I wanted to see if I could manage to eat 10 portions of vegetables today. I thought it might be a good idea to look up exactly what a portion of vegetables is so I turned to the NHS site. I was surprised by some of the portion sizes. For example you would need to eat 2 kiwi fruits or 2 satsumas to count as one portion. I suspect many people who even think about such things would consider one piece of fruit is a portion.
I was more interested in vegetables though because I try to eat vegetables and a minimal amount of fruit. The rule is that one portion is 80g. So in terms of quantity on the plate, it varies a lot. If you eat celery you need 3 stalks which seems quite a lot but if you eat broccoli you only need 2 florets which doesn’t seem that much.
I completely disagree with the inclusion of dried fruits and canned fruits. How can you say a portion of dried raisins, which are full of sugar and low in vitamins, is a portion of fruit/veg yet discount potatoes which I think are healthier. I would accept excluding both but not including dried fruits. I also don’t understand why a sweet potato counts but a white one doesn’t. I was disappointed they do not include sprouted beans which are very valuable nutritionally.
Anyway, the NHS site has some useful photos and examples of portion sizes to make working it out more practical. For example for spinach you can measure it by a ‘cereal bowl’ which is not an accurate measure but gives a good indication. 1 cereal bowl full of raw spinach counts as one portion.
I began the day with a large bowl of egg fried rice with lots of veggies. I just had one egg and 2 heaped tbsp cooked rice. The main food type in this bowl was vegetables plus tomatoes (for the pedantic who may point out that they are a fruit).
Spinach – 2 (2 cereal bowl fulls)
Tomatoes – 1 1/2 (3 small – medium sized)
Onion – 1 (1 medium)
Cavolo Nero – 1 (4 heaped tbsp cooked kale)
Mung bean sprouts – 1 (however many I eat, it can only count as one portion)
So my egg fried rice with lots of vegetables got me off to a very good start of 6 and a half. I am quite shocked actually to think most people wouldn’t eat this many vegetables over a whole day ! For lunch I made a favourite of mine and Lara’s – Cheesey Veg. To make this I steam the vegetables for about 10 minutes, place them all in a large ovenproof dish and pour over a white sauce. I make the sauce with half milk and half the vegetable water to cut down the fat/calories and make the most of any vitamins in the water. I grated some Gruyere over the top and popped it in the oven for half an hour. It would have been even nicer to grill it so the cheese is browned but I didn’t have time. This huge dish made 6 portions and I used the following vegetables; 2 very large carrots, a bag of green beans, a head of broccoli, 6 cavolo nero leaves, about 10 new potatoes, 1 butternut squash and 4 leeks. It was delicious. I haven’t made this for quite a while as I try to cut down on the Dairy I eat, especially cheese as I love it so much. I have been really good with cheese this year and enjoyed indulging myself today.
Estimating how many portions of veg I ate in a dish like this is really hard.
Butternut squash – 1/2 (1 portion is 3 heaped tbsp)
Carrots – 1/2 (1 portion is 3 heaped tbsp)
Broccoli – 2 (4 florets)
French beans – 0 (you can only count one portion of beans a day and the sprouts I had this morning are my portion – this seems wrong to me. Surely there are far more vitamins and minerals in a fresh French bean than a dehydrated kidney bean?)
Cavolo Nero – 1/4 (1 portion is 4 heaped tbsp)
Leeks – 1/2 (1 portion is 1 leek)
New potatoes – 0 (potatoes don’t count)
The total for this meal was only 3 3/4 points despite it being a bowl full of vegetables. To count for points, according to the NHS, it varies a lot depending on which vegetables you eat but I do not agree all their points. I come back to dried fruit again. How can I include a portion of super sugary dried raisins but not be allowed my French Beans? I think I will do this exercise again and try another country’s allowance such as Australia. Their Government recommendation is 2 x fruit and 5 x vegetable a day so I will try theirs to see how it compares.
So I just made my daily target of 10. Dinner doesn’t count towards my vegetable count as we had a curry. I don’t think the onions in a Bhaji count.
I did manage a walk today too but it was rather stressful as sadly our yellow dog collapsed while we were out. I was walking in the woods over the road with Judy and for the first time I can remember, without my phone. Dylan came and stood with us, his legs went shaky and gradually got worse and then he collapsed. Judy was a treasure and ran home and then back with a wheelbarow so I could get him home. He did actually get up and managed to walk home and now seems fine but we are keeping a close eye on him. I was relieved Harvey wasn’t with us as he would have been very upset – he loves the dogs far more than the rest of us.
Happier animal news was that we found William today, our tortoise who hibernates himself every year. We are never sure if he will wake up again and we are never sure where he goes to either so it is always a happy day to find him again.