Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving


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Follow Friday: Holiday donations

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This holiday season, if you’re like me, you have people on your list who are nearly impossible to shop for. Giving a donation to a worthy organization in their name is a great way to give back and honour them. Of course, there are plenty of food drives and opportunities to help people with immediate needs, but if you want to go beyond that and attempt to have more of a lasting impact with your donation, here are a few food-related organizations you might want to consider donating to:

Community Food Centres Canada has locations throughout the country and grew out of The Stop in Toronto. The Stop began as a food bank but became so much more. Now community food centres offer food literacy education; opportunities to grow and cook food with fellow community members. Many have markets and serve as hubs for community members to come together over food. This holiday season you can make a donation in a loved one’s name to your local centre, or to the organization in general through their “My Food Hero” campaign.

The World Food Programme is a donation-based organization working to fight hunger and promote food security around the world. You can learn more about donating to them, or others ways you can help here.

Food Secure Canada is devoted to bringing a national food policy to our country. Their goals are: “zero hunger, healthy and safe food, sustainable food systems.” In addition, they provide education opportunities for anyone who’s interested through webinars and conferences. You can support their work here.

On a local level, you might consider donating your time or money to a community garden, community oven, community kitchen, food security network, or a poverty roundtable.

I’m sure that there are loads more worthy organizations, these are just a few that came to mind. Feel free to add more in the comments.

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Follow Friday: @ShizknitsShop

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Okay, this has nothing to do with nutrition or dietitians, sorry. Since it’s my blog, I can blog what I want to, right? I promise we’ll be back to our regular scheduled ranting next week. For today though, I just wanted to let you know that I’ve opening an etsy shop.

If you’re looking for some warm quality hand knit socks for yourself, or a loved one, I’ve got you covered at Shizknits. I’ll probably be adding some other items as time goes on, but for now it’s just socks.

You can also follow the shop on Twitter and on Instagram.


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Follow Friday: Local Food Week #LoveONTfood

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Local Food Week is coming up June 6-12th. I wanted to do something special to celebrate on the blog. After thinking about it I decided that I would take the week to feature stories from people working in various aspects of local food. As a Nova Scotian living in Ontario, and as I have readers from around the world, I didn’t want to limit the location for “local” food. After all, local means different things to different people and it’s very much relative to where you call home.

I put a call out on Twitter for submissions from people involved with food and I have some great guest posts lined-up for you. There’s still space for a few more though so I thought that I would put the call out to all of you. Are you a farmer? A cook? A restauranteur? A baker? A cookbook author? A food manufacturer? A food producer? A chef? A food bank or soup kitchen employee or volunteer? A brewmaster? Coffee roaster? etc. If you’re interested in writing a guest blog post to share your story/experience/opinion… please send me an email (dianamchard [at] gmail [dot] com), I’d love to give you the space here to share your story.


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Follow Friday: Nourish. Curated wellness

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I’m sure that most of you have seen things like Nature Box; monthly snack delivery businesses. Well, now there’s a local alternative. A friend of mine (and fellow dietitian) has started Nourish with a friend. Four times a year you get a box with a carefully selected assortment of snacks and other edible goodies. You can buy just one month, or sign-up for a subscription at a reduced cost. The contents of your Nourish box are a surprise but I got a peek at the January box and I can tell you that they look great! There’s a nice variety of things thing you wouldn’t be able to find at your local grocery store.


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Lessons from salty restaurant meals

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Last week a study was released showing that sodium levels in chain restaurant meals are still ridiculously high.

The researchers found that some meals contained roughly the maximum amount of sodium an adult should consume throughout an entire day. Sure, some people only eat one meal a day, but this isn’t a recommended pattern of eating, and most of us eat at least three times a day.

While I agree with the researchers that there need to be regulations to ensure that restaurant meals, and packaged foods for that matter, contain lower amounts of sodium and menus are labelled, I think that there are a few more important lessons to be learned here.

First, I just have to say the thing that bothered me the most upon hearing the story on the radio was the man from the restaurant industry who stated that sodium is necessary for flavour and food safety! I get that salt is a common preservative but when I’m eating at a restaurant I’m going for fresh, quality food. The thought that high levels of salt are added to food to make it safe is rather alarming to me. As for the flavour comment, that’s what salt shakers are for. Customers should be given the option of adding more salt to their food. Obviously you can’t remove salt once it’s in a meal (well, at least not at a restaurant table, perhaps in a lab) so why not use the least amount of salt possible, flavour with herb, spices, and lemon zest, and allow customers to add more salt if they desire.

Okay… on to what I think are the important lessons to be learned here… One, this study only looked at restaurants with at least 20 locations. That means local restaurants were not included. Many of these places employ excellent chefs who use fresh ingredients and don’t rely on salt to make their meals flavourful. Talk to the chef if you have concerns about ingredients, find out if nutrition information is available for your favourite dishes. Ultimately: avoid chain restaurants; buy local.

Two, you should be preparing the majority of the meals you eat yourself. Sorry, but you can’t trust anyone. Only you can take care of yourself. Try to use minimally processed ingredients and read labels on any packaged foods you purchase. Restaurants are lovely for a treat but they shouldn’t be providing you with the majority of your meals. Be your own personal chef.