Do you stick to one supermarket?

I was standing in line recently at my local grocery store, wondering why I shop there.  It’s dirty, very small and it’s not the cheapest. So, what’s the deal with this place?  I guess it’s the familiarity.  It’s the neighborhood presence, the place where I feel like Norm from Cheers.

There is a cast of characters at this supermarket that amuses me greatly.  I love the fishmonger guy with the funny haircut and the good recipes.  It’s fun to watch the banter between the German lady at the fast food counter and the heavy set woman who does the BBQ chickens.  I love the milkman who is endlessly restocking the dairy section.  Then there is the religious Jewish guy at the Kosher counter who can’t figure me out .  But the best is the cashiers.  There is the happy guy who dropped a 100 pounds and is now a personal trainer on the side. The girl who keeps changing her hair color but never seems to wreck it.  The big lady who never cracks a smile. I also love those car order guys because they are some of the politest young men I have ever encountered.

I really appreciate the fact that if I have a suggestion or a complaint the managers take me very seriously.  They have really done wonders with the coffee section.  No need to got to Starbuck’s anymore.  The vegetarian section has some good stuff too.

At my store I know where almost everything is. I just want to get in and out as quickly as possible.  The longer I linger the more I spend.  Especially since I am of the dietitian persuasion, I feel it necessary to buy every new so called healthy product out there.  My dad the accountant says that is considered a business expense.  But who has time to separate the grocery bill into family and business?

Whenever I find myself at a fancier store I tend to over spend because I find every new food product invented.  I’ve tried hitting the bargain supermarket in the name of frugality but it is just not the same.  I miss the gang.


Addendum: The above article was published several months ago in a local newspaper.  I got a call from a reader who thanked me for this article, stating that what he got from it, was how important it is to support local business.  That wasn’t my conscious intention when I wrote the piece.  However, the subtext is just that. I do support local business even if it costs a bit more.


Video Blog Episode 2 – How to choose your cereals?

Some tips from Janna Boloten R.D.!

Video Blog Episode 1 – Saucy Sodium –

Texture or Taste?

You ever wonder what makes people love certain foods while others hate that same item? Naturally, you might assume it’s all about taste. What tastes good to one person might taste terrible to another. But what if there is something else at play here? Consider texture and how food feels in the mouth. Sometimes this is referred to as mouthfeel.

Texture plays a huge role in how we consume food. For example, some people prepare their pasta el dente while others prefer it softer. Many people like to munch on raw broccoli and some will only eat their broccoli cooked.

Kids are often all about texture. Parents never clue in about this and thus label their little one picky eaters. Similarly as people age, anatomy changes or illness compromises swallowing. What was once easy to eat becomes a challenge. To help them, it could be as simple as changing the texture of the foods they eat.

Likes and dislikes can easily be attributed to texture. Many people hate fish. If you probe them you will find out it has to do with how the fish feels in their mouth. I have seen the same thing with nut butters, pickles, quinoa and even mustard. One client insists that mustard feels like tiny little sand pieces in his mouth. Some people describe milk as slimy. Interesting choice of words, which once again points to a texture issue.

As a dietitian, there is nothing I can really do to help someone “like” a texture. Simply recognizing this is often very helpful for the person. When a parent understands that their child is adverse to a food because of the texture, perhaps they can serve the same food prepared or cooked differently. For seniors, offering soft foods more often could do the trick. It’s important for seniors to meet their nutrient and caloric needs. It’s also important to make sure they are safe when they are eating so they don’t choke or aspirate which could lead to pneumonia.

You see eating is not just about flavour. There are so many other factors we need to consider when enjoying a delicious meal.

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

Free Food!

I live near an IGA.I  have been told that supposedly it's the
most expensive supermarket in the Greater Montreal area.  I do not know if it is true but whenever I go
Loblaws I generally go $100 over budget. 
I figure it is best to stick with my local supermarket than venture too far out of my way.  The further I go, the more money I spend or
so it seems.

Anyway, I find it thrilling that the IGA gives
away free food every week.  Okay, maybe
it's not really free you have to spend $70 first.  I usually end up with 2 or 3 free items a
week depending on my grocery bill.   The
most exciting items given away over the last year, for me, were the Starbucks
coffee, all purpose natural cleaner and dark chocolate. However, my friends
seem to think the
Lindt Petits Desserts they gave away earlier this month
ruled.  Nobody cared when I pointed out
the Trans fat in them.  They gobbled them
up and snubbed my warning instead.

They do give out a ton of free fruits and
vegetables.  A few weeks ago it was broccoli
followed the next week by cauliflower. 
The broccoli was easy to steam and serve but I had so much cauliflower I
didn't know what to do with it.  I used
one head to make an Indian inspired dish and then I posted on
Twitter and
Facebook for suggestions on what to do with the rest.  The peeps who responded suggested I roast the
cauliflower and serve it as is. 
 I tried it.  I drizzled the cauliflower pieces with olive
oil and pepper and baked it at 400°F for about 20 minutes.  I took it out and tasted it and it did not
excite me so I put it in a container and left it the fridge Richard just told
me he ate it heated up with cold hummus. 
He said it was great.  But, this
comes from a man who would eat
Alpo heated up and served in a bowl. 

April 2010 001 I decided to make a soup with the 2 heads I had
left.  I checked some cookbooks and some
online sites just to see what the main ingredients are.  It seems that cauliflower goes well with leeks
and curry.  I started off my soup as I
start off all my recipes, sautéing onions and garlic in canola oil.  I added sliced leeks and when they were
translucent I added chunks of cauliflower,
sweet potato, vegetarian broth and
water.  I boiled it and brought it to a
simmer for about an hour.  Then I
realized I forgot to roast the curry (by adding it to the onion and garlic sauté)
so I heated a tablespoon of olive oil over medium low in a separate pan.  I added the curry and roasted it for about 3
minutes.  I knew it was ready when the
curry filled my kitchen with an exotic aroma. 
I added it to my pot and then pureed the soup.  Finally, I tasted it and felt it was missing
something.  I added some freshly ground
ginger and some pepper.  The result?
Perfection!  Basically, I created this
soup with an intuition that the ingredients would go well together.  I can honestly say I have never made a
cauliflower soup before.  It was fun and
satisfying to use up this free cauliflower and for it not going to waste.  Can't wait to see what they give out this


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