Friday, March 30, 2012

You're Invited to a Party!



Please join us Wednesday, April 4th at 7pm pst, as Laptop Lunches hosts our first ever Twitter party!


To get the conversation started, we'll be talking about school lunches in general, so please stop by and join in on the conversation at www.twitter.com #bentoware.


We've got some questions up our sleeves but feel free to leave anything you'd like answered below in the comment section or post them at:  http://www.facebook.com/LaptopLunches  or Twitter.


We look forward to interacting with and learning from you, so be sure to join in on the fun! 


See you there!


When: Wendesday, April 4th at 7pm pst
Where: www.Twitter.com #bentoware


(To keep up with the conversation, we recommend following and participating in the party through a  Tweet Grid such as: http://tweetchat.com/)




Bento Systems on Sale


If you've been had your eye on the Laptop Lunches Bento Lunch Boxes, now's the time to buy! Our Flower Bento Systems are currently on sale for $35.99 (regularly $43.99)! 

Our Flower Bento Systems include: 

Bento Carrier, Flower
Bento Set 2.0, Black outer container with 5 pink inner containers
Stainless steel fork and knife set
Pink water bottle
The Laptop Lunches User's Guide

Use the coupon code, flower72 to apply the discount to your order before the offer ends, Saturday, March 31, 2012 and start packing fun, nutritious, waste free lunches just in time for Earth Day! 

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Refreshing Bento Salad



This Weeks' Bento Lunch

Refreshing Bento Salad


Have you ever had a bok choy salad? If not, you're missing out! A member of the cabbage family, raw bok choy is crunchy, refreshing, full of vitamins, and low in calories. We were certainly thrilled to see this colorful salad and sides in our bento boxes today! 




Click here to view this week's full menu.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A Conscious Guide to Choosing Snacks



By: Randy Rabney


 I’m often asked for snack ideas for kids (and adults). I’ve said this often and I’ll say it again, the most important thing when choosing snacks and meals is the quality of the ingredients. If you stay away from foods that are pre-packaged it’s easier to know what’s in the food. I recommend doing your best to look for foods that are organic, grown using organic practices or non-gmo. When using things that are pre-packaged like crackers or even nut butters and bread, for example, be sure to read the label and avoid ingredients like high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats, MSG and artificial colors.

When choosing snacks think about the purpose of it, are they hungry and waiting for dinner to be ready shortly or will it need to keep them going for a while, like a small meal? Here are some of my favorites that are great-tasting, nourishing and easy to prepare:
  1. Nuts and dried fruit. This is a standard. It’s easy to keep in your bag or the car. I go heavier on the nuts than the dried fruit. It contains fat, protein, carbohydrate plus vitamins and minerals and the dried fruit can satisfy a sweet tooth. Figure out what your child’s favorite is and keep it available. You can even add a very small amount of high quality chocolate covered fruit to the mix.
  2. Roasted Vegetables. These are great fresh from the oven, cold or room temperature. My son especially likes cauliflower, brussel sprouts and kale chips prepared this way. It’s a great snack for right before dinner when they are saying “I’m hungry, when will dinner be ready?” For cauliflower and brussel sprouts, pre-heat your oven to 450 degrees. Toss either vegetable with a little extra virgin olive oil and sea salt (just enough to lightly coat). Cook until the vegetables are brown (this brings out the sweetness) and tender to the tip of a knife. For kale, use the same method but cook at 300 degrees, check for crispiness after 10 minutes, you want it crisp like a chip but not brown, do not overcook.
  3. Hummus, Black Bean and White Bean Dips with Raw Vegetables and/or Crackers all make great snacks. I like to make my own so I can season them the way I like them and know what kind of oil is in them. If you are buying them already prepared look for products made with olive oil, avoid products that contain soybean or canola oil (non-organic soy and canola oil are likely to be GMO).
  4. Shrimp Cocktail is also a great snack. Instead of traditional cocktail sauce, try mashing an avocado with a squeeze of fresh lime juice and some sea salt and use that as a dip for the shrimp. If you do use traditional cocktail sauce, make it yourself with ketchup and horseradish, you can control the spiciness that way. Also, many brands of store bought prepared cocktail contain high fructose corn syrup (corn is another food that if not organic, is likely to be GMO) which should be avoided.
  5. Sliced cheese, turkey or roast beef rolled around a slice of avocado. When possible choose meats from grass-fed animals and grass-fed raw cheese. Please make sure that your meats and dairy products are at a minimum antibiotic and hormone-free. If you’d like serve some brown rice or other high quality crackers on the side.
  6. A Small Plate with some good quality cheese (organic or hormone-free), crackers and a piece of apple or some other fruit.
  7. Whole grain or sprouted bread, toast, crackers or sliced apple with nut butter. This is fast and easy, if using bread, toast or crackers, you can combine it with a small amount of raw honey or some organic fruit spread sweetened with fruit juice.
Action Steps
  1. Think about what you typically choose for a snack. Is it something that just fills you up or is it something that also nourishes you?
  2. Take a look at the ingredients in some of your pre-packaged foods. Do you know what they all are? Do you know how they impact your health in the long and short term?
  3. Make a decision to make one small improvement, if one needs to be made. The next time you want a snack, try something from my list or create one of your own using my guidelines.
Randy Rabney is a Food Lover, Chef, Board Certified Health Counselor and Parent. She offers a variety of programs and services to teach people of varying ages how to prepare great tasting food quickly and easily and to understand the value of high quality ingredients so that people enjoy eating healthy food. You can find Randy at http://theconsciousplate.com. She's also always happy to talk with you if you think that she can help. Feel free to contact her at Randy@TheConsciousPlate.com to set up a call. 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Spaghetti's Cousin



This Week's Bento Lunch
Spaghetti's Cousin

Just like spaghetti with marinara, udon noodles with peanut sauce is a quick and easy meal your family will enjoy at the dinner table and love the next day for lunch. Hot or cold, this sweet and savory dish is sure to hit the spot! 



Click here to view this week's full menu.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Making Lunches Work


By Marissa Vicario, Marissa’s Well-being and Health (MWAH!)

Eating the same deli salad for lunch day in and day out can get boring and going to the nearest restaurant chain with co-workers can quickly pile on the pounds. Well-portioned lunches that travel well from home to office are well worth the minimal effort they take to prepare and result in a fatter wallet and slimmer waistline. Try some of these ideas for a healthier, more satisfying lunch.
·        
      Last Night’s Leftovers: Make more than you need and enjoy them the next day.
  • Nori Wraps: Nori, the seaweed that is used to make sushi, can be used to wrap any leftovers from the refrigerator. Get creative with your combinations or try this: leftover cooked brown rice, romaine lettuce, sliced avocado, sliced apple, a few basil leaves, some cilantro sprigs and leftover cooked greens like kale.
  • Super Salads: Deli salads don’t stand a chance next to homemade mixes that pack organic, high quality ingredients and loads of superfoods. Make your own dressing or keep it simple with lemon juice and olive oil or a splash of balsamic vinegar.
  • Homemade Soups: Make soup loaded with beans, grains and veggies ahead of time in a large batch and freeze any excess for a later date.
But just because you’re bringing lunch from home is no excuse to overdo it on the serving size. Use this guide for smart portion control: 
  •          Keep meat/poultry/fish to 4 ounce servings - or the size of your palm
  •          A serving of whole grains should be the size of your fist, one cup
  •          Two ounces of organic cheese is the size of two fingers
  •          Fill half your plate with green vegetables and limit second helpings to greens
  •          Eat sweets only on occasion and plan ahead




About Marissa Vicario
Marissa Vicario is lover of all things health and wellness and Founder of Marissa's Well-being and Health (MWAH!). As a Certified Holistic Health Coach, Marissa  works with urban professionals who want to lose weight, control their cravings and feel more energized without dieting, deprivation or calorie-counting. Having navigated her way to health while working in the corporate world, Marissa knows how to balance health and wellness with a demanding workload. She regularly lectures on corporate wellness, teaches cooking classes and is a believer in motivating women to kick off their stilettos and break in their stove tops as a first step in adopting a healthier lifestyle and kissing their unhealthy habits goodbye. Marissa blogs on health, wellness, spirituality and self love at www.whereineedtobe.com

Thursday, March 15, 2012

St. Patty's Day Lunches


We were looking for some fun St. Patrick's Day bento lunch inspiration and came across last year's Leprechaun Laptop feature from Parents Magazine: 

Will you be surprising your kids with an early St. Patrick's Day lunch tomorrow? If so, please be sure to take a quick picture and share on our Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/LaptopLunches


We're hoping for a very green Friday! 


Happy St. Patrick's Day! 

Weekend Casserole



This week's bento lunch
Spinach Casserole

Casseroles make terrific lunchbox leftovers and are great for adding nutrient-rich, fresh vegetables, like spinach, to your mid-day meal. Spinach casseroles, which come in many forms, can be prepared on the weekend and packed for lunch throughout the week. Try a spinach lasagna (pictured here) or a casserole made with brown rice, whole grain pasta, amaranth, barley, bulgur, or whole-wheat couscous. 



Click here to view this week's full menu.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Kids and Cholesterol


By: Andrea Metcalf

Almost 20% of children have high cholesterol.  It may be logical to believe that this disease only affects overweight children, but genetics plays an important role as well and even skinny kids can have high cholesterol.  Fourteen year old Jason Myers is conscious of what he eats.  He was diagnosed with high cholesterol, like his brother and father, when he was only two years old.  When talking with him about his condition, he says "It just means I have to be more aware of what I eat."  
Here are some healthy breakfast and lunch ideas from Jason - "Dinner", he says, "is up to mom!"

Jason preparing an egg white omlette
Breakfast - 
Healthy Egg White Omelette  

Ingredients:
1/2 cup Egg Beaters, 1 cup raw spinach, 1/4 cup feta cheese, light cooking spray

Directions:
Spray the pan and lightly saute the spinach until it's shiny
Add the Egg Beaters ( whip in blender first to make them fluffy) and roll them to edge of pan
Cook until they lightly bubble then flip them over
Add feta cheese to one side of the eggs and fold in half
Slide onto plate

Lunch -
Rolled Turkey Wrap Ups - Take it with you using a great Lunch box from Laptop Lunches


http://www.laptoplunches.com/rss/42/bento-lunchbox-refried-rollups.htmlIngredients:
4 oz lean turkey lunchmeat, 2 large green leaf lettuce leaves, 1/4 sliced into strips red pepper, 2 oz light Cabot cheese, 1/4 cup of sprouts, Lemon slice and bottle of water

Directions:
Start with large lettuce leaves and evenly place, turkey, pepper, cheese and sprouts into each of them
Roll and wrap and place in lunchbox
bring a lemon slice for your water

"Anyone over twelve can make these items and eat healthier", says Jason.  He just may be the next Top Chef!

Andrea Metcalf, a fitness and lifestyle expert, has appeared on the Today Show, Good Morning America Health and Chicago's NBC 5 .  She is a nationally recognized Speaker, author of the best selling book,  Naked Fitness, Good Day Show radio personality, and producer and host of, Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is, a reality weight loss show that airs in Chicago on NBC Nonstop. She can be found giving fitness tips, inspirational thoughts and information on living a healthier, happier life at: www.andreametcalf.com.






Thursday, March 8, 2012

Delectable Dipping



This Week's Bento Lunch
Delectable Dipping

Trying to get your loved ones to enjoy a rainbow of fruits and veggies? We say, "Let them dip!" Dipping is so fun and tasty that those veggie containers are sure to come home empty. Mission accomplished!

Click here to view this week's full menu.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The A, B and C’s of Lunch



By: Paula Sirois

It’s happened to everyone – even you. You've finished with lunch and suddenly you’re sleepy – ready for a nap. Eyes start closing, mind stops listening and nap time starts calling. That’s fine and dandy if you’re home and inches away from your bed (with a magically empty ‘to do’ list – as if!). But what if you’re ten years old and in school and in the middle of math class no less? What’s a kid to do?  Well, first off you (the parent), need to know what’s causing this dire need for sleep and then you need to know how to fix it.

According to Dr. Oz’s site (http://www.doctoroz.com/), the University of Nevada School of medicine explains “There may be many reasons you may feel tired after eating lunch. One common reason is that after a meal your blood sugar quickly rises as food is digested.” Basically you eat and your body’s reaction is to jump onto this blood sugar roller coaster.  Heading up the coaster it tells your muscles and fat cells to soak up that extra sugar. You've seen kids (and adults) on a sugar high – lots of energy, quick talking and quick moving.  But what goes up must come down.  So when the coaster is heading down, the sugar is gone, the ride is over and you’re energy is over too.  We all know this phase as the sugar crash.  “Meals with a large amount of simple carbohydrates (sugars and starches) tend to cause this blood sugar rise and fall to a greater extent than meals heavier in proteins or complex carbohydrates.”

Livestrong.com notes “Making time for a healthy lunch can pay off both mentally and physically. Eating in the middle of the day, several hours after breakfast, re-energizes your body…” The site suggests that for kids, lunch is even more important, “Since most kids don't get breakfast or dinner at school and may not have any snacks until they get home, lunch is the only meal they have to power them through the day. According to ChoiceUSA.net, school lunch makes up one third to one half of a child's nutritional intake for an entire day and is essential for helping children succeed in school as well as grow and develop successfully and healthfully.”

Now that you know why it happens and why lunch is important, here’s how to fix it. Packing some ‘stay-awake-and-learn’ lunches is as easy as your A, B’s and C’s:

A is for ‘a little of this, a little of that.’ Kids are notorious finger food eaters. Instead of sending a big thermos of something, consider tiny portions that make it easier to pick up and eat. A little (immunity boosting) yogurt, some (slow-burning source of energy) granola, rolled-up lean turkey (for the protein) and some carrot sticks (for the vision helper Vitamin A) make for a simple, fun and healthy lunch.


B is for Berries: Joy Bauer, a registered dietician suggests memory and brain healthy food choices like blueberries. Blueberries (or really any berries will do) have been shown to reverse memory decline. Not just help with your memory, but also actually reverse any damage. Impressive stuff for a tiny berry, no? Dark, leafy greens like spinach; Swiss chad and kale have a ton of folic acid in them that help with your brain health and memory. Fatty fish like salmon or the plant based alternative, ground flax seed; both offer tons of Omega 3, which boosts your brain. Doubtful your kid will love some salmon at noon, but flax seed is easy to hide. Just sprinkle some on just about anything from a sandwich to a soup to a salad.

C is for colorful: Kids love color, so why not make their lunch a colorful surprise? Red peppers (more Vitamin C than an orange), green apple slices (packed with rich phyto-nutrients, yellow chicken soup (protein and renowned healing powers) and some brown rice (all that great fiber) make for a fun, festive and healthy lunch.

Lunch is an important meal in your day – giving you the energy you need to stay awake and keep going. If you’re looking for some helpful printouts on meal plans and grocery shopping lists, check out First lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move website at http://www.letsmove.gov/eat-healthy which offers a host of tools and ideas to help.

Bon Appetite!

Paula Sirois is a holistic health coach and writer who tries to find the wit and humor in all that stuff that make up our daily lives; the ups and downs, the good and the bad - and all that messy, gooey mess in the middle. She can be found at RockZebra@hotmail.com or www.rockzebracompany.com where the simple (rock) and unexpected (zebra) things are all you need.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Nutrition Month Kick Off

I'm Blogging National Nutrition Month
This month is all about nutrition!

We always look forward to the added emphasis and awareness brought to nutrition in the month of March through the celebration of National Nutrition Month.

One of the key goals that led to the development of our products was to help parents pack nutritious meals for their children to enjoy at school. We are so pleased that our Bento Sets have now become a tool that both adults and children are using to create balanced, portion-controlled meals to enjoy on the go.


Click here for detailed information on how our Bento Sets make creating balanced meals a breeze.

While we love to talk about nutrition and different ways of enjoying wholesome foods, we decided to  broaden our scope and add some variety to this year's National Nutrition Month through a series of nutrition-related guest blogs.

We're looking forward to hearing from Paula Sirois, Andrea Metcalf, Marissa Vicario, and Randy Rabney on subjects including lunches, snacking, and managing high cholesterol in kids. We'd love to hear from you as well, so please join in on the conversation either here or on our Facebook page!




Thursday, March 1, 2012

Making Spinach Fun



This Week's Bento Lunch
Making Spinach Fun

If you're looking for a way to get more spinach into your diet, look no further. This week we're having spinach pancakes for lunch. Spinach pancakes are easy to make and fun to enjoy on the go which makes them one of our lunchtime favorites. Enjoy! 



Click here to view this week's full menu.