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Posted on Friday, 17 July 2015, 12:00 PM

Summer is here(hooray!), and that means more outdoor/organized sports, longer days, more time in the sun, and weight gain? That last item is not often associated with summer or organized sports. But organized sport and nice weather often mean socializing after the game, which is a great reason to join, but the unfortunate part is how often  and where it happens.


As an example - I play organized sport on three nights during the summer work week. After almost every one of those games I have the opportunity to join the team for a drink or food at the nearest pub, which I do from time to time. When I do go I usually stick with a one beer and that’s it policy. Why? Let’s break down the numbers.


An average competitive game of: (all most likely overestimated)

Baseball -         ~ 200 calories burned - estimated making play or at bat for ~30 min.

Ultimate Frisbee -     ~ 400 calories burned - estimated that on field playing for ~45 min.

Soccer -        ~ 700 calories burned - estimated that on field playing for ~60 min.


The average calories in few classic pub items:

Standard 16oz pint of beer ~ 200 calories.

½ pound of chicken wings ~ 500 calories

½ plate of nachos ~ 600 calories


You don’t have to crunch the numbers to figure out where this is going, but using a more extreme scenario:

One game of Ultimate Frisbee      - 400 calories

One pound of wings and a pint     + 1200 calories

Calorie surplus             ~ +800 calories


For individual calorie balance you would have to consider much more than just what is detailed here, but let’s just assume that for most folks these calories would be in addition to their regular day to day routine diet.


I don’t recommend comparing calories in to calories out because it gives the impression that we should exercise to eat more or lose weight. However, using it as an example certainly drives home why “calories in” always wins.  


That said, exercise for health not for weight loss.



Rob Lazzinnaro, RD

Posted on Friday, 10 July 2015, 4:15 PM

 For many people, meal planning is an important strategy to help with preparing healthy meals and snacks for themselves and their families when juggling a busy schedule. 

Paprika takes planning to the next level by combining recipe management, grocery shopping and meal and snack planning into one easy to use application.  The app has quite a few features worth noting.


  1. Recipe management

One of the highlights of Paprika is that it allows you to browse the Internet for recipes that you would like to add to your recipe database and insert into your weekly or monthly meal plan.

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Of course, you are also able to manually insert family favourite recipes and add them to your recipe database and meal plans.

  1. Planning your menu: meals and snacks

Once you have some recipes in your database, you can start weekly meal planning.  You can add recipes for all meals and snacks but you can also pick and choose which meals to plan for.  

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  1. Grocery Shopping

Whether or not you decide to actually make a menu plan with your recipes, you can use Paprika to help you with making grocery lists. With one click you generate a grocery list with the recipe that you want to use. You then have the option of keeping all ingredients checked off or you can uncheck the ones you already have at home. Once added, you can open other recipes in your database and add those ingredients to your grocery list.

If you have planned all (or some) of your meals for the week, you can create grocery lists that will include the ingredients in all of the recipes you have entered. Again, you have the option to uncheck the ingredients that you already have.

Finally, your grocery list will be automatically sorted by category, e.g. dairy, meat, frozen foods,  to make things just that much easier.


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Other features

Modify your ingredient list based on your desired serving size for the recipe
Personalize notes for each recipe
Organize recipes into categories (i.e. beef, vegetarian, dips/spreads)
Create reusable menus

Con: The only issue I have with Paprika is that you have to pay a one-time user fee for each device (phone, computer, tablet) that you use it on. The fee for using the desktop version is $19.99 while the iphone/ipad and android versions go for $4.99 and $5.65, respectively.

Even with the user fee, I am still a big fan of Paprika. Find out more here:

Emily Spencer, RD

Posted on Friday, 19 June 2015, 2:15 PM

Are mealtimes often a struggle in your household? Do you have a picky eater who refuses to try new food? Do you think your child eats too much or too little food for what she needs?

Children often go through phases where they are less open to trying foods that aren’t familiar to them. Some children will need to taste a food up to 20 times before they will eat it!

Understanding the different feeding responsibilities for parents and for children is the first step in helping your child accept a variety of different foods, in the right amounts for them, at meal and snack time.

The division of responsibility

The parent decides:

  • What foods to offer

  • When to offer meals and snacks

  • Where the child will eat

The child decides:

  • Whether to eat (you can employ the “one bite to be polite” rule for certain foods not touched, but be gentle)

  • How much food to eat from what is provided

Children have a natural ability to know how much they should eat. It is normal for children to vary how much they eat day to day, depending on their growth. Mealtime stress is reduced when parents trust their children to regulate their own food intake. This also gives the child some independence and helps them learn to recognize their internal signs of hunger and fullness.

Other tips to help children establish good eating habits:

  1. Have regular, scheduled meal and snack times

  2. Offer a variety of healthy foods to your child (and eat them yourself!) including; lean meats and vegetarian sources of protein (i.e. beans, lentils, eggs etc) , vegetables and fruit, and whole grains.

  3. Eat with your child and role model healthy eating behaviours that you want to pass on to them

  4. Don’t pressure your child to eat more or less food than they want.

  5. Involve your child in meal planning and preparation.

  6. Limit distractions during meal and snack time like television and games.

Emily Spencer, RD

Posted on Friday, 5 June 2015, 1:45 PM

Michael Scott and Dwight getting ready for a 5K.


I was sent an article titled “Fill ‘Er up, Carbo-loading can help you race without hitting the wall—as long as you do it right.” by BMI fitness director Kelly, and was quite alarmed by the dietary recommendations.  The article encourages runners who are getting ready for their big run, either a half or marathon to properly carb load 2-3 days before the race. Here is the article and the meal plan.


Below is a selection of the day's recommended “good eats” to have:

1 bagel with 2 tablespoons strawberry jam

8 ounces fruit yogurt

8 ounces orange juice

2 Nature Valley Oats 'n Honey Granola Bars

16 ounces Gatorade

8 ounces chocolate milk

1 large oatmeal cookie

1 Clif Bar

1 2-ounce bag Swedish Fish


I cannot fathom any athlete/human being in the world who would benefit from a day on this ultra processed, high added sugar meal plan; more importantly, the casual runner who is deciding to run a half.  Don’t get me wrong, getting the right amount of carbohydrates without too much fiber before a long run can be important but there are a plethora of choices that can meet these requirements without relying on large doses of added sugar.


To put the meal plan into perspective I calculated the added/free sugars from the full day “carbo load” plan and it equalled:


~46 tsp of added/free sugar OR ~ 1 cup of added/free sugar.


The World Health Organization (WHO) recently put guidelines out recommending that 25g (~6 tsp.) or less added sugar per day is a suitable target for adequate health. This plan is a full 40 tsp. above the WHO recommendations! Important to note that the recommendation does not change if you are a runner.  



Yes, the foods on the meal plan may seem innocent enough, from orange juice to a granola bar. However it is precisely these types of foods that have proliferated in the name of activity and health that have helped drive daily sugar intake and empty calories to astronomical levels.


Rob Lazzinnaro, RD

Posted on Monday, 20 April 2015, 9:00 AM

Pic above: What's on Canada's tray? Ottawa's?


On behalf of the Ottawa Food Policy Council I would like to invite parents, students, educators, food providers, interested community members in Ottawa to our free education event:

School Lunches: What’s on the Menu, Ottawa?  


The event will take place on May 12th, 2015 at Immaculata High School from 6:00-8:30PM.

Please register here.


The aim of our event is to provide attendees the opportunity to interact with several different programs connected to children’s health in Ottawa, as well as some key folks directly involved in healthy food in schools (K-12).  


Information kiosks will be set up starting at 6PM, and will include these great organizations and programs:


A panel of speakers will present their experience with healthy food in schools, from varied perspectives, starting at 7:00PM:

  • Public Health Perspective and Keynote Speaker: Pascale Messier, Ottawa Public Health Dietitian.

  • Regional perspective:Laurie Dojeiji​, Health Promotion Manager, Champlain CVD Prevention Network.

  • Teacher perspective: ​Sally Collins​, High School Teacher, Lead on the Healthy Eating Grant provided by the Ministry of Education, Norman Johnston Alternate Program.  Who has blogged about the grant herself on Weighty Matters on two occasions! [1] [2]

  • Student perspective: Samuele-Lyn​ LaRocque, G12 Student, Student Representative on the Healthy Eating Working Committee, Norman Johnston Alternate.

  • Senior Management perspective:Christopher Mes​, Principal, Immaculata High School.

  • Parent perspective:Alejandra Dubois​, Parent, School Council, école secondaire publique Gisèle-Lalonde.

Free healthy snacks will be provided, prepared by the wonderful chefs at the Ottawa Mission!


Please add the event to your calendar and register as soon as you can. The night promises to be a great opportunity to learn about healthy food in Ottawa schools, and how you can get involved!

Rob Lazzinnaro, RD

Posted on Friday, 17 April 2015, 3:50 PM

Everyone loves the taste (and smell!) of homemade baked goods but baking often contributes to high calorie, low protein and fibre snacking. The beauty of making your own baked goods at home, rather than buying them pre-made, is that you have complete control over what ingredients you use. Luckily for those of us who love baking (or who love to eat the baking done by others), there are some easy tricks that can be used to boost the protein and fibre, as well as lower the calories, in your favorite baked snacks.


Replace ½ (or more) of the oil or butter in a recipe with pureed fruits or vegetables (ie. Applesauce, pumpkin puree, mashed ripe banana)

  • Yes, I know – this sounds odd. By replacing half of the fat with a pureed fruit or vegetable you will be reducing the calories and increasing the fibre in the product, PLUS creating a softer, chewier texture. YUM!
  • You can also try replacing the butter in a recipe with ripe avocado. Although avocado is still a fat, it is an omega 3 fatty acid (the good, heart healthy fat!) with the added bonus of fiber.


Replace white flour with whole wheat flour

  • Try replacing some (or all) of the white or all-purpose flour in a recipe with whole-wheat flour in order to bump up the fibre content of your baked goods.


Add 2-4 tablespoons of ground flaxseeds to your batter

  • Flaxseeds contain omega 3 fatty acids (like avocado) in addition to extra fibre.


Reduce the overall sugar – try using a sugar substitute

  • Start by trying to reduce the amount of sugar the recipe calls in half – you won’t miss it.
  • You can also try substituting some (or all) of the sugar for an artificial sweetener. Sweeteners like sucralose and stevia are 200-600 times sweeter than granulated sugar and contain very few calories (make sure to look up how much sweetener of choice is needed to replace the sugar and produce a similar product).


Add Greek yogurt

  • Last but certainly not least (and a personal favorite) is to simply add Greek yogurt to your baking. This is going to create a moist baked product and most importantly boost the protein content of the recipe (bonus!).
  • Greek yogurt can also be used to replace some of the oil or butter in a recipe (just like the pureed fruits and vegetables).



Emily Spencer RD