Archive for the ‘Food for thought’ category

Why size matters

January 24th, 2010

It’s not just what you eat that counts on the road to losing weight,it’s about how much you eat too.How does your sense of portion control measure up?

What do you think a portion size of say,breakfast cereal or meat should be? I hope you’re sitting down because it will probably be a shock.I know it is to me every time i see the particular truth in black and white!

According to healthy eating guidelines,a serving of breakfast cereal should be one ounce and a serving of meat should be two to three ounces.Cereal belongs to the food group of which we can have 6-11 servings a day,but it could be very easy to eat and nuts,should be contributing 2-3 servings a day to our diet.Again,it’s astonishing how quickly that can add up.

Here’s a checklist of the sorts of foods we should be eating for healthybalance of nutrients.It gives a range for the number of daily serving (e.g. 6-11 servings).The upper end of range really intended only for a very active man;most of us,especially sedentary women,should took to the lower end.There are also a few handy little visual ideas of what that amount looks like.It helps to get good at estimating these by eye because you can’t carry around a set of scales everywhere you go.Well,you could,but it would look a little obsessive.

Bread,cereal,rice and pasta - 6-11 servings

A serving is :

1 slice of bread (the size of an audio cassette tape)

1 small bread roll

2 heaped tablespoons of boiled rice

3 heaped tablespoons of boiled pasta

2 crispbreads

2 egg-sized potatoes

3 tablespoons of dry porridge oats

Fruit and vegetables - 2-4 servings of the former,3-5 servings of the latter

This is based on US recommendations.In the UK,the suggested amount of fruit and vegetables is ‘at least 5′ a day.

A serving is :

2-3 small pieces of fruit,such as plums

1 heaped tablespoon of dried fruit such as raisins

1 medium-sized piece of fresh fruit suchas half of a grapefruit or a melon

1 side salad,the size of a cereal bowl

3 heaped tablespoons of cooked vegetables such as carrots

Meat,fish,eggs,nuts,dry beans - 2-3 servings a day

A serving is :

60-90 g (2-3 ounces) of cooked lean meat,poultry or fish.This the size of a deck cards or the palm of your hand.

150 g (5 ounces) of white fish (or three fish fingers)

120 g(4 ounces) of soya,tofu or quorn

5 tablespoons of baked beans

2 tablespoons of nuts and nut products

Milk,yoghurt and cheese - 2-3 servings a day

A serving is :

200 ml milk

1 small pot of yoghurt

90 g (3 ounces) of cottage cheese

30 g (1 ounce) of cheddar or other hard cheese.This is roughly the size of matchbox.

Microwaving vegetable

September 12th, 2009

Cooking using microwave not only is the easiest cooking method known to mankind but, a new study in the Journal of Food Science is anything to go by, it’s also the best way to cook vegies.

Researchers analysed six cooking methods – boiling, grilling, pressure cooking, baking, microwaving and frying. They found that microwaving vegetables helped maintain the highest level of beneficial antioxidants, which help prevent cancer and other diseases. Pressure cooking and boiling led to the greatest losses.

In short, water is not the cook’s best friend when it comes to preparing vegetables.

Yum yum?! Eeww!

Cat getting roasted

In a chocolate mood

July 14th, 2009


Chocolate is renowned for its feel-good factor. Most of us love chocolate for the smooth, creamy texture and treat it as an indulgence, but there’s some debate about whether chocolate really is the best food to improve your mood.

Chocolate has been popularly claimed to act like a stimulant, relaxant, euphoriant, tonic and anti-depressant. Although chocolate contains some active chemicals which work on the same neurological system as serotonin, these are present in low levels.

One researcher has commented that you would have to eat truckloads of chocolate to experience the equivalent effects of one anti-depressant tablet. There is also the theory that chocolate has the ability to evoke the pleasure principle. When we eat delicious foods, we experience a rise in endorphins and a temporary mood boost. So, when we have a chocolate craving, it could be a response to our body crying out for more of that feel-good food.

However, interesting new research shows that a person’s feeling about a food have the greatest effect on the emotional changes they experince after eating that food. Comfort-eaters, who look to chocolate to alleviate stress, boredom or depression, are likely to experience a temporary elevation in their mood, but this is quickly followed by intense feelings of guilt and a worsening of the earlier negative state.

Yet people who have a little choccy for pleasure are more likely to experience joy and ride the wave of the positive mood effect. Quantity appears to play a big role here. A little chocolate seems to be a good pick-me-up, but the whole block is less likely to leave you joyful.