All posts by Jeff Fidler

lunch ideas for back to school

Healthy Back-To-School Lunch Ideas for Kids

Send the Kids Back to School with Lunches They’ll Actually Eat

The new school year is nearly upon us, and while many parents are rejoicing at the notion of their kids getting back in the classrooms, others are dreading the thought of another year of time-consuming school lunch prep & half-eaten foods coming home at the end of the day.

This year, we think it’s time you turn things around and make school lunches easier and more fun for everyone. That’s why we’ve gathered up this helpful collection of tips and tricks that you and your kids can use to plan healthy lunches that are still fun and delicious. We’ve also provided a bunch of advice on how to save time and get the kids more involved in their healthy eating habits.

However, before we get in to the fun stuff, it’s important to note that when you send your kid to school with a full lunch box, there are rules to follow that help keep everyone at school safe from allergies.

Foods to Avoid

While it’s pretty much common knowledge that any and all nut products are off-limits for school lunches, you’d be amazed at all the different places that nuts can hide in many of the popular foods we eat. It can be easy to miss some of them if you’re not diligent on checking labels.

It’s obvious that anything made with peanut butter should be avoided, but it’s important to be aware that nuts can often be found hiding in other foods like cookies, crackers, and granola bars. Other places nuts can be found are in sauces, such as many of those found in different types of Asian cuisine and noodle dishes, and anything cooked in a nut oil like peanut oil.

Aside from the dangers of allergens, there are other things that just don’t need to be in your kids’ lunch box. Many sodas, gummies, and pastries are loaded with added sugar and carbs, so either avoid them entirely or swap for sugar-free versions. There are plenty of healthier versions of these products to choose from so you won’t have to worry about kids missing out on the sweet treats they love.

Choose a Nutritious Drink

When you’re deciding on what to include for a school lunch, it’s easy to start things off with a healthy and nutritious beverage. Milk is always a popular choice for many kids, and it’s got plenty of health benefits like calcium and protein. Fruit juice is another popular option, but also one that has a higher risk of being high in sugar. Check for sugar-free and low-sugar juice options instead.

Pop and sodas can be okay for an occasional treat, but you’ll want to select a sugar-free version like the tasty beverages from Zevia. These sugar-free sodas are available in all kinds of flavours, including classics like cola, root beer and cream soda, as well as fruity flavours like grape and orange.

For the most nutritious option, why not send your kid to school with a home-made smoothie made with some of their favourite fruits? Smoothies are a great way to get more nutrients in to a lunch kit and still deliver a delicious & sweet taste. Using ingredients like Greek yogurt help to boost the protein content and mixing in a dose of Chia seeds will ramp up the dietary fibre. Making a batch of smoothies in the morning can become a fun ritual you share with your kids, and then you get to take some with you for your own lunch. It’s a win-win!

Healthy Main Ideas

When selecting the main component of your lunch, you want to choose something that is filling, healthy, easy to prepare, and easy to eat at lunchtime. Sandwiches are always a popular option, and with the wonderful variety of low carb breads, bagels and wraps, you can offer your kids plenty of different ways to put them together. Any types of deli meat, sliced cheese, and fresh toppings like lettuce and tomatoes are all fair game when it comes to sandwich-building.

Soups are another option that are easy to take for lunch, and with a good quality insulated container they will stay hot all morning and in to lunchtime. In our opinion, there’s not too many lunches out there that will beat hot homemade chicken soup on a chilly day. Find out what your kids’ favourite soups are and have some on hand to heat up in the morning and fill their thermos. Just don’t forget to include a spoon!

Fun & Healthy Snacks

Focus on fruits, vegetables, proteins, and fibre in snacks, but figure out ways to accompany them with stuff that makes them a bit more fun from a kids’ point of view. For example, apple slices on their own might seem a bit boring, but if you include a small container of sugar-free caramel sauce for dipping, they get a lot more fun!

Cheese is definitely another favourite lunch item for kids, which is probably why the stringable-cheese snacks are so popular. These are a simple addition to any lunch that adds protein and calcium, and lets the kids have fun while they peel it apart.

Carrot sticks and hummus is great lunch combo that kids and adults both love to munch on. Celery sticks and cream cheese is another option, too. Other healthy snack options include things like yogurts, grapes, dried fruits, and low carb crackers.

Finally, there are all kinds of low carb snack chips that come in a wide range of flavours and seasonings that are an excellent addition to lunch kits for kids who like crunchy salty snacks. We recommend products like Beanitos Bean Chips or Quest Protein Chips, which are some of our most popular snack chips.

Save Time & Involve the Kids

One trick to saving time in preparing lunches is to get the kids involved in a way that makes them feel like they are in control of their lunch. This also has the added benefit of them being more likely to eat a lunch that’s made entirely of stuff that they chose on their own.

Of course, you need to give them the guidance and tools to make healthy choices and put together a complete lunch with all the necessary items. Working with your kids, pull together a list of acceptable choices for the different components in a lunch, like drinks, mains, fruit, vegetables, and fun treats. In general, you’ll want to have about four or five different items for each category to select from so that there’s a good amount of variety but not so much that you have too much food stocked up that it will spoil before it gets eaten.

Post the lunch-building list on your fridge and include a guideline of how many items from each category are needed for a lunch. For example; one drink, one main, two fruits or vegetables, and one fun treat. As long as they meet the criteria and quantity for what you’ve agreed is a complete lunch, they can choose their own items from those categories to build their lunches.

Another way to save time is to have a lunch prep session on Sunday before the week begins and work together to gather up supplies for the week. Put on some fun music, and spend some time as a family chopping vegetables, organizing snacks, and planning around any special considerations like school field trips that may have special lunch requirements.

Fun Low Carb School Lunch Recipes

While you won’t have any difficulty finding helpful and interesting lunch ideas on the web, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more complete set of low carb lunch ideas for kids than in the Low Carb Kids series of resources at DitchTheCarbs.com. The author of the site, Libby, has gathered together several helpful guides for parents to use to plan kids’ lunches for school, and dozens of great recipes to draw from.

Here are three of our favourites that Libby recommends as great options for healthy school lunches for kids:

Grain-Free KFC Fried ChickenHow jealous will your kids’ friends be when they show up with this delicious fried chicken? We’re guessing VERY.

Keto Egg WrapsEggs, cheese, and bacon all wrapped up in an easy-to-eat package. Kids will love having breakfast for lunch!

Grain-Free Granola Bars – Regular store-bought granola bars are often loaded with extra sugar, but not these tasty home-made versions!

Healthy Lunches and Happy Kids

At the end of the day, your kids will be glad that you’ve let them take some control over their lunches with these kinds of tips. Plus, you’ll have more time in the mornings and be sure that they’ve got a healthy lunch packed up that will keep them happy and energized throughout the day. Packing up healthy lunches that also include some fun in them is easy, and we’re sure that these tips will help make the coming year of school lunches be better than ever.

Last Long Weekend of the Summer

5 Ways to Celebrate This Summer’s Last Long Weekend

Summer. It’s glorious. All that sunshine and warmth and such. Shorts, sandals and sunscreen without having to cower indoors for fear of freezing.

Part of summer’s appeal is its transitory nature. Much like the elusive love who slips further and further away the harder we try to hold on to them, summer’s here for a good time—but the clock is always ticking.

Short of moving closer to the equator, there isn’t much you can do to extend summer. You get what you get, and it’s gone before you know it. If you don’t make the best of it while it’s here, the best you can do is bundle up warm and start planning for next summer.

Dr. Azadeh Aalai is a psychologist who teaches at Queensborough Community College in New York. She says that while summer is invigorating for its seemingly limitless potential, “the possibility of accomplishing everything—or nothing—[depends] on how that precious time is spent.”

So, to help you make the most of what little is left of summer, we’ve put together a warm weather bucket list of things to try cramming into your Labour Day weekend. The idea here isn’t to try them all. That would be so stressful it would be counterintuitive. But you have three days to enjoy before everyone returns to the perennial grind we know and love as fall. You might as well make the best of it.

1.      Have an outdoor adventure

Summer is a time for the great outdoors. Especially if you live somewhere that will soon be covered by snow. True, winter sports can be amazing, but let’s concentrate on things that don’t involve the risk of frostbite for now.

The summer sun is great for inspiring physical activity. Even people who’ve neglected exercising for months are game for going outside and doing something that might make them sweat. And there are so many things to do that are only around for a limited time, you can’t help but feel the urge to do them all.

Lace up your boots and go for a good long hike. Check your tire pressure and take your bicycle out for a spin.  Or dig out that bathing suit and hit the beach. Even if a public pool is your only option, there’s nothing quite as refreshing as hopping into cool water on a hot day.

Take advantage of the heat and extended hours of daylight simply by adding more walking into your plans. And let yourself stray into parks—if only to sit under a tree on occasion. In Japan, this practice is called Shinrin-yoku, which roughly translates as “forest bathing” or “taking in the forest atmosphere.” A 2010 study published in the journal Environmental Health and Preventative Medicine studied the phenomenon’s ability to promote relaxation and reduce stress. Long story short: just being in nature does wonders for both your nervous and immune systems.

Try taking at least one day away from screens to reconnect with nature. Research shows that periodic unplugging helps your brain process the rapid-fire stimuli of everyday life. And who knows, you might also stave off a vitamin D deficiency in the process.

2.      Be a tourist in your own town

Summer is traditionally the time of vacations. And when we think vacation, we often think of hopping on a plane and jetting off to somewhere exotic. Or at the very least going on a road trip requiring hours of driving.

But we’re talking about one weekend here. Sure, it’s a long one, but still . . .

Have you ever considered being a tourist in your own town? Stop thinking of your home turf in every day terms and try seeing it through the eyes of someone who would need a passport to visit. Before long, it’s like the city itself changes before your eyes.

Visit the local tourism website and make a list of all the attractions you haven’t seen yet. Then prioritize them by which ones you want to do the most—and start doing them. Already done everything in your town? Then get out of town, but not far. See what surrounding communities have to offer and make a day of it.

The trick to vacationing, according to Aalai, is not the distance travelled but the break in routine. Losing yourself in unfamiliar surroundings—even if you haven’t gone far—is great for relieving stress and helping you unwind. Finding new ways of forgetting about everyday obligations on the weekend ultimately makes you happier and healthier, and more creative and productive.

3.      Dine outdoors, a lot

Perhaps you’re the kind of person who’s happiest breaking bread with others. Sharing a meal with friends and loved ones is a great way to deepen your interpersonal connections and make us feel happier about your station in life. And summer offers the rare opportunity to enjoy a meal al fresco—in the open air.

Whether you host an end of summer blowout in your backyard, take a picnic lunch to a park, or enjoy some fine cuisine on a restaurant patio, dining outside is a wonderful way to connect with nature—see above—and the people that matter the most. Savour not only the food but also the company and embrace every moment.

Fretting about the clock running out on summer only wastes the precious little bit of warm weather still available to us. Instead, squeeze every moment out of your end of summer dining to make memories you’ll cherish for years to come.

4.      Take in something local on a whim

Speaking of cherished memories, did you ever notice that some of your happiest recollections involve a certain spark of spontaneity? With this in mind, try an off-the-cuff adventure right in your own backyard and see how much fun you have.

Check the local paper for community events and make the rounds. Who knows what you’ll find? A street festival? A flea market? An outdoor movie screening? Let life surprise you; see where it wants to take you. You never know what you might discover about your neighbourhood, your neighbours, or yourself in the process.

Make a deal with yourself to leave the TV off all weekend—you can get it all on-demand later—and get ready to embrace the lesser known elements of your surroundings.

5.      Spend time with a good book

For many, there’s no substitute for truly losing yourself in a book. Unlike any other media, reading requires your mind to fill in certain sensory gaps by suggesting sights, sounds and smells. And when we really connect with a story, it’s an immersive experience unlike any other.

Sadly, studies suggest that reading is not as popular as it used to be. With all the pressures of keeping up in the digital age, it seems that reading for sheer enjoyment is the first thing people sacrifice to make more time for work and other pursuits. Polls suggest that adults only read four books a year on average, with as many as one in four not reading at all.

But taking time to read has so many benefits. It’s great for your memory, helps you focus, and stimulates brain activity. And aside from giving you a better command of the language, connecting with a diverse range of characters on the page gives you greater empathy in real life. It literally makes you a better human being.

So, carve out a little time on Labour Day to cozy up with a book you’ve been putting off far too long. If you can read it outside, under a tree, perhaps in a hammock, you can also enjoy the tranquility of Shinrin-yoku at the same time.

And if said tranquility encourages you to put the book down and close your eyes for a quick nap, carpe diem!

Make the most of summer while you can

Like sand through the hourglass, the last days of warm weather slip away from us, often completely unnoticed. Don’t let the last long weekend of sunshine get the better of you.

It only takes a little planning to take full advantage of the Labour Day weekend. Make an effort to spend some time reconnecting with nature. Get to know your town better by acting like an outsider, or just by spontaneously getting off the beaten path and exploring some new aspect of your community. Take the time to dine in sunlight, whether it’s a picnic lunch or getting reacquainted with your barbecue. And make a date with a book, a hammock, and maybe a margarita or two.

Before you know it, the dog days of summer will become the doldrums of autumn, and you’ll have to wade through three seasons of cooler temperatures to revel in the splendor of the sun again. But with this guide as your template for living it up as the last rays of summer flicker out, you’ll make enough warm and happy memories to help make it through again.

beanitos healthy chips and snacks

Delicious & Healthy Snack Chips from Beanitos

Discover the Variety of Healthy & Delicious Snack Chips from Beanitos

For low carb snackers who crave salty, crunchy chips, it can be a daunting task to find a great tasting snack chip that also fits with your dietary needs. Far too often the healthy chips don’t have the flavour you want, and many times the tastiest chips are off-limits due to high sugar or carb counts. Well, you’re in luck today, because we’re going to introduce you to the world of Beanitos snack chips!

History of Beanitos Bean Chips & Snacks

Founded in Austin, Texas in 2010, Beanitos began with a simple goal; to make a better, healthier snack chip that delivers delicious taste and a great crunch. By using beans as their base ingredient, Beanitos chips don’t have the same high carb counts of wheat- or corn-based chips.

Beanitos snacks are also gluten-free and soy-free, making them perfect for a wide range of dietary needs, and all Beanitos snack chips are high in protein, fibre, and antioxidants. Try getting all that from a regular old potato chip!

Types of Beanitos Snacks

Whether you prefer the simplicity of a classic restaurant-style chip for dipping in your favourite salsa, or something a little zestier to munch on during your next movie night or sports game, you’ll find a wide range of tastes available from Beanitos.

Original Beanitos Chips

These chips are what started it all. Beanitos classic chips are lightly salted and perfect for dipping. Choose from Original Black Bean chips, Simply Pinto Bean chips, or Restaurant Style White Bean Chips.

Seasoned & Flavoured Chips

If you want to kick your snacking experience up a notch, then you’ve got to try the amazing flavoured Beanitos chips. Available in great flavours like Nacho Cheese, Sweet Chili & Sour Cream, Honey Chipotle BBQ, and Hint of Lime, these chips are amazingly tasty and deliciously crunchy.

Mac & Cheese Crunch Snacks

For those of us who prefer the style of a puffed cheese snack, Beanitos now offers Mac n’ Cheese snacks that will definitely satisfy your cravings for a cheesy crunch. Made from white beans, these fun and tasty snacks are every bit as healthy as the other Beanitos chips.

Recipes from Beanitos

The folks at Beanitos are simply crazy about delicious and healthy snacks, and it doesn’t just show through in their amazing products. They’ve also put together a wonderful collection of tasty recipes using Beanitos that you can use to craft fantastic snacks that the whole family will love. Here are a few of our favourites!

BBQ Chicken Nachos

Well, you knew for sure that there would be a nachos recipe on this list, so we figured we’d start it off with this amazing creation. Starting with a bed of Beanitos Restaurant Style chips, and piled high with awesome ingredients like rotisserie chicken, pickled jalapenos, sugar-free bbq sauce, fresh onions, and melty shredded cheese. This isn’t a snack, this is a meal!

Fresh Melon Cucumber Salsa

Now here’s an unusual salsa recipe that will have you coming back for more again and again. This is the coolest, freshest salsa we’ve ever seen thanks to the brilliant combination of cantaloupe and honeydew, along with cucumbers, onions, jalapenos, and cilantro. Finish off the recipe with a squirt of fresh lime juice and a bit of salt, and you’re ready to dive in with your favourite Beanitos chips.

BBQ Crusted Chicken Strips

Looking for a new way to use Beanitos chips in your kitchen? This recipe for crispy crunchy chicken strips will have your kids cheering for more. Plus, it’s incredibly simple and uses just three ingredients. Using your favourite sugar-free bbq sauce and crushed Honey Chipotle BBQ Beanitos chips, these chicken fingers are the perfect combination of sweet and zesty, and make for a fast and easy meal that will always be a big hit.

Snack Healthier with Beanitos

Low carb dieters who are also fans of crunchy snacks can finally have their chips and eat them too with Beanitos. Whether you’re just looking for a small handful to crunch as a quick snack or are loading up the car with treats for a long summer road trip, Beanitos chips and snacks are a great option that helps to keep the carb counts low and the entire family happy.

Shop our entire selection of Beanitos snacks and chips here at The Low Carb Grocery.

charcoal or propane what is better

Charcoal vs. Propane, What’s Best?

BBQ Masters – Grilling with Propane or with Charcoal – Which is Better?

Summer is now in full swing, and grills around the country are fired up and furiously cooking up burgers, dogs, steaks, chicken, and more. Backyard grilling is one of the simple pleasures of life, and a favourite pastime of Canadians from coast to coast.

However, although we can all agree that barbecuing is a great way to cook, there is some debate on which type of grill is truly the best. Should you spend your cash on a propane gas barbecue, or a classic charcoal-fueled grill? While both have their advantages, each grill master will need to make their own choice based on how they prefer their grill to work and their food to taste.

In this article, we’re going to break down the essentials you need to know on how to choose between propane gas or charcoal for your backyard grill, as well as the different pros and cons of each type of grill. Let’s get right in to it!

About Propane Gas Grills

Propane grills are the most common type of barbecue that you’ll find in backyards and on patios all over Canada. They are available in all sizes, from compact gas grills that can be used for camping, up to massive 5- or 6-burner behemoths that can cook up massive amounts of food for large gatherings.

These grills use a tank of liquid propane as their fuel. The liquid propane turns to gas as it exits the tank and flows through the pipes of the grill, before being ignited as it exits the burners of the grill. Most propane grills use a battery-operated electric starter for easy one-touch ignition.

Although propane is the most common gas used for grilling, natural gas can also be used. Most modern grills can be converted to use natural gas and connect directly to the gas line of your home. This means you are always ready to grill and never run out of gas.

Why Choose a Propane Grill?

Propane gas grills have many advantages, which is why they are so common and popular. They’re easy to use and heat up quickly, which means that you can get the food cooking right away. For grill masters who want to spend more of their time cooking and less time waiting for the grill to heat up, propane is the way to go.

Grilling on a propane barbecue is quite easy, and the ability to quickly adjust the heat means that you can have plenty of control over the consistency of your cooking. You can dial the heat up or down independently for each burner, which means you can have one side hotter than the other for different foods to cook simultaneously.

Propane grills are relatively easy to clean and maintain as well. You’ll need to regularly brush the grills and clean or replace the grease drip tray, as well as inspect the gas lines and connections from time to time.

The propane used to fuel these grills is readily available, and can be obtained at most hardware stores, gas stations, and even supermarkets. When getting your tank refilled, the employee will check the date stamp on the tank and inspect it to ensure it is still safe and in proper working order. If it doesn’t meet these requirements, they will offer to replace the tank with a new one for a fee and will dispose of your old one for you. A new propane tank, which is usually sold empty and will need to be filled, runs about $50 for a standard 20lb tank.

Disadvantages of Gas Grills

Although propane gas grills are the most common and popular type of grill right now, they are not without some disadvantages. For example, while you can purchase smoker boxes for gas grills, they are generally not as efficient or effective at infusing different smoky flavours in to your food as a true smoker or charcoal grill would be.

In addition, dealing with propane tanks can be frustrating if you’re grilling a lot and need to head to the refill station often. Your average refill cost for a 20lb tank is usually around $15-$20, which can add up fast over the course of a summer.

Initial setup and building of a gas grill can take a fair amount of time as well. Although many retailers will offer to build it for you at no cost, if you take the initiative to build it yourself you can expect to spend at least a couple of hours getting everything unpacked, sorted, and assembled before you are ready to cook.

About Charcoal Grills

Many of us will undoubtedly have fond memories of summer cookouts from our childhood, where the highlight of the meal was always a burger full of rich, smoky flavour, hot off a charcoal barbecue. For a lot of grill masters, this nostalgia for simpler times and big flavours have driven their dedication to charcoal grills.

Charcoal grilling isn’t much more work than using propane, but there is definitely a technique that you’ll develop the more you do it. Getting the right timing on when to start the grill and how long to heat it up is essential, but once you do it a few times it gets easier.

Charcoal grills work by laying a layer of charcoal chunks in the base of the barbecue and igniting them. The charcoal is allowed to burn and heat up for a period of time in order to get the cooking surface up to the right temperature.

To ignite the charcoal, we recommend using a chimney starter. These special devices are specially designed to make it fast and easy to light charcoal without the need for lighter fluid, which can leave an unpleasant taste in the food. With a chimney starter you’ll never need to use lighter fluid again, so your grilling experience will be safer, and your food will taste better.

Why Choose a Charcoal Grill?

Using a charcoal barbecue will ensure that the foods you cook have a very distinctive flavour which comes from the smoke circulating around the food. This flavour can easily be changed or altered using different types of charcoal or adding special wood chips, such as Applewood or hickory.

The cost of charcoal can vary, anywhere from $5 for a small bag up to $20 for a bigger bag of premium charcoal. Lump charcoal tends to be the preferred choice for experienced grillers, while briquettes are slightly less expensive.

Maintaining a charcoal grill is quite simple, and usually just requires that you keep the grill grates clean by brushing them regularly, and that the ashes from the charcoal are removed and disposed of safely. Occasionally inspecting the whole grill is also a very good idea to check for any other wear and tear.

Disadvantages of Charcoal Grills

Although cooking with charcoal can be learned quite easily, the process of grilling with charcoal is still more complex than simply using propane. It requires more attention to the heat in the grill, as hot spots and cold spots can develop depending on the thickness and consistency of the charcoal layer. If you’re not careful and attentive, you could end up with some food over-cooked, and some food under-cooked.

In addition, while the smoky taste associated with charcoal grills is a big selling feature for many people, there are some instances where it can overpower the taste of some types of foods. Whatever goes on to a charcoal grill will inevitably come off with a smoky flavour, so it’s important to be aware of that when you’re planning your meal.

Which type of grill should you choose for your backyard?

Now, we’ve come to the big question; Which is better, charcoal or propane? To be perfectly honest, the answer is both and neither. Charcoal and propane are both great ways to grill, and each have their distinct advantages. Ultimately, the best choice for your backyard depends on your own desires and needs.

Do you want a grill that’s very easy to use, convenient & predictable when cooking? Then we’d recommend going with propane.

Do you like to experiment with different flavours and get creative with your food? You sound like a charcoal person.

After You Choose Your Grill

Once you find the type of grill that suits your personality and cooking style, we’ve got plenty of other resources that you can use to find amazing delicious low carb recipes to test out your new grill and hone your skills.

We’ve got recommendations for cool bbq gadgets, great summer grilling recipes, guides for cleaning your grill, and even ideas for making your own marinades and sauces.

Whatever type of grill you end up with, we hope that it helps bring you and your family plenty of good times and great food!

discover trail running

Start To Discover Trail Running

Get Fit this Summer with these Trail Running Tips

Running is renowned as one of the best aerobic exercises that there is, and provides many benefits including strengthening your bones and muscles, improving your cardiovascular health, and maintaining a healthy body weight. It’s something that you can do with a partner, group, or just hit the road alone for some personal solitude.

When it comes to getting outside and adding more exercise to your lifestyle, there are few things simpler than running. You just need a decent pair of shoes, some comfortable clothes, and the desire to get out and start putting some miles in.

However, running the same old routes on the same old streets can become monotonous after a while, so it’s important to change things up from time to time.

This summer you might want to give trail running a shot, it’s a better workout than running on a sidewalk or street, and it gives you completely different surroundings to enjoy – so let’s explore the basics of what trail running is all about.

What is Trail Running?

Trail running is quite simply using unpaved trails that wind through forests and up and down hills as your running track instead of sidewalks or roads. Think of it as the running equivalent of mountain biking.

Trail running is all about getting out in the natural environment and experiencing the twisty paths that lead you through beautiful scenery as you exercise.

Trail running can be done virtually anywhere, but it does require a slightly different approach than running on the roads does. Some basic familiarity with the trails is important, as there are often many side-trails that can branch off and head in different directions. Knowing your position and direction will help you avoid getting lost or turned around as you run, especially on new trails.

Aside from that, there are a few tips that we’d like to share that will get you started down the right path and help you make the most of your time on the trails.

Start with the Shoes

In any kind of running, the most important piece of equipment is a good quality pair of shoes. Trail running shoes are built a little differently than traditional road running shoes or cross-trainers in order to deal with the varied terrain and conditions that trail runners will encounter.

While all running shoes will generally feature shock absorption and lightweight materials, trail runners will have much more aggressive tread patterns on the soles to provide greater traction. They will also feature more durable materials in the uppers to better endure abrasion from rocks and other obstacles on the trails.

Getting your shoes to properly fit is essential to a good running experience, so do some online research and then go into your local sports store and have them show you the various styles that are out there.

Each manufacturer will have a slightly different shape and some will suit your feet better than others, so take the time to try on at least one from each manufacturer before you make a selection.

Your feet will thank you for the extra effort in choosing the right shoes.

Consider Taking a ‘Learn to Run’ Class

One of the biggest mistakes beginner runners make is heading out with the assumption that they already know how to run. What they may not realize is that the demands on your body that are experienced during brief runs while playing outdoor games are a lot different than those you’ll endure by heading out for a brisk 3-5k jog.

Proper stride and pacing are extremely important to make sure that you avoid injury and don’t over-exert yourself before your body is conditioned for longer runs. Just like any other exercise, it’s best to start small and easy, and then gradually work your way up to more challenging routines, and trail running is no different.

The best thing beginner runners can do to avoid these potential pitfalls when just starting out is to take a ‘learn to run’ class. Many specialty fitness stores and running shops will have organized runs for their customers and often provide instruction and tips for beginners to help them learn the proper way to run safely.

We recommend that you check out running shops in your local area and inquire about their next learn to run class. It’s a great way to learn the fundamentals quickly, as well as meet new people who could potentially become your new running friends and give you additional support and motivation to achieve your fitness goals.

Gear Up & Be Prepared

Although the essential gear for trail running is just shoes, you’ll quickly find that there are a few other items that can make the experience more comfortable and enjoyable the more you do it.

For example, while sweatpants and a t-shirt are totally fine for running, there are many types of lightweight sportswear that are better at wicking away moisture and keeping you comfortable in a range of temperatures. Most trail runners will want to invest in a good set of running clothing including shorts, shirt, leggings, and long-sleeve top so that you have different combos to choose from depending on the weather, and the type of terrain your running through

You’ll also want a good pair of light weight, sport sunglasses to help protect your eyes. Pick a pair of shades that breath well, to avoid discomfort. A runner’s pack is also helpful to store your keys, phone, and trail map and keep them organized. You can also use the pack to hold your water or sports drink to keep you hydrated, and energy bars to stay powered up. For areas that are a bit more remote and when running further away from urban centers, you may want to carry a bear whistle and some bear spray. While the chances of encountering bears are generally small, as the old saying goes, it’s better to have something and not need it than it is to need it and not have it.

Follow the Rules of the Trail

Whenever you head out on the trails, there are some habits and rules that are generally accepted as good manners and common sense that we recommend all trail runners keep in mind.

First, if possible, it’s better to try to head out with a partner or a group. Aside from the obvious motivation and companionship benefits, being with a friend or group also provides a lot more safety in the event that something goes wrong.

Be respectful of other trail users, too. You’ll be encountering cyclists, hikers, and walkers enjoying the trails too, so be sure to be aware of your surroundings at all times and don’t startle others as you pass them. This is especially true with trail users who may be walking dogs that become startled easily or aggressive to strangers. Safety first.

Keeping with the ‘safety first’ mindset, it’s also a good idea to lower the volume on your headphones if you prefer to listen to music while you run. Of course, you can safely crank up the tunes while working out in the gym, but when you’re outside it’s a good idea to keep the volume set  so you can still hear your surroundings and stay safe.

Lastly, if you pack it in, then pack it out. Any protein bar wrappers or empty bottles must be disposed of properly, which means bringing them with you until you find the appropriate bin for them. Leave only footprints!

Get Out & Get Fit

Now is the time to experience the simple pleasures of trail running, so get out your running shoes, call your friends, and head out for your next adventure! We’re sure that you’ll have a great time adding this exciting and fun activity in to your healthy living lifestyle that the whole family can enjoy. Get out there and explore!

guide to fresh seasonal fruit

Guide to Fresh Seasonal Fruits in Canada

Seasonal Fruit Guide – When to Choose the Best Fruits

When you browse the fruit section of your local supermarket or grocery store, you’ll likely see many of the same options no matter what time of year it may be. You’ll also see many fruits come and go from the aisles as the months change through the year, as local suppliers conduct their harvests over the different growing seasons.

When you’re shopping for fruit, it helps to know what times of year are best to find certain types of fruits, whether they be imported from far away or grown locally. These seasonal trends have a big impact on the freshness of the fruit that you have to choose from, as well as the different types of taste characteristics of the fruit. Knowing when the best time of year to buy fruit is will also help your fruit last longer once you get it home and ensure that it will have even better taste in your recipes.

This guide helps break down the types of fruit that are at their best at the various seasons of the year, especially when made available from local farmers. For this reason, we’ve kept our focus on the types of fruits that are generally grown across Canada.

Spring Fruits – April – June

Although spring is still very early in terms of most types of fruit harvests, especially in many parts of Canada, there are still some kinds of fruits that grow relatively quickly once the weather begins to get warm. Here are some examples of fruits that can be found to be very fresh towards the end of spring in late May and in to June in some of the most southern parts of Canada.

  • Cherries
  • Apples
  • Strawberries
  • Rhubarb

Summer Fruits – July – September

Summer, of course, is prime season for growing a wide variety of fruits. We’re sure that the selection at your grocery store of locally-harvested fruits will definitely be at its peak in the summer, and you’ll be able to find some of the best tasting fruits at local farmers markets and specialty fruit stands. Here are just a few of the delicious fresh fruits that you can expect to be at their best from Canadian farmers in the summer months.

  • Apricots
  • Blueberries
  • Grapes
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Watermelon
  • Plums
  • Nectarines

 

Autumn Fruits – October – December

Many of the fruits that come in to season in the late months of the summer continue their growing season in to the early fall as well. These tend to be the larger or heartier fruits that require more time before they are ready to harvest, as well as those fruits such as many types of berries that can be harvested more than once throughout the summer and autumn. Here are some of the most common fruits you’ll find in season during the fall.

  • Cranberries
  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Plums

Winter Fruits – January – March

While it may seem like a bit of a stretch to consider some fruits as ‘in season’ during the winter months of January, February, and March, you can still find a couple of popular Canadian-grown fruits on the supermarket shelves during this time.

  • Apples
  • Rhubarb

Additional Guides for Fruit Shoppers

There are many other resources that you can use to get even more detail on what fruits will be in season in your particular area. For example, Foodland Ontario has put together a helpful page on their website that lists the seasonality of Ontario-grown produce. The BC Association of Farmers’ Markets has a similar page on their site, listing the common availability of seasonal produce in British Columbia.

Use these resources and those from other provincial farmers organizations as a reference to get even more information on what kinds of fresh fruits and vegetables you can find in your local area.

The Best Fruits for the Low Carb Diet

Knowing the best time of year for buying fresh fruit is certainly helpful, no matter what diet you’re on. However, for low carb dieters it’s also essential to know how to pick the best fruits based on their carb counts and sugar content as well. Fortunately we’ve got a helpful guide to The Best and Worst Fruits and Vegetables that is designed to help low carb dieters make good choices when shopping in the produce aisle.

Better Fruit Means Better Taste

Once you start getting more in-tune with the seasonality of fruit in your local area, you’ll start to discover the little differences that fresh fruit can make in your meal plans and recipes. Whether you’re planning on making a delicious and healthy smoothie or are in need of some fresh berries for a decadent low carb dessert, you’re going to want the freshest fruit you can find. Things will taste better, your fruit will last longer, and you’ll be more satisfied with your shopping trips as a result.

We certainly hope that this guide to finding the best seasonal fruits has been helpful for you and wish you all the best of luck when hunting for the best fruit at your local markets!