endeavors of the 1950s, when airlines such as Pan Am and TWA made high-class meals standard fare for their passengers, but they did help satisfy passengers on long flights. And as late as the 1970s, when airlines still were regulated, first-class airline offerings sometimes included duck and chateaubriand served on crystal and china, and even coach-class passengers got simple but balanced meals during the breakfast, lunch and dinner hours.

However, infrastructure needed to store, reheat and serve the food consumed space and fuel, making it expensive. So in 2001, when major carriers began cruising toward bankruptcy -- largely as a result of intense price competition with low-cost airlines such as Southwest and JetBlue, the pre-Sept. 11th recession and the nervousness of frequent fliers after the Sept. 11th attacks -- many airlines eliminated meals.

The savings from cutting the service was immediate.

In 2000, airlines were spending about $2.9 billion a year to feed passengers. By eliminating meals in coach on most flights and by selling food items, a carrier such as American Airlines -- one of the few that would disclose cost-savings -- saved nearly $30 million last year. Across the industry in the third quarter of 2005, U.S. airlines spent 11 percent less on food and beverage than in the same period the year before, according to an analysis by the Air Transport Association.

John Heimlich, chief economist at the ATA, a trade organization representing of the major airlines, says the transition to purchase on board "doesn't appear to have had any material impact on our business.

"A lot of people say what we're offering to buy now is better than what we were serving for free," he said. "The passengers were sending a very clear signal ... 'I'd rather have the lowest fare possible and have the option to buy something.' "

With the exception of a few carriers such as Continental Airlines, which still offers free hot and cold sandwiches on long flights, nearly all of the major airlines are peddling snack packs on flights over three hours and sometimes a salad or sandwich option on longer flights.

Some travelers might find them satisfying, but to me the snack packs resemble a midnight raid on a vending machine, and I'm just not going to pay $5 dollars for tasteless iceberg lettuce or a chicken sandwich smothered in cream cheese.

In the tens of thousands of miles I've flown over the past year from Washington, D.C., where I work, to L.A., where my boyfriend lives, I've decided that the solution to putting some class and comfort back into air travel is preparing my own in-flight meals the night before travel.

I was looking for options that were more healthful and lower in sodium than the airport offerings -- a meal that was energizing, but light enough to avoid the Buddha-belly feeling that comes from eating too much and being trapped in a seat belt for five hours.

After some mishaps with forgotten forks and soggy sandwiches, I settled on lavash wraps, a type of flatbread, which allow you to get creative with ingredients and also hold up well several hours into a flight, even with the rough and tumble of airport security.

I tried recipes that I could work into my dinner routines the night before. If I was cooking on the stove, I would simultaneously prepare the Thai chicken lettuce wrap mixture adapted from Rachael Ray's 30-minute meal collection. If grilling, I'd throw on some pineapple and shrimp skewers brushed with teriyaki sauce. In both cases, I'd refrigerate them overnight and wrap the next morning. When time was at a premium, I'd opt for a quick Mediterranean vegetable wrap with avocado, roasted red peppers, hummus and feta cheese.

On sides, I took my inspiration from modern versions of traditional Japanese bento boxes -- lunchboxes that encourage you to create a balanced meal with their separate compartments. I actually tried traveling with the elegant black and red lacquered bento box that the Golden Door Spa uses to serve lunch, but it didn't pass the leak-free test.

I found a more portable insulated version at with mini sealed compartments -- but Tupperware or even Ziplocs work well also.

These days I'm the envy of my seatmates. When the stewardess passes through the aisle with cocktails and those high-sodium pretzels, I feel positively spa-like munching my own mix of raw almonds, dried cherries and semisweet chocolate chips.

As we fly through the clouds high above those twinkling city lights, I'll eat my main course, which I wrap tightly in wax paper so I can tear away the paper at the top and peel down an inch with each bite -- a method that makes the whole endeavor drip-free.

Then somewhere over the Midwest just as I'm getting sleepy, I'll eat my dessert -- strawberries and a few squares of dark chocolate -- a combination that is easy but seems positively decadent.

Sit back, relax and enjoy your flight? With a bit of planning and preparation, we can all do just that.

Obentec Interview: Food Balancing, Fats and Focusing
Tammy Pelstring recently interviewed Jan Katzen-Luchenta, author of Little Learner's Diet: Food Balancing, Fats and Focusing, about her book and how it relates to packing nutritious lunches.

Tammy: Can you provide us with a short synopsis of your book?

Jan: Feeding the brain as well as the body is the theme of the book. Food accessorizing and balancing is another aspect of nutrition that I delve into for little learners. I challenge the reader to become a nutritional scientist and identify the foods that might have an adverse effect on their child's behavior, mood, and ability to focus. Included in my book are over 200 scientific studies that evidence the ill effects on the brain of added sugars, refined carbohydrates, man-made fats, food additives, preservatives and insufficient consumption of essential nutrients found in whole foods. Using charts comparing different nutrient values in foods, advice from experts, breakfast and lunch ideas, and hands-on recipes, I guide the reader into making healthier choices that support their child's learning.

Tammy: Tell us a little bit about your background.

Jan: I grew up in Philadelphia and moved to Phoenix, Arizona in the late 1960s. I pursued a college degree in child psychology then switched majors to creative writing. I wrote a series of children's books and then decided that in order to really understand the minds, hearts, and bodies of children I decided to become a teacher. I read The Secret of Childhood by Maria Montessori, immediately took the training, and found a school that accepted me as a student teacher. In 1998 I wrote my first book, Awakening Your Toddler's Love of Learning and followed with Little Learner's Diet, Food Balancing, and Focusing in 2004. I consult with schools, families and individual children covering a broad spectrum of educational and nutritional concerns. I am a free lance journalist and regularly contribute to Tomorrow's Child magazine, Infant and Toddler's magazine, and the newsletter and Nutritional and Health Journal published by the McCarrison Society.

Tammy: What inspired you to write Little Learner's Diet: Food Balancing, Fats and Focusing?

Jan: I decided to investigate why some of my students were upbeat most of the time, rarely moody, and exceptionally focused and others were unable to function in the classroom consistently. There were always 2 or 3 disruptive little ones who required more observation and in some cases one-on-one monitoring so they wouldn't interfere with another child's learning or safety. Usually a child can be redirected before he interrupts a friend who is working intently. But some children absolutely could not be redirected. There seemed to be something within them that was organic in nature, an unseen force they could not control. These children became tantrum driven, lacked impulse control and in some cases became violent. A requirement for my Montessori accreditation was to observe and take detailed notes of the mannerisms, movement, and emotional lives of infants for hours at a time. This helped to re-align my rushed adult perspective to the total focal presence and responsive innocence of the first year of life. I was determined to identify any and all obstacles that might be corrupting that innocence and intense focus. And with my students a reasonable place to start was breakfast.

I began to call moms and dads mid-morning, looking for the faintest preschool dietary clue as to why certain students were focused and others were not. It became clear that improper nutrition was playing a significant role.

Tammy: What was the most surprising information you came across while doing research for your book?

Jan: The specificity of mother nature's plan for each and every nutrient within the human body--a plan of such paramount importance that deficiencies can cause deleterious effects in newborns and young children. The timing of these vital nutrients needed for healthy development is also critical. Iodine, for example, is extremely important for healthy brain development. Endemic cretinism, which is a severe form of mental retardation, can be prevented during pregnancy if the mother takes in adequate amounts of iodine prior to conception. Studies show that iodine-deficient pregnant woman who are given iodine during different trimesters of pregnancy, still have babies with varying degrees of neurological impairment. We can only wonder if disorders, such as autism, dyslexia, and learning challenges could be prevented through diet.

Tammy: What's one change that families can make for a healthier diet?

Jan: Eat fish oil, a good source of extra long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, every morning and every evening. Flax, a vegetable source of omega-3s should also be eaten every day. Complement these essential fatty acids with extra virgin olive oil, canola oil (expeller pressed), or walnut oil. Little ones require more saturated fats like butter and cream. Remember that breast milk is 60% fat. The World Health Organization believes that weaning children should be given fats in proportions close to breast milk. Critical neurological pathways, which require these highly specialized fats, are being formed at this time. Once a child turns two, fat intake can slowly be decreased to that of adults.

Complement these fats with foods that contain high vitamin and mineral content instead of eating overly processed foods. Many processed foods are are fortified with vitamins and minerals, but there is still a chemical process involved. Nothing can take the place of REAL FOOD.

Tammy: What do you think is the biggest misconception families have about nutrition?

Jan: That it is difficult to change dietary habits--and that they don’t have the time or money to prepare healthy meals, which may require shopping at expensive health food markets, peeling, chopping, slicing, and sautéing fresh produce.

Tammy: Describe the perfect lunch.

Jan: The perfect lunch includes foods that are abundantly rich in the nutrients that are vital to good mental and physical health. If I were granted one meal for lunch after a period of starvation, I would start with a spinach salad with sprinkles of almonds, pumpkin, sunflower, and flax seeds. Then I would add green peas, garbanzo beans, and lots of dried tart cherries. The dressing would be a mixture of olive oil, oregano, and balsamic vinegar. On whole grain spelt bread, I would spread organic cream cheese and top with sliced tomato and chunks of wild Chinook salmon. Dessert would be strawberries, blueberries, and mango with low fat yogurt sweetened with organic maple syrup.

Tammy: Growing up, who inspired you?

Jan: I have always been a keen observer almost to the point of being nosey. I'm sure I got this attention to detail from my father. He was an engineer, classical pianist, and voracious reader. This attention to the slightest detail made my candidacy for Montessori training fit like a pair of binoculars. Maria Montessori had an "eye of genius" for child development. "Follow the child" which is the Montessori mantra was easy for me. Not that I have an "eye of genius"- just an alertness and curiosity.

Tammy: If a genie in a bottle granted you three wishes, what would they be?

Jan: I would wish for a partnership between medical and nutritional science that would design a curriculum for all health professionals, teachers, parents, and parents-to-be that stresses the important role of each and every nutrient during each stage of development from conception through senescence. School-related professionals would be required to take a dietary assessment along with any clinical assessment of a child who is struggling in school.

Secondly, I would wish for all babies to be born to families who are knowledgeable about nutritional needs through all phases of development from preconception through pregnancy.

Finally, I would want everyone to shop at farmers' markets and natural foods stores, eat free range, organic food (including 12 servings a day of high anti-oxidant fruits and vegetables), and utilize nature's protective bounty against childhood diseases such as cancer and diabetes.

Jan's book, Little Learners Diet: Food Balancing, Fats and Focusing, is available online at

What Works...Success Stories

"Just wanted to say Laptop Lunches aren't just for kids! I use mine at work to bring healthy, nutritious meals. What I love is the built-in portion control! I've noticed I eat a greater variety of foods as well. Instead of a large portion of rice and beans, I know have a smaller serving with greens, crackers fruit and cheese. I also use the carrier when my 10-month old goes to daycare. I make my own baby food and she has breakfast and lunch, plus yogurt and cereal- all in separate containers. Thanks for a great product we can all feel good about owning and using!"

        --Elizabeth Sims, Birmingham, Alabama

"We received the luchboxes yesterday. The kids were so excited! We homeschool, so I plan to use them for nature walks, field trips, or for my husband's lunch. But right before dinnertime, the oldest child (she's 8) asked if I could put their dinner in the lunchboxes. So I did. She finished every bite. She said she doesn't even like cantaloupe, but ate all of hers. This morning, the 2 yr. old asked before breakfast, 'Where's my lunchbox, mommy?' Thanks a lot!"

        --Florita Basuil, Eagan, MN

"Thank you for making a lunch box that makes sense. A lot of sense. I have been struggling for years with plastic containers that are too big or too small, and that are not compact and easy to keep contained."

        --Misti, Antioch, CA

" I just wanted you to know that I just got my order yesterday. Pretty quick! Thank you so much for the great service. I'm really pleased. I'm considering giving them as gifts to my friends with young children."

        --Pamela Tajmajer, Austin, TX

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

Featured Web Site:

Rustle the Leaf uses syndication-quality, weekly comic strips and other creative tools to communicate essential environmental themes and truths. Their goals are to encourage environmentalists, to facilitate the sharing of environmental views in an engaging, nonconfrontational manner, and to introduce and reinforce environmental education with people ages 6 to 106.

To check out this week's comic strip, click below:

  • Link to their weekly comic strip.
  • Download their lesson plans.
  • Read their eco-blog.
  • Send an E-Card.
  • Enjoy the "Leave it Green" pod cast.

August Highlights

Picnic menus, Green Opportunities, Laptop Lunches and Weight Loss, and News from Abroad


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

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© July 2006 Obentec, Inc.

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