Eat This, Not That: Chicken Wings vs Fried Fish

Posted by

Fried Fish or Fried Chicken Wings? It's the battle of the pub food on

It’s the battle of the fried foods over here in our latest edition of Eat This, Not That.

We’ve been comparing foods lately, like ice cream and gelato, pb&j and a ham sandwich and more to find out which is a better-for-you indulgence.

And today we’re asking…The next time you are at the pub with friends which is a better option: chicken wings or fried fish (as in fish and chips)?

Both chicken and fish are sources of protein; chicken is lower in fat. Both are likely deep fried, so you won’t see much difference when it comes to those bad for you fats. Let’s take a look at calories:

– A piece of fish has over 200 calories a piece, and about 20% of your full daily fat intake. And you’ll usually want fries with that, which will cost you over 600 calories.

– Chicken wings are usually deep fried. With the skin on and fried (with no batter) you will consume about 81 calories for one small chicken wing. If you take the skin off before frying the wing, you’ll only consume 34 calories per wing. But leave the skin on, coat it in batter and fry it … well now you are looking at about 159 calories per wing. Since most servings of wings come with as much as 12 wings, you are looking at pretty much maxing your day’s worth of calories in one meal. I’ll add: sometimes people use chicken wings as a bar “snack” while consuming a beer after work. If you go on to consume a meal, you are talking about a lot of calories in one day (as much as 1900 just on wings).

Personally, I’d stay away from the fried foods. Take your chicken and fish grilled and skip the fries in favour of a salad or veggies. Fried food is hard on the stomach, plus it often contains trans fats which aren’t good for your heart health.

If you want to indulge once and a while, I say go with the fish and hold the fries. If chicken wings really are your thing, go baked and saucy or take off the skin before eating.


Photo Copyright: siraphol / 123RF Stock Photo

Am I a Water Snob?

Posted by

Strauss Water Canada Review on SproutRight.comI’m often asked what I drink. I could be wrong but I don’t think I’m being asked about the type of grape in my wine glass.

I drink water. I drink water and loads of it. I don’t drink pop, juice, vitamin water, ice tea or much else other than water and herb teas in the winter. I don’t add ice or make it cold unless it’s crazy hot outside. I do add lemon, lime, mint, cucumber and berries at different times depending on my mood.

Although tap water is said to be “clean,” I don’t enjoy the taste. I really notice the chlorine smell as I bring my glass to my mouth and then following this is the taste that reminds me of a swimming pool. As water is all I drink, I’d call myself a picky drinker or maybe even stretch to snobby about the water that I drink. I don’t love spring water, but will drink it. I’m always trying out different brands and kinds and if there’s something bigger and better than my reverse osmosis system that I have at home, I’m all ears.

I was asked by Strauss Water Bar to check out what they have on offer. I jumped at the chance! Now this is one fancy looking unit. Takes up valuable real estate on the counter, but it does look flash! I’ve gotta know all about it so I asked my questions of the company and here’s what I learned:

  • This unit has a triple water filtration and purification process that kills 99.9% of micro-organisms and bacteria and absorbs the chlorine–exactly what I don’t enjoy about tap water. I like what I’m hearing.
  • It does this with an activated carbon filter, a micro-mesh filter and UV light. Sounds like a Brita filter that’s been turned into a Ferrari.
  • The unit hooks right up to your main water supply so you don’t have to fill up jugs and won’t ever run out. I’m still listening. Hate running out of water standing there waiting for it to filter through into the jug.
  • Temperature control and cup size is customizable. No over-spillage and good for kids who love pressing buttons!
  • Maintains mineral levels as it doesn’t take anything out of the water, it just cleans it. Love the minerals in there still. Medicines, not so much.
  • Gives both hot and cold water. Instant tea is my dream.
  • Replacement filters are automatically sent to you before you need them. How many times have I gone over the life of my filters? Too many. Still not sure if it did any harm.
  • Costs about $1 a day and if anything goes wrong they bring me a new unit. Fast. I can’t do without water for a day so I do like this concept of speedy customer service!

I was impressed. It does a lot and although it doesn’t take out everything that I’d like it to, it would encourage drinking more water as it’s so simple. And my kids love buttons so we’d have to set a rule that they’d have to drink what they’ve poured before going back for more!

I’ve often written about how important hydration is and how we and our kids really don’t drink enough. What’s enough though? I suggest that my clients drink at least 2L of water each day. More if I’m speaking with a new mum whose breastfeeding, someone who works out regularly or suffer with constipation, dry skin and lips, lack of energy and has dark urine.

I have one kid that is like a camel and one that drinks like a fish. I wonder if having a flash unit on our counter would help the camel-like one to drink more. I might think so. I would hope so.

What gets you or your kids drinking more?

Disclosure: Thank you to Strauss Water Bar for working with me on this post. Thoughts and comments are my own.


Eat This, Not That: Lunch Box Battles

Posted by

Eat this, not that battles on - Ham Sandwich or PB & J?

The battle: Sliced Ham Sandwich vs. Peanut Butter & Jam Sandwich

What’s the healthier choice when you need a grab-and-go lunch?

On one hand, sliced ham is high in sodium and carries a lot of potential for food borne bacteria. Sliced ham is also high in nitrates; a natural chemical found in soil, water and air but used as a food additive to combat bacteria and enhance the flavour of deli meat. There is evidence that a diet high in processed meats can contribute to colon cancer, whether because of nitrates or other reasons. It is best, actually, to avoid processed meat as much as possible. Sliced ham… so maybe not the best choice.

On the other hand, PB&J contains fat from the peanut butter, and the jam can be sugary. But it contains 91% less saturated fat, 100% less sodium and 11% more fibre. There are ways you can improve the health profile of this option: try almond butter, which is higher in good fats and calcium, and a fruit spread tastes just like jam but without all that sugar.

The verdict: PB&J comes out on top!

The battle: Yogurt Drinks vs. Cheesestrings

First, let’s look at what a yogurt drink is. These tend to be milk with added probiotics, flavour and maybe sugar. Some brands have fruit juice as their sweetener, so these are a better option.

As for cheesestrings, these are mozzarella cheese that has been heated to 140 degrees. At this temperature, the cheese becomes stretchy and the milk proteins move around and line up together in a row. This makes the cheese so stringy!

Both options provide protein, but I like foods that contain probiotics because it is so important for a healthy gut. My vote is with the yogurt drink, preferably one that is sweetened with fruit juice rather than sugar.

The verdict: Go with the yogurt drink for a probiotic boost, though both are fine options.

In case you’ve missed these, here’s more in our Eat This, Not That series. And tune into The Jerry Agar Show on NewsTalk 1010 every Friday at 11am when I put two more foods against each other!

Energy Drinks vs. Soda

CNE Food

Frozen Pizza vs Take-Out Pizza

Ice Cream vs Gelato vs Frozen Yogurt

Hot Dog vs Hamburger


Photo Copyright: arinahabich / 123RF Stock Photo


Eat This, Not That: Energy Drinks vs Soda

Posted by

Eat this, not that: Soda vs energy drinks - on

All of that summer heat might have you reaching for a few sugary beverages to quench your thirst. While water is always your best bet (try it with a bit of lemon or lime if you aren’t big on the taste of plain water), sometimes you do turn to something a little less, well, good for you.

When it comes to sugary drinks, which is worse to consume – energy drinks or soda? We’re putting the two against each other in our latest Eat This, Not That post. We’ve already looked at barbecue fare like hot dogs vs hamburgers, ice cream vs gelato. And last week we looked at your favourite: the best way to eat pizza.

Let’s look at what your teenagers might be drinking… how bad are energy drinks? And is soda a better option?

What’s in energy drinks?

Most energy drinks contain taurine, ginseng and guarana. Taurine is an amino acid that doesn’t often cause side effects, but ginseng and guarana are herbal supplements that can cause adverse effects in some people. If you have high blood pressure, kidney disease, heart problems, an anxiety or nervous disorder or an overactive thyroid, you shouldn’t consume guarana, which is very high in caffeine. Consuming ginseng may not be safe for you if you have heart problems or high blood pressure, schizophrenia, diabetes, an estrogen-sensitive health condition or a bleeding disorder.

While an eight-ounce cup of coffee contains about 150 milligrams of caffeine, energy drinks pack anywhere from 154 mg in a 16-ounce Red Bull to 505 mg in a 24-ounce Wired X505. And the most popular juicer around, 5-Hour Energy, has 200 mg of caffeine in a single-serve shot.

What’s wrong with too much caffeine?

Caffeine is naturally derived from several plant sources. It is a stimulant that crosses the blood-brain barrier to activate the central nervous system and, as such, is technically classified as a psychosocial drug. The Mayo Clinic warns that quantities over 500mg a day can lead to insomnia, nervousness, irritability and even muscle tremors. And because of the stimulating effects of caffeine, many people find that they aren’t quite right when they don’t have their daily dose – and symptoms can include headaches, fatigue, irritability even nausea and vomiting. Yikes.

What about soda?

Soda, by contrast, has less caffeine than energy drinks. Mountain Dew, one of the sodas with the highest caffeine levels, only contains 54mg per 12-oz can.

And what about sugar?

Sugar is also something to think about when consuming soda or energy drinks. For 100 gram serving, an energy drink has about 11 or 12 grams of sugar. Soda, Coca Cola for example, has 9 grams, so slightly better.

The bottom line

Soda comes out on top when compared with energy drinks – both for caffeine and (slightly) for sugar. If you do consume energy drinks, be sure to limit consumption and do not exceed three cans per day. Do not give energy drinks to children.

Safe caffeine limits are approximately 200mg per day. And you should limit sugar intake to about 25 grams.
Photo Copyright: auiapichart / 123RF Stock Photo

CNE Food for 2015 – Can I Say Eat This, Not That?

Posted by

Fair Food: A nutritionist's Verdict with

It’s that time of year. The Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto marks the end of yet another summer. Along with all the rides, music and fun, are foods that are meant to shock, wow and maybe give you an instant heart attack.

When I speak with Jerry Agar on Newstalk1010 every week, we talk about “Eat This, Not That” and this week the producer sent me some doozies. Very tough to decide on any of these but I broke it all down for you to see how I’m thinking. Let us know if you try any of the below and if it was worth it.

POUTINE GRILLED CHEESE:  A grilled cheese sandwich stuffed to the max with cheese curds and fries, with a side of warm gravy for dipping!  (Coffee Zone, Midway)

My thoughts: Bread with cheese curds, fried potato and then gravy. Other than a enough sodium to give you an instant heart attack, this is a carb overload in every bite.


POUTINE BALLS:  A Canadian staple gets a Bavarian twist!  Buttery mashed potato balls are stuffed with authentic cheese curds, then rolled in bread crumbs and deep fried to a crispy golden brown. Once plated, the Poutine Balls are smothered with Bavarian style gravy and even more cheese curds! (Vienna, Food Building)

My thoughts: Mashed potato, cheese, rolled in breadcrumbs then deep fried. Then gravy (think salt overload) and more cheese.

Verdict – The poutine balls being deep fried pushes it over the edge with heated saturated fat, which is the worst kind. I’m hoping that the fries that are in the poutine grilled cheese equal less deep fried-ness.


BACON WRAPPED GRILLED CHEESE: Six strips of bacon weaved around a grilled cheese sandwich stuffed with aged cheddar and mozzarella, served with spicy sweet chili ketchup. (Bacon Nation, Food Building)

My thoughts: Six strips of bacon (when do you ever eat that much?), bread and stuffed with two kinds of cheese.


FROSTED FLAKE BATTERED CHICKEN ON A STICK: Juicy battered chicken rolled in Frosted Flakes and deep fried to sweet crunchy tenderness!  (Iron Skillet Sirloin Tips, Food Building)

My thoughts: Chicken –ok that’s good protein– then battered with sugar-laden Frosted Flakes and deep fried.

If you peeled off the Frosted Flakes then I’d be happy. Assuming that you are going for this because of all the battered-ness, then that’s not going to happen.

Verdict: These two really are on par with each other in terms of the saturated, heart-hurting fats. Both from the bacon and then from the battered and fried chicken. What the chicken does have going for it is that there are no nitrates and it would have a lot less sodium, as bacon is high in both.

Can’t believe I’m going to say this but… maybe a slight tip towards the chicken.


DEEP FRIED CHEESECAKE: Creamy cheesecake battered and deep-fried, need we say more? (Pickle Pete’s, Midway)

My thoughts: Where do people dream these things up! I like cheesecake and think that this is just wrong. So we’ve got the fat heavy cheesecake, then it’s battered and deep fried. Saturated fat over and over again. Let’s not forget that it’s got some sugary drizzle on it too.


TIMBITS POUTINE: A delightful takeaway dessert best eaten with a fork! A sweet “poutine” made of Tim Horton’s Timbits decked out in delicious dessert toppings.  Luscious combinations include Chocolate Lovers, Birthday Cake, Oreo, Cinnamon French Toast, and Chocolate Salted Caramel. (Tim Hortons, Food Building)

My thoughts: Another deep fried, heart-attack-waiting-to-happen right here. Mixed with the sugary Timbits with all these insane flavours, artificial colours and saltiness (if you choose that way).

Verdict: Calorie-wise the cheesecake is going to take up least a third the daily norm of your intake. The quantity of Timbits looked to me like it was about four of them which could actually rival the cheesecake at around 400 cals – maybe less depending on your choice. Then the sweet toppings are added, as well as salt or other sprinkle type something. Either are a health hazard from a nutrition stand point so this is my toughest call of the three. Out of curiosity, I’d taste a mouthful of the cheesecake. Cause if it’s not good cheesecake, deep fried or otherwise, it’s not worth it!

I get that it’s fun to try new foods, but really are any of the above really food? I think not. Tread carefully. I fear for your heart!

Eat This, Not That: Frozen Pizza vs Take-Out

Posted by

Which is the better option - frozen or take-out pizza on

Our Eat This, Not That series compares foods that are not traditionally considered “healthy,” but, let’s be realistic, we sometimes turned to them when partying, indulging or grabbing dinner in a pinch.  So is it a hot dog or hamburger at a backyard bash? Gelato or ice cream?

Now let’s look at pizza – a birthday party favourite, a weekend treat, a tempting weekday supper when you are running out of time. Do you head to the frozen foods section of your grocery store for what’s on special, or pick up the phone for takeout?

This study looked at two popular chains, Pizza Pizza and Domino’s, compared with four grocery-store brands: McCain’s, Delissio, Dr. Oetker and President’s Choice. The pizzas were compared based on calories, saturated fat and sodium.

Comparing pepperoni pizza, Delissio Vintage Pizzeria came out the worse at 440 calories, 18 grams of fat (7 saturateD) and 1,100 milligrams of sodium per one-third of a pizza. The best? McCain’s Traditional Crust Pepperoni Pizza had the lowest fat and sodium at 350 calories, 10 grams of fat (4 saturated) and 720 grams of sodium for one-third of the pizza. But in general, delivery and frozen weren’t that different.

The worst pizza all around was Delissio’s Thin & Crispy Grilled Chicken with Tomato and Spinach with 420 calories, 10 grams of saturated fat and 920 mg of sodium. Surprising, since this is an option many people may turn to assuming it is a healthier option.

In this comparison, delivery and frozen pizza didn’t come out that different, though the worst offenders are in the frozen section. But on average, two slices of a meat and cheese pizza can total 600-plus calories, have you consuming half of your daily saturated-fat and contain an entire day’s worth of sodium. Yikes.

Your best bet, of course, is to make your own pizza so you can control the ingredients. If you don’t have time to roll out pizza dough on a busy weeknight, use whole-grain-flour tortillas for a thin crust, add tomato sauce, part-skim cheese and plenty of vegetables. Try our homemade pesto recipe for an extra tasty treat!

Photo Copyright: maxsheb / 123RF Stock Photo

Eat This Not That: Ice Cream, Gelato or Frozen Yogurt

Posted by


Ice Cream, Gelato or Frozen Yogurt  - Eat This, Not That on

It’s summer and of course you want to reach for a cold, sweet treat. We don’t blame you! But which sweet treat is best, nutritionally? Our new series “Eat This, Not That” looks at some better options and last week we compared the hot dog and the hamburger. Which one came out on top?

Now to your summer dessert…

Let’s talk sugar. A study, published in the journal JAMA Neurology shows a strong association between insulin resistance (often linked to weight gain) and a decline in memory function.

Insulin is a hormone that helps move glucose (aka blood sugar) from your blood into your cells for your body to use as fuel. Insulin resistance happens when there is not enough insulin to move the blood sugar into the cells. So the pancreas creates more insulin to move the blood sugar along. As more and more insulin is created, it takes much more to do the job and the pancreas becomes tired and that’s when diabetes can be diagnosed.

The scans from the study showed that people who had higher insulin resistance used less blood sugar in areas of the brain that are the most susceptible to Alzheimer’s. Why this is a problem: when there is less blood sugar in the brain, it doesn’t function as well, researchers say.

Foods high in sugar and fat can cause blood sugar spikes, causing your insulin response to kick into overdrive to convert the nutrients into energy. But when your body doesn’t need any more energy, the rest is stored as fat. Too many blood sugar spikes can then lead to insulin resistance.

The link with memory is that if there isn’t enough insulin to do the job that it should, and forming memories can become harder. Over time, those brain cells might begin to starve and die off. Yikes.

So why this big long explanation? Let’s look at our dessert options because what we want is to find the one with less sugar.

Sugar content in cold desserts

For a 1/2 cup serving

Vanilla Ice Cream 14grams

Gelato 25 grams

Frozen Yogurt 20 grams

So, surprising to some of you … ice cream comes out as the best option. You might shy away from it as a high fat option, but when we take out fat we often add sugar. As an occasional treat, my money’s on ice cream.

Photo Copyright: paylessimages / 123RF Stock Photo

Introducing “Eat This, Not That” Hot Dog Vs Hamburger

Posted by

Hamburger vs Hot Dog? Which comes out as your healthier option. Eat This Not That Series on

Stumped by all the diet hype? Want to make “the best” choice when “healthy” is or isn’t always available? From Lianne’s talks with NewsTalk1010’s Jerry Agar, we’ve developed a series called “Eat This, Not That” to help you make the best choices. Here is our first instalment.

Hot dog vs burger:

It’s barbecue season; when at backyard bash you may be faced with just two options. Which comes out healthier – the hot dog or the hamburger?

First let’s look at the burger. There are many variables here: how big is it? what kind of beef is it? what are you putting onto it? Your typical burger is between 1/3 – 1/2 pounds (about 6 to 8 ounces) and made from 85% lean ground beef. Served with a bun it can pack as much as 620 calories and 9 grams of saturated fat (that’s nearly half your daily limit. This is BEFORE the toppings. A slice of cheese adds another 110 calories and 6 grams of saturated fat. On the positive side, burgers deliver iron and zinc.

Your hot dog – typically smaller than burgers so you are consuming fewer calories. There are approximately 270 calories in a hot dog. It’s not all about calories though. Hot dogs can be sodium bombs, packing 500mg or more per dog. A 3-ounce hamburger, in contrast delivers around 375mg (and if you make it yourself you can add even less salt).

Second, many hot dogs contain sodium nitrite or nitrate (additives that help extend shelf life), which are linked (by some experts) to increased cancer risk. And lastly, because hot dogs are on the smaller side, you might be inclined to have more than one.

the verdict:

From a health perspective, I’d say the hamburger (a quarter-pounder made of 90%-lean ground beef) is the hands-down healthier option. It has four times the protein and iron, five times the zinc and a quarter of the sodium.

Stay tuned as we explore alcohol options in a head-to-head comparison!

And remember, beat extra calories this summer by exercising at least 30 minutes a day, three days a week.

Photo Copyright: sripfoto / 123RF Stock Photo

How to Stay Hydrated with More than Just Water

Posted by

How to Stay Hydrated with More than Just Water on

When the heat is on it’s important to keep your fluid levels up. But for the whole summer only sticking to drinking water can become pretty boring. For anyone working outside like landscapers, street crews, police men and women, kids at camp or if you enjoy walking or cycling to and from work all summer long it can be challenging to keep up your water intake throughout the day.

Remember that tempting cool drinks drinks like pop, milkshakes made with milk or ice cream, iced coffee and juice are more dehydrating on your system. Ice tea made from herbal tea bags is an excellent way to have a more jazzy drink.

Also to jazz up water, add in some lemon, grapefruit, orange or lime slices and keep refilling your bottle. Berries and mint make not only a beautiful glass to drink but are hydrating. Try adding some cucumber and mint for something a little different. An insulated water bottle helps to keep it cool while you are out and about or are on the go.

Many foods have a high water content so adding any of these foods into your lunch box or dinner after a long, hot day will help to keep you hydrated and your energy levels up.

  • Cucumber – chop it up and eat at will or add slices to your water
  • Iceberg lettuce – while not packed with as many nutrients as leafy greens, enjoy mixed with other leaves in a salad or use as the bun or wrap for your barbecued burger
  • Celery – serve with pumpkin seed butter and raisins, or with a dip like hummus
  • Radishes – cut up and add to your salad or eat raw with a dip
  • Tomatoes – summertime offers many different varieties. Serve on your burger, eat straight up and/or serve with basil and cheese
  • Green peppers – any coloured peppers, but green in particular. Enjoy slices, eat whole like an apple or serve with dip
  • Cauliflower – cut up and drop into boiling water for about 5 minutes to soften or eat raw with dip
  • Watermelon – blended for a drink in juice box containers and slices
  • Spinach – add into salad above and with the burger
  • Strawberries – gobble up on their own or pack in a bruise-proof container
  • Broccoli – similar to cauliflower, quickly steam or drop into boiling water for 3 – 5 minutes, cool and serve on top of a salad or cut up into pieces for a side to your salad
  • Grapefruit – squeeze juice and half with water in your insulated cup or try in your Juice In The Box container
  • Baby carrots – enjoy different colour varieties, munch raw or try with a new dip

If you find yourself thirsty, you are moving into dehydration. The easiest way to know if you are hydrated is by the colour of your urine. Ideally you want it to be pale straw colour. Darker coloured urine indicates a lack of water intake. Keep drinking until your urine becomes paler.

As well as drinking about 2L of water each day, enjoy coconut water, diluted juice and smoothies made with water.

What’s your favourite food or drink to stay hydrated?

Products used in CanadaAM segment courtesy of, and Drink In a Box (available at


Recipe: Super Chicken or Turkey Burgers

Posted by

Ah, summer; days filled with outdoor play, long evening walks and BBQ food that … ugh can make you gain a bit of weight. But even potluck bashes can be an occasion to introduce better options and this recipe for chicken (or turkey) burgers is a lightened up, veggie filled classic in our family.

Super Chicken or Turkey Burgers

Super Chicken or Turkey Burgers. Recipe by


This recipe is from Sprout Right: Nutrition from Tummy to Toddler. You can buy the whole book for more great recipes like this.

This is the perfect place to hide lots of vegetables. Use a variety of vegetables, especially those that you wouldn’t normally serve on their own.

1 1/2 lb organic fresh ground chicken or turkey

2 1/2 cups mixed vegetables, finely chopped

1 cup gluten-free breadcrumbs

1 onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 egg*

Pinch Salt and pepper

1. Combine ingredients in a large bowl and mix thoroughly with your hands. The texture should be sticky, and the miture should hold its shape. Form into burger patties.

2. Cook on the grill or fry in a skillet over medium high heat until brown on each side and internal temperature reaches 165 Fahrenheit.

*If you wish to omit the egg, decrease the amount of breadcrumbs to 1/2 cup.

You can also make this recipe into meatballs or meatloaf!