Friday Finds: Nuts to You Nut Butter

This week’s Friday find is nut butters.  Before you read any further you should know
that this is a very high fat, high caloric food. I am not even going to bother posting
the nutrition label.   But, will you eat

We live in a fat phobic society and people are literally
afraid to eat fat.  The common belief is
that if they eat fat they will get fat.  The
truth is if you eat high caloric, high saturated/trans fat and high sugar foods
often enough you will get fat.

It is essential to have some fat in your diet to absorb fat soluble
vitamins like A, D, E and K. However, it is the type of dietary fat that is
important.  Saturated fast like that
found in animal based products (meat and full fat dairy) should be consumed in
moderation.  Plant based fats are healthy
and can be eaten more often.  Sprinkle
nuts and seeds into couscous. Enjoy olive oil in salads and
poured from the bottle over whole grain pastas. 
Use fresh avocado in salads and dips. 
Spread nut butters on crackers and thick whole grain breads.

Fat does other stuff besides absorb fat soluble
vitamins.  It helps you feel full and
helps regulate blood sugar especially if you are diabetic.

It would be remiss if I did not tell you that fat contains 9
calories per gram as opposed to 4 calories per gram in protein and carbohydrates.  That is pretty much why fat containing foods
are high in calories.  If you are
watching your weight there is no need to avoid fat, simply watch the portion
size.  That means don’t eat peanut butter
from the jar with a spoon.

Pb 002
The nut butters featured here are delicious and wonderful.  They are all natural without any additives or
emulsifiers.  An emulsifier keeps liquids
from separating.  Without an emulsifier natural
nut butter has a film of fat that sits on top. 
I keep my nut butters in the fridge and mix them well each time before
spreading.  I never use more than 2
tablespoons for my sandwiches.  I always have
nut butters on hand and can therefore always make a quick healthy sandwich or
snack in a pinch.  

p.s. This company is from Ontario and does NOT have a website or an email.  I bought these nut butters at my neighborhood IGA.

Friday Finds: Ryvita Muesli Crunch

July 2010 004

July 2010 008I was grocery shopping at the IGA
in Cote St-Luc last week when I found myself in the frozen foods section.  I was standing there daydreaming at 9:30 at
night when I turned around and was confronted by the RYVITA shelf.  I thought to myself, hmmmm these crackers are
known to be healthy why haven’t I ever tried them?  I am not a big fan of the flavour of rye
which is probably why I have overlooked these gems for so long.

July 2010 005I am always on the look out for
healthy portable non-perishable snacks. 
I don’t usually buy granola bars, which is a popular choice for most,
because they are mainly filled with sugar and other garbage.  Most crackers are over processed too. 

The muesli on the box appealed to
me (as did the color) so I picked up the box and scanned the ingredients and
the nutrition facts label.  2 slices of
Muesli Crunch gives about 2 teaspoons of sugar, 3 grams of fibre and 2 grams of
healthy fat.  2 slices are equivalent to
1 serving of grain product (1 slice of bread for example) according to
Canada’s Food

July 2010 007
While I was spending way too much
money at the supermarket I picked up some almond/hazelnut butter and macadamia
butter and some superfruit spread.  I use
these delicious spreads over the Ryvita and it is killah!  Couple this flatbread with a protein like nut
butter, cottage cheese, a cheese slice or even some tuna.  It’s a good combination rather than eating
the flatbread alone because it makes you feel full. 

Listen to you hunger cues.  Eat when you are hungry and stop when you are

Nutrition Confessions

I often take for granted that most people know about healthy
eating.  It is just second nature to me
and I am always shocked when I encounter someone who really has no clue.  I don’t know why I am so shocked.  I live with Richard Kirsch. When we first
started dating, I was just finishing nutrition school.  I remember we went out for lunch and he was
going to order a hot chicken sandwich (you know what I am talking about, slices
of chicken in between white bread covered in canned peas and a ton of
gravy).  I was appalled and shocked. He
said “What?  It’s healthy! It’s got
chicken, vegetables and bread!”  He truly
wasn’t joking.  He thought he made a
healthy choice.  I know there many people
out there like him who don’t have the luxury (or curse) of living with a
dietitian.  Here are some thoughts I had
about some basic nutrition I take for granted. 

I would naturally assume if one were to purchase ground beef
one would buy extra lean.  I would assume
wrong.  There are many people out there
who don’t know that you can buy meat containing different amounts of fat.  Beef fat is essentially saturated fat which
should be eaten in limited quantities (~10% of your daily intake).  It makes sense to buy the extra lean
type.  The same holds true for cuts of
beef the more marbled, the more fat.  In
that case, choose cuts that have the least amount of marbling.  With poultry try not to eat the skin and
white meat has less saturated fat than dark meat.  Also, eat fish at least 2 times a week if not
more.  If you are concerned about mercury
check Health
advice pertaining to fish

I always think that most people know about limiting their
intake of trans fat but the truth is it’s very confusing.  If the ingredients say shortening,
hydrogenated, partially hydrogenated or the fat the grams don’t add up then
there is trans fat in the product and it is best to be avoided. 

People ask me all the time if honey or maple syrup or sugar
cane is better than sugar.  A sugar is a
sugar is a sugar.  Use whatever you love
but use it wisely.  Don’t dump 10
teaspoons of brown sugar into your coffee because you think it is better than
white sugar.

Why don’t people know already that too much juice equal too
many calories?  Why do I think that
people should know this?  Too much cola
equals too many calories. Too much diet beverages (that are artificially
sweetened) increase sugar cravings. Too much iced tea (Richard!!!!) equals too
many calories.   Stick with water, herbal
teas, skim milk, even coffee (not more than 4 a day max).  Have the other drinks occasionally.

Now let’s talk about white foods.  By that I mean white bread (think Wonder),
white pasta, white rice (that cooks in 5 minutes), white potatoes and white
flour!  These foods are devoid of any
major nutrients and fibre.  Think of these
foods like a decadent dessert, as a once in a while sort of thing.  Imagine going to Gibby’s and enjoying a hot
white bun with butter before dinner. 
Nobody goes to Gibby’s often so when you do go enjoy that bread. 

April 2010 044
Finally, I don’t know where I get off thinking that everyone
knows how to cook something.  Unfortunately
for me, Richard doesn’t know how to cook. What’s worse is he thinks he
does.  That’s a pretty bad
combination.  At least, a person that doesn’t
know how to cook and admits it might be open to suggestions and help.  The poor guy who thinks preparing KD is
gourmet really is in trouble.  I was
about to add that his kids would be in trouble too if the wife took an extended
vacation but it occurred to me that the kids would probably love to eat KD for
every meal.  

Friday Finds: Pizza!

March 2010 096This weeks
Friday Finds pizza!  Let’s be honest
here, everybody has nights where they don’t feel like cooking.  I know I do and it’s pretty easy to stock the
freezer with frozen pizza. There are so many different brands and types of
pizza out there but I think I found two reasonably healthy choices.  The first one is from IGA Compliments
Biologique and the other one is from the Loblaws Blue Menu line.  Both are vegetarian.

March 2010 061 When
looking for a prepared food like pizza, you have to look at the food
label.  I know it’s complicated but if
you start getting used to looking at it you will make healthier food
choices.  Depending on your health status,
you will be looking at different parts of the label than someone else.  For instance, if you have high blood pressure
the first thing you need to look at is the sodium amount.  It really has to be as low as possible.  Someone else who is concerned about
cholesterol might need to increase fiber and so on.  For my family and myself I am concerned about
portion size, sodium, fibre and fat.  When
I say fat, it means I am looking to avoid trans fats and keep our daily intake
of saturated to 10%.  Since I rarely cook
with saturated fat (I use unsaturated like canola, grapeseed oil or olive oil
instead) we would get it from something I didn’t make such as frozen pizza.

March 2010 057Both pizzas
contain between 11%-13% saturated fats. 
Not too bad if we didn’t eat out at some other point during the
day.  There are 2 grams of fiber in the
Blue Menu and 5 in the Compliments.  If
you check the ingredients both contain enriched wheat flour but the Compliments
has enriched whole wheat flour which seems to account for the fiber discrepancy.  There is 24% (of the daily value) sodium in
the Compliments and 15% in the Blue Menu. Again if you ate low sodium all day
then the Compliments one might be just fine. 
Consider the portions sizes for all of this nutrition information.  The Blue Menu is for 103 grams and the
Compliments is for 127 grams.  It should
be noted that according to
Food Guide a serving of grain product weighs about 35 grams.  If we take into consideration the toppings on
the pizzas these servings would be equivalent to about 2 – 2.5 grains.

The big selling point for the Compliments pizza is that it is marketed as organic.  I pay no attention to this as it means nothing without a proper definition of organic and the origins of their ingredients. I consider it an advertising ploy and not a necessarily a superior nutritional product.

March 2010 084The big
question now is which one tastes better! 
I guess that is subjective but we all thought the Blue Menu one tasted
better.  It was reminiscent of delivered
pizza with its soft chewy crust.  The
cheese and mushrooms had a nice creamy garlic flavor.  The Compliments was more crunchy and loaded
with spinach, red peppers, broccoli, mushrooms and onions.  The vegetables were a bit soggy.

Since both
pizzas had between 10 – 13 grams of protein a great side dish with these pizzas
could be a chickpea salad or a lentil soup. 

What is
your favorite frozen pizza

Friday Finds: Loblaws Blue Menu Bulgur and Quinoa with Chickpeas

Here is the first post in a series entitled Friday Finds.  I will post interesting foods I find around town.  If you've been reading my blogs you know I encourage home cooked meals as much as possible to achieve healthy eating. Realistically speaking though, even for me, I need to take some short cuts sometimes. 

During the course of the Olympics, there was a commercial being aired by Galen Weston promoting some new President's Choice Blue Menu items.  Intrigued I deceided to try some of them.  

IMG_9545The one I am sharing with you is Bulgur with Quinoa and Chickpeas. Quinoa is a grain but it is also a complete protein. Therefore, you can get away with smaller portions of animal based protein like chicken or fish when served with quinoa. Additionally, chickpeas are also a source of protein so you really don't need to load up on chicken, fish or meat with this product. I served it with homemade skinless boneless roasted chicken and carrots. I thought it was outstanding. It was very tasty and aromatic.   

When buying prepared foods always take a look at nutrition label on the back of the package. It would be difficult to briefly describe how food labeling works. However, here are a couple of quick things to pay attention to.  First, check the portion size. IMG_9553
The nutrition information for this product is for 1/4 of the package. If you plan on eating more than that then you'll have do the calculations for the larger portion. Second, check the fat amount in grams. A rule of thumb would be 5 grams of fat per portion (3 grams or less for saturated fat and NO trans fat). Third, check for sodium. Ideally you do not want any sodium but that is not realistic for a packaged food. Look for about 200 mg or less of sodium which is about 8% of the daily value (total amount of sodium for the day). This product has 18%, not ideal but better than most prepared foods. Finally, check the fiber content on the label.  Look for something with at least 5 grams per serving which this product has. There are many other aspects to consider when reading a food label but the ones mentioned should give you a quick idea if the food is worth buying. 


Because this product is higher in protein than most side dishes why not double the portion and add an extra 1/2 cup of chickpeas and make it into a vegetarian meal? Throw in 1 cup of frozen cooked vegetables and you should feel pretty satisfied.  If you have tried or will try this product let us know what you think!