January 16th, 2018

The Candy That Will Help You Kick Sugar: Smart Sweets

Smart Sweets founder, Tara Bosch (image via Facebook)

This post marks the first in a series of product profiles that we plan to publish on the London Drugs blog, exploring the talented people producing some of the exciting Canadian products on our shelves. 

22-year-old founder Tara Bosch launched the confectionary company Smart Sweets in 2016, and in doing so, shook up the candy world. If you picked up a bag of her treats at your local London Drugs, you may have wondered in fact whether you were getting candy or a health product.

You’re getting both.

Bosch set out to create a treat that wasn’t loaded with the usual amount of sugar. Where a 56-gram bag of Skittles contains 43 grams of sugar, Smart Sweets contains just 2 grams of sugar per 50-gram pouch (not to mention 24 grams of fibre and 5 grams of protein). It’s a sweet snack that you can feel a little better about enjoying.

An up-and-comer in the business world, Bosch has already been on the popular TV program Dragons’ Den (earning praise from all the judges) and has been honoured in the Pitch for the Purse contest as well as in the most recent BCBusiness 30 under 30 issue.

“It was amazing to see and hear the stories of how people’s lives have been impacted by sugar. There is no better time to be part of the wellness​ industry in Canada as more and more people are realizing the impact that food, specifically sugar, has on our body and are eagerly waiting for options to be innovated so they can make smaller, smarter choices in their daily lives,” says Bosch.

“It was so cool to see people who watched our episode reach out and share their stories about how they are kicking sugar, too. Smart Sweets has the opportunity to make a massive impact in people’s lives. At the end of the day, it’s about being able to feel good about enjoying the foods we love, and life’s too short not to be able to eat candy everyday.”

When asked where Bosch sees Smart Sweets going from here, the entrepreneur doesn’t balk. “Smart Sweets is revolutionizing candy consumption. Tackling one of the largest and most concerning problems hidden in our everyday foods, we are driving innovation through creation of the first candy products that kick sugar naturally … We want to empower people to live their best lives by giving them the choice to kick sugar.”

Bosch’s dream of seeing Smart Sweets take up space on shelves across the world–including shelves at London Drugs, of course–just may become reality. We wish her the best.

Smart Sweets is currently available in stores across Canada, including London Drugs. The product will be launching in the U.S. in the first quarter of 2018.



January 4th, 2018

5 Tips to Help You #KickSugar in 2018

Whether you’re climbing aboard the resolution train or not, a new year really does come with a fresh start feeling where anything is possible. If that anything for you is to reduce your sugar consumption – no problem, these five tips can help you stick with it.

Photo from @eatsmartsweets

For any lifestyle change or new habit, it’s all about making small changes. Any sudden, drastic moves to cut out sugar completely are often paired with some intense cravings that can make someone with the strongest of willpower give up altogether. And that’s not what we’re going for, is it?

Incorporate these small steps to help you on your #kicksugar journey even one per week and you’ll be crushing those new year goals in no time:

1. Stay Hydrated

Boring I know. Drink water? Heard it a million times before. But for real, this is key. Dehydration can cause the body to become sluggish and tired, craving foods it doesn’t even need including high-sugar foods. Keep hydrated by drinking water throughout the day in whichever form you like – on its own, with lemon, herbal tea – you name it, just drink it. Try to get at least 4-6 glasses in a day.

2. Sip Some Apple Cider Vinegar

This might seem like a strange one. What the heck does vinegar have to do with reducing sugar? Well let me tell you. Apple cider vinegar has countless benefits, one of them including balancing blood sugar. When blood sugar is unstable, up and down like a rollercoaster, this is when sugar cravings can come in strong and fast. Start with 1 tsp of ACV in ½ cup of water with meals to help balance blood sugar. You can even start with one meal and work up to taking it with all your meals.

3. Get Those Probiotics

You’d have to be living under a rock to not have heard the benefits of beneficial bacteria or ‘probiotics’ for overall and intestinal health (if you’ve been under a rock, please just Google it). The connection to sugar cravings is that the bacteria living in your intestinal tract can dictate the foods you crave. If there is an imbalance of bacteria in gut, sugar cravings can be fierce and steady. Support your intestinal flora balance by consuming fermented foods like raw sauerkraut and unsweetened yogurt and/or supplementing with probiotics.

4. Keep Low-Sugar Snacks Within Arm’s Reach

Photo from @eatsmartsweets

One of the toughest times to avoid sugary foods is when you’re out and about, haven’t eaten for too long and hunger strikes. Most convenient snacks include a shocking amount of sugar, naturally-occurring or not. Something like keeping a stash of your favourite nuts in your car or desk is great snack to tide you over to a meal. Having low-sugar treats around is also key. Just because you’re reducing sugar, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be able to treat yourself. SmartSweets Low-Sugar Gummy Bears are a total game changer when you feel like a sweet treat. With 2g or sugar per serving, you can get your sweet fix without falling off the wagon.

5. Check Your Mindset

I totally get it, been there. Reducing sugar can mean saying ‘see ya later’ to some of your very favourite foods. Which can even be slightly emotional. Instead, think of this as an opportunity to invite different foods into your life rather than saying goodbye to the higher-sugar ones. Adding in more variety and new foods you haven’t tried before can mean new favourite foods. Get creative, hunt for some new exciting recipes and get busy in the kitchen.

 

Remember, it’s all about those small changes. Be easy on yourself and have fun with it! Join the SmartSweets #kicksugar challenge by following @EatSmartSweets on Instagram and share how you’re kicking sugar to the curb in 2018.

Paige Webster
Registered Holistic Nutritionist



September 26th, 2017

A Beginners Guide to Canning and Preserving

Fall is here! But don’t worry, it’s not all rain and cold weather. Fall is a beautiful season of bounty, and you can make the most of that bounty by taking up your new favourite hobby: canning. That beautiful jam you like? You can make it. Dill pickles? You can make those too. Those cans of tomatoes you buy every other week? Yep, you got it! All you need is a bit of equipment and a bit of know-how. London Drugs has got you covered on both counts.

Woman In Kitchen Listing Ingredients In Vegetable Preserves

Canning is really just a way of preserving food. Water bath canning is the easiest way to start: you fill glass jars with the stuff you want to preserve (jams, jellies, pickles, etc.) and boil them in hot water. This kills any bacteria present, removes air from the jar, and seals it to prevent any more bacteria from getting in. Water bath canning only works for high-acid foods like fruit, tomatoes, and pickled things.

If you want to get really fancy and preserve your perfect pumpkin pie filling, you’ll need to upgrade to a pressure canner. But the basic process is to sterilize your jars in boiling water, make your preserves, put those preserves in the jars, put on the lids, and throw them back in boiling water. Easy peasy, right?

So where do you begin? First, you need some equipment:

  • Large stockpot, deep enough to completely cover your jars
  • Canning jars
  • Canning lids (these will come with jars if you buy a new set!)
  • Jar lifter
  • Lid lifter
  • Funnel

We’ve got a complete canning kit that includes the jar lifter, lid lifter, and funnel, as well as 250ml jars, 500ml jars, and even 1L jars for things like pickles and whole tomatoes. If you’re making jam or jelly, you’ll also need pectin.

Once you’ve acquired the equipment, you need to decide what you want to can! In early fall we still have stone fruit like peaches and plums, and lots of tomatoes. Later in the season, root vegetables like carrots and beets can make some excellent pickles. And apples, of course!

Pickled cucumbers, homemade preserved on wooden table

If you’ve got a well stocked grocery store that brings in produce from further afield, you can can small batches with basically any type of fruit. We’ve got recipes for strawberry balsamic jam and sour cherry jelly on the blog from earlier this summer. (What’s the difference between jam and jelly, you ask? Jam is made from crushed fruit while jelly is made from fruit juice! The more you know.)

Next, as a beginner, follow a recipe!

Canning isn’t difficult, but when mistakes are made they can range from something minor like a jam that doesn’t set to something dangerous like food that is unsafe to eat. You may balk at the amount of sugar in some of these recipes, but it’s integral to getting the jelly or jam to set properly, and it helps prevent spoilage.

Boiling time will vary depending on what altitude you’re at. You also can’t reuse the flat part of the two part lid for canning jars; you can reuse the ring, but you need a new lid each time you can. And don’t forget to sterilize your jars before filling them with your preserves!

Bell pepper preserves - London Drugs Blog

There are a ton of great websites you can go to for more information and recipes, including the National Center for Home Food Preservation, Food in Jars, and Punk Domestics. Companies that make canning supplies like Bernardin and Ball are also fantastic resources.

Here are a few of our favourite fall recipes. Go ahead and get canning! You can can!



October 6th, 2016

8 Clever Hacks for Your Kitchen Appliances

There’s no time like the present to dust off that waffle iron you received as a wedding gift two years ago. The same applies to the slow cooker only brought out for potlucks, and the popcorn machine you can’t reach at the back of the cupboard. When it comes to kitchen appliances, the possibilities are only limited by your imagination. Coffee makers and dishwashers are capable of doing much more than what it claims on their packaging. The following hacks take everyday kitchen appliances (and a few kitchen tools!) from one-dimensional to multi-faceted.

Cheese Grater

kitchen cooking hacks

We all know how frustrating it can be trying to butter a fluffy piece of toast with a cold slab of butter. Not only can a cheese grater solve all your butter problems, but it can also double as a vegetable slicer, spice grinder, and chocolate shaver. Find more grater hacks here.

READ MORE



September 1st, 2016

Health benefits of stone-ground tea

DomoTea_2016_Blog

 

matchaDomo stone-ground matcha tea is made with authentic matcha and all-natural vanilla, with no cholesterol and no saturated or trans fats.

Everyone knows about the health benefits of drinking Japanese green tea. But not everyone realizes that matcha tea has an even higher concentration of healthy compounds than regular green tea. Matcha not only tastes great – it’s one of the healthiest drinks you can enjoy.

This stuff is good for you
Did you know that consumption of antioxidant-rich foods reduces damage to cells and biochemicals, and can help fend off disease and aging? Matcha contains as much as 70 times the antioxidants of orange juice, and up to 200 times that of regular green tea. Researchers are also finding that the antioxidants in green tea may help lower cholesterol, reduce the risk of heart disease, and control blood pressure. In addition, regular matcha drinkers enjoy a metabolic rate increase of 35-40%. If you’ve ever tried to lose weight, you’ll know that’s a good thing!

READ MORE



March 3rd, 2016

LD Picks: How Your Slow Cooker Can Change Your Life

Did you know that you have a secret weapon in your kitchen? One thing that will help you make delicious dinners, tasty breakfasts, feasts for game day and impressive treats for your in-laws? You do – it’s called a slow cooker. Here’s our guide to getting that humble appliance out on the counter and making delicious meals for you and your family.

Get Started

how a slow cooker will change your life

Photo: jamieoliver.com

If said slow cooker is still in the box that your mother-in-law dropped it off in, you might need a primer. Slow cookers are super-easy to use, but there are a few things to remember. First of all, slow cooking is…slow. Yes, you can turn the heat up to high and cut the cooking time to four hours or so, but that’s often not the best strategy. Plan ahead! Remember also that if you’re cooking with kidney beans or other dry beans that contain high levels of phytohaemagglutinin, a toxin that can cause powerful stomach cramps and nausea, that you need to prepare the beans properly by boiling. A slow cooker will not get hot enough to neutralize the toxin.

Almost everything that will come out of a well-planned slow cooker will be delicious, but there are some basic rules to follow. Brown meat prior to adding to the pot to get a lovely caramelized crust. Don’t peek once things are underway – you’ll only lengthen the cooking time. Don’t add too much liquid. The slow cooker lid will prevent evaporation, so you only need a touch. Also, skip the prime rib and head straight for the chuck; the prime rib won’t stand up well to the long, slow heat.

One last tip – coat the inside of the slow cooker with a small amount of vegetable oil before putting food in there. It makes clean-up a snap.

[More at Jamie Oliver]

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February 25th, 2016

The 12 Best and Worst Foods to Eat When You’re Sick

Cold and flu season is upon us again. Need help finding the foods and drinks that’ll speed your recovery and get you back on your feet? We take care of that.

* * *

The 5 Best Foods For Fighting a Cold

popsicles

Popsicles help you take in fluids—important—and help numb down a sore throat.

Doing battle with a cold means taking in plenty of fluids and as many phlegm-fighting foods as you can. Here are some of the best choices.

  1. Popsicles  The name of the game is hydration. While you’re usually better to eat your fruit than drink it, popsicles provide convenient relief  when you’re sore and congested. Buy the ones made from 100-percent whole fruit—or, better yet, make your own.
  2. Broth-based soups At Vancouver’s popular Solly’s Deli, chicken soup’s nom de guerre is “Jewish penicillin.” Small wonder: Chicken contains an amino acid called cysteine, which thins mucus in the lungs. And hot broth fights throat inflammation and keeps nasal passages moist.
  3. Citrus fruits While vitamin C isn’t a magic bullet, it aids in reducing the length and strength of colds. An added benefit: lemons and limes, oranges and grapefruits contain flavonoids, which improve immune system function.
  4. Hot tea Take advantage of the natural anti-bacterial properties of tea. We’re fond of a green tea or hot water with  lemon—besides soothing the throat, they keep you hydrated when you’re down for the count.
  5. Spicy foods Hot foods can make our noses run and our eyes water, which is why they’re effective decongestants. Eating chili peppers, wasabi, and horseradish—not all at once!—can light a fire under the body’s natural clearing-out process.

* * *

The 3 Best Foods For a Stomach Flu

bananas

Bland and dense with nutrients, bananas are a boon to the sick.

  1. Bananas Sweating, vomiting, or diarrhea visit the stricken, and all deplete your stores of potassium. Bananas replace it. They’re easy to digest, and replenish lost electrolytes.
  2. Ginger Ginger is a great help in preventing and soothing nausea. Ginger tea or ginger ale—served flat to avoid bubble trouble (i.e., carbonation discomfort)—will keep you hydrated and on an even keel.
  3. Dry toast, crackers Plain, unsalted, or lightly salted crackers and toast are simple, bland foods that go easy on the stomach, promoting digestion and recovery when a flu has you in its grips.

* * *

The 4 Worst Foods for a Stomach Flu

pickled-jalapenos

Pickled jalapenos—yikes. Avoid the acid and spice until you’re feeling better..

  1. Acidic & spicy foods While spicy foods are great decongestants, they can be hard on the stomach. Same goes for fruit from the citrus family, which can irritate sensitive stomachs. See “bananas,” above.
  2. Sweet snacks Sugary foods can suppress the immune system and cause inflammation. Though it’s tempting to treat yourself when you’re feeling low, leave the milkshake or chocolate sundae until you’re feeling better.
  3. Fatty foods Don’t make your gut do double duty. Forgo the burgers and fries in favour of foods that are easier to digest, like simple carbohydrates and proteins.
  4. Dairy products Whether dairy causes greater congestion or simply mimics the sensation is open to debate. Perhaps, though, the point is moot. If the feeling thicker mucus bothers you, it can’t hurt to avoid milk products while you’re sick.

* * *



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