Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving


The defence of juice


I find the ability of people to rationalise things astounding. We all do it in some manner in our lives. But it still amazes me to see people staunchly defending illogical stances. Take for example juice.

I’m not opposed to juice per se. I grew up during a time when orange juice was a standard at breakfast. I drank juice boxes at school. Juice wasn’t the nutritional pariah it’s become. Of course, we now know that juice is essentially liquid sugar, with a few vitamins thrown in for good measure. Drinking a glass of apple juice is nowhere near as nutritious as eating an actual apple. I would never recommend that someone consume more juice but if you’re enjoying a glass of juice a day, or an occasional glass of juice, it’s the same as any other sweet treat and I’m not going to take that away.

What I don’t get are the people who say that juice contains “naturally occurring” sugar so it’s somehow healthier than any other food containing “unnaturally occurring” sugar. Nope. Not buying it. Sugar is sugar. This is not demonizing sugar. This is not demonizing juice. It’s just a fact. Where do people think that refined and added sugars come from? They’re not made from chemicals in a lab. They’re made by processing plants that naturally contain sugar. There’s nothing nutritionally superior about the sugar in juice. It’s no better (or worse) for you than the sugar in a handful of jujubes.

Let’s stop sugarcoating juice and face the facts. Juice is liquid sugar with better PR than other sugary beverages.

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The new ice

Well, it seems like in Nova Scotia, we’re getting more summer this year than we did in probably the last eight years combined. All I can think about is the heat. I love it, I wish my flat would get down below 30 degrees Celsius, but I really do love it.

If you’re also experiencing a super hot summer and also lack air conditioning or cross breeze, or any sort of relief, a nice cold drink may be just what you need. A great way to keep your drink cold is to jazz up the standard ice-cube. Try freezing coffee in your ice-cube tray and using it in milk or nut milk or in cooled coffee. Add frozen fruit to your water (still or sparkling). Try grapes, cubed melon, mango, or berries.

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Summer drink make-overs

What with the fact that we actually seem to be getting summer in Halifax this year, I keep being asked about healthy summer beverages. If you’re taking advantage of a patio downtown or sitting out on your deck at home, or like me, simply sweating in the sauna that your flat has become, you probably want a nice cold refreshing beverage to enjoy. A lot of these beverages can pack in a lot of calories. Obviously your best bet is to go non-alcoholic but if that’s not really your thing, there are still ways to make your drink a little healthier. If you’re using hard liquor check the “proof”. The lower the number, the lower the calories. It’s not a huge difference (97 calories in 80 proof versus 110 calories in 90 proof) but it’s still a difference.

Traditional Mojito:

Mint, limes, simple syrup or superfine sugar, rum, club soda

Made-over Mojito:

Mint, limes, rum or vodka, club soda (try experimenting with muddling different kinds of fruit, any sort of berry is yummy, plus if you eat the muddled fruit you get the added nutrients from it).

Traditional Pina Colada:

Rum, cream of coconut, pineapple juice, crushed ice

Made-over Pina Colada:

Rum, light coconut milk and coconut water, pineapple juice, crushed ice. Try upping the ice content and reducing the coconut milk and juice content.

Traditional Margarita:

Tequila, lime juice, orange-flavoured liquor, ice, rimming salt.

Made-over Margarita:

Tequila (use less!), lime juice, try using a dash of orange extract instead of the orange-flavoured liquor, bump up the ice content, forego the rimming salt.

Traditional Sangria:

Cabernet sauvignon, white zinfandel, orange juice, pineapple juice, sprite, grand marnier, fruit chopped or sliced (e.g. oranges, apples, pears, limes, plums, pineapple, pretty much anything goes).

Made-over Sangria:

Cut back on the wine and juice and replace the sprite with an increased quantity of club soda (sodium-free). Serve over plenty of ice. I like to use so much fruit in my sangria that people ask if I’m drinking fruit salad. Make sure you actually eat the delicious fruit.

Traditional Shandy:

Beer mixed with some kind of pop, usually citrus-flavoured or gingerale.

Made-over Shandy:

Beer mixed with soda water (again, low or no sodium) and lemon and/or lime wedges.

I really don’t want to get into messing with beer and wine (beyond the suggestions above, obviously). You all know that there are low-calorie beers available, right? Try a few varieties, see if you like them. With wine, make sure that your glass is not actually 2-3 glasses in one. A serving of wine is only 5-oz. That’s a little over 1/2 cup. Many wine glasses hold much more than that and should only be filled about a third of the way for one serving. If you’re drinking a full large glass of wine don’t kid yourself into thinking that you’re only having one glass.

For every drink that you have, drink a glass of water either before or after. Keep in mind that current health recommendations are that women have no more than two drinks per day, men no more than three. If you do over-indulge please, please, PLEASE don’t drink and drive!