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September 2006

Laptop Lunch Times: September 2006

The Laptop Lunch Times
September 2006

In this issue, you'll find:

  • Obentec Announcements
  • Favorite Photo
  • Monthly Menu
  • Back-to-school Sandwich Fillings
  • Green Opportunities
  • Laptop Lunches in the News
  • New Retailers
  • Do Your Part: Idle Free
  • What works...Success Stories
  • Featured Web site:
Nutritious, waste-free lunches for the whole family

Back to School!

We wish you all a healthy, happy, and successful academic year 2006/07! As you ease back into the school routine, remember to get plenty of rest, exercise regularly, drink enough water, and eat well. And...don't forget to check your monthly Laptop Lunch Times throughout the school year for fresh lunchmaking ideas.

Laptop Lunches Fundraiser

Looking for a way to raise cash for your school? Want to reduce trash and improve lunchtime nutrition? Check out our easy-to-administer school promotions and fundraisers at

In the UK or Europe? Visit or call 01252 733536.

In Australia or New Zealand? Laptop Lunches are now available at

Amy and Tammy

Got a favorite photo to share?

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

"I don't know if you're also interested in grown up lunches, but here's one of my favorites:

A portable sandwich bar with hummus, tomatoes, hard boiled egg, red peppers, pita stuffed with spinach that I put in the carrying case zipper pocket, and baby carrots to snack on with the dip in the small container. I put the banana where the water bottle usually goes. It works swimmingly!"

Happy lunching,


Monthly Menu

Sandwich Fillings

Ready to put something new and exciting inside your sandwich? Try some of these yummy sandwich ideas!

  • Peanut butter with thinly sliced Apples
  • Cucumber, Avocado and Shredded Carrots
  • Cream Cheese with Sun-dried Pesto and Basil Pesto
  • Pizza Sauce with Cheese, Mushrooms and Olives (Cook in toaster oven or broiler until cheese is melted.)
  • Fresh Mozzarella cheese with Tomato and Basil
  • Baked Teriyaki Tofu with Lettuce and Tomato
  • Hummus and Cucumbers
  • Egg Salad with Shredded Carrots
  • Left over Grilled Vegetables
  • Almond Butter and Fruit Preserves with a sprinkling of Sunflower Seeds.
  • Goat Cheese with Olive Tapenade

  • Green Opportunities

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

    • COMPACT FLUORESCENTS–Replacing one 100-watt bulb with a just-as-bright 30-watt compact fluorescent cuts more than 1,300 pounds of carbon dioxide pollution over the life of the bulb. Swap out two bulbs to lower your household emissions by more than a ton! Make the Switch - Join the One Million-Bulb Swap Out at
      We can reduce our global warming pollution by changing old, incandescent lights to newer energy-saving models, or compact fluorescent lights. That's because the average 25-watt compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulb generates as much light as a 75-watt incandescent light bulb, but uses less than a third the energy.
    • GETTING ORGANIZED FOR BACK-TO-SCHOOL September means adjusting to new schedules and routines and, as many of us know oh too well, a chaotic transition will often lead to conflict and stress. The good news is that taking a little extra time to get organized will help make the transition a smooth one. Here are a few ideas:

      THE CALENDAR: As a family, work on the family calendar together. Remember to include departure and arrival times, afterschool activities, and appointments. Write down your carpool information, who is scheduled for pick up and drop off, who's taking the bus or riding a bike, who's walking. Add new information as far in advance as possible. Don't wait till the last minute to make changes!

      MEALS: Plan breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus for the week. Make a grocery list and shop for fresh, healthy items to have in the kitchen. Find out who will be home for dinner each day and plan accordingly.

      THE MORNING RUSH: Prepare lunches in the evening and store them in the refrigerator overnight. Use leftovers to your advantage. Make extra for dinner and pack it for lunch the next day.

      SCHEDULING CONFLICTS: If possible coordinate computer time, kitchen space, and bathroom use during busy evening and morning hours.

      QUALITY TIME: Use technology appropriately. Make sure children complete homework and read for pleasure instead of relying on computer games, video games, television, and the telephone. Set aside time to relax, relate, and re-energize.

      COMMUNITY: Coordinate with friends and family. Carpool to reduce emissions and save time. Help your friends, and let your friends know how they can help you.

    • THE 100 MILE DIET– The typical-American meal is made up of foods that have traveled an average of 2,000 miles to get from farm to table. While this practice is convenient and may provide us with greater variety, it also has a negative impact on energy conservation, greenhouse gases, and oil dependence. In fact, industrial agriculture and long-distance food transportation generate between 20-25% of all climate destabilizing greenhouse gases in the U.S. Given this fact, buying food that is locally or regionally grown can dramatically reduce energy consumption and greenhouse pollution. Enter a new trend, started by Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon: the 100 mile diet. "We're the kind of people that ride our bikes everywhere, so we wondered why we were going to all this effort when our food was flying around the world," says Smith. The diet trend, which requires participants to eat only foods grown within a 100 mile radius, is catching on across North America. Philadelphia journalist Elisa Ludwig took up the 100 mile diet for 12 days to learn more about the foods she eats. "If eating local is a moral imperative, then every meal is an opportunity to do the right thing," says Ludwig, who kept a daily journal of the experience. You can read her journal entries at
    • HEARD OF ZELFO? It's a wood-like material made of hemp, and it's 100% biodegradable. It's made of pure plant fibres with no resins or glues. It's extremely strong and looks great. To see some Zelfo products, including a bowl by Georgio Armani and a stylish chair, visit

    Laptop Lunches in the News

    Love those lunchboxes! (Woman's Day Magazine, August 2006)

    Bento Lunch Box

    Based on the Japanese Bento Box, this lunchbox is perfect for parents who want to make sure their children eat all the right food groups. With one main compartment and five smaller ones, kids are sure to eat a balanced meal. Comes with a spoon, fork, and guide to nutritious eating.

    Take the 'yuck' out of lunch (The Times-Union, August 3, 2006)

    By DAN MACDONALD, The Times-Union

    When Tammy Pelstring and Amy Hemmert developed their version of the bento box, they did it with nutrition in mind. So they wrote a booklet, The Laptop Lunch User's Guide, that includes many nutritious lunch ideas. We've thrown in a few others to encourage the kids to eat.

    1. Let the children become part of the lunch process. They'll be more apt to eat the lunch. "You have to let it go and let it be OK if the kitchen is more messy that you'd expect it to get," Pelstring said. "Kids love to cook and participate in it."

    2. Sit with the kids and discuss foods. Children as young as kindergarten age can help make lunch decisions. Talk about what they like and don't like and make a list of foods appropriate for a healthful lunch. Pelstring even has the children help with the shopping to get accustomed to vegetables and non-packaged foods.

    3. Include the occasional surprise treat. "Talk about what are 'growing' foods vs. 'once-in-a-while foods,' " Pelstring said.

    4. Cook without expressing your likes and dislikes; let kids decide on their own. This one comes from Silvana Nardone, editor of Everyday with Rachael Ray magazine. Nardone said that children are taught to eat two ways: They are either presented food and allowed no input or they are allowed to explore. "What I love about kids is that they can be truly honest and they'll say, 'Yuck,' even if you cooked all day."

    5. Leftovers make a perfect lunch the next day. Parents can plan ahead and cook more than needed the night before. It takes no longer to cook two chickens than it does one. At around $5, that second chicken can make plenty of chicken salad or be sliced for chicken sandwiches or wraps. While cooking supper, boil some eggs in a separate pot to serve whole the next day or use for egg salad.

    6. Consider what time your child will be eating. A small ice pack inside a plastic bag (to prevent leaking) is a good idea when packing non-processed foods. Pack a small water bottle or milk carton so the children won't be tempted with soda if it's available at their school.

    New Retailers

    Outpost Natural Foods
    2826 S. Kinnickinnic
    Milwaukee, WI 53207
    (414) 755-3202

    Natures Finest Organics
    5437 Dixie Hwy.
    Waterford, MI 48329

    (248) 623-4883

    A Child's Delight
    3900 Bel Air Plaza, Suite S
    Napa, CA 94558
    (707) 257-1842

    Tiny Tots Togs
    138 Railway Avenue
    Campbell, CA 95008

    (408) 866-2925
    The Rocking Horse
    791 8th Street
    Arcata, CA 95521
    (707) 822-3509

    Earth's General Store
    10832 Whyte Avenue
    Edmonton, AB T6E 2B3
    (780) 439-8725

    Borden Communications + Design
    [email protected]

    (416) 484-6489

    Willow Creek Natural Goods
    8117 92nd St NW
    Gig Harbor, WA 98332
    (253) 732-5098 Vendor booth at the Hillcrest Farmers’ market every Sunday, 9:00 – 1:00 in front of the DMV at the front end of the market. (619) 278-8550

    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.

    Do Your Part: Idle Free

    Tammy recently spoke with longtime Laptop Lunch supporter, Jennifer Duckworth, about an exciting new campaign she's promoting. It's called
    Idle Free: You and Me.

    Hi Jennifer. Could you tell our readers a little bit about your Idle Free campaign?

    Jennifer: Idle Free: You and Me is a campaign that educates people about the problems associated with idling their cars unnecessarily. I've put together a presentation and handout to help people understand why idling their cars, especially at schools, is not a good idea and what they can do about it.

    Many people idle their cars without understanding the consequences. Parents may idle when they're picking their kids up from school. Friends idle when they're waiting for friends. Drivers idle at fast food drive-thrus, bank drive-up windows, gas stations, or when running into a store. By educating people about the negative effects on our health, air pollution, global climate change, finances and cars, I hope that people will choose to turn their engines off.

    Tammy: With the new school year set to begin, it's a great time to educate families on the benefits of turning off your engine. Aside from the health benefits, what are some of the other benefits people might not be aware of?

    Jennifer: Well, first I must say how excited I am to hear you mention schools. Schools are the best place for people to think about turning off their cars. Children breath at the tailpipe level, close to the exhaust. They breathe faster than adults, so they inhale more polluted air per pound of bodyweight. Turning off your car at school reduces air pollution and prevents asthma, lung problems and allergies. Of course, this doesn't mean that we should turn off our cars when it's 100 degrees or minus 20.

    Other benefits of not idling include saving gas and money. Also, two components of car exhaust are carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide, two of the greenhouse gases. By not idling, people contribute less to global climate change. Idling is bad for cars and can damage engines, so turning off the car makes our cars last longer. Finally, harmful pollutants are released into the air, leading to acid rain and ground level ozone.

    Tammy: What are some of the biggest misconceptions people have about idling their cars?

    Jennifer: I think the biggest misconception is that people think it's better to leave the car running than to turn it on and off. However, idling for more than 10 seconds uses more fuel than restarting the engine. This was the biggest shock for me - that 10 seconds is all it takes. Frequent restarting has little impact on the engine, and the money saved in fuel far outweighs the cost of a new starter.

    Another misconception is that it's important to idle for a few minutes to warm up the car in winter. No more than 30 seconds is needed to warm up an engine in the winter and the best way to warm up your vehicle is to drive it. A lot of people nowadays own remote car starters. These drivers should remember to idle for no more than 30 seconds when warming up their cars.

    Tammy: Dreaming big, what are your hopes for the Idle Free campaign?

    Jennifer: My hope is to educate all drivers in the US about the problems associated with unnecessary idling. I believe that, given this information, people will choose to turn off their cars because they'll understand how it benefits their health, the atmosphere, the earth, their car, and their pocketbook.

    Tammy: What inspired you to start the campaign?

    Jennifer: My daughter has asthma and I saw so much unnecessary idling day after day at her preschool. The incidence of asthma (and other lung-related issues) has been steadily climbing in the United States over the years, and I realized that I could help - even if it's in a small way.

    Tammy: Where can our readers go to get more information?

    Jennifer: Natural Resources Canada, Office of Energy Efficiency has a great Web site - the Idle Free Zone at Also, I have put together a PowerPoint presentation called Idle-free: You and Me. It's available at

    Tammy: And lastly, what would you pack in your "perfect" lunch?

    Jennifer: I posed this question to my four-year-old daughter, the laptop lunch eater, and she said, "A cheese sandwich with mayo and the crusts cut off, grapes, carrots and one cookie."

    Jennifer Duckworth can be reached by email at [email protected].

    What Works...Success Stories

    "Awesome newsletter!!!! Thank you!!! I am 25 years old and I LOVE MY LUNCH BOX AND PROUDLY ADMIT IT!!!!! All my co-workers love it too! It's the best purchase I've made in a long time. I'm a Weight Watchers leader and I plan on sharing it with my members too!"

            --Jenn Gibson, Athens, OH

    "My husband and I have been looking for ways to reduce our waste and with my son having so many diet restrictions (he has an autism spectrum disorder so we follow Feingold and a GFCF diet), I have to pack his lunch each day and cringed at all the Ziploc bags and plastic silverware we were going through. We just received our first Laptop Lunchbox last week and loved it so I ordered a 2nd one for my younger son. They are so excited about the lunchboxes. Thank you so much for caring about the environment and making lunchbox lunches look good again."

            --Kecia Johndrow, Cedar Park, TX

    "We love our Laptop Lunches and have put them to daily use. The lunches are so good, my kids are the envy of their peers! Today the kids are eating smoked salmon, whole grain crackers, avocado, artichoke (with mayo in the dipping container) and strawberries! Yum, yum..."

            --Deborah Nikkel, San Rafael, CA

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

    Featured Web Site:

    Responsible Shopper ( reports on global research and provides information on the human rights, social justice, environmental sustainability records of major corporations.

    Responsible Shopper alerts consumers and investors to problems with major companies and encourages individuals to use their economic clout to demand greater corporate responsibility.

    Responsible Shopper provides information from conventional media and nongovernmental organizations from around the world. Visitors can use the Green Shift feature to shift their purchasing and investing to the most socially and environmentally responsible companies.

    How You Can Be a Responsible Shopper

    1. Be informed. Use Responsible Shopper to educate yourself about the social and environmental impact of corporations. Sign up for their e-newsletter for monthly updates.

    2. Spread the word. Tell a friend about Responsible Shopper. Post a link on your Web site or blog.

    3. Go Green. Use the Green Shift to help put your money where your values are and support the growth of a green economy.

    4. Join Co-op America. Become part of the green movement.

    October Highlights

    Crisp Salads , Green Opportunities, and Tips for Personalizing your Laptop Lunch System


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

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    © September 2006 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."