Video Blog Episode 2 – How to choose your cereals?

Some tips from Janna Boloten R.D.!

What do you eat when you go to the game?

I live in a hockey city with a hockey husband and hockey loving boys.  So, we took them to see Les Canadiens yesterday afternoon.  They had never been to a game before so they were very excited.  I expected at some point during the mayhem they would complain that they were starving.  They have become little grazers and if I am not prepared with snacks I suffer the consequences of hungry grumpy children.

Richard goes to see the Habs play a couple of times a year and even he prepares himself before he goes.  You see, there is nothing but unhealthy severely over priced food at the Bell Centre.  It’s really a dietitian’s nightmare.

They have extra greasy pizza, nachos with fake cheese sauce, popcorn with fake butter topping, chips, candy, ice cream, beer, soft drinks, flavoured drinks and other stuff I am forgetting.  The price of these items are ridiculous.

I don’t know if you are allowed to bring food into the Bell Centre but there was no way I was buying that crap for the kids.  I was certain we would all get hungry.  How can you not with all the food and excitement?  We all ate a very substantial lunch a little bit later than usual.  I figured that tactic would keep us full until at least 3:30 (game started at 3pm). I packed some whole grain bread with butter, peeled oranges, apples, cheese chunks, crackers and a bottle of water.  It was ALL GONE by the end of the game. As were half the fans because the HABS LOST!!!!!!

I guess part of watching a hockey game is snacking.  If you are in the comfort of your own home, instead of chips try air popped pop corn , plain almonds with baby carrots, cut up fruit or veggies with a yogurt dip and stick with water, it really is the best drink.

Are you sick of making school lunches yet?

For most families, at this point in the school year, kid  lunches are starting to get stale.  Well not literally, but  I’ll bet a lot of moms are starting to pack the same old boring lunches day in and day out.

I love making lunches for my boys.  For me, it’s a work of art.  I remember the lunches my mom packed us and they weren’t exciting (sorry Mom if you are reading this).  Back in the day when nut allergies were unheard of, I would get a PB and J daily with some slimy fruit and maybe a hard mandelbread.  In my opinion, an awesome lunch makes the day.  You have something to look forward to and once it’s been eaten you feel satisfied and well nourished ready to take on the rest of the day.

I don’t pack the same lunch for both boys.  They are individuals with different likes and dislikes and so I respect that.  While preparing for school to start in mid-August, I ordered some lunch supplies online at Fenigo and Noplastic.  I asked each boy to choose a lunchbox and a water bottle.  Trevor chose this one and Jason picked this.  The only criteria were that each lunch box had to be easy to clean.  Trevor’s can go in the washing machine and Jason’s cleans well on the top rack of my dishwasher.  In the past we had chosen lunchboxes that were difficult to keep clean and had to be thrown out due to the growth of mold.

I believe that kid sized food is the key to a successful lunchbox.  I picked up some small containers to hold bite sized food.  They are perfect for diced cheese, cucumber slices, a few baby carrots and even berries when they are in season.  It’s overwhelming for a child to open their lunchboxes and find large portion sizes of food, even foods they love.  Keep the portions sizes to ¼ cup or ½ a cup.

I use tight sealing containers to pack applesauce (homemade or from a jar), yogurt and anything else that could spill out.

If you are a regular reader of this blog you know my plight with baking.  Well, over the Christmas holidays I finally came to terms with my dilemma.  A few more baking disasters ensued including a mixer that caught on fire (don’t worry nobody got hurt) but I did it! I am an official baker.  I realized I am a mom of 3 boys and I HAVE NO CHOICE.  I must bake.  So, I bake a cake or cookies or banana bread or muffins every Sunday night.  Then I portion everything out and freeze them each individually (this stops the Richard and me from devouring the yummy baked goods).  These are high calorie snacks but they contain no preservatives or artificial crap like the store bought Rice Krispie squares or Bear Paws I used to buy.  Most of my desserts contain eggs, flour, butter, sugar and chocolate. Eaten in moderation, I am happy to give these treats to my kids.

It’s important to pack some type of protein in your child’s lunch box.  Trevor likes chopped egg so I often give him that in a sandwich.  Trevor is maturing and so are his taste buds.  At 7 years old I can finally pack him leftovers from supper.  Here are some of the choices I have given him recently: fish stew, bean burritos, vegetarian meatloaf, carrot stew, meatballs with pasta, tuna casserole and cut up cooked chicken.  I heat up his hot thermos with boiling water for 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, I heat up the leftovers in the microwave and then put it in the thermos.  I visited his school last week at lunch and the food was warm but not hot.

Jason is in Kindergarten which is a transition in itself.  Jason requires comfort food and so I pack him pasta with tomato sauce every day in his hot thermos. For protein, hard boiled eggs, cut up cheese or cottage cheese.

I use a cold thermos for their beverages which is either milk or watered down 100% apple juice.

I have noticed when the weather is warm their lunch boxes come home empty.  When it’s cooler they don’t seem to be as hungry.  I save any leftovers that come home for after school munching.

Healthy Eating Tips for the Holidays

It’s that time of year where clients and friends start asking me for tips about holiday eating.  Here are my top 10:

  1. Have a snack before going to your party. The ideal snack contains protein and a carb to keep you feeling full and energetic.  Have an apple with a stick cheese or a tablespoon of nut butter on a slice of whole wheat bread.
  2. Make sure you are well hydrated before going out.  Often people mistake thirst for hunger.
  3. Remember my motto? Always ask yourself “is this worth the calories?”
  4. Plan, plan and plan some more.  Plan to workout either the day of or the day after the Christmas party.  Plan your breakfast, lunch and snacks to allow for a few extra calories at the party.
  5. Alcohol contains a lot of calories.  The daily recommendation for alcohol intake is 1 drink for women and 2 for men (12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of hard liquor).  The caloric range for 1 of these drinks is between 110-150 calories.
  6. Keep a food diary over the holiday season.  Studies show that people who journal what they eat, consume less calories.  If you end up packing on the pounds a food diary is the best thing to bring to a dietitian come January.
  7. Everything in moderation! Have a little bit of this and a little bit of that but not a whole lotta this and a whole lotta that.  For example, have 2 or 3 hors d’oeuvres, 1/2 glass of wine, fill up on salad with a TBSP of dressing eat only 1/2 the main course and finish off with a couple of forkfuls of dessert.  That’s it!
  8. Consider the fact that it is easier to avoid the extra 500 calories than it is to burn it off with exercise.  (If you weigh about 150 lbs, it would take you an hour of jogging to burn off 500 calories).  If you can exercise like a fiend during this season, all the power to you! However, if you really don’t have time or you are just not motivated then the easiest way to control your weight is to watch what you put in your mouth.
  9. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables (frozen and canned have optimal amounts of nutrients at this time of year over fresh) and high fiber foods like whole wheat pasta, real multi-grain bread and high fiber cereals to help combat the effects of SAD.  Complex carbohydrates boost serotonin levels.
  10. Have fun and remember that mindful eating is where it is at!

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

Junk Food Pantry: Good or Bad?

Caryn and Suzanne
I was visiting
last week for a family wedding. The drive along the 401 was excruciating with 3
kids and a bubby. Every single rest stop from here to TO and back was closed.
Luckily, when I got there I got a chance to visit with my oldest friend Suzanne.  Our kids get along very well and we all spent
one evening just hanging out.  We ordered
some delicious healthy-ish pizza and of course after supper my kids wanted
dessert.   They had been there before and
knew exactly which pantry Suzanne kept the junk food stash in.  This lead to a junk food discussion that
Suzanne and I have had many times. 

Suzanne is an only child and when we were young all the
neighbourhood kids wanted to go to her house because her mom had the best junk
food pantry ever.  If you ask anyone who
was friend’s with Suzanne back in the day what they remember about her house,
they will all say the yummy snacks.  We
kids would gorge ourselves on whatever was there. Our moms never kept that kind
of stuff.  The funny thing is, Suzanne was
always slim and healthy.  She never ate
that much junk food.  Suzanne is a high
school phys. ed. teacher now and she believes that keeping a pantry full of
junk will actually help kids maintain a healthy weight.  I completely agree with her.  When you deprive kids of junk food all you
are doing is making them want it more. 
What Suzanne has managed to do is teach her own 2 kids about self
control.  Really, isn’t that what it is
all about? 

Personally, I cannot keep as much junk in my house as
Suzanne does because Richard and I do not have that same self control.  My mom rarely kept it in the house and so
when it was available to me, like at Suzanne’s house, I would over indulge.  As it turns out my own mother told me today
that my dad would eat all the junk food so she was forced not to keep it in the

One day Trevor and Jason helped themselves to ice cream,
serving seriously large portions.  Then
they dumped about a cup each of chocolate powder and chocolate syrup over
it.  My first reaction was to pull it
away.  Instead, I encouraged them to eat
it the whole damn thing.  As expected,
they could barely finish it and they both got stomach aches.  This is the way I teach my kids about junk
food.  I have on several occasions let
them eat as much as they want until they turned green.  The consequence to this is they have developed
self control and the ability to recognize an appropriate amount to feel
satisfied but not sick. 

The fact is, junk food is everywhere and it’s fun to eat but
if you eat too much too often it results in health issues. Whether or not you
believe stocking up on junk food or making your kids sick with sweets is
appropriate, it is important to figure out a way to exercise that self
control.  If we can teach it to our
children then hopefully they will grow up consuming less than nutritious foods
only in moderation. 

June 2010 013

When I got back to Montreal
I had this craving for the yummy homemade meringue cookies Suzanne’s mom
makes.  Luckily for me, but not for
Suzanne, Estelle lives in my ‘hood .  So
I called her up and asked her for a batch. 
Sure, she said, as long as I share them with my kids and don’t hoard
them all to myself.