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Posted on Thursday, 30 October 2014, 6:30 PM

A few neat alternative ideas to ease the overflow and excess of candy on halloween.

  1. Check out this excellent campaign which is getting kids out to collect donations for the food bank instead of collecting candy.

    • The campaign has three organizations in Ottawa to join, as well as many others around the country. Below are the organization you can link with in Ottawa who have already joined the program.

      • Cusa Food Centre

      • Ottawa Vanier Young liberals

      • Student Federation of the University of Ottawa

    • Check out the website here for more info.

    • Tweet to raise awareness with the hashtag #trickoreat


“Trick or Eat® is a youth-led national event that puts a new spin on the annual night of giving – Halloween. Instead of candy, thousands of Trick or Eaters across the country raise money online and go door to door to collect non-perishable food items for local food agencies. We also raise awareness about hunger in Canada through household flyers, educational materials and online resources.”

2. Try alternative homemade treats. Making homemade treats will undoubtedly increase the quality of the ingredients eaten and can also significantly reduce the calories per treat.  Given that halloween is not a one day event anymore, these can provide some respite from the added sugar onslaught.

  • Banana Ghosts!

  • Orange (literally) pumpkins

  • Ghost eggs

  • Cheese bats

Posted on Thursday, 23 October 2014, 2:55 PM

Certainly not blatant deception as it is a chocolate pecan square, but one that caught yours truly off guard.  I often hit Bridgehead for a weekend mid morning cappuccino or espresso accompanied with a treat.  My treat is usually their small (~2.5 square inches) chocolate pecan square.  In the past I checked for nutrition info and didn’t find it, so simply forgot about it, but decided to check again this past weekend and was happy to see that they started to post nutrition info online (only a handful of items right now). Well, to my surprise this “little” treat was nearly 600 calories per serving, I knew it was indulgent but would have never guessed that much so, especially given the size of it.  I wanted to share this story to show that yes even Dietitians get duped sometimes, and it is always good practice to: 1) check routinely for nutrition info &  2) overestimate (by minimum 30% more calories guesstimated) food eaten out if you don’t know the nutrition info. I would love to see Bridgehead label all their items with nutrition/ingredient info :)


Bridgehead Chocolate Pecan Square

551 Calories

28g Fat

75g Carbs  (from mostly sugar)

6g Protein


Rob Lazzinnaro, RD

Posted on Wednesday, 15 October 2014, 12:00 PM

I did my weekly menu planning, prepared my grocery list, hit the gym after work and am now heading into the grocery store. I haven’t eaten since my last snack at work and guess what? I’m starving!

No big deal. I can still stick to my list, right?

Wrong….I end up wandering down the snack aisle and grabbing 4 different items that weren’t on the list. Not only were these foods not on my list but they were also “choose less often” foods that I previously decided I wouldn’t keep in the house.  Jeeze, don’t I have enough will power to resist these foods?!

 If this has happened to you, you’re not alone – and it is NOT about willpower. Research out of Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab has shown that people who grocery shop when they’re hungry have a much higher likelihood to overspend, stray from their list and choose high calorie foods than people who had a snack or meal pre-grocery outing. It is a natural reaction for you to gravitate towards high calorie food when you’re hungry because your body kicks into survival mode and wants quick energy.

Sure, you think, but what about the days when you didn’t plan to be without food for a lengthy period of time and life got in the way of your daily food planning? The answer lies in having a car survival kit for days when you are on the go and didn’t have time to plan your snacks. I would recommend keeping this kit in the trunk so it is not within arm’s reach every time you get into your car.

What kind of foods should you include in your kit?

  • Nuts (any kind will do – unsalted are best)
  • Protein bars
  • Whole grain crackers
  • Water – to wash it down!

Sometimes it’s the small changes that can produce great results!

Emily Spencer, RD

Posted on Wednesday, 17 September 2014, 12:25 PM

This is definitely not blatant health deception, as I believe we all know that flavored seasonal lattes are not healthy.  However, the deception may be in the surprise of just how many calories and added sugar these products contain.  As well, not treating the drink as you would a slice of pie, but they’re essentially identical.  


Here is a sample from lowest calories/sugar to highest in a Pumpkin Spice Latte :


Short non-fat without whip cream

~130 Calories

~24 grams Sugar (~12g of it added or 3 tsp)*


Grande 2% milk with whip cream

~380 Calories

~49 grams sugar (~24g of it added or 6tsp)*


Venti whole milk with whip cream

~510 calories

~62 grams sugar (~29g of it added or 7.5tsp)*


*the rest of the sugar coming naturally from the lactose in milk.


One average slice of pumpkin pie with whip cream (for reference)

~340 calories

~24 grams of sugar (difficult to estimate added sugar, most likely ~16-18 grams)

~2 grams of fibre

Certainly not a healthy daily ritual

Posted on Thursday, 14 November 2013, 8:05 AM

A client of mine showed me these a few days ago and asked me what I thought of them. Here goes: Seeing as I love peanut butter either on its own or mixed with just about anything, I gladly tried a package and guess what – I think they taste very good. They taste exactly how you would expect crackers with peanut butter sandwiched between them would. Nutritionally however, I was far less impressed. With only 3g protein per serving and refined flour as the main cracker ingredient, these will do very little in terms of satisfying you for a prolonged period of time. An ideal amount of protein for a snack is at least 10g with the goal being to keep you feeling full for a couple of hours. The use of refined (white) flour offers no nutritionally benefit and as I’ve blogged about before, can increase your risk for heart disease, diabetes and cancer. A better option would be to spread some peanut butter on whole grain crackers such as Finn Crisps, Ryvita or Dare Grains First. Doing so would only take a few extra seconds compared to grabbing one of these and is a whole lot healthier. Your best bet with Ritz Crackerfuls is to save them as a once-in-a-while treat. I was unable to find them at my local store but would imagine they cost in $3.00-$5.00 range. There are five sandwiches per box.

Nutritional Information

Per serving (28g or one package)

130 calories

3g protein

14g carbohydrate

2g fibre

170mg sodium


Read More Tags: Tips
Posted on Wednesday, 30 October 2013, 10:00 AM

I’ve been called a part-pooper by some for suggesting that instead of candy why not give out non-food items tomorrow night. I see it two ways: 1) kids will already get enough candy and 2) these items will last longer than the few seconds of joy you’ll get chewing on a bite-sized chocolate bar. This list is also useful for kids who have food allergies.

1)      Temporary tattoos

2)      Pencils, pens, crayons, erasers

3)      Journals/notebooks

4)      Nerf balls, rubber balls, hacky-sacks

5)      Deck of playing cards

6)      Halloween-themed ink stamps

7)      Play Doh

8)      Halloween stickers

9)      Rubber or plastic bugs

10)   Mini flashlights or glow sticks


What are some other non-food treats that could be given out?

Happy Halloween!


Read More Tags: Tips