Author Archives: kitsmediatech

Milk and it’s alternatives. Which one is right for you?

For some, drinking regular old cow’s milks may pose some problems: especially if you have an allergy to dairy, are intolerant of lactose (the sugar found in milk) or just don’t like the taste of it! So how do you get nutrients like riboflavin, calcium and vitamin D normally found in milk that your body needs?

Why not explore other options we have in the market: soy milk, almond milk, rice milk and even hemp milk are all considered milk alternatives. All come in different flavors and varying fat content and do not contain cholesterol, dairy or lactose so may be more suitable for some folks.

But beware, in order to choose a true ‘milk alternative’ you have to choose wisely; here are some tips to help you choose a milk alternate:

#1. Almond and rice milk do not contain an equivalent amount of protein compared to cow’s milk so if you’re using these products, be sure you’ve got another source of protein included in your meal.

#2. ‘Natural’ milk alternatives may not be fortified.  Even cow’s milk has nutrients added (think vitamin D) and so be sure that your milk alternative clearly states that it is ‘fortified’ on its packaging.  If it does not the product is not a true ‘milk alternative’ and you should consider a different product.

#3. Soy milk naturally contains fibre and more riboflavin and folate than cow’s milk because soy milk is made from beans! Not a bad gig especially if you’re pregnant – you’ll need more of all these nutrients.

The next time you’re out shopping, why not check out some of these products: two cups per day will provide you with the nutrients you need and help to make your life a lot easier!

Sugar Substitutes: are they healthy?

The next time you find yourself in a place like Starbucks, have a look at all the sugar substitute options you have to sweeten your coffee: Splenda (yellow package), Sweet’N Low (pink package), Equal (blue package)…but are these sweeteners safe for consumption?

The short answer is YES.  Each of these sweeteners are made from a different compound, but all have been extensively tested for their safety for human consumption.   But just how safe are they?

To establish a safe level of consumption or ‘Acceptable Daily Intake’ (ADI), each sweetener is administered to rats until things like chronic toxicity; carcinogenicity (cancer causing) and reproductive toxicity are detected.  In this way, a maximum level at which no negative side effects occurs is established and then the ADI level is usually set 100 times lower than that, usually measured in mg per kg body weight.  All well and good you say…but how much is that?


Sweetener Aspartame:  Equal



Spelnda (yellow)


Sweet’N Low


How much is safe? 50mg/kg body weight per day 5mg/kg body weight per day 11mg/kg body weight per day
Kelly as your example: I weigh 130lbs or 59kg I could have 2950mg of aspartame a day safely I could have 295mg sucralose a day safely I could have 649mg cyclamate a day safely
Okay…so how much is that? 15 cans of diet coke – per day 25 packages of Splenda or 3 tubs of sugar free yogurt – per day 46 packages of Sweet’N Low – per day

Obviously, I’m not suggesting that anyone drink 15 cans of diet coke per day.  But I am pointing out that even at 15 cans of diet coke per day, you would still be ingesting an amount of aspartame that is a factor of 100 times less than what is considered safe for consumption without adverse effects.

There are other sugar substitutes out there, and these levels may not be what is recommended if you are pregnant, but on the whole if you feel comfortable with these products the bottom line is you are not harming yourself by using them.  And if you think about the fact that 1Tbsp of honey is 60 calories, reaching for a 0 calorie Splenda instead will help you stick to your weight loss regime!

Frozen fruits and veggies can be just as healthy (and more convenient!) than ‘fresh’…

So…are frozen fruits and veggies just as nutritious as fresh?  The short answer is, likely.  This isn’t a hard and fast rule per say, but most fruits and veggies produced for freezing are grown and processed in relative close proximity.  This means that the fruits and veggies you would normally find in a frozen bag from the grocery store are picked fresh and flash frozen straight away.

When fruits and vegetables are allowed to ripen naturally before being harvested, their nutrient content is undoubtedly higher than if the same fruit or veggie was picked ‘green’ as is often the case with fresh fruits and veggies that are shipped long distances before consumption.

The downside is of course that the freezing process and storage does zap some of the nutrient content from its recipients…about 11% in fact.

Now where does that leave consumers you ask?  The long of the short is this; frozen fruits and vegetables can be just as nutritious as fresh.  So the next time you’re stuck for time or feeling the lack of variety the winter months can bring – keeping frozen fruits or vegetables on hand can save your bacon.  Better to include frozen fruits or veggies in your meal rather than skip them altogether for lack of time!

And…as a shameless plug for all those local growers and farmers markets out there, buying fresh when locally sourced and in season is still your best bet for optimizing nutrition 😉

Chia seeds – what’s all the hype about?

Chia is one of those new ‘superfoods’ gaining a lot of notoriety these days.  If you don’t know what chia is, think chia pet – it’s actually the same stuff!  You may have also heard it called by the brand name its most commonly sold under: Salba.

Among the many purported benefits of chia seed is its ability to produce weight loss.  Unfortunately, there is insufficient evidence to support this claim.  Click here to read an article that discusses a study which found no real connection between chia seed and weight loss.

All hope is not lost for chia however!  Chia seed does happened to be high in omega-3, soluble fibre and calcium (which is not usually found in abundance in grains).  Soluble fibre, among other things, can aide in weight loss if used as part of an appropriately designed weight loss plan as it can help you stay fuller longer.  It can also help control blood sugars, keep you regular and eliminate excess dietary cholesterol.  Soluble fibre works by forming a gel like substance in your stomach which slows down how fast food empties from your stomach into your intestine.  If you want to see this process in action, try our Chia pudding recipe (found in our recipes sections) you’ll watch the seeds turn into gel right before your eyes!  (It actually tastes good too ;).

So it seems that this ‘superfood’ actually does have some benefits but like all things, too much is too much.  Because of the high omega-3 content of these seeds, the literature recommends consuming NO MORE than 37g per day.  More than that can lead to less than optimal blood clotting.

I therefore recommend adding a tablespoon of chia to your morning cereal or having 1/3 cup of the pudding as a snack to help your meal or snack last you longer, eliminate additional cholesterol, help control your blood sugars, keep you regular and contribute to your overall daily calcium intake. Enjoy!

Sugar: how much is too much?

Sugar is something we’re often told to ‘avoid’ but the reality is if we avoided sugar altogether we could be potentially eliminating some otherwise healthy foods; take yogurt for example.

Our American neighbours published ‘refined and processed’ sugar consumption guidelines in the late 1990’s that have still not changed today now that the new dietary guidelines have been released.  The guidelines state that we should “reduce the consumption of refined and processed sugars” “to account for about 10% of total energy intake” (I’m using American guidelines because ours are even more vague!).  If you’re like me, a guideline like this is hard to interpret.

Try this guideline instead; read the Nutrition Facts Table of the product you’re going to consume. If the grams of sugar are 10g or less, then the product is a keeper (that’s the Spectrum Nutrition guideline ;).

How did I arrive at this acceptable sugar consumption guideline?  Well, if you take an average diet of 2000 calories, 10% of those calories from sugar would equal 200 calories.  If you didn’t already know this, there are 4 calories in every gram of sugar so by my calculation that means the average person could potentially handle 50g of sugar in a day and still fall within the national guidelines for healthy eating.

On average, we tend to consume about 5 ‘products’ a day – meaning processed products such as granola bars, cereal, yogurt etc. and therefore if you stick to the 10g sugar rule for each of these products, you’ve stuck to the overall goal of no more than 10% of your daily calories from sugar.  Now, of course if you consume much more than 5 ‘processed’ products in a day you’ll need to do some adjusting.  But remember, sugar is not the enemy – it’s just that too much is too much!

Losing weight does not have to be put on hold just because you’re eating out

Ever wonder how many calories is in your ‘out’ meal?  Chances are you can find this information online.  It is possible to stick to your eating plan while out by following a few simple rules:

1. Look it up!  Chances are if you’re at a chain restaurant of any kind (Earls, Keg, Milestones, Starbucks, Whitespot etc.) they will have their nutrition facts posted on their web page.  Have a blackberry – let it guide your choices right there at the table.  If hovering over your smart phone at the table is not for you, you can always look at the menu before you go or when you get home – either way, you will have empowered yourself to choose wisely for this time or the next ;).  If you don’t think this is important…look up the soup, salad, pan bread combo at Earls – that ‘meal’ will cost you 1275 calories! (I suggest trying the chicken tacos which will only run you 485 calories).  There goes your weight loss plan.

2. Choose ‘plain’ foods.  Okay, if you eat out once a year – go to town and stop worrying about it!  But…if you’re like the rest of us, it’s not uncommon to eat out a little more often.  So I suggest choosing foods that are not too saucy and make it simple for you to visualize the plate model.  For example: salmon, rice and vegetables or steak, potatoes and vegetables rather than something like a Thai red curry bowl in which case it would be more difficult to determine if you’ve got the appropriate amount of starch, protein and veggies to effectively follow the plate model – and there’s no telling what’s in that sauce!

3. Skip the appy’s and dessert.  This one is really simple – would you have an appetizer before dinner at home?  Would you normally have dessert at home that’s big enough to feed four?  Then don’t do this while you’re out!  You’re better off to have dessert when you get home rather than in the restaurant, that way you can control how many calories you are taking in to nip that sweet tooth in the butt.  A typical restaurant dessert ‘costs’ 600-800 calories.  For those of you who don’t know…that’s an entire meal onto itself for an active man (never mind us women!).

4. And if you really eat out a lot and are bold enough – ask for double veggies with no butter/oil.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you about this one though…I’ve paid up to $7.95 ADDITIONAL for more veggies on my plate!

So, if you’re bold enough – post what you ate the last time you were out on our Facebook page.  If you can’t find the calorie content online, I’ll do my best to look it up for you and let’s compare!

Turkey bacon: Finally, a way to enjoy the food everyone loves – without all the calories and fat!

I love discovering new products!  This one is for all you bacon lovers out there…Lilydale Daystarters!

I discovered this product on a recent grocery store tour.  Daystarters are a turkey bacon that actually looks and taste like back bacon.  I tried this product last weekend and it was delicious!  And at only 25 calories per slice is it too good to be true?

The answer is, likely.  The nutrition facts table on the package touts 25 calories per slice; however I’m not sure that’s possible.  Once cooked, each slice weighed about 15g.  That’s important because for those of you who don’t know, protein of any kind equals 4 calories per gram.  Even if we assume each slice is pure protein (which is likely untrue as each slice may also contain some fat which has even more energy at 9 calories per gram), at 15g cooked weight each slice will pack about 60 calories.  Still, not too bad when you compare that to real bacon which averages 75 calories for the same portion size.  Not to mention the more than 3g of saturated fat you save over regular bacon for those of you heart conscious consumers out there.

A word to the wise however; bacon, whether turkey bacon or not, is something I do not recommend on a daily basis for two reasons.  First, the sodium content is too high to be consuming as the main source of protein, and second, cured meats such as bacon or turkey bacon are preserved using sodium nitrite.  Nitrite may be carcinogenic (cancer causing) when heated at high and dry heat, so slow cooking or basting would be best – enjoy!

Not all fibre is created equally: each kind ‘performs’ a different function.

Did you know there are actually two kinds of fibre?

Well, there is; soluble and insoluble (sometimes referred to as ‘viscous’ or ‘non-viscous’).

Soluble fibre is the kind of fibre that absorbs water and swells forming a gel.  This gel like substance slows down the rate at which foods empty out of your stomach into your small intestine, slowing down the rate of digestion and absorption.  This means you’re going to feel fuller longer, your food is going to last longer and you’re not going to experience such extreme ups and downs in your energy levels (you know the one…the 3pm ‘crash’). It also helps eliminate excess dietary cholesterol which is good news to those of you who have high cholesterol levels.

Soluble fibre is predominately found in oats, oat bran and barely. Other sources of soluble fibre include psyllium, inulin (chicory root) and chia seed (see our chia puddin recipe in the recipes section). So how do you increase your soluble fibre intake? Try these soluble fibre adding tips:

1.       Have oat bran for breakfast (try Rogers oat bran – it’s packs only 100 calories per serving and 6g of fibre) or replace ½ the flour in your muffin or loaf recipe with oat bran

2.       Try All Bran Buds with psyllium mixed with yogurt for a snack

3.       Try making chia pudding for an after dinner snack

4.       Use cooked barley instead of rice with stir-fry’s or curries

The other type of fibre is insoluble fibre.  This is typically what we think of as the ‘roughage’.  Insoluble fibre helps keep us regular and keeps our bowels in good health.  Insoluble fibre is predominately found in products made with wheat and wheat bran. Try these tips for increasing your insoluble fibre:

1.       Aim for at least 4g fibre in 1 slice of bread – we personally recommend Silver Hills ‘Squirrely’ bread or try Healthy Way bread in the red bag

2.       Use whole wheat pasta

3.       Try All Bran breakfast cereals (we like Honey Nut All Bran and Strawberry Medley All Bran)

Fruits and vegetables as well as beans and lentils also contain fibre.  The fibre in these foods tends to be a mixture of both soluble and insoluble fibres so eating lots of fruits, vegetables, beans and lentils is a great way to keep you regular and full of energy!

Dessert out at a restaurant (especially after dinner!) = expanding waistlines…

Do you ever feel exceptionally full after a dinner out?  There could be good reason for that.  Chances are if you indulged in one of those lovely desserts after your meal, you might have actually consumed more calories than you need in two meals – or worse yet, an entire day’s worth!

Desserts at restaurants typically run anywhere from 600 to 800 calories, but can be as high as 1500 calories for just one dessert!  I’ve looked up the calories in desserts from some typical local restaurants…dare to read on?

a)      Earls Chocolate Sticky Toffee Pudding – 700 calories

b)      The Keg’s Crème Brulee – 640 calories

c)      Joey Restaurants Individually Baked Apple Pie – 1050 calories

d)      Montanas Cookhouse’s Brownie Sunday – a whopping 1450 calories!

The Creme Brulee is actually your ‘best’ choice!

So, what do I recommend?  Aside from skipping the dessert (out) altogether, I would recommend trying to keep your portion of any dessert to around 100-200 calories.  Yes, that means sharing, but from most of the examples above, that means sharing one dessert between 4 – 6 people.  Or you could eat dessert when you get home – aim for something fun for around 100 calories – your waistline will thank you!

Can you OD on Vitamin D?

There is a lot of talk about the benefits of vitamin D lately…most of which actually has some scientific merit actually.

Low vitamin D levels are associated with (that doesn’t mean “cause”) increased risk for heart disease, heart attacks and high blood pressure.  Vitamin D has also been implicated as beneficial in mitigating cancer risk as well as maintaining a healthy immune system.  Again, it’s important to note that vitamin D won’t cure or prevent these conditions, but having the right amount of vitamin D sounds more and more like a good idea.

The right amount then, is this:

  • 600 IU for males & females between the ages 19 and 70
  • 800 IU for males & females above the age of 70

And yes…you can have too much; 4000 IU of vitamin D daily and above is too much. Studies show that taking vitamin D in these amounts can have adverse effects on your health.  So…more is NOT better, but better make sure you’re getting enough!