Things are ramping up quickly for the Toronto 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games. And it’s only a few days until the Games begin! I’m excited to that some 10,000 of the best athletes from the Americas and the Caribbean compete right here in Toronto. And these Pan Am/Parapan Am Games will always be special to all of us from Toronto because it’s here in the 6. And for me, these games will always stand out even more so as I not only got to get a sneak peek of the Athletes’ Village, but I also was a torch bearer in the relay on behalf of Technogym. And, ahem, I was mistaken as a Pan Am athlete when I was at the Athletes’ Village (yes, totally bragging here).
Going to actually watch some of the Games will be so hugely inspiring, I encourage you to all try to go. Tickets start at $20 and 75 percent of tickets are priced under $45, so it’s a great opportunity to see your favourite sport live or, I also think it’s a fantastic opportunity to discover a new sport. You may just get inspired to add something new to your fitness routine!
If you’re amped up for Pan Am, surely you want to show that support! It’s high time for you to get your hands on some of the official Pan Am merchandise at the Toronto 2015 Official Store located at the north end of the Toronto Eaton Centre (on street level, near the Roots store). If you haven’t popped in yet, I can assure you there are some great exclusive products and gear. From stylish tees (this Spadina tee above is one of the top sellers) and hoodies for everyone, to practical items such as reusable water bottles (I love the cute Pictogram one!) so you can stay hydrated as you enjoy the Games, and sunglasses and caps to protect yourself from UV rays (buy them if you see a pair you like, because if you snooze you may lose — the shop was already sold out and waiting for another shipment when I popped in), useful items like this Cinch Bag (to tote your essentials like your water bottle, cell phone and snacks in as you go from one game to another) and just plain adorable items like the Pachi plush, this is where you’ll find that perfect Games item you can hold onto as a keepsake of this historic event.
I love that there’s something for whatever your budget is, whether you’re more in the market for a coffee mug or a weekender bag. You know that cheer, “We’ve got spirit, yes we do! We’ve got spirit, how about you?”? We bet with all of the great official merchandise at the store, you won’t be able to resist and there’ll be no questioning whether you’ve got Pan Am/Parapan Am spirit!
That’s not all, though. On Canada Day, the Toronto 2015 Superstore launched at Nathan Phillips Square. This store will be where you can get the nations collection so you can rep your country proudly. I’m cheering for Team Canada, of course! And besides shopping the Superstore, there are many other exciting reasons you’ll want to head to this location: the Nathan Phillips Square location is also where you can take in PANAMANIA, a mix of arts, music and cultural exhibits and performances. I’m talking about concerts from the likes of The Roots, Janelle Monae and The White Stripes. And it’s all free. Free! You can find more details about PANAMANIA here.
For more info on the Games, visit www.toronto2015.org.
July 3, 2015
A bit of tartness from the cranberry juice and the Smirnoff Grapefruit cuts the sweetness of this cocktail. A refreshing and simply recipe that I’ll be serving up this summer for sure!
Wrapped in Rubies
1.5 oz Smirnoff Grapefruit
3 oz. Cranberry juice
Build in a rocks glass over ice. Garnish with the orange wheel.
June 26, 2015
I’ve had the opportunity to go behind the scenes at a pasta factory and a cheese factor–both in Italy–an ice cream factory in Texas, and most recently, I visited Nestlé Canada’s test kitchen in Toronto, where I learned how the company is focused on improving the health of Canadians.
“In 2012 we made a commitment that by the end of 2014, if we had children’s products that no longer met, or that couldn’t be made to meet, our Nutrition Foundation criteria, which are based on guidance set out by the World Health Organization and the Institute of Medicine, we would no longer sell them,” explains Kate Cole, a Registered Dietitian and Manager, Nutrition Health & Wellness for Nestlé Canada.
This initiative has impacted 33 products–including top-sellers Smarties, Nesquik,and Nestlé Ice Creams–that needed to be reformulated, re-proportioned, or discontinued. Thirty-three products; that’s no small challenge. Take for example Smarties, which originally came in a 50 gram package containing 33 grams of sugar. To meet Nestlé’s new commitment, sugar had to be slashed to 11 grams per serving. The answer? Portion control.
“The new packaging comes with three separate portion-controlled sections that contain 15 Smarties in each with a total of 11 grams of sugar,” explains Cole. “This way kids (and moms) can enjoy in smaller amounts.” (If you’re wondering about the candy’s colouring, the company took out artificial colouring in Smarties in 2009, which is why you may have noticed the hues are more muted than before.) But what didn’t make the cut? The Smarties King Bar. Even though it made the company money, Nestlé Canada discontinued the product.
Nesquik , which comes in either a powder or a liquid formulation, was another product they had to tweak to have it meet the Nutrition Foundation criteria. While there was already an Original and a 1/3 Less Sugar version of Nesquik on the market, both needed a sugar overhaul. However, the Original powder version couldn’t be reduced in sugar without a big impact on taste. As a result, it was discontinued. Today only the 1/3 Less Sugar powder and both versions of the syrup are available. The 1/3 Less Sugar syrup has been reduced from 12 grams of sugar to 8 grams per serving, while the original syrup now meets the 11 grams per serving maximum dictated in the Nutritional Foundation criteria.
And if you’re wondering how these changes impact taste, during my visit I did a Nesquik taste test, and I could not detect a difference. Both fulfilled that chocolate-y taste I know well since it’s a product I grew up enjoying.
It’s not just food products that appeal to kids that are getting a makeover worthy of a reality-show reveal (don’t you just love TV makeovers?). “We are also reducing our sodium, sugar, and saturated fat in all of our products that don’t meet our nutrition criteria,” says Cole. In 2013 the company began reducing sodium in its frozen pizzas. To date, the company has reduced levels by 7 percent and they are on target to reach a 10 percent reduction by the end of 2016. (In a consumer comparison against its competitors, the reduced-sodium pizza offerings have continually won for taste preference.) Similar changes are being made to reduce saturated fat in Nestlé pizzas and ice cream.
The company’s plans to be a leader in health, nutrition and wellness in Canada encompasses not just food products, but also extends to Nestlé’s employees (who benefit from nutrition training and discounted fitness memberships–which I wish all companies would offer their staff; it can only benefit your company if your employees are healthy and active!). Nestle also works with their suppliers (through investment in sustainable raw materials such as cocoa), and on the environment (by reducing the company’s waste and transportation-related emissions).
“Our concept of business is to bring value absolutely and unapologetically to our shareholders, because we are here to make a profit,” says Catherine O’Brien, VP Corporate Affairs. “But at the same time we have to bring value to society. If those two things don’t go hand in hand it’s not something we are interested in pursuing.”
June 24, 2015