My Brief Romance with The Food Guide

May 6, 2014
by Ellen Irving

I decided several months ago I would challenge myself to eat healthier. I thought this might be a fun challenge as I consider myself someone with poor eating habits. My diet has never really included dairy or fruit so I thought this might help me discover foods in those areas that I might like. I thought the best way for me to eat healthier would be to follow Canada’s Food Guide
The Guide started in 1942 as Canada’s Official Food Rules, offering directions for healthy eating, while dealing with food rationing in wartime.

I ordered a copy and it arrived in the mail at the end of February.
  (Yes, you can still receive a brochure by mail). 
I started my challenge the beginning of March and my daily recommendations based on my age were:
·         7 portions of vegetables and fruits, one portion = a half cup
·         6 portions of grain products, one portion = a half bagel or a half cup of rice
·         3 portions of milk and alternatives, one portion = 50g of cheese or 175g of yogurt
2 portions of meat and alternatives, one portion = 2 eggs or one half cup of meat or fish.

As I’d never really paid enough attention to the Guide before, a few things surprised me:

·         Some food groups seemed to allow very large amounts
·         The recommended servings  for meat and alternatives seemed extremely small
·         The large number of grain products recommended
·         There was no category for sweets

I kept track and, for the most part, I found the daily serving amounts more than I could manage. During the month I only met my recommend servings 7 times - 3 times with vegetables and fruits, 2 times with meat and alternatives and 2 times with milk and alternatives. The majority of days I only met half the recommended servings for grain products, meat and dairy.
During the month I found myself talking about my challenge with friends and family. When I gave examples of amounts everyone seemed surprised and most admitted that they ate considerable more of some foods than was recommended and considerably less of others.
I read food labels more and discovered how many additives and preservatives were in food. I tried to eat foods without these.
By the end of March I had a better understanding of food portions and I was forced to expand my food range by eating yogurt, drinking milk, and finding fruits I liked. I found by consciously combining food groups it was easier to fill up the recommended portions. As an example, for breakfast one piece of whole wheat toast with peanut butter and a half cup of orange juice gave me one grain, one meat alternative and one fruit.  I found myself thinking of sweets a lot, even though I don’t consider myself a regular sweet eater.  

I continue to look at food labels and select more foods that contain no additives or preservatives.  Occasionally I still find myself bringing up Canada’s Food Guide in conversation. I guess I want to share what my little experiment taught me about eating well.


The Cookies are Always Tastier on the Other Side of the Fence

February 26, 2014
by Ellen Irving

My mother was not a baker.  I don’t ever remember seeing her with a kitchen utensil other than a stir stick to mix a martini. My mother, however, was a great grocery shopper. She bought all the best Brand-named foods going;  Swanson TV dinners, Post cereals, Sara Lee cakes and Mr. Christie Oreo and chocolate chip cookies. 

There was one major problem to this processed food eater’s dream. I loved homemade cookies. My best friend, who lived around the corner, never got stor...

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If a Dead Tree Stands in the City... does anyone hear?

July 5, 2013

On June 10th we told our facebook followers the sad news that the ash tree in front of our building had died.  A man from the City had just been by to let us know it would be cut down.  That set in motion the following set of events that have taken place in the past month:

1.       An electrical contractor came by to assess the removal of wiring & lights on the tree

2.       The tree surgeon contracted by the City came by to assess the tree and take photos

3.       A gentleman in a City ve...

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Food Truck Without Wheels

August 17, 2012

Monday is Opening Day for The Brown Bag, our expansion into the world of take-out service. It's taken much longer than expected to get everything in place to open this Walk-up Window and we're eager to get started. 
As a catering shop with little street presence since we opened, we still had strangers walking in every few days or so, asking to buy a sandwich, which we were never equipped to do.  Now we can provide a single-meal service we believe is lacking in this area.  
As a matter of fact, ...

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Lunch-Bags get a History Lesson

August 2, 2012
We discovered some very interesting history about our neighbourhood the other day. I was checking out a fabulous Community Facebook page called Vintage Hamilton, when I came across a shot of the 1953 Ferguson Ave. train derailment. I vaguely knew about it and have seen, as most Hamiltonians have, the mural on the side of the building at King and Ferguson, but I assumed it took place closer to King - where the replica Ferguson Station now stands. I also assumed it was a much earlier date, perh...
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How Not to Buy a Bike

July 3, 2012

Two years ago I attended the Canadian Vintage Bicycle Show in Brantford Ontario. I made a promise that I would not by a bike at the show, but instead just look and talk to the collector’s. I already owned about seven cruisers, most single speed with coaster breaks, and to keep peace in the family I had to make that promise!  
I managed to find a 1960 CCM frame, and through the course of the day I found wheels, fenders, a chain guard and period handle bars. Best part was that I had kept my p...

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How Does Your Garden Grow?

April 26, 2012
A couple months ago we planted seeds in our kitchen garden. We wanted to take advantage of great southern exposure and try our hand at growing some of the herbs and vegetables we use in our recipes.  We were off to a very slow start and, admittedly, were discouraged for a while. But we've now harvested radishes, dill and blossoms have finally appeared on our cherry tomato plants.
Not quite self-sufficient but we're proud, just the same.

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Adding to the Streetscape

April 5, 2012
Our Little Free Library got some much-deserved attention this week. In addition to The Spec article below, a photographer from the photo collage tabloid, 'Snap', was by to shoot it as well. We may be the first in town but word's getting out. I doubt will be the only ones with a Little Library box for long.
I have to say, I was a bit surprised at the writer's angle.  She seemed particularly perplexed that we would trust to display anything 'free' or attractive outdoors in our neighbourhood. For...
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Lunch-Bags Library

March 16, 2012

Last week we learned about the grass roots project Little Free Library sweeping the U.S. and now other countries and knew we had to join in.  Ellen, as the designated builder of our partnership, set out to construct one right away.  It was built, painted and hung outside our shop within a few days.
We're thrilled with the response.  Passersby now stop, some shyly, and sort through the reading choices.  We've already re-stocked our original book selections, as most were chosen within the first ...
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International Women's Day

March 9, 2012
Yesterday Ellen and I spent the day in the company of some of Hamilton's brightest entrepreneurs and professionals - they happened to be women and slightly more than coincidentally, it was International Women's Day. This day has been marked for over a hundred years but this is the first year that the Small Business Enterprise Centre (City of Hamilton) arranged an entrepreneurs conference and luncheon - just for women.
I have to assume that many of the challenges of small business owners are al...
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