Category: health and fitness

#GlutenWise at Boston Pizza

As many of you may know, I was diagnosed with gluten sensitivity over four years ago. Since that time I have had to alter my diet, follow a stricter gluten free diet, change my cooking habits and alter our family meals at home to accommodate my health needs. I have joined gluten free communities as well as help celebrate National Celiac Awareness Month (which is actually this month!) by attending expos and sharing my knowledge with others. Knowledge and sharing is power!

One of the number one things that I miss since going gluten free is just being able to get out with my family and enjoy a delicious meal (not cooked by me!) without worrying about any potential side effects later on (if you are familiar with the symptoms of celiac disease you know it can be quite painful and unpleasant!).

I jumped (literally) at the opportunity to head to Boston Pizza to try out their Gluten Wise line of products. When I was contacted I was not even aware that they carried a gluten wise line – shows how often we get out right?! I was very curious about the menu itself and how they minimized cross contamination with other menu items.

When I spoke with the manager he explained their process to me which was extremely helpful and gave me the confidence that I needed that the staff were trained properly in preparing and preventing cross contamination with the gluten wise line. The menu items do not contain gluten but may be shipped with other boxes that do contain gluten even though the food products don’t ever actually touch. Regulations are very strict for gluten free labelling (which is great since it protects us as customers!) and since it can be shipped to the store with other items, the food is referred to as Gluten Wise (neat, right?). When a gluten wise item is ordered it is flagged and then prepared in an area separate from other orders that do contain gluten. Toppings are taken from the back fridges that have not been opened and used with other orders that do contain gluten. Boston Pizza makes sure to minimize as many possible sources of cross contamination as possible – which left me feeling confident in my order!

The gluten wise menu had quite a bit to choose from ranging from pastas and pizza (build your own), starters and three main courses. The gluten wise items are found in a separate menu that I was able to ask our waitress for which helped greatly with my selection as it contained only the gluten wise items. Our waitress was very knowledgeable and helpful with my selection which I appreciated immensely.

I ended up choosing the gluten wise pizza crust – I am a huge pizza fan so I could not resist. I topped it off with tomatoes, chicken and green peppers. It was to die for! The crust was thin (one of my personal favourite ways to have a pizza crust), crispy and one of the best gluten wise crusts I have had in a long time.

The flavour was excellent and did not make me feel like I was missing out which some products labelled as gluten free can leave you feeling. The pizza was a perfect size for one person – it probably had enough for leftovers but since I was so hungry after a busy day in clinic I ate the whole thing and felt like I was rolling out of the restaurant after that!

I decided to place an order to go that contained the gluten wise pasta with tomato marinara sauce. This is one of my personal favourite foods to make at home so I wanted to compare it to theirs. The sauce had excellent flavours but I did notice that the pasta itself had some extra starch on it. If you are familiar with gluten free pasta you know that the pasta noodles can have a (for lack of better words) mushy taste to it from the starch and this is quite common. At home I have found that it helps with that starchiness to rinse the pasta off before adding the sauce although this may not be the most optimal solution in a restaurant who’s job it is to provide hot meals to customers.

We had a fantastic time as a family – we enjoyed a well prepared meal and were able to just sit back and appreciate each other’s company. I was very impressed with the quality of the gluten wise line as well as the knowledge of the staff and manager at our local Boston Pizza. They really made sure that I would feel comfortable eating the gluten wise line with my family. I can not wait to go back and build my own pizza again with my family!

Boston Pizza is offering a $2.00 coupon of Gluten Wise at their restaurants! You can print out your coupon here.

Disclosure: I received some of the above products free of charge. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Debunking Nutrition Myths with Mother Hen #NutritionMonth

As parents one of the most important things we can give our children are great nutritional habits that will last them a lifetime. I know personally we focused on ensuring we introduced a great variety of healthy and organic products to our children at an early age. There were the typical foods that terrified us with our first son – eggs, peanuts and kiwis (all because of family food allergies!) combined with not feeling confident on when to introduce these foods (old school methods versus new research).

Are you familiar with all the changes that have been recommended when introducing solids to your infant? It can be hard to keep up with all the changing information – not to mention keeping your sanity during that first year after birth! Mother Hen has developed this fantastic nutrition guide (see the below picture) to help parents out.

Some of the key ideas that I took home from their guide:

  • It is still recommended that parents exclusively breast or formula feed up to six months of age. After six months of age, you can begin to introduce iron rich foods such as chicken, pork, beef, cereals (this was new to me when I had my second son!). Most people tend to follow this with vegetables and then fruits.
  • The Dietitians of Canada have confirmed that by delaying the introduction of the most recognized allergens (peanuts, eggs, etc..) does not prevent the development of allergies. They DO recommend that you wait a couple of days after introducing new foods before adding in another new food to ensure no allergic reaction takes place.
  • Another typical myth I loved that Mother Hen identified – the bland diet for infants! I have seen so many parents do this and you really don’t have to! Baby’s taste buds are different from our own so they may love what you do not. Our youngest loves ground beef curry and has been this way since we started giving it to him around ten months.

Looking for more nutritional information? Head over to the Mother Hen website, they even offer a fantastic array of recipes on their site.

Throughout the month of March – for every Mother Hen product purchased they will be donating $1.00 worth of baby food to local food banks through their March Moms Helping Moms Program. Make sure to follow Mother Hen on Facebook for more information through out the month of March.

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#BeatTheFlu Challenge with A.Vogel

Starting tomorrow I will be participating in the thirty day #BeatTheFlu Challenge!

For the next thirty days, I will be taking A.Vogel’s #Echinaforce products every day. If you are not familiar with Echinacea it is from the Purple Coneflower plant and has long been a popular remedy for keeping the immune system boosted during the flu season. It is also widely used for the treatment of cold and minor flu symptoms. Echinacea is actually one of the most widely sold medicinal herbs!

I will be using the Echinaforce Echinacea Purpurea – twenty drops three to four times a day. This product is gluten, sugar and lactose free.

You can follow along on twitter following the #BeatTheFlu and #Echinaforce hashtags. Also make sure to follow A.Vogel on Facebook! Canadians you also have the chance to win your own #Echinaforce products by using the two hashtags during the months of February and March! So start joining in on the conversation!

Disclosure: I received the above mention product free of charge to participate in this challenge. All opinions expressed are my own.

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What is Celiac Disease?

The term gluten free has begun to pop up frequently in the news, grocery stores and restaurants. The term is often used to describe the diet that a person with celiac disease is required to follow in order to prevent numerous symptoms from developing. Many individuals have adopted this diet to help ease the symptoms of gluten intolerance (myself included!) and wheat allergies.
Celiac disease is a disease that effects the small intestine by damaging the lining and interferes with the absorption of required nutrients from their food intake. Individuals with this disease can not digest gluten which is a protein found in wheat, rye and barley.

There are many symptoms of celiac disease that include: weight loss, abdominal cramping/swelling/bloating, constipation, vomiting, muscle cramps and fatigue.

The best way to be diagnosed is to see your family doctor. They will review your symptoms and more than likely send you for a simple blood test that will check for antibodies related to celiac disease. If you are diagnosed with celiac disease following a gluten free diet is essential.

Gluten intolerance is similar more so to lactose intolerance. The individual will experience similar symptoms but the antibodies are not present. Sometimes preparing a food diary is helpful to keep track of your health symptoms and as you eliminate (under the full guidance of your family doctor and if possible a dietitian!) gluten out of your diet you can see if this is working for you. I found this to be helpful for myself to pin point where I was developing symptoms and how/if they were alleviated by removing certain foods out of my diet.

Check out some of these helpful tips from UDI’s on how to deal with celiac disease or gluten intolerance.

Are you or do you know someone who is suffering with Celiac disease? Do they struggle with this diet?

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Top Five (free!) Summer Activities

Our family loves to get out in the summer – hikes, splash pads, soccer fields just to name a few! Trying to keep the kids entertained throughout the entire summer can get expensive so while I was off on my last maternity leave I did a lot of research into activities I could do with my kids that would be free. I was shocked at the amount of fantastic places there were in my community and surrounding areas!
Here is our top five list of favourite places to go to that have no additional costs.
1. Local library : Local libraries usually hosts a huge variety of events through out the summer. We went to movie days, bingo, colouring contests and live animal shows. My kids had so much fun! Some of the events you have to pre-register for but they are well worth it. More information on the program usually comes out later in June but keep your eyes peeled! They also run a great reading program in conjunction with TD Canada Trust. He would read a book over the week and then go in and tell an older child all about the book.
2. Local splash pads: These provide hours, upon hours of fun!  We pack up lunches, extra clothes, sunscreen and spend several hours there. There is a huge list of splash pads that you should really check out. Children love to get out and play, throw in fun splash pads and it is a win-win!
3. Local Beaches: Beach front trails are perfect to walk down during the summer months with their great view of the water and the city. We also love heading down to the beach to throw rocks into the water.
4. Parls: Head out to your local park and get moving. Make up mini Olympic events, play matches but just get active.
5. Hiking: Pack snacks and maybe the wagon for tired kids and get out there and walk!
What are your favourite summer activities in your community?


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