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November 2006

Laptop Lunch Times: November 2006

November 2006

In this issue, you'll find:

  • Obentec Announcements
  • Favorite Photo
  • Monthly Menu
  • Splendid Spuds
  • Green Opportunities
  • Laptop Lunches in the News
  • New Retailers
  • Living in Garbage Land
  • What works...Success Stories
  • Featured Web site:

San Francisco Green Festival Update!

Want to skip the general admission line at the Green Festival this year? Working Assets is offering free admission passes on their Web site at Print off the form, fill it out, and take it with you to the Green Festival the weekend of November 10 - 12--Friday (2 - 8), Saturday (10 - 8), and Sunday (11-6). Come enjoy the abundance of planet- and people-friendly treats, exhibits, speakers, food, drink, entertainment and more. Tammy, Amy and friends will be there in booth 428. Please stop by and introduce yourself! For more information on the Green Festival, visit

Welcome to Obentec, Tamara!

Obentec extends a warm welcome to the newest member of our team, Tamara Cummings. Tamara--an experienced teacher, mother of two, and a Laptop Lunch user-- brings with her a wealth of knowledge and experience, fine attention to detail, and a warm heart!

We're extremely fortunate to have her on board!

From Lunch Matters in Australia:

LunchMatters is excited to announce the arrival of the the Vegan Lunch Box cookbook ( Hot-off-the-press copies will be available for delivery by the end of November--in time for Christmas. Pre-order your copy at

A copy of the Vegan Lunch Box and a Laptop Lunch could be the perfect gift for friends and family whose New Year's resolutions include packing better lunches in '07. If you're ordering a gift for someone this holiday season, mention it in your order notes, and Lunch Matters will gift wrap your order.

Thanks to everyone who stopped by to visit at the Eco-Sustainability Fair and at World Vegan Day. It was wonderful to meet so many people already committed to packing heathy, waste-free lunches!

From Jomoval in the UK:

If you can't make it to the San Francisco Green Festival the weekend of Nov 10 - 12 because you're going to be in London at that time, consider checking out the BBC Good Food Show instead. Jomoval will be exhibiting Laptop Lunches in stand C125. They'll also be up in Birmingham for the BBC Good Food Show NEC November 22 - 26 (stand M96). If you plan to attend either of these shows, stop in and introduce yourself!

Amy and Tammy

Got a favorite photo to share?

Email it to us at [email protected], and we'll publish it here!
  • Vegetarian Salami
  • Steamed Artichoke
  • Lemon Dip
  • Garden Fresh Carrot
  • Fresh Apricot

Monthly Menu

Splendid Spuds

Potatoes are versatile, warming, and easy to prepare. Try some of these deliciously simple recipes this fall.

Pan Fried Potatoes

  • Cut fingerling potatoes into bite-size pieces.
  • Heat 1 tsp olive oil in a frying pan.
  • Add the potatoes and stir until tender.
  • Sprinkle with dehydrated garlic and sea salt.
  • Toss gently.
  • Add chopped fresh dill and toss again.

Curry Potato Wrap

  • 3 cups cubed potatoes
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ cup Neufchatel or low-fat cream cheese (room temperature)
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 cup diced onions
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tsp. yellow curry powder
  • ½ cup frozen peas
  • ½ cup chopped fresh tomatoes
  • 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 3 large sheets flat bread or 6 flour tortillas

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Lightly oil a baking dish.
3. Place the potatoes and salt in a small pot, cover with water, and bring to a boil.
4. Reduce the heat and cook for about 10 minutes or until tender.
5. Drain potatoes and mash, adding the cheese until well blended.
6. Set potato mixture aside.
While potatoes are cooking, warm the oil in a saucepan, and sauté the onions and garlic on medium heat for about 10 minutes or until translucent.
8. Add curry and cook for another 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
9. Add the peas and tomatoes, and cook until just heated.
10. Stir the cooked vegetables and the lemon juice into the mashed potatoes.
11. Add salt to taste.
12. Place a generous amount of the filling on top of each piece of flat bread and roll up.
13. Place the wraps seam side down in the baking dish and bake for 15 minutes.

Veggie Heaven

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Slice veggies and toss with Hain garlic oil, coarse sea salt, and freshly ground pepper.
Cover with foil and slow roast for several hours. (Check for potatoes to be cooked as a guide.)

Here are some of the veggies our family likes, but don't limit yourself. Combinations that seem odd are usually the best!

  • Red or Vidalia onion (medium, sliced-not diced)
  • Parsnips
  • Carrots
  • Peppers - red, yellow, green and orange
  • Sweet potatoes (New potatoes are good also.)
  • Eggplant - sliced medium thickness
  • Fresh minced garlic - to taste

My best friend and I started our own co-op two years ago. One of the moms who joined, sent us the link to Obentec. We just love the newsletter with all of the wonderful lunches! Here is my own concoction that you might's wonderful hot or as cold leftovers the next day! Enjoy!

      --Nikki J. Ostrander

Green Opportunities

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

  • ECOMALL– Eco-Mall at is a great place to find green businesses and services, earth-friendly resources, and informative articles.

  • ORGANIC MILK – Want to know how to make sure you're getting the best milk available? The Union of Concerned Scientists Web site lists strategies for ensuring your organic milk is good for cows, farmers, and the environment. Visit them online at

  • BUYING CLUBS SAVE MONEY ON ORGANIC FOOD Organic consumers across North America are saving money by organizing local buying clubs. Buying clubs are groups of people who get together and purchase a wide variety of organic foods, grains, and herbs in bulk from a wholesale distributor. Kathy MacDonald, a member of a buying club in Cheyenne, Wyoming, purchases organic foods for an average of 20% less than what she could buy them for at stores. Members of buying clubs also say it's a great way to build community. For more information, or to find a buying club near you, go to:

Laptop Lunches in the News

Slimmer (Oct 2006)

The Times-Union (August 2006)

Open to the Possibilities

Japanese bento box concept can help make lunch for school more appealing -- and nutritious -- than ever.

By DAN MACDONALD, The Times-Union

The future of the American school lunch may be found in Japan.

Instead of a lunch box featuring the latest movie or cartoon character, a simple plastic rectangular box with other smaller boxes inside might be the way to go this school year.

It's called a bento box, and fans of the classic '80s film The Breakfast Club may remember Molly Ringwald's character eating her sushi lunch from one. It's not just for sushi anymore.

The bento is a popular seller this year at, a site dedicated to selling just lunchboxes. Mike Dobbs, vice president of public relations, said parents see it as a way to serve more nutritious lunches. It helps with portion control.

"Some like it because they can control their kids' diet better. There's a guide to healthy eating that comes with it. It doesn't have a design on it so it can be used by a kid or an adult."

Tammy Pelstring and Amy Hemmert are two moms from Santa Cruz, Calif., who met while volunteering at their children's school. They noticed how lunchtime was messy with discarded package wrappers and that what was inside those wrappers wasn't all that nutritional. They developed their take on the bento box and turned it into a business -

Their goal was to get real food into children's lunches. There's room for yogurt, veggies, fruit, burritos, wraps or regular sandwiches. While the containers for wet foods like yogurt and fruit salads have tops, there are no top for the sandwiches or goldfish. The bento box lid fits tightly on top of those containers.

"This way they get to see the food. They get to see what is there. That's appetizing to kids. In Japan, bento is considered an art form about balance and colors of food," Pelstring said during a telephone interview.

Bento originated in the 16th century, when Japanese military commander Oda Nobunaga fed large groups of people with food in individual boxes. Traditionally, bento is made up of four parts rice, three parts main dish, two parts vegetables, and one part pickled vegetables or dessert.

Silvana Nardone, editor of Everyday with Rachel Ray magazine, is a bento box fan.

"A bento box is for any age. If you have kindergartners, they like the fact that it is colorful and compartmentalized."

In this month's issue, there are recipes for Cold Ginger, Soy and Honey Sesame Noodles and Candy Sushi.

Often, Pelstring said, someone will buy a bento for a child but the parent ends up getting one, as well. Adults have been known to bring an empty bento box to work when they know they are going out to lunch. They put half the mammoth restaurant portion in the bento right at the table, and lunch is already packed for the next day, she said.

At, the bento box is sold separately or as a kit that includes a vinyl carrying case where an ice pack can be placed inside and with a water bottle.

While $33.99 may sound pricey, Pelstring said this system lasts for more than one school year.

"Other lunchboxes get yucky and don't hold up. We sell replacement parts and this is dishwasher safe and microwave safe."

Build Magazine (Fall 2006)

"Brown-bagging it is SO last year. Laptop Lunches, which look cool, hold your lunch in organized containers and are made of recyclable plastic, are a great way to carry your lunch to school. Plus, they're easy to wash and clean out (a relief when you get stuck doing the dishes)."
lead-free lunch kits

Let's Re-do Lunch!

"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..."

Read the rest of the article at:

New Retailers

Bee Green
261 E. North Westover Blvd.
Albany, GA 31707
(229) 435-3373

Mama and Baby Love
1122 Thomasville Road, Unit 10
Tallassee, FL 32303

(850) 350-0609

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.

Living in Garbage Land

Tammy Pelstring interviews Elizabeth Royte, author of Garbage Land: On the Secret Trail of Trash.

Tammy: Your book describes the journey you took while following your trash and recyclables to their final destination, and all the hidden secrets you uncover along the way. What prompted you to want to begin the journey?
Elizabeth: It was mere curiosity. I wondered where everything went, and since I got only vague answers about recycling from various city officials, I wanted to find out what really happened.
Tammy: What were a couple of the biggest surprises you unearthed on your adventure?
Elizabeth: The biggest surprise was to learn that for every barrel of trash we put on the curb, there are 71 barrels of waste generated upstream: that what we throw "away" is just the tip of the materials iceberg. What does this mean? That every time we reduce what we consume, reuse what we already have, and recycle everything we can (and buy recycled!), we chip away at those 71 upstream barrels.
Tammy: You met quite a few interesting characters along the way. Who did you meet that inspired you?
Elizabeth: I was inspired by a man in California who recycles and composts so fanatically that he started composting his own excrement. That's dedication! And I met all kinds of wonderful people who are working toward sending zero waste to landfills and incinerators, not only through the usual methods (the three Rs) and composting, but also by forcing manufacturers to take responsibility for their products' end-of-life.
Tammy: What makes up the largest percentage of waste we throw out? Paper, plastic, food waste?
Elizabeth: The largest fraction (38.1 percent) of waste in municipal landfills is still paper. This is disheartening, because so many people have access to curbside paper-recycling programs, and because waste paper is in demand by paper manufacturers. Paper also generates methane in landfills, and it contributes to toxic leachate.
Tammy: I found it very interesting to learn about the decomposition of various items in the landfill and the effects they have on the environment. Can you describe what happens to batteries when they're thrown in the trash?
Elizabeth: In an incinerator, scrubbers and screens will capture most of the battery's heavy metals and move them to the bottom ash, which is then toxic (and must be buried). But small amounts of mercury or lead, which are extremely hazardous to human health, still escape smokestacks: containment isn't 100 percent.

In a landfill, the battery's lead, cadmium, nickel, mercury, and other heavy metals (depending on what kind of battery it is) can be leached out as moisture trickles through the waste. Leachate is a threat to groundwater and soil when landfill liners are breached. According to the EPA, all landfills eventually leak.
Tammy: You were very honest about the difficulties you had composting. Do you have any words of encouragement for those who are thinking about composting at home? Are there any green alternatives to composting food scraps?
Elizabeth: It turns out my compost wasn't as messed up as I thought. I now know people who never turn their compost piles and still end up with a fine soil amendment. So I'd encourage people to try it. Or bring their food scraps to a community garden that composts. If your municipality has no polluting industry that dumps its waste into your sewers, has pipes that can handle extra material, and applies its sewage sludge to land, it may be best, in the absence of composting, to use a disposal and send your food waste down the drain.
Tammy: Aside from paper and plastic, what items do you think we should make a bigger effort to recycle and keep out of the waste stream?
Elizabeth: Scrap metal has high value, and digging new metals out of the ground is energy intensive and polluting. Steel mills want all the scrap metal they can get their hands on. It's important to keep paper out of landfills, too, for the reasons I mentioned above. Electronic waste--TVs, game boys, cell phones, and computers, for example--is hazardous in landfills: it contains lead, cadmium, mercury, copper, chromium, beryllium, and other toxic materials. But we need to recycle e-waste responsibly. For information on e-waste programs, visit
Tammy: We suggest using cloth sacks, but if you have to choose, which is better….paper or plastic?
Elizabeth: If your community recycles plastic bags (they're usually made into plastic lumber), go with that: transporting them takes less of an environmental toll. If your community recycles only paper, then use paper. If it does neither, you need to push city managers to establish better programs.
Tammy: What is the most important lesson you want people to take away with them after reading your book?
Elizabeth: I want people to realize that burying or burning waste isn't the end of it, that what we throw away is coming around to bite us in our soil, our water, and our air. But the situation isn't hopeless. Individual actions do matter, especially if a lot of people do them, and they do them over a long time. Ideas for lessening your garbage footprint can be found at
Tammy: Describe your perfect waste-free lunch.

A sandwich in a reusable container (possibly peanut butter and jelly, which come in jars that are recyclable); a piece of fruit (I'd put the core or the peel in my container and compost it at home); a cloth napkin; tap water in my reusable stainless-steel bottle. Pretzels would be nice, but they come in bags not accepted for recycling. The manufacturer who comes up with a chip or pretzel bag that can be composted or recycled will have my snack dollars. Take this as a challenge, Paul Newman.

What Works...Success Stories

"I bought 2 Laptop Lunch Boxes a few months back for my boys ages 3 & 5. I cannot express to you how happy I am with this purchase. The boys now help me make their lunches. (They go to a morning enrichment program at a "preschool" 2 days a week.) Anyway, we make it a fun time in the morning. I try to pre-chop everything the night before (if we're not packing leftovers), and make an assembly line for them in the mornings while they're brushing their teeth. When they come out of the bathroom, everything is ready for them on the counter. The design of the Laptop Lunch Box facilitates kid-friendly lunches. All they have to do is pack it themselves. This gives them such pride and ownership over their lunches and the result is empty containers when they get home.

"I think the thing I love most about the Laptop Lunch Box is how it is just a seamless extension of how we choose to live our lives--Natural, no-waste, healthy life-style. I went to pick up the boys early one day, and I overheard my eldest son tell one of his classmates, "You should tell your mom to buy a lunchbox like mine! You'll make the earth happy." The teachers were just raving over how cool their lunch boxes are. I don't have them sending newsletters out yet officially endorsing the Laptop Lunchbox. But, almost!"

Anyway, in the wise words of my 5 year old...thanks for 'making the earth happy.'"

        --Monica Carrillo, Reedley, CA

"It was a huge rapture for me when I received my Laptop Lunches this morning. I purchased The Laptop Lunch System for myself through direct email as I'm living at the other side of the world. Reliable, Very Fast Delivery, honest and guaranteed to bring a smile to your face when you receive the products. I feel like a kid again! The Laptop Lunch System has a very sleek design and is very compact. The system fits perfectly into my leather work bag. The food containers are very colourful and of very good durable material. I'd definitely come back again for more! Thank you very much Amy for your friendly and fast service."

        --Michelle Lee, Singapore

"I have the Laptop Lunch System for my 2-year-old daughter with the carrying case and all, and I LOVE it!!! I want to get one for myself now, so that I can start saving on food & eating out expenses, eat healthier, and have a fun way to take my lunch to work."

        --Stephanie Rogers, Dallas, TX

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

Featured Web Site:

Join chef Ann Cooper on her mission to change the way our children are eating. Tackle outdated district spending policies, commodity-based food service organizations, political platforms with no mention of school food or child health — and ultimately the USDA — to ensure that kids everywhere have wholesome, nutritious, delicious food at school.

Sign up for “Ann Alerts” or take the “School Food Challenge” to uncover new ideas, strategies, tips and recipes.

Your passion and commitment will help us make a difference for future generations. Keep on fighting the good fight.

Chef Ann
Renegade Lunch Lady

To view Ann Cooper (and Laptop Lunches) on The Early Show, click HERE.

Change the way our children are eating!

  • Healthy Kids Meal Wheel
  • Total Daily Calorie Needs
  • Wholesome Recipes
  • Child Nutrition Report Card
  • Photo Gallery

December Highlights

Holiday Fare, Green Opportunities, and Tips for Choosing the Best Eggs!


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

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© November 2006 Obentec, Inc.

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