Friday, 31 October 2014

Food Friday (The Really Scary Thing About Hallowe'en)

It's Hallowe'en.

Let's face it ... despite the scary creatures prowling the streets and ringing our doorbells ... the most frightening thing about Hallowe'en is not the possibility of tricks ... it's the abundance of "TREATS".

Honestly, if I did not have a sweet tooth I would find it much easier to stay on my weight loss path.  Alas, sugar and chocolate are the demons that I have to wrestle with, especially on holidays.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we were all happy to indulge in a healthy treat like the “Skeleton Veggie Platter”?  Hallowe'en makes it so easy to "accidentally" overindulge, because really, how many calories could there possibly be in that teensy, weensy, tiny little chocolate bar?  As it turns out -- more than I ever thought and probably more than you think.

It's not only calories that we need to be frightened about.  "Most of the treats are loaded with sugar and may contain the "Frankenstein" of fats; partially hydrogenated vegetable oil.  This harmful trans fat often sneaks in under the radar because in the U.S. the FDA regulation allows any amount under .5 grams to be labeled as zero.  The scary part?  Researchers warn that even tiny amounts of trans fat can increase heart disease risk by 23 percent and raise the risk of depression by 48 percent." (information from FIRST for Women - 10/27/2014)

Rejoice though … the news is not all gloom and doom!  Some of the candies do contain some redeeming qualities – IF CONSUMED IN MODERATION.

Raisins help cut cravings and can help reduce hypertension because they are packed with potassium.  If you have to have some Hallowe’en goodies, reach for the Glossettes.

Apparently peppermint makes exercise easier so if there is a Peppermint Patty in the grab bag or the candy bowl … snag it and go and work out.

And don’t forget that pumpkins are not just for jack-o-lanterns … they are good to eat and good for you too.

I came across this infographic at and found it very scary indeed!

The picture is hair-raising enough but they drive the point home with the commentary.

"We recently explored what Halloween candies kids most want to get when they trick or treat. Today we’ll take a look at which candies pack the most calories.
With Halloween around the corner, we’ll all see our fair share of candy. And it’s hard not to love the stuff. We’re pre-wired to crave it. How many calories will we consume by eating the typical candy treats? Some of the calorie counts in these popular candies might surprise you!

For example one king size Baby Ruth = 500 calories. For the same calorie intake you could eat:
– More than a whole box of red vines
– Nearly 2 popcorn balls or caramel apples
– About 70 candy corns
– About 20 jolly ranchers
– 8 Tootsie pops
– 100 sticks of Juicy Fruit gum

One estimate puts the average Halloween candy hoard at about 9,000 calories. Yikes!"

 “The typical trick-or-treater collects 250 miniature candy bars and other sugary treats on Halloween night.

That means a Jack-O-Lantern bucket holds about 9,000 calories, 200 grams of fat and 1,500 grams of sugar.

Thanksgiving was the unofficial start to the season of holiday overindulging. We eat as many as 5,000 calories on Thanksgiving Day. (It would take jogging for more than seven hours to burn off that meal.) While some speculate that Americans gain five pounds during the holidays, the National Institutes of Health estimates that most gain only 1 pound between Thanksgiving and New Year's. The problem is if you don't lose it, your weight creeps up every year.

For Halloween, the California Milk Processor Board and the California Dietetic Association are offering tips to avoid a sugar high:

Eat a healthy dinner first

Give away school supplies (pencils, erasers) instead of candy

Allow children to only eat a few pieces of candy

Exchange Halloween candy for a toy instead

Walk a couple extra loops through the neighborhood for some extra exercise.”

If you must have a special treat because it's Hallowe'en, consider this from

I’m really not trying to take all the fun out of Hallowe’en so here’s some fun facts (again courtesy of

Wishing every one a FUN and SAFE Hallowe'en!

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Food Friday (Dangers of Deep Frying)

Okay ... I admit it ... deep frying can make almost anything (I did say ALMOST!!!) appetizing but when you are trying to lose weight it almost (I did say ALMOST!!!) always has to be on the list of  "STOP ... I must not have this".

I do try to keep things light (pun most definitely intended) in this blog ... even when I attempt to share serious information. When I came across this article from my local paper this week I felt I had to share it with my TOPS group as well as here.  As if we need one more reason to avoid deep fried fast foods?  Never mind the hit your calorie count takes, it can be a real health hazzard.


Authors of a recent University of Guelph study – one of whom is a former restaurant inspector – are calling for public health standards for frying oil used in restaurants.

Waterloo Region Record

By Megan Ogilvie

From samosas to spring rolls, hand-cut fries to falafel balls, many of Canada's favourite restaurant foods are fried in hot oil.

Most are addictively crispy. Occasionally, a freshly fried food will taste off, a bit like bad fish.

This is the taste of oil that has been used for too long and has degraded, shedding hundreds of different compounds into the oil, which are then absorbed into the food.

Studies suggest some of these compounds are carcinogenic, while others may affect liver health or how well our bodies absorb certain vitamins.

Authors of a recent University of Guelph study – one of whom is a former restaurant inspector – are calling for public health standards for frying oils to help restaurant owners and restaurant inspectors know when to discard degraded oils.

Health concerns have prompted some countries in Europe to set standards for frying oil safety.

Canada has no such regulations.

"If you are tasting the bad oil, it is already affected," says Alejandro Marangoni, study co-author and professor of food science at the University of Guelph. "There are no guidelines whatsoever. It's all in the hands of the cooks."

He says the study, which tested in-use and discarded cooking oil from 20 independent restaurants in Toronto, raises concerns about the "toxicological safety" of old frying oils. The restaurants volunteered their samples to the study.

According to one laboratory measure, all the oil samples contained high levels of oxidation products, some of which have been shown to cause cancer in animals.

Another test found that 30 per cent of in-use oils and 45 per cent of discarded samples had free fatty acid levels – a measure of frying oil quality – beyond levels recommended by experts in the field.

Marangoni says the study – which they believe is the first to test frying oils used in restaurants, rather than oils simulated in a lab – should prompt public health agencies to include oil monitoring in their restaurant inspection programs.

Anitta Sebastian, a former Toronto Public Health inspector and the study's lead author, says such tests would not be hard to implement. Monitoring would be most important for independent restaurants, she says, since they are unlikely to have the internal standards and controls and automatic fryers used by restaurant chains.

Right now, Sebastian says, cooks in independent restaurants discard frying oils based on their smell or colour. Dark-coloured oils with food sediments have likely been used over and over.
me off in 2012 to complete a master's degree in food safety at the University of Guelph. The study, published in July in the journal Food Research International, is the result of her research.

Sebastian's former supervisor, Sylvanus Thompson, associate director of healthy environments at Toronto Public Health, agrees that visual inspections of frying oils – by restaurant cooks and by inspectors – are not ideal.

"If we had standards, we would be in a better position," he says, noting that two different cooks – and two different inspectors – may have differing opinions on what is considered overused oil.

Currently, inspectors who suspect a fryer holds contaminated oil can suggest restaurant cooks replace it. But they cannot enforce that recommendation, Thompson says.

"There are no standards, no set time limit that over X-number of days or X-number of uses, that oil should be changed," he says.

Public health units in the province enforce standards set by Ontario's Ministry of Health. Thompson says Toronto Public Health cannot step in on unless directed by the province.

Ministry of Health spokesperson David Jensen says while the agency is aware of the study and welcomes new research on food safety, it will not implement new frying oil standards at this time.

"The potential harm to human health of some of these compounds, based on this study, is not well-established," Jensen said in an email statement to the Star.

"Operators should follow manufacturer's instructions regarding the proper use of frying oil."

Marangoni, who holds a Canada Research Chair in food, health and aging, says further studies are needed to confirm whether consumption of degraded frying oils – and the
 foods cooked in that oil – are harmful to human health over the long term.

"But it's not that the research is inconclusive, it's incomplete," he says. "Many of the compounds created in oxidation are carcinogenic; that is a fact. But does consuming the oil cause cancer? That is a more difficult question."

In an email statement, Canadian Food Inspection Agency spokesperson Tammy Jarbeau said: "Restaurant and food service inspection is generally carried out by provincial governments, municipalities or regional health services."

Sebastian, who is now a communicable disease investigator at Toronto Public Health, says that she and her co-authors are not alone in calling for public health standards for frying oils. She points to the recommendations of a 2011 international symposium on deep fat frying, which found that regulatory guidelines are needed to protect public health.

Until standards are in place, Sebastian says diners concerned about frying oils can take on the role of inspector by asking cooks about the freshness of the oil in their restaurant's fryers.

"You have the right to ask," she says. "It may prompt them to always think about the quality of the oil."

News services

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Vintage Thursday 9 - Calorie Count Kitchen Linens

I came across these pictures on and thought they were cute ... and then I thought they would be annoying.  Image having everything in your kitchen screaming calorie counts at you.

Napkins that give you calorie counts on beverages.

A handkerchief so you can carry the calorie counts with you.

Tea towels to remind you how much you ate as you dry your dishes.

A tray to remind you of the calories you are carrying to the table.

Even a tablecloth to stare at while you are eating.

Well, at least everything would be annoyingly coordinated!

Surviving Thanksgiving Dinner

As I turned my page on the calendar this month I realized the awful truth … it is the start of the “official holiday eating season”.  Following on the heels of “summer barbecue season” it pretty much starts with Thanksgiving (in October here in the Great White North), skips happily through to Halloween, and then gets totally out of control through Christmas and New Years.  It lulls us into a false sense of getting back on track until Valentine’s Day and culminates with Easter.

How can anyone even hope to succeed on a weight loss plan when even the calendar and the changing of the seasons are against us?  Gaining weight during the holiday season has become a national pastime.  Year after year you put on an extra pound or two (or more).  That’s not so bad (honestly!) as long as you get back on track right after the big meal … the problem is most of us keep the weight permanently.

Believe it or not … people do maintain and even lose weight despite holiday dinners … and we can too!  One meal does not a diet break!

Thanksgiving does not have to sabotage your weight.  The only thing that should feel stuffed at the dinner table is the turkey!

So how do you survive Thanksgiving Dinner?

Plan ahead.  Get a survival plan into place and into your head and do you very best to stick to it.  Some helpful hints …


Sometimes we think we can “save” calories for the big meal, but experts say eating a small meal in the morning can give you more control over you appetite.  Start your day with a small, yet satisfying, breakfast so you won’t be starving when its time for your gathering.


If you are hosting Thanksgiving, the ball is in your court, so you can make your recipes healthier with less fat, sugar, and calories.  There is usually more sugar and fat in most recipes than is needed, and no one will notice the difference if you skim calories by using lower calories ingredients, such as; fat free chicken broth to baste the turkey and make the gravy; use fruit purees in baking in place of some of the sugar or try yogurt or fat-free sour cream in creamy dips, mashed potatoes and casseroles.

If you are attending a dinner as guest, bring along a healthier option – other people might appreciate it – because let’s face it, we are not the only people on earth trying to watch our weight.


When you are deciding what to put on your plate skip the store-bought goodies, the dried-out fudge, and the so-so stuffing.  If the food you select doesn't taste as good as you expected – STOP EATING IT – choose something else.  Think of how much less you’d eat if you only ate the things that tasted fabulous!

Before you fill your plate, survey the offerings and decide what you are going to choose.  Then select reasonably sized portions of foods you cannot live without – stick to the favorites that you do not have on a regular basis – skip the mashed potatoes, you can have them any time – don’t waste calories on food you can have all year long.


How much do you want to spend on appetizers or the entrĂ©e?  Do you want to save some room for dessert?  Go through the process mentally to avoid eating too much food and feeling uncomfortable for the rest of the evening.

Try to resist the temptation to go back for second helpings.  Leftovers are much better the next day, and if you limit yourself to one plate, you are less likely to overeat and you will have more room for a delectable dessert (if you choose to have one at all).  Eat slowly so you are still enjoying your meal while others are heading up for seconds.

Choose the best bets in the offering available.  White turkey meat, plain vegetables, roasted sweet potatoes, defatted gravy, and pumpkin pie tend to be the best bets because they are lower in fat and calories.  BUT – if you keep your portions small, you can have whatever you like.

If the food is so special, give it your full attention rather than eating on autopilot.  By reducing distractions and sitting down to eat – even if it’s just a cookie -- makes you appreciate the food you are enjoying.  Appreciate the appearance and aroma of your food and savour one small bite at a time by putting your fork down.

You’ll eat less food but enjoy it more.


Avoid eating just because it is on the table, on your plate, because you paid for it or because it’s free, or because someone made it especially for you – with love.  Love contains a lot of calories, when food is consumed for the sake of not hurting someone's feelings.  Deal with “food pushers” with a polite but firm “No, thank you.”  If you’re concerned about hurting their feelings, ask for the recipe or a small portion to take home with you for another meal.


People who tend to overeat (and we all know who we are talking about) are “food suggestible”, so just hanging around food causes them to eat more than they need.  Avoid indulging just because the food is there.  It’s common to have candy and snacks all over the place.  Grazing unconsciously leads to extra calories that you probably won’t even remember tasting.


Take a walk after dinner to enjoy the evening, take the dog for a walk (even if it isn’t your dog).  Or, exercise earlier in the day.  This will serve double duty by suppressing your appetite and boosting your metabolism.


Have a glass of water or sparkling water between the alcoholic drinks. That way you limit your calories, stay hydrated … AND stay sober.  If you want to have an attractive and pretty drink in your hand to keep away all those people trying to push a drink on you … try one of the following for only 2 calories each.

Besides, if you give your liver a break from processing the alcohol it can be more efficient at helping you process those calories.  Your liver is the primary organ in charge of detoxification, fat burning, fat excretion and removal of hormonal waste.  Increased toxins from alcohol can translate into inefficient fat burning.


The holiday dinners are a time for celebration.  Visiting with family and so many extra temptations, maybe this is a good time to strive for weight maintenance instead of weight loss.  A “stay-the-same” can be a victory around holiday eating.  You will be ahead of the game if you can avoid gaining any weight over the holidays … and then you can get right back on track the minute you push away from the table.

Enjoy your day…

Remember, the idea is to enjoy family and friends and to reflect on what you are grateful for …

The food is just a yummy perk!

Friday, 3 October 2014

Food Friday - Just One Pound?

We’ve all been there!

Had a REALLY good week!

Stuck to the diet!

No munchies!

Get on the scale and …


Just one pound???

Makes you think that it probably
isn’t worth the effort – huh?

Think again!

Dear Dieter,

Hello!  Do you know me?  If you don’t, you should.  I am ONE POUND OF FAT, and I am the happiest pound of FAT that you would ever want to meet.  Want to know why?  It’s because no one ever wants to lose me!  After all, I am only ONE POUND OF FAT. 

Just ONE pound.

Everyone wants to lose 3 or 5 or 15 pounds, but never ONLY one pound.  So, because I do not want to disappoint you – I’ll just stick around.  Then I am free to add to myself, ever so slyly, so that you never seem to notice … that is, until I have grown to 10, 20 or even 30 pounds in weight.

Yes, it is fun being ONLY ONE POUND OF FAT.  Left to do as I please.

So, when you weigh in, go ahead … just keep on saying, “Oh I only lost one pound.”  (As if that is so terrible?

For you see, if you do this, you will encourage others to hang around with me because they think they are also not worth losing.  And, we LOVE being around you … your arms, your legs, you chin, your hips, and every part of you.

Happy days!

After all, I am ONLY ONE POUND OF FAT!!!

                                                                                                Author Unknown

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Thursday's Random Thought - Ten Commandments of the Coffee Shop

If you live in Canada you KNOW what a “Timmies run” is.

If you are on a weight loss plan you KNOW that the fewer “Timmies runs” you indulge in the better.

The following was circulating all over computers everywhere this week.  I do not know where is originated, but as they say … “Many a truth is spoken in jest”.

If you live in a place that does not have Tim Horton’s … easy … just substitute the name of your favourite local coffee establishment.  I’m sure the same “commandments” apply.


1. Thou shalt not go through the drive-through if you are ordering for your son's entire soccer team. It's called eternity for a reason.

2. Nay but once a week, thou shalt avert thine eyes from the apple fritters.

3. Thou shalt not order 'triple, triple' unless you are under 12.

4. Thou shalt not spend 10 minutes in line with the three whining progeny beget of your loins, and only when you get to the counter utter: "So what does everyone want?"

5. Thou shalt utter no heresies in the temple. The sizes are small, medium and large, not short, tall, grande. If you utter venti, thou shalt be cast out of the temple.

6. Thou shalt hold true that there are no calories in the muffin top. Nay, all wickedness and calories are
cast into the parchment-enclosed nether world. Order two muffins, eat the tops and cast out the bottoms. In this way, a man shall be fed with two loaves and no calories. A miracle!

7. Thou shalt not wait until your order has been rung in before beginning the search for your wallet in that duffle bag you are calling a purse.

8. Thou shalt never order a dozen sour cream glazed, and then ask the clerk for a 'nutrition guide.' For the love of Tim, they are doughnuts, not carrots!

9. Honour thy father and thy mother, and bring them their old-fashion plain.

10. Dieters, thou shall not covet thy neighbour's Boston cream, but rather rejoice for the svelte are few and far between.

So sayeth Tim.