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Health Canada Bans Main Source of Trans Fats in Foods

Trans-Fats

Trans fats. They’re the worse type of fat because they pose a double whammy to your heart health – not only do they increase the bad “LDL” (Low Density Lipoprotein” cholesterol, but they also decrease the good “HDL” (High Density Lipoprotein” cholesterol. Eating trans fats increases the risk of heart disease.

While some foods contain small amounts of naturally occurring trans fats, the real concern is with foods containing “artificial” or “industrially produced” trans fat. The main source of this type of trans fat is partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs) which are oils that have been created during a process called hydrogenation. This process changes the structure of liquid oils into a solid at room temperature. PHOs extend the shelf life of foods and are typically found in commercially baked goods (e.g. pastries, donuts, muffins), deep fried foods, French fries, hard margarine, lard, shortening, frosting, coffee whiteners, some crackers and microwave popcorn. When you see the words “partially hydrogenated oils” in the ingredients list, you know that the food contains trans fats.

While the food industry has been voluntarily removing trans fats from products over the years, many foods still contain trans fats. On September 15, 2017, Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor announced a ban on PHOs from all foods sold in Canada, including foods prepared in restaurants, “Eliminating the main source of industrially produced trans fats from the food supply is a major accomplishment and a strong new measure that will help to protect the health of Canadians.”

The ban will come into effect on September 15, 2018.

[Photo credit: NewHealthAdvisor.com]

YOU can Help Shape Canada’s Nutrition Policies!

Child apple vs hamburger

Are you concerned about marketing to kids? Do you want Canada’s Food Guide to be the best tool to help you and your families eat well? Are you interested in access to safe and healthy food as well as the relationship between agriculture, the environment and the economy?

If you answered YES to any of these questions, then please take some time to complete Health Canada’s free online consultations on these three issues. Don’t miss your chance to have your voice heard!

1. Restricting unhealthy food and beverage marketing to children

Health Canada wants to reduce how much advertising children see or hear about unhealthy food and beverages. This online consultation is the first step to more consultations coming in 2018. Your ideas and opinions will help Health Canada decide how to go about restricting advertising for unhealthy food and beverages to children.
Here is the online consultation survey. Survey closes on July 25, 2017.


2. Canada’s Food Guide

This is phase 2 of the consultations. After this consultation, Health Canada will create recommendations and develop them into consumer messages, tools, and resources. A new suite of Canada’s Food Guide resources will be rolled out beginning in early 2018.
Here is the online consultation survey. Survey closes on July 25, 2017.


3. A Food Policy for Canada

A food policy is a way to address issues related to the production, processing, distribution and consumption of food. The decisions we make as individuals and as a country about food have a direct impact on our health, environment, economy, and communities.
Here is the online survey. Survey closes on July 27, 2017.

Top Food Innovations from the 2017 SIAL Show

SIAL Sue

This year marked the 150th anniversary of SIAL – North America’s largest food innovation show! We were there and here’s what caught our eye!

Quinoa still going strong

Making its foray into the baby / toddler food market, Bio-Kinetics introduced an organic Sprouted Whole Grain Quinoa Baby Cereal. Millennial moms will be pleased with the clean ingredient deck (nothing but quinoa). Also in this line-up are sprouted oats and sprouted buckwheat cereal. #GetKidsHookedOnQuinoaEarly

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Building on the convenience trend, France-based Sabarot showcased Le Petit Quinoa, a ready-to-slice roll of quinoa – really! Recognized as a top 10 finalist for the SIAL Grand Award, the product can be sliced, grilled, fried and used in a variety of dishes. #ConvenienceMeetsHealthy

SIAL quinoa loaf2.

The Millennial Market

It was the name of the exhibitor booth – “Millennial Foods Inc.” – that made me stop in my tracks! Quebec-based founder Simon Letendre created a “North Americanized” version of bubble tea. Instead of using tapioca, the tea is made with Mubbles – which stands for “Molecular Bubbles” and are essentially tiny fruit juice bubbles made via a molecular spherification process. Mubbles are packaged in a small container, much like a fruit cup and can also be used in drinks, salads and desserts. #InterestingButALittleTooSweetForMe

Sial mubbles1

Healthy Snacks

Innovation often starts in the home or farm kitchen. This is true for Spokes – air-puffed potato snacks, shaped like bike spokes, with 40 calories per cup and no preservatives. Created by Calgarian #SeniorEntrepreneur Elaine Cadrin, Spokes is geared to millennials. “The millennial mom is our target,” says Mike Cadrin, Senior Sales Director and proud son, “They’re looking for a super clean ingredient deck and want something special and unique.” #LovedTheMangoHabaneroFlavour

SIAL spokes potato chips 3

Another one of our favourite snacks at the SIAL show were these Crunchy Peas – made by Zak’s Organics, a fourth generation family-run farm in the small community of Fir Mountain, Saskatchewan (where the population is under 500). Inspired by Allen Zak’s own kids, the snacks are made from organic whole green peas and available in four different taste profiles with a new #trendingflavour mango habanero launching next month. #GrownInTheCanadianPrairies

Sial Zaks crunchy peas

East Meets West

If you’ve never tasted sea vegetables, Acadian Seaplants wants you to try! Hana Tsunomata is a sea plant that’s cultivated in the east coast. It’s available in a trio of colours: pink to represent Japan’s cherry blossoms; green to represent new life; and yellow to represent the chrysanthemum which is the favourite flower of the Japanese royal family. The product must be rehydrated in water for about eight minutes and can be used to add colour and texture to salads, cold noodles or pasta dishes. Holly Reardon, Brand Strategist for the product says food service is their primary market. #SeaVeggie

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Sweet Stuff

A Quebec-based company, Great Northern Maple, developed Kombucha Syrup. The ingredients are evaporated cane juice, black tea and kefir cultures. Though the product claims to have probiotics, there is no disclosure of the amount. #DidntWinMeOver

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Février 29 was another top 10 finalist for the SIAL Grand Award for it’s fun way to package Maple Syrup. Designed to sit right on the counter, the syrup is packaged in a bag-in-tub container, complete with a spout. And what’s the rationale for the company’s name? February 29 makes every day exceptional, 366 days of the year. #CoolPackaging

SIAL feb 29 maple syrup2

Taking the Grand Prize at this year’s SIAL show was Taj Food’s Saffron Sugar Cubes. According to Sap Hariri, Sales Director for the product, the sugar cubes allow consumers to add flavour and sweetness their teas all at once. The sugar cubes are also available in cinnamon and cardamom flavours. #SweetMeetsSpice

SIAL sugar cubes winner

66% of Packaged Foods Contain Added Sugar!

Sue Heather - 2

A recent study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found that 66% of processed foods contain at least one type of added sugar in the ingredients list. Registered Dietitian Sue Mah shared her thoughts on CBC News Network.

Watch the TV interview.

The study found that added sugars were present in products from baby food, baked goods and cereals to frozen dinners, snacks and yogurts.

Sugar, especially added sugar has been under fire for its association with health issues including heart disease, diabetes, dental cavities and obesity. Added sugars are sugars and syrups that are added to foods or beverages. This does not include naturally occurring sugars which are found in foods such as fruit, milk and yogurt.

The Heart and Stroke Foundation recommends limiting added sugars to a maximum of 10% of total calories in a day. For an average 2,000 calorie diet, 10% is about 48 grams or 12 teaspoons of added sugars a day.

In the USA, added sugars must be disclosed on nutrition labels by July 26, 2018. The situation differs here in Canada. Added sugars will not be disclosed on nutrition labels. Health Canada has set the % Daily Value (%DV) at 100 grams for total sugars (added sugars plus naturally occurring sugars).

Here’s my advice:

1. Read the Nutrition Facts table. Foods with 5 grams or less sugar per serving would be considered to have “a little” sugar whereas foods with 15 grams or more sugar per serving would be considered to have “a lot” of sugar.

sugar a little a lot

2. Read the ingredients list. By 2021, different sugars will be identified individually and grouped together as “Sugars” on the ingredients list. In the meantime, look for ingredient names that indicate sugar or end in ‘ose’ which are sugars too (e.g. dextrose, glucose, fructose, maltose, sucrose).

3. Look at the whole food.
Just because a food has little or no sugar doesn’t mean that it is a healthy or nutritious choice. Choose wholesome, foods for minimal sugar and maximum nutrition.

2016 Year in Review: Top Nutrition Headlines and What to Expect in 2017

cauliflower-sue-pulses-sugar-final

Wow, it’s been quite a year for trending food and nutrition issues! Here’s my take on the top three nutrition headlines of the year plus what you can expect in 2017.

1. CAULIFLOWER CRISIS

Who can ever forget the $8 sticker shock on a head of cauliflower in January?! It became the poster child for rising food prices in Canada. According to the CBC, the price of fresh veggies rose by 13% in the past two years.

What to expect in 2017: The average Canadian family can expect to pay up to $420 more for food next year, according to Canada’s Food Price Report, an annual publication by researchers at Dalhousie University in Halifax. The price of meats, fish, seafood and fresh vegetables may rise as much as 4 to 6 percent. Lead author Sylvain Charlebois points to weather disruptions caused by La Nina, energy related costs and the tanking Loonie as factors affecting the price hikes.

What you can do: Look at grocery store flyers and use e-coupons. Plan your meals and plan to use the leftovers too. See more money-saving tips in my interview with CBC The Exchange.

2. INTERNATIONAL YEAR OF PULSES
Declared by the United Nations, the International Year of Pulses successfully raised our awareness of pulses and their many health benefits. Chef Michael Smith, Canada’s ambassador of the International Year of Pulses, kicked off the year with an invitation for all of us to take the Pulse Pledge and eat pulses at least once a week for 10 weeks.

What to expect in 2017: The buzz about pulses will continue, starting with Global Pulse Day which occurs January 18th of every year. It’s a global event to celebrate pulses and continue the momentum of the 2016 International Year of Pulses. With rising food costs, look to economical and versatile pulses to be a staple on your grocery list.

What you can do: Plan to eat at least one meatless meal each week using beans, peas, lentils or chickpeas. Here are some of my favourite recipes – including a delicious flourless chickpea chocolate cake!

3. SUGAR TAX
In February, the Dietitians of Canada released a position statement calling for a 10-20% excise tax on sugar-sweetened beverages. Drinking sugar-sweetened beverages such as soft drinks, fruit drinks, sports drinks, energy drinks and specialty coffee / tea beverages seems to be linked to excess weight in both kids and adults. In March, the Senate Report on Obesity also recommended a new tax on sugar-sweetened and artificially-sweetened beverages as one of many efforts to fight obesity in Canada.

What to expect in 2017: Sugar will continue to be under fire. In his Spring 2016 budget speech, Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau pledged to help families make better choices, including actions to include more information about added sugars on food labels. Earlier this month, Health Canada opened a public consultation about its proposed front-of-package nutrition labels. For the first time ever, sugar would be called out as one of the three nutrients that can negatively affect our health if consumed in excess. Health Canada proposes to set the % Daily Value (%DV) for total sugars (natural and added sugars) at 100 grams per day. Under these proposed new labelling regulations, foods which contain 15 grams or more of total sugars per serving would be considered “high in sugars” and carry a warning symbol.

What you can do: Share your opinions about nutrition labelling. Complete this brief consumer questionnaire and / or complete the technical questionnaire both by January 13th, 2017. This is YOUR chance to help shape the future of nutrition labelling in Canada.

New Nutrition Labels are Coming!

nutrition-labels-old-vs-new-bigger

It’s official! After two years of public consultations, Health Canada has finalized the changes to the Nutrition Facts table and ingredients list on packaged foods. On December 14th, 2016, the Honourable Jane Philpott, Minister of Health announced that these changes are all part of the strategy to help make healthy food choices the easy choice for all Canadians.

Here’s a quick at-a-glance comparison of the old versus the new Nutrition Facts table as well as ingredients lists.


The new Nutrition Facts table puts a greater emphasis on calories, potassium, calcium and iron. For the first time ever, there will be a % Daily Value (% DV) for total sugars at 100 grams:

nutrition-labels-old-vs-new-bigger


Colours will now be identified by their name rather than collectively grouped as “colours”:

ingreds-list-new

Different sugars will still be identified individually by name, and will now be grouped together as “Sugars”:

ingreds-list-sugars

The food industry has until 5 years – until 2021 – to make these changes, but you may start seeing new labels as early as next year.

Winners of the 2016 Grocery Innovations Show

Here are a few of the winning products, as selected by the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers.

black-water

blk. Alkaline Mineral Water
blk. is a pure alkaline water that is infused with fulvic trace minerals.This beverage is naturally black with no artificial dyes or colouring. Fulvic acid (also called humic acid) occurs naturally in soil and sediment. Like all plain, unflavoured waters, blk has zero calories, zero sugar and zero caffeine.
My take: Tastes earthy. There are no human requirements for fulvic acid. Might make a good Halloween drink.

goh-goh-granola
goh-goh cereal
goh-goh cereal is made with air-dried milk. The first two ingredients are whole grain rolled oats and goh-goh whole milk powder. After adding water (warm or cold), the cereal is reconstituted. Available in two flavours: Honey, Hemp & Flax; and Raisin & Almond. A servings contains: 270-290 calories, 6-9 g fat, 43-45 g carbohydrates, 8-10 g protein, 3-4 g fibre, 15-20 g sugars and 10-15% DV (Daily Value) for calcium.
My take: Higher in sugars than I’d like, but tastes quite nice and is very filling. A novel idea for those who are camping, travelling or on the “goh”.

chickpea-beverage
Chickpea beverage
Made from organic chick peas, this is the first fortified chickpea beverage in the world. A serving (1 cup) contains: 70 calories, 2.5 g fat, 1 g omega-3 fat (from flaxseed oil), 2 g carbohydrate, 10 g protein, 0 g sugars and 30% DV (Daily Value) for calcium. (Vitamin D content not available.)
My take: Really does tastes like chickpeas. Contains more protein than other plant-based beverages such as almond beverage or rice beverage.

Does coffee cause cancer?

coffee cup

Nutrition is a relatively young science with new research constantly emerging. The recent headline about coffee and cancer is a good example of this.

Twenty-five years ago, the World Health Organization (WHO) had identified coffee as a possible carcinogen linked to bladder cancer. On June 15, 2016, the WHO updated their advice.

The WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer, which is an international working group of 23 scientists, reviewed 1000 scientific studies, and found that drinking coffee and maté (a tea made from the dried leaves of the yerba mate plant) is not linked to cancer. In fact, coffee may be protective against cancers of he liver and uterine endometrium.

The new findings however do see a connection between high-temperature beverages and their potential link to cancer. According to the WHO, drinking beverages (even water) that are very hot – which is defined as anything above 65°C (149°F) – is linked to a higher risk of cancer of the esophagus. It’s thought that the hot temperature scalds the delicate tissue in the esophagus. This damage may then trigger a faster turnover of the cells which in some cases can lead to out of control malignant growth.

Esophageal cancer is the eighth most common cancer worldwide with the highest incidence in Asia, South America, and East Africa where drinking very hot beverages is common. Maté is traditionally consumed at very hot temperatures (70°C). Certain countries such as China and Iran also tend to drink their teas prepared at very high temperatures, above 65°C or 70°C.

It’s likely that your favourite hot drink from the coffee/tea shop is made at very hot temperatures. Here are my tips for enjoying your hot cuppa:
– Allow your hot drink to cool down a bit before taking that first sip.
– Add some milk or cream to lower the temperature of your hot drink.
– Brew your own tea using hot but not scalding hot water.
– Stick to four cups of coffee or less (4 x 8 ounces or 4 x 250 mL) – any more will put you over your daily caffeine limit.

5 Ways to Celebrate Food Revolution Day

Food Rev Day May 20 2016

Jamie Oliver Food Revolution Day 2016

Globally, 41 million kids under the age of five are overweight, and another 159 million kids are malnourished. Something has to change. For over 15 years, culinary hero and food activist Chef Jamie Oliver has been campaigning for better food and health with a goal to improve global child health.

May 20th marks the third annual Food Revolution Day. The Food Revolution is an ongoing global campaign to improve child health by inspiring positive, meaningful change in the way our kids access, consume and understand food. And it all starts with good, fresh, real food.

Here are five simple things you can do today to build a healthy and happy generation for tomorrow:

1. Cook together! Chef and TV personality Guy Fieri says it best, “Cooking with kids is not just about ingredients, recipes and cooking. It’s about harnessing imagination, empowerment and creativity.” Cooking is a life skill.

2. Explore with food. Talk to the farmers at the local farmers’ market. Take the kids grocery shopping to see the variety of produce available all year long. Grow your own veggies. Plan a family outing at a pick-your-own berry or apple farm. Spend a day at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair. Watch cooking shows together (MasterChef Junior, anyone?)!

3. Make a family cookbook. Go online, look at recipe apps, dust off your cookbooks and magazines. Try new foods and flavours. Put your favourites into a family cookbook – what a perfect holiday gift for friends and family!

4. Sign the Ontario Home Economics Association petition which urges the government of Ontario to make at least one food and nutrition course compulsory in high school. In Japan, cooking classes are mandatory in grades 5 to 12 – and could it be a coincidence that the Japanese have one of the lowest rates of obesity?

5. Sign up for Jamie’s Food Revolution.
Starting at 10 am BST (UK time) or 5 am EST on Friday, May 20, watch live videos on Jamie’s Facebook page where you’ll see him dishing up advice and starring in cooking videos.

7 Cooking Hacks to Cut the Sodium

Lemon basil garlic

Most of us are eating too much sodium, which can lead to hypertension (high blood pressure). In fact, the average adult has a 90% chance of developing hypertension which is itself the number one risk factor for stroke and a major risk factor for heart disease. Swapping out the sodium can help.

I had a chance to chat with Shelley Martin, President and CEO of Nestlé Canada who recently announced that the company has achieved a 10% reduction in sodium across its product portfolio (by volume) such as pizzas and frozen meals. “We want to support people in the foods they love to eat by making them as great tasting and nutritious as they can be,” said Martin. For some products, the sodium content was simply reduced, while for other products, the spice mix was also tweaked.

I applaud food industry initiatives like this to help Canadians eat better. Your own habits can also make a big difference. Here’s what you can do at home, at the grocery store, and when eating out:

1. Cook from scratch. Dig out your apron and make a delicious meal from scratch using fresh, wholesome ingredients. If a recipe calls for salt, consider using less.

2. Play with herbs, spices and citrus. Basil pairs perfectly with tomatoes and pasta. Curry adds a hint of heat to meat, poultry, soups and stews. A little bit of garlic and onion goes a long way. And a splash of fresh lemon or lime juice instantly perks up any dish!

3. Rinse canned beans.
I love cooking with canned beans because they’re super convenient and easy on the budget. A quick rinse helps to wash away some of the sodium that may have been added.

4. Go easy on the bottled sauces
such as ketchup, BBQ sauce and soy sauce. I grew up on Chinese food, so soy sauce, hoisin sauce and oyster sauce were our go-to flavourings. Today, lower sodium soy sauce is our pantry staple. Sometimes, I dilute the sauces with water too.

5. Read and compare food labels.
Choose the brands that have less sodium. From canned fish to frozen entrées to pasta sauces – you may be surprised to see the range of sodium found in different foods!

6. Order smaller portions when eating out. Just think – if you split an entrée with a friend, then you’re also splitting the calories and sodium content. It’s win-win. Ask for sauces and dressings on the side too if possible.

7. Give your taste buds a chance to adjust.
We all need some sodium for good health. The idea is to gradually swap out the sodium so in time, you’ll retrain your taste buds and savour the wonderful flavours that food has to offer. Your heart will thank you!

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