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Friday, July 03, 2015

Nutrition Labels Are Your Friends - If You Understand Them #FocusOntheFacts

At this time of year a lot more of my family's diet is comprised of fresh produce, even a variety of items from our own backyard (our cherries will be on the table this weekend!). But packaged foods are still a necessity, and I do my best to make the healthiest choices possible when I'm browsing the supermarket aisles. Nutrition labels are an important resource, providing specific information on vitamins, calories, fat content, sodium and more. But do you know how to read these labels properly?

The Nutrition Facts Education Campaign: Focus on the Facts is a partnership of the Retail Council of Canada, Food Consumer Products of Canada, Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers, and Health Canada, with a goal of educating Canadian consumers on how to read the Nutrition Facts table as an aid in making informed food choices. Boo and I were introduced to the campaign at a recent Fact Finders' Mission event, where the kids donned detective hats and grabbed their magnifying glasses as we teamed up and sought out the clues to healthy food choices in the grocery aisles. It was an informative event, and I was glad we were able to include our children and engage them in some fun learning about the food they eat.

The education campaign is especially focused on highlighting the key concepts of serving size and %DV, and how to interpret them. There is currently no standard for serving size, and so different brands within a food category may use a different serving size on their nutrition label. Always check the listed serving size before reading the nutrition breakdown. Is this a realistic serving size for your family? Or would you be eating more/less? If you are comparing two items, are the tables based on the same or similar serving sizes? If not, be ready to do some math before you make your final decisions.

The %DV listing gives the percentage of the recommended daily value of that nutrition component that is found in the listed serving size. This number will tell you if the serving size has a little or a lot of a nutrient. Generally speaking, 5% DV or lower is considered a little, and 15% DV or more is considered a lot. So, if you are on a low sodium diet, for instance, you want to look for a %DV less than 5. Looking for a good source or fibre or calcium? Make sure that number is 15 or higher. I think that 5/15 rule was probably the best thing I learned at this event. These numbers gave me specific guidelines I can readily use as I interpret these labels.

During the event we broke into teams and were tasked to choose two products in each of three categories (grains and pastas, sauces, soups or canned goods, and sweet or salty snacks), of similar serving size. We then had to compare the two items and report back to the group with information on their nutritional break down. The activity prompted us to read carefully, and gave us some surprises.
Naturally Boo had to check out the Pringles.
In the sauces, soups, canned goods category, for instance, we decided to look at pasta sauces. We chose a name brand tomato-based sauce, and a fancy, gourmet-looking veggie-based sauce. Which would win the nutrition battle? Not the one we expected!

The serving sizes weren't exact, but were only off by a teaspoon so the labels were comparable. We had expected more nutrition bang for your buck with the Butternut Squash pasta sauce, but actually found it only came out on top in terms of Vitamin A. It qualified as fairly high in fat content, and the sugar was high as well. When we cross-referenced with the ingredients list we found the butternut squash had sugar added to the recipe, which is not something we wanted to see.

The bottom line? Read those labels, and be sure you are aware of serving sizes before you start making decisions based on relative nutritional value. The information is there. You just have to know how to read it.

In the meantime, head on over to and take their four-step quiz for your chance to win one of six $300 grocery gift cards. The contest has six entry periods through March 31, 2016, and is open to Canadian residents only. You can enter daily. Best of luck!

Disclosure: This post is brought to you by Focus on the Facts. All opinions on this blog, as always, remain my own or those of my family.

Taste of Lawrence Returns to Scarborough, July 3-5, 2015

Where will I be this weekend? Hanging out at the Taste of Lawrence Festival, eating all the things, playing games, listening to great music, and watching Boo on the midway rides. This annual event has become a tradition in our family, and not just because it's walking distance from our home. We always have a fun time, and it's a wonderful way to try out new, local restaurants and vendors.

This street festival opens tonight (July 3) at 6pm and runs through Sunday at 7pm, taking over Lawrence Ave East between Birchmount and Warden. There will be over 130 street vendors, midway rides and games, and two stages featuring live entertainment throughout the weekend.

The Family Stage will feature a variety of performers and character meet and greets, including your favourite superheroes; Anna and Elsa; Peter Pan, Tinkerbell and Captain Hook.

On the Main Stage I'm particularly looking forward to hearing the Canadian reggae group Messenjah on Saturday night at 9:30. Bonus for us? We can hear the performances from our back deck!

What am I most looking forward to? The food! Scarborough is so very diverse, and we have an amazing range of multicultural food options from which to choose. Tons of cultures will be represented along this stretch of Lawrence this weekend, and I plan to try as many as I can. One thing I always go for? Malaysian Murtabek. Love it! Malaysian Kitchen will be there to cure my craving. Food trucks and local restaurants will be in attendance, serving everything from Egyptian shawerma, to tornado fries, to curried goat, to lobster nachos.  There's even a truck selling bannock tacos. Hmmm. And of course it wouldn't be a festival without Beavertails and Tiny Tom's being there!

Boo meanwhile is all about the rides. I'll buy him a string of tickets and let him check out the offerings. With any luck his favourite mini roller coaster will be there.

Or maybe the giant slide.

Either way - we're sure to have fun! If you're in the east end, be sure to stop by the festivities!

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Resolve Gold Treats Tough Stains and Keeps Whites Sparkling

Back in my 20s I walked to work every day with a dear friend. Each morning I'd put on a pot of coffee and jump in the shower. She'd let herself in, and I'd find her at my kitchen table, enjoying a cup. And, as she often said, if she were wearing a white top, she'd soon spill that coffee down over herself. Did it just seem like a white top always meant a spill? Or was it a real phenomenon? I don't know, but I have to say I never saw her spill on anything else.

Spills lead to stains, and stains can lead to ruined clothing. That's particularly frustrating when the stain is on a favourite item, or an expensive one that will be hard to replace. Getting to a stain quickly is an important step to success, but we can't always act right away. We need powerful tools in our laundry arsenal to help us avert wardrobe disaster.

Resolve Gold In-Wash Stain Remover is said to be effective in removing a variety of laundry stains, including blueberry, coffee, grape juice, grass, beet juice, wine, and beef gravy. What's more, you can start to see results within about 30 seconds of pre-treating your stain. Naturally, I had to test out these claims with some stains of my own. And I made a video so you could see my laundry skills in action!
Nasty stains about to happen
Surprisingly, I didn't already have a stained shirt ready to go, even with a young boy in the house. I grabbed one of his white undershirts and got ready to create some stains myself. I figured it's only an undershirt, so it's ok if this doesn't work. I chose some common stains we see on his clothes - grass, blueberries and strawberries. For good measure I added red wine as well. I may be known to spill a spot of wine from time to clumsy time.

Resolve Gold comes in both gel and powder formats, and both can be used for either pre-treatment and/or as an add-in for the wash load. To pre-treat with the powder, you make a paste by adding a little water. But I opted for the gel. Also excellent to know - Resolve is safe for my high efficiency washing machine. Check it out -

I added a capful of Resolve to my wash as well, and the whites really did look great. Super bright and fresh.

And the stain comparison:

Are you as impressed as me?

Disclosure: This post is brought to you by Resolve. All opinions on this blog, as always, remain my own.
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