10 day 10-a-day challenge

I recently read a post by Kezzie in which she challenged herself to see whether she ate 10 portions of fruit and vegetables per day, based on recent news that scientists say we should actually be eating 10-a-day and not 5 as previously advised.  That post inspired me to take the challenge myself and see whether I manage 10 portions of fruit and vegetables per day (although I was already fairly sure I wasn’t even reaching the originally advised 5!).

Coincidentally, I had read the news myself a few days before seeing Kezzie’s post and, after a discussion with Jan, ended up on the NHS website reminding myself of what constitutes a portion. Prior to that, I had assumed we were at least reaching the 5 on some days thanks to the amount of beans and chickpeas we eat, so I was horrified to discover that beans and pulses are only allowed to count as one portion per day no matter how many you eat! I had already decided then that I would need to start relying less on beans, but for the purposes of this experiment I stuck with our “normal” meals to give you an accurate picture of how we eat. So now you get to see just how awful my diet actually is…

Quick note: I’m not going to get into ridiculous fractions, so where an amount was less than 1 portion but more than half I will count it as half a portion. For instance, 7 cherry tomatoes is a portion so if I only had 5 I’ll call it half a portion.

I didn’t take photos of all my meals, so the collages are just a random selection. You can try to match the photos to the meals if you like 😉
I will also apologise in advance for the quality of my photography… I’m no good at food photos! Right, without any further ado, here we go:

Day 1:

Breakfast: Greek style yoghurt with honey and walnuts -> 0 portions
Lunch: Scrambled eggs with 5 cherry tomatoes -> ½ portion
Dinner: Tuna pasta bake containing:
– chickpeas and kidney beans (only allowed to count as one portion all together. Booo!) -> 1 portion
– Courgette -> 1 portion
– Tinned tomatoes -> third of a tin, so maybe 1½ portions?

Total: 4 portions

Day 2:
(I was in the office on this day so breakfast and lunch were purchased on the way and Jan was in charge of dinner!)

Breakfast: Chocolate croissant -> 0 portions
Lunch: “Veggie” baguette with avocado and feta -> I think it was ½ an avocado, so 1 portion
Dinner: Bread with cheese and ham -> 0 portions
Snacks: Dried apples and berries -> ½ portion
2 mini cakes -> 0 portions
Capri-Sun (contains fruit juice but definitely doesn’t count!) -> 0 portions

Total: 1½ portions

Day 3:

Breakfast: Nothing (naughty!) -> 0 portions
Lunch: Leftover tuna pasta bake (see above) -> 3½ portions
Dinner: Chilli con carne made with
– Kidney beans (not allowed to count because I had beans earlier in the day) -> 0 portions
– Red pepper -> 1 portion
– Tinned tomatoes -> half a tin, 2 portions?
Served in whole wheat tortillas with cheese and iceberg lettuce -> hopefully ½ portion
Snacks: Sweet potato crisps (sweet potato counts as veg. but I hardly had any crisps) -> o portions
Orange juice (can only count once no matter how much you drink!) -> 1 portion

Total: 7 portions

Day 4:
(We had visitors this day and dinner was at a restaurant)

Breakfast: Toast with jam (fruity but doesn’t count!) -> 0 portions
Lunch: Sausage roll -> 0 portions
Carrot, orange and ginger smoothie -> 1 portion
Dinner: Pizza with courgette and aubergine -> maybe ½ a portion
Panna cotta with a few bits of fruit -> 0 portions

Total: 1½ portions

Day 5:

Breakfast: Bread rolls with jam and chocolate spread -> 0 portions
Blood orange juice -> 1 portion
Lunch: Bread roll with cheese -> 0 portions
Dinner: Roasted butternut squash risotto
– Butternut squash -> 3 portions (it was a big vegetable!)
– Leek -> possibly ½ a portion
Snacks: Magnum ice cream (and I regret nothing!) -> 0 portions
Apple with almond purĂŠe -> 1 portion

Total: 5½ portions

Day 6:

Breakfast: Toast with jam -> 0 portions
Blood orange juice -> 1 portion
Lunch: Some just-add-water couscous thing -> 0 portions
Mango -> 1½ portions (I think)
Dinner: Corned beef hash. I always make it with baked beans, and this time I added borlotti beans as well to stretch it a bit since there weren’t as many potatoes left as I thought. -> 1 portion
Snacks: Mini packet of gummi bears -> 0 portions
Chocolate chip cookie -> 0 portions

Total: 3½ portions

Day 7:

Breakfast: Porridge (apple & cinnamon flavour, but not enough apple to count!) -> 0 portions
Lunch: Lemon pepper fish with potato croquettes -> 0 portions
Dinner: Pepper stuffed with a quinoa/bulgar wheat mix and feta cheese -> 2 portions
Served with salad consisting of the remaining feta cheese plus:
Lamb’s lettuce -> ½ portion
Apple -> ½ portion
Avocado -> 1 portion

Total: 4 portions

Day 8:

Breakfast: Nothing -> 0 portions
Lunch: Leftover stuffed pepper -> 2 portions
Orange juice -> 1 portion
Dinner: Sausage casserole containing:
Cannellini beans -> 1 portion
Carrots -> 1 portion
Tinned tomatoes -> 2 portions?
Served with sweet potato mash (counts as veg. Yay!) -> 2 portions
Snack: Chocolate brownie (and now you also know why I’m failing to lose weight…) -> 0 portions

Total: 9 portions

Day 9:

Breakfast: Chia & cashew muesli bar (contains raisins, but not enough) -> 0 portions
Lunch: Lemon pepper fish (yes, again!) -> 0 portions
Crackers with hummus -> 1 portion
Dinner: Chicken enchiladas made with;
Kidney beans (don’t count because of hummus for lunch) -> 0 portions
Courgette -> ½ portion
Tinned tomatoes -> 1 portion

Total: 2½ portions

Day 10:

Breakfast: Crackers (what? It’s a perfectly good breakfast 😉 ) -> 0 portions
Lunch: Orange juice -> 1 portion
Leftover enchiladas. I had half the amount I’d eaten the night before but I then had the other half for dinner since Jan didn’t eat his before he left for the weekend soooo….
Dinner: Leftover enchiladas. Dinner + lunch enchiladas combined -> 2½ portions
I ate my dinner enchilada with an avocado -> 2 portions
Snacks: An apple with almond purĂŠe -> 1 portion

Total: 6½ portions

So, what have I learned? Well, nothing that I didn’t already suspect: most of the time I fail to get up to 5 portions, never mind 10! I actually managed 5 portions 4 times (less than half the days *sigh), and all of those days were actually over the 5 (although once it was only over by half a portion!). I came closest to 10 portions on day 8 – should have replaced that brownie with an apple 😉

In the interests of full disclosure, I should tell you that I drank more juice this week than I usually would because I bought for breakfast when we had guests and I needed to get it used up, so apart from on day 3 (when I had a small carton) every day that I had juice I would normally have had one portion less. Usually I tend to shy away from juice because I feel calories that are used for drinks are wasted calories (mostly I drink water and tea – the tiny bit of milk in tea doesn’t make much difference to my calories). Juice is an easy way to get an additional portion though, so maybe I should consider drinking juice every day and getting extra exercise to make up for it? I do sometimes drink smoothies

So, what can I do to improve my fruit and veg intake? Well, apart from consistently drinking a glass of juice, I need to replace some of my pulses with other vegetables since I now know hardly any of them are allowed to count. There goes my lazy tuna pasta bake that doesn’t require me to chop any vegetables *sigh*. I could also replace most of my snacks with fruit – in February I ate an apple with almond paste most days, and that’s something I should probably try to get back into. An apple a day and replacing half the beans in meal with another vegetable would add two an extra portions and hopefully push those days that I do exceptionally badly at least up to the 5 mark! Finally, during these 10 days I ate leftovers for lunch three times (because Jan had forgotten to take them to work with him – which is why I ended up being left with 2 day old tuna pasta bake!). So another idea would be to make enough dinner for both of us to have some the next day and have leftovers for lunch more often instead of shoving some fish in the oven or eating a convenience meal containing few or no vegetables.

Do you eat 10 portions of vegetables a day? Would you be willing to take this challenge?

Check out Kezzie’s post for an example of someone doing a much better job at healthy eating 😉
And if you’ve actually read all this please feel free to award yourself a virtual gold star!

Friday letters

Good morning! I am sooo pleased it’s nearly the weekend. This week has gone both really fast and really slow… I was surprised when it was Wednesday already, but then Wednesday and Thursday felt like they lasted at least 2 days each! Jan has choir stuff tonight and tomorrow, so I plan to use the time to relax and sleeeeeep! But right now I shall give you my Friday letters.

Postkasten

Dear Britain. I still can’t believe you actually went through with the “Brexit” thing. Even though we have two years, I’m already in mourning for my freedom of movement in Europe and a home country that didn’t hate foreigners. R.I.P GREAT Britain… there’s nothing “great” about isolationism and xenophobia 😦

Dear hair. I will never understand how you can be fine with a shampoo for weeks and then suddenly decide to become immune to it or something and feel sticky/greasy while I am washing you. I can’t keep switching shampoos halfway through a bottle so please sort yourself out!

Dear self. If you stay up two hours past the time you were planning to go to sleep because you can’t put a book down  you then forfeit your right to complain you’re tired the next day. You can be well rested or well read, not both!

Dear trees. You are looking very pretty right now all dressed in your spring colours. (Well, most of you… some are still looking a bit bare!).

Dear sparrows. You are cute and always a welcome visitor to the balcony but how can something so small be so loud?! I would very much appreciate it if you wouldn’t sit out the bedroom side of the building chirping on and on and on for half an hour at half five in the morning!

I can’t think of anything else. have a great Friday and an even better weekend everyone!

Book challenge by Erin: bonus round complete

Yes, believe it or not I have actually finished my reading for the bonus round of Erin‘s book challenge! I thought I was going to finish sooner, but I had overlooked the rule that 5 of the bonus round picks have to have previously been chosen by somebody else doing the challenge, so I had to go back and change some categories that I had already finished (and then read the replacement books, of course). But last night I really, truly did read my final book! So here goes my final check in:

bonus books

10 points: Freebie – Read a book that is at least 200 pages.

I am changing this from American Psycho (see my review of that in last month’s check in post) to The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin (306 pages; previously chosen). I absolutely adored this book! First, it’s about books and people who love books. It made me want to live above a book shop! It made me want to go and say hello to my books. But more than that, it is so heart-warming! There are sad moments, but overall it’s just a lovely, lovely book. I finished it with a huge smile on my face, which sounds cheesy, but it’s true! 5 stars. Recommended for everyone who considers books friends.

15 points: Read a book that starts with the letter “W”.

I am changing this one from Where She Went (again, my review is in last month’s post) to Wonder by R. J. Palacio (315 pages; previously chosen). Another heart-warming book that I absolutely loved! I’ve owned it since some time last year and now I’m wondering why I didn’t get round to it sooner (I suspect I prioritised reading for a previous challenge and then forgot I had this one). I loved Auggie and Summer and Via, and the book made me wish more people would “choose kindness” in real life. 5 stars.

15 points: Read a book with six words in the title.

All the Truth That’s In Me by Julie Berry (274 pages, 4 stars; previously chosen). This is a really hard book to review! I was confused by the setting – was it about a cult or was it set in an older time when extreme obedience to religion was just “normal”? There was no hint of anyone outside the community having more advanced technology, so maybe it wasn’t a cult but just set in the 16th century or something? Anyway, I enjoyed it a lot more than The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place by the same author. 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 on Goodreads.

25 points: Read a book with a homonym in the title.

Another change! I’m dropping The Handmaid’s Tale (review in last check in post) and moving Where She Went to this category (homonym = where/wear. Previously chosen, etc.). I reviewed it last time, so moving on…

30 points: (Submitted by Christina) Read a book set in the city/town/state/territory/county/province where you live.

Please nobody ever pick this category again! There are no books set in Basel! I ended up reading Banner in the Sky by James Ramsey Ullman (288 pages), which is set in a fictional Swiss village but mentions real places as well. It is incredibly cheesy, constantly going on about “destiny” and how climbing was “in (main character’s) blood”. He is compelled to leave work and go climb a mountain, nothing to do with him! However, it does get suspenseful towards the end and I think 11-12 year old boys who are into realistic adventure stories would like it. Personally I gave it 2 stars.

35 points: (Submitted by Peggy) Read a “Rory Gilmore” book.

In my preliminary list, I gave myself two choices, but I ended up reading neither of those. When The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgarov arrived and I read the synopsis I just had to read it straight away! Previously all I knew about it was that it somehow satirised the Soviet Union and was set in Russia and Jerusalem. Oh, and it was surprising that it made it through the sensors to be published. I wish somebody had told me sooner that it was about witches and vampires and the devil running amok in Moscow! It was completely and utterly bizarre and way more readable than I was expecting. I loved most of the Moscow parts and was bored by some of the Jerusalem parts. And I didn’t recognise most of the subtext until I read the notes at the end (clearly they were too subtle for me!). 4 stars.

35 points: (Submitted by Stef) Read a book from a genre that you’ve never read (or rarely read).

Since Erin is the most accommodating host ever, I was allowed to count plays as a genre and read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child for this (343 pages; previously chosen). Considering the last time I read a play was for my German Culture course at university it’s safe to say I rarely read this genre! And now I remember why… I don’t see the point in reading plays, unless you’re planning to act in them. Most plays work better on stage – the thing they’re intended for! And this one was no exception. While it was kind of nice to revisit the Harry Potter world and see how the author imagined their lives to have turned out, I honestly thought this addition was unnecessary. It was really a book about family issues, and the rest of the plot felt kind of contrived. That said, I bet it would be amazing to watch on stage if only for the scenery and special effects! As a book, I gave it 2 stars. Now can we please let Harry Potter rest and move on to other books?

40 points: (Submitted by Ferne) Read a book with time travel.

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North (405 pages; previously chosen). This book took me longer to read than I was expecting. It was good, but not so gripping that I couldn’t put it down and go to sleep. Parts of it were slow, but towards the end it picked up and then I did want to finish it in one sitting. Overall I thought it was an interesting take on the idea of “time travel” (of a sort) and reincarnation. Thought-provoking. 4 stars.

And that, as they say, is that! Phew. I read a few good books this time. None that I wouldn’t have picked up anyway at some point (if only because they’re on the BBC Big Read list!), but I did get round to a couple that have been on my list for a while. And now I have two months to read whatever I want before the next challenge starts in June.

Have I inspired you to read any of these books? Or, if you already have, did you agree with my opinions?

Guess the Cross Stitch Volume 5 – Reveal

Wow, the picture I gave you for the last round must have been too easy. Only three rounds for you to correctly guess what I was stitching!

Before I show you the final, finished image let’s have a look at your guesses from round 3. Here’s what you had to work with:

guess-the-cross-stitch

Erin guessed a dinosaur holding a balloon.

Elaine said “I think I might stick with my previous guess of the balloon being held by something, but will refine it to say it’s a teddy bear. Although there is the suggestion of a tail, so maybe it’s a puppy.”

Holly guessed a blue teddy holding a balloon.

Continuing the theme, Alison guessed a gingham bear holding a balloon.

And finally, both Sarah and Kezzie guessed a boy holding a balloon (Kezzie’s boy had his leg in the air).

And now, I can reveal, this:

teddy cross stitch

Congratulations Elaine, Holly and Alison!

And here’s the final completed card:

teddy card

To be honest it looked better before I added the writing. I suck at nice writing! *Sigh*

Thanks for playing along, everyone 🙂

Friday letters

Wow… is it really Friday again? This week seems to have gone incredibly fast – although, bizarrely, March seems to be taking longer than January and February did. Not sure what that’s all about… I have also been a bit absent from the blogosphere this week because work has been CRAZY, so apologies for only getting round to responding to your comments today! Anyway… let’s do some letters…

letters

Dear mam. In case you’re reading… Happy Mother’s Day for Sunday!

Dear spell checker. Mam is a word, you silly thing!

Dear sleep. I haven’t had much of you this week and I miss you! I hope I can catch up with you next week (the weekend is going to be busy. *Sigh*).

Dear London. Such awful news coming from my home country this week. You are in my thoughts – we will never let terrorism win!

Dear daffodils. I’m so happy to see you all whenever I leave the house. You’re such happy looking flowers!

Dear office. I promise one day it will be your turn to get new furniture so I don’t have to close your door to hide the mess every time visitors come!

Dear boxes. How is it I have so many of you yet when it comes to sending something none of you are the right size?!

Right, that’s it for today. Happy weekend everyone!

Chienbäse – the Liestal fire parade

This year Fasnacht, or carnival, took place in Basel from 6-8 March. But before that, Liestal (the capital of Basel-Landschaft) kicked things off with their own event on the Sunday night – the Chienbäse. Bäse is Swiss German for Besen, meaning broom and the Chien part is apparently to do with the type of wood they use  – I’ve just looked it up and Chienholz is pinewood. So it basically means “Pinewood brooms”. What the name doesn’t tell you is that said brooms are set on fire and then paraded around the town of Liestal, which is mostly made up of wooden buildings! They even go through a wooden gate/archway, which the fire brigade sprays with water in between each group. Crazy!

There were extra trains from Basel that evening, so we set off on the 6:15 p.m. train along with a friend who moved to Basel in December and some other people we’ve got to know here. Liestal was already pretty crowded when we arrived, but we managed to find a nice spot before the aforementioned wooden gate. Most people wanted to be in the town proper, after the gate, but I actually preferred being somewhere where I could run away if anything went wrong! I’m not sure I would have liked being stuck in the narrow old-town streets…

We waited for what seemed like forever, then some musicians and a few “normal” Fasnacht floats went by. This was followed by another period of waiting and waiting and waiting, then we finally spotted flames coming down hill!

The broom carriers approached the gate and began to go through:

Even in the fourth row, the heat was intense. I can’t even imagine how the people actually carrying the fire must have felt!

More and more groups of broom carriers passed by where we were standing:

We spied some sausages attached to one of the “brooms” (really more like bundles of wood in a rough broomish shape):

I wonder if they ate them afterwards?

After a few groups of people carrying brooms, entire floats or carts of wood started to go by. The flames were pretty high and we wondered how they were ever going to get through the archway!

Once the parade was over, we lost half our group! The rest of us went looking for a Fasnacht cellar to go into (where the groups hold their meetings), but the only one we found was full so we had a beer at a restaurant then wandered around for a while before taking a train back to Basel. There, three of us went for a coffee while the other two went home, then Jan, our friend and I met up with our Finnish friend again and the four of proceeded to stay up all night waiting for Morgestraich… but that’s another story for another time.

The Chienbäse is a totally crazy event… not at all what I would expect from the Swiss, with their reputation of being sensible! There aren’t even any barriers between the crowd and the flames, and although the fire brigade is there to tell people to get back, the front row is much closer to the action than I expect would be allowed in England! If you’re not afraid of fire and you find yourself near Basel around Fasnacht I can definitely recommend going. Wear something non-flammable that you don’t mind getting smoked (you will stink of bonfire afterwards!), avoid taking very young children and have fun!

Some information for anyone who may want to go in the future: Fasnacht in Basel takes place on the Monday-Wednesday of the week after everywhere else has its Shrove Tuesday (Pancake Day)/Mardis Gras/Fat Tuesday/Fasching/Carnival (there are various possible explanations for this that I won’t go into right now), and the Chienbäse is on the Sunday night before the Monday of Fasnacht. The date for Chienbäse in 2018 is 18 February and in 2019 it’s on 10 March.

What do you think? Would you like to go to a fire parade?

 

A Photo An Hour: 18 March 2017

I almost missed the photo an hour link up this month! Luckily I went on Twitter and saw that Sharon was doing it. As a result, my first photo was not taken when I got up, but half an hour later… and I ended up doing photos on the half hour instead of the hour. I took part on Twitter this time, but I also wanted to record it on my blog.

Jan had to go into work for a special project/organisation meeting thing, so I was alone all day! Here’s what I got up to:

10:30 a.m. Starting late means my first photo is not tea! Shower time.

11:30 a.m. It looks grey and miserable outside, but I need to go to the post office and food shopping, so out I go.

12:30 p.m. Shopping done, heading home through the park. But where are all the children? It might have been grey, but it wasn’t raining or all that cold! DO people here take the midday quiet time that seriously?

1:30 p.m. Aaah, there’s the tea that no photo an hour would be complete without! (Well, a cup that once contained tea anyway.) Lunch done, cuppa drank. Now what?

2:30 p.m. Thought I’d better actually do a bit of my OU course while I didn’t have any other commitments. Discovering Wales and Welsh for those that were interested. It’s a not for credit short course that you have 6 months to complete. I want to do a proper Level 1 course, but the Europe price is way too expensive!

3:30 p.m. Enough studying for a Saturday! Another cuppa while I leaf through cross stitch magazines for card inspiration.

4:30 p.m. Suppose I’d better do something useful! Emptying the dishwasher.

5:30 p.m. Writing to a pen pal. Spring paper seemed appropriate 🙂

6:30 p.m. Watching Come Dine With Me – my guilty pleasure TV show. It’s total trash, but I love it. The narrator makes it for me!

7:30 p.m. Another episode of Come Dine With Me. (And an awful picture! I forgot to take one with my camera and the computer refuses to acknowledge my phone so I had to re-download this one from Twitter!)

8:30 p.m. I had been waiting for Jan to let me know whether he wanted tea, but he apparently got stuck talking and forgot to message me. By 8:30 I was starving so I decided to just cook anyway!

9:30 p.m. Pyjamas time! Also note the confetti that is somehow still in my flat even though I’ve hoovered several times since Fasnacht!

10:30 p.m. In bed with a book. Once I’ve read this I’ll have completed the bonus round for Erin‘s reading challenge!

11:30 p.m. I’m off to sleep! There’s just time for one more photo of the view from my bed… purely to preserve symmetry, obviously 😉

And that’s it for this month. How was your Saturday? Did you do anything interesting?

Linking up with Jane and Louisa, as always.