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October 2006

Laptop Lunch Times: October 2006

October 2006

In this issue, you'll find:

  • Obentec Announcements
  • Favorite Photo
  • Monthly Menu
  • Sixty-Second Salads
  • Laptop Lunches in the News
  • New Retailers
  • Green Zebra Makes it Easy to Change Your Stripes
  • What works...Success Stories
  • Featured Web site:

Join us at the Green Festival!

If you're planning to be in the San Francisco Bay Area the weekend of November 10 - 12, don't miss the Green Festival at the Concourse in downtown San Francisco. It's a great place to learn about green products and services, taste organic creations, attend inspiring workshops, and enjoy live music. We'll be there in booth 428 on Friday (2 - 8), Saturday (10 - 8), and Sunday (11-6). Please stop by and introduce yourself!

From Lunch Matters in Australia:

LunchMatters is offering Laptop Lunch Times readers from Australia and New Zealand a special treat with all orders placed during October 2006. Just mention 'Laptop Lunch Times' in the message section at the end of the ordering process and you'll receive a little gift (such as cookie cutters, cute extra containers from Japan, forks, spoons, seeds for home grown herbs or sprouts) with your parcel. Be sure to mention whether you are shopping for a girl, boy or adult so that you will get an appropriate gift.

From Jomoval in the UK:

Jomoval will be exhibiting Laptop Lunches at the BBC Good Food Show in London from November 10 - 12 (stand C125) and at the BBC Good Food Show NEC in Birmingham from November 22 - 26 (stand M96). If you plan on attending the show, come by and say hello!

Amy and Tammy

Got a favorite photo to share?

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

  • Peppers and cherry tomatoes with steak (all organic and hormone-free)
  • Green salad with feta cheese
  • Homemade tapanade for dipping cucumbers
  • Banana bread
  • Two chunks of dark chocolate
  • Sliced cucumbers (I always put sliced cucumber in the utensil compartment and leave the fork and spoon at school.)

I am the art teacher at the British School of Washington who first suggested that you show photos of lunches in your newsletter. After seeing everyone else's wonderful lunches, I thought it was about time to show you one of mine!

Susie Morna Gow

The English teacher, Mr Bird, found your lunchbox and bought one for me. Now all the kids want one so they can have lunches like me!!!! Get ready for many more orders!!!! Thank you for making it easy to eat well.

Monthly Menu

Sixty-Second Salads

Here are three very quick salads that you can throw together in 60 seconds flat!

Cucumber Salad

  • Slice 1 cucumber thinly.
  • Cut 4 thin slices of red onion.
  • Sprinkle with rice vinegar.
  • Sprinkle with dried Italian herbs.
  • Toss gently.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste.

Diced Tomato Salad

  • Dice 1 large tomato.
  • Add 3 heaping Tbs. of black beans.
  • Add 3 heaping Tbs. of corn.
  • Add salsa to taste.
  • Toss gently.

Spaghetti Salad

  • Place 2 cups leftover spaghetti in a bowl.
  • Sprinkle with 1 tsp. olive oil and toss well.
  • Add 1 clove minced garlic.
  • Add 1/2 cup chopped roasted cashews.
  • Sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley.
  • Toss well.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste.

Personalizing Your Laptop Lunches

Every week or so we receive a phone call or email from a Laptop Lunch user asking about how to personalize their Laptop Lunches. Parents want a durable lunchbox that's going to outlast the latest fad character and survive years of daily use. Here are a few ideas that some Laptop Lunch users have come up with. If you've got a photo of your own Laptop Lunch creation, please email it to us and we'll post it for others to see.

Laptop Lunches in the News

The Rachael Ray Show

Rachael Ray shows viewers how to make a bento lunch:

Rachael Ray's bento box

The Early Show (September 21, 2006)

Ann Cooper, author of "Lunch Lessons: Changing the Way We Feed Our Children," joins Hannah Storm to advise parents on how to improve the quality of lunch their kids take to school. She also demonstrates how Laptop Lunches can help families pack great school lunches. Visit to see what Ann Cooper's putting in her Laptop Lunch.

Sierra Club Magazine (Sept/Oct 2006)

All those juice boxes and snack packs pile up. Making lunches for school every day creates an average of 67 pounds of garbage per child--or more than 18,000 pounds per school--each year. To help stem the tide of trash, two California moms created Laptop Lunches, colorful bento-box-style containers with washable, reusable compartments for different foods. They estimate that eschewing disposable packaging and single-serving items can save families $250 a year.

Mothering Magazine (July/August 2006)

"The Lunch Date ($114.99, is stocked with goodies, including a plastic bento box with four individual containers."

New York Metro Parents (September 2006)

"The food aisles are stocked to the rafters with lunchbox treats — individually packed granola bars, pudding cups, juice boxes. And while parents have recently been taking a hard look at what we’re putting into our kids’ stomachs, it’s time to think, too, about what we’re putting into our planet’s system.

Fortunately, packing a litterless lunch is surprisingly simple. What’s more, it will likely save you money..."

Click here to read the rest of the article:

New Retailers

Area Kids
233 Smith Street
Brooklyn, NY 11231
(718) 522-6455

Sweet Pea Organics
12788 Indian Rocks Road #9
Largo, FL 33774

(727) 505-4587

Area Yoga & Baby
196 Court Street
Brooklyn, NY 11231
(718) 222-0869
2162 Polk Street
San Francisco, CA 94109
(415) 673-2065

Area Yoga & Baby
45 Fifth Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11217
(718) 230-7495
Madison Avenue Boutique
2106 S. 3rd Street
Kingsville, TX 78363
(361) 595-5032
Area Yoga & Baby
107 Seventh Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11215
(718) 636-7235

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.

While visiting Bellingham, WA last month, Tammy stopped in at the Bellingham's Community Food Co-op. If you live in the area, stop by to see their great display of Laptop Lunches.

Community Food Co-op
1220 N. Forest St.
Bellingham, WA 98225
(360) 734-8158

Green Zebra Makes it Easy to Change Your Stripes!

Amy Hemmert interviews Sheryl Cohen, co-founder of the Green Zebra guide.

Amy: Hi Sheryl. I understand that you've been working hard in preparation for the big Green Zebra launch this month. Can you tell us a little bit about what the Green Zebra guide is?
Sheryl: Green Zebra is a new local guide that makes it fun and easy to explore the best of natural living in San Francisco. Through discount passes, the 2007 Green Zebra guide promotes environmentally conscious and community-oriented businesses. It's like the Entertainment Book but green and local. Instead of coupons from big box and chain stores, the guide includes over 250 exclusive offers from organic restaurants and markets, eco-friendly retailers, green home services, yoga studios, spas, bike shops, retreats, museums, independent bookstores, and more--with total savings of over $12,000.
  I like to tell people that with Green Zebra"it's easy to change your stripes!" The guide contains practical tips and relevant articles that show readers how to embrace a more healthy and sustainable lifestyle. We include simple action steps for greening your life today--to ensure a greener tomorrow.
Amy: Who's been involved in putting the guide together?
Sheryl: Anne Vollen and I, former co-workers and friends for 20 years. We also had a great deal of help from Jeffrey Cohen, a friend of mine from junior high school. (They use to seat us alphabetically in school!) He did most of our design work.
Amy: What sparked you to start Green Zebra?
Sheryl: Both Anne and I had been out of the work force for a few years. Anne had worked in Hollywood and I had built a high tech company. We wanted to do something that we believed in and that was purposeful. I've always been intrigued with the green sector, and Anne was running her children's school fundraising auction. We thought that creating a green guide would be a unique way to combine these interests.
Amy: What do you hope to achieve?
Sheryl: Our goal is to move sustainable living into the mainstream. We attend a lot of green events and it seems like we keep seeing the same faces. Because Green Zebra will be distributed through multiple channels, such as retail stores, corporate programs and school and non-profit fundraisers, it's our hope that a wide variety of people will be exposed to the guide which will encourage them to make greener choices every day.
Amy: What types of businesses have been receptive to the idea?
Sheryl: One of the best things about putting together Green Zebra is that nearly everyone we spoke to has been really helpful and excited about the guide. The project has truly been a community effort. San Francisco's Department of Environment was particularly helpful to us, as were retailers such as Cole Hardware, Rainbow Grocery, Global Exchange, Goodwill, and the SF Bike Coalition. We were especially pleased with the reaction we got from restaurant owners and chefs. Many of them had never offered discounts before but chose to participate in Green Zebra because they believed strongly in our mission.
Amy: Schools and other organizations can be slow to adopt fundraising programs. Have you encountered any resistance?
Sheryl: Not at all. It seems like schools and non-profits are hungry for new fundraising ideas, particularly ones that are aligned with their values. Green Zebra offers an appealing product that is reasonably priced and provides a fair return. Many of our participants have been generous in donating incentives to schools and students. For example, Bay Solar Power is supplying a functional solar and wind power system to the school that sells the most Green Zebra guides.
Amy: What surprised you the most about this project?
Sheryl: The biggest surprise was the amount of work that was required. I ran a company with 80 employees and I never worked as hard as I have on Green Zebra. This is actually difficult to admit as we thought we would be shining examples of busy urbanites living a well-balanced, green lifestyle. While we certainly explored our participant's services and products, the visions of doing yoga every day or taking trips and excursions every weekend didn't quite pan out. The bright side, however, is that we are thrilled with the book we've created, and we imagine next year will be easier.
Amy: What are your hopes for Green Zebra in the future?
Sheryl: This year's guide is centered on San Francisco, but we believe that there's room to expand further. We also hope that the market for "discounted" green products and services will continue to grow. We're not yet sure how that will look, but we hope that Green Zebra will be there to help make it happen.
Amy: Some of our readers are from the Bay Area, but many are from other parts of the country and world. Are green guides available in other cities?
Sheryl: Yes. The ones we know of seem concentrated in the Northwestin cities such as Vancouver, Bellingham, Seattle and Portland. Los Angeles has Greenopia, which is more of a Zagat-type directory that rates how green local businesses are rather than providing incentives. Also, offers incentives from national manufacturers and online retailers. If anyone is interested in starting a guide in their community, please feel free to contact us. We'd be happy to share what we've learned.
Amy: And finally, where can the Green Zebra guide be purchased?
Sheryl: Please visit our Web site at or email us at [email protected].

What Works...Success Stories


When I saw photos of lots of Laptop Lunches on, I looked at the pictures and made a list for my mom of what to put in my lunches! I saw so many things I want to eat in my lunch! I have my list taped in my kitchen cupboard.

– Olivia (10 years old)

"My laptop lunchboxes came last week and I'm THRILLED. They are wonderful, compact and of such great quality. I'm looking forward to putting them into use. I'm a 22 year-old who recently graduated as a nurse and was looking for something compact that I could bring meals to work with. Keep up the wonderful work."

         – Joan Pham, Vancouver, BC

"I am a dieter, so your lunchboxes appealed to me as a good way to break out of the Lean Cuisine lunch rut and encourage me to pack healthy lunches with a variety of fruits and vegetables.

When I'm not Lean Cuisine-ing my lunch, I will pack yogurt, fresh fruit and granola, or salads and fruit, but then end up with a paper sack full of bulky Ziploc containers and bags that seem to take up quadruple the space required for the foods I'm carrying. I find it both annoying and cumbersome when I am heading out the door for the day with a gym bag, laptop bag, and an ungainly lunch sack.

I also am peculiarly inclined to use the smallest dishes possible for my meals and keep a variety of small plates and bowls at home, but have been frustrated in finding similarly sized lunch containers. The small proportions of the inner containers were a definite selling point, as were the bright colors and obvious quality of all the pieces.

I have had Japanese lunches in restaurants that were served in bento boxes and really love the artfulness of that presentation. Kudos on a terrific translation of that form into a practical lunchbox for everyday use!"

        – Margo McKee, Atlanta, Georgia

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

Featured Web Site: provides tips for finding safe routes to school and strategies for remaining safe in traffic. Walking or biking to school provides children with exercise and helps them gain more independence. It also reduces air pollution and traffic congestion.

Did you know...?

  • A mere 16% of children these days walk or bike to school compared to nearly 50% in 1969.
  • Children have become less independent while traveling to and from school.
  • 20%–30% of morning traffic is generated by parents driving their children to school. This means more wear and tear on roads, longer commute times, and increased air pollution.


  • Starting a Safe Schools program in your community
  • Training programs
  • The SRTS online library
  • Federal grants
  • Safe Schools Video
  • Contacting a Safe Schools Coordinator in your state
  • Celebrate International Walk to School Day

November Highlights

Potatoes Recipes, Green Opportunities, and an Obentec Interview!


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

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© October 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."