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 purée -> 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 purée -> 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!

Avocado and Sheep’s Cheese dip/spread

Good morning! I hope those of you who celebrate Valentine’s day had a good one? We don’t really bother with it (except that one time Jan felt bad about ignoring our anniversary and got me flowers. This year I got chocolates for our anniversary, so not Valentine’s gift ;-)) so it was just a normal day. We both worked, then I did laundry and cooked. Jan came home at around 7:30, I ate at around 8 (he faffed around on the laptop doing work stuff and only ate the food I had placed in front of him half an hour later! Standard.) then we played Scrabble, in English, and I lost both times. How is he better at my native language than I am?! I had almost all vowels for most of the second game so I’m claiming that as my excuse! I did give him a chocolate heart in the morning and he shared it with me after dinner, but that was the extent of our “celebrating”.
Anywaaaay… you didn’t come him for an entirely uninteresting account of a random Tuesday in my life! Today I wanted to share a recipe with you, although it has so few ingredients/steps that calling it a “recipe” almost feels like an exaggeration… Remember that time I made pancakes with avocado and goat’s cheese spread? Welll, I liked the spread so much that I decided to make it again, only this time use it as a dip. And with sheep’s cheese, because that’s what I had. If you like avocado, goat’s/sheep’s cheese and garlic, you will love this. If you don’t like one or more ingredients or you’re vegan, I apologise. Come back another day for a post that might interest you.

dip

Above you see an awful photo of dip. Apologies! There’s a reason I’m not a food blogger. Anywaaaay…

You will need:
1 avocado
1 pack of sheep’s (or goat’s cheese) – give or take
1 clove of garlic
Seasoning of your choice (salt, pepper, etc.)

Take all your ingredients (except the seasoning), place them in a container and mash them all together with a fork until mostly smooth. Season to taste – I used a little bit of salt, a LOT of black pepper and a pinch of cayenne pepper.

Serve with raw vegetables for dipping, or spread on pancakes (or crackers… or toast). Or just eat it with a spoon if you feel that way inclined 😉

We had it alongside bell peppers stuffed with bulgur wheat (part of the sheep’s cheese went in the bulgur mixture, but if I wasn’t using the cheese for other things I would have put the whole block in the dip).

dippepper

Et voilà – world’s easiest recipe showcased in world’s worst photo (seriously guys… how do you all photograph food so well?!)

Ludwigsburg Pumpkin Festival 2016

Ludwigsburg Kürbisfest 2016

Wow, I have actually reached October in my travel posts, which means I’m almost caught up with #Take12Trips, Take 2.

This year, we went to the pumpkin festival in Ludwigsburg again. A Finnish friend we have made in Basel (who from now on shall be referred to as The Finn) plus two friends from Karlsruhe also joined us.

As you may have guessed from the picture above, the theme this year was “circus”, or rather “The Pumpkin Circus is Coming to Town”. Apparently, that was mostly interpreted as clowns (if you don’t like clowns you may want to look away now…)

Even those who don’t mind clowns have to admit the last one is creepy. A clown throwing knives? Who came up with that?

There were a few other things as well:

This little group is called the Hubbard Family (because they’re carved using hubbard pumpkins). Personally I like to think of them as the Dumpty family because they remind me of Humpty Dumpty ! (I know he’s usually pictured as an egg and was actually probably a cannon). They’re the work of American artist Ray Villafane and the Hubbard family was featured in Ludwigsburg for the 4th time in a row in 2016 (although I don’t remember seeing them last year).

Here are some more photos from around the festival:

This year I ate pumpkin Maultaschen in pumpkin soup, orange and hokkaido ice cream and pumpkin strudel. All were delicious!

While wandering around, we spotted a bird. A survey of my Facebook friends came to the conclusion that it’s a common buzzard:

Once we’d seen everything at the actual festival, we had a wander round the fairytale garden then went looking for the aviary. There weren’t many birds around – I’m sure there were more when I went there before? It was raining on and off all day though, so maybe they were all hiding somewhere dry?

Of course, before heading home we hit the shop and bought a few pumpkin varieties that aren’t available in supermarkets plus some pumpkin seed pesto.

Despite the rain, it was a fun day out (although I thought last year’s “flight” theme had some more interesting interpretations for the sculptures!).

The festival has finished for this year since I’ve taken so long to write my post, but if you’re in the Stuttgart area definitely look out for it next September/October. This year’s festival took place from 2 September-6 November and next year’s will probably be roughly the same.

This was my October trip for Take 12 Trips 2016.

Photo an hour: 19 November 2016

A slightly abbreviated photo an hour this time as I only took photos until 5 p.m.! We were at Jan’s mum’s birthday celebration for most of the day so at least there was something to photograph…

9 a.m. Reading while I wait for the shower to be free.

10 a.m. Getting ready to go. Do I have everything I need?

11 a.m. In the car. Snapshot of the view while moving.

12 noon. Almost time for the buffet. We were sitting in front of dessert so I took a photo of it.

Bonus noon photo! Inserting this to preserve symmetry later. My plate of food.

1 p.m. After the food, they brought out coffee.

2 p.m. The celebration took place in the cafeteria at Jan’s mum’s workplace, and after brunch we were given a tour. The photo was taken froom the roof terrace – pretty autumn colours!

3 p.m. When we got back to the cafeteria, cakes had appeared.

4 p.m. It took me another hour to actually fetch myself a piece of cake.

5 p.m. Admiring the table of gifts.

We arrived back at Jan’s dad’s house (where we were staying) at 5:55 p.m. so my 6 p.m. photo should have been taken there, but it felt weird taking random photos of somebody else’s house so 5 p.m. ended up being my last photo. The rest of the evening was spent watching Jan sort something out on his dad’s partner’s computer, eating more food (buffet leftovers that we had taken along) and drinking a beer.

How was your Saturday?

GBBO Bake Along: meatball toad-in-the-hole

toad-veg-gravyIf I was taking part in the actual Great British Bake Off, I would probably be disqualified for this contribution. Not following the rules at all, but meh… whatever. This week in bake off bake along, it’s batter week. My choices were supposed to be to make a batch of perfectly even Yorkshire puddings with a savoury filling, lace pancakes or churros. I don’t have any means of deep-fat frying, so initially I turned my attention to pancakes. Mine would have been filled with mince though instead of being lacy and intricate. Then I started thinking about Yorkshire puddings… from where my mind wandered to the fact that it’s been ages since we last had toad-in-the-hole. It’s basically a giant filled Yorkshire pudding, so it totally counts, right? We didn’t actually have any sausages, though… but we did have mince. Which lead me to the idea of experimenting with meatballs instead of sausages. And so meatball toad-in-the-hole was born.

I’ve had my toad-in-the-hole recipe for so long that I don’t even know who it belonged to originally, so apologies if I stole it from you! It’s pretty generic though so probably not really subject to copyright…

Ingredients

For the batter:
115g/4oz plain flour
Pinch of salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 large eggs
300ml/½ pint of milk

For the meatballs:
350g mince
1 clove garlic
Herbs (I used dried parsley and fresh rosemary)
Chilli flakes
Cayenne pepper
Salt & black pepper, to taste

You will also need some oil or fat for frying the meatballs and for the oven-proof dish. I used olive oil for the former and sunflower oil for the latter.

Start by making the batter.

  1. Sift the flour, salt and pepper into a large bowl.
  2. Make a well in the centre of the flour and crack in the eggs. Use a wooden spoon to gradually beat the eggs into the flour then beat in the milk a little at a time until the batter is the consistency of double cream.
  3. Strain and push the dough through a sieve to remove any remaining lumps then cover and leave to stand for around 30 minutes.

While the batter is standing, pre-heat your oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas mark 6, then make the meatballs.

mince

  1. Start by placing your mince, herbs, garlic and seasoning in a bowls, as shown above. I used mixed pork and beef mince (the standard here), but you can choose your favourite. Mash all the ingredients together really well – you want garlic and herbs to be in all the meatballs!
  2. Using your hands, form the meatballs into roughly evenly sized balls. Squeeze out as much of the liquid as you can in the process (yes, part of the liquid will be blood. Sorry!). As you can see below, I got 12 out of mine.
    meatballs1
  3. Fry the balls lightly in oil for a few minutes. You don’t need to fully cook them through at this point (they will be in the oven for a while), but brown the edges enough to stop them falling apart. Or you could make proper meatballs with egg and breadcrumbs to hold them together. Meanwhile, put some fat or oil into an oven-proof dish and place it in the oven to heat for 5 minutes.
    meatballs2
  4. Remove the dish from the oven, place the meatballs into the hot dish, pour in the batter and then immediately return the dish to the oven and cook for 35-40 minutes until well-risen and golden brown. Whatever you do, do not open the oven before 35 minutes is up, otherwise your batter will deflate like a punctured bouncy castle, and there’s nothing sadder than that!
  5. Serve with vegetables of your choice (in our case aubergine fried in the leftover oil from the meatballs, but you may want to go with something healthier!) and, of course, gravy. For more people you could also add mashed or roast potatoes or more veg. This served 2 of us, but with added potatoes it will stretch to 4-6 people.

toad-hole

Jan asked me, since the meatballs were clearly not toad, what exactly is in the hole. Since they are round(ish), I thought maybe frog spawn.  What do you think… will frog spawn in the hole catch on?

See more batter week contributions here.

25 Food Questions Tag

I totally stole this tag from Kerri because I’m just too tiiiired to do another travel post right now. All that sorting of photos – ugh! Food, on the other hand, I can do. Here goes:

1. What’s your favourite breakfast?

A full English or Irish breakfast, obviously. Not that I would want to eat that every day, but as a special treat, mmmm! Failing that a bacon sarnie with proper English bacon.

Full Irish breakfast
Full Irish breakfast

2. How do you drink your coffee?

With all the milk. If I can’t have one that’s more milk than coffee I need to add all the sugar. I also like horribly sweet concoctions à la Starbucks except not actually Starbucks because I don’t go there.

3. What’s on your favourite sandwich?

Don’t you mean in? No open-topped sarnies over here please! Feta, avocado and rocket please! Or bacon with brown sauce.

4. Soup or Salad?

Well it clearly depends on the weather, doesn’t it? Soup if it’s cold, salad when it’s too hot to cook (or I’m too lazy).

soup

5. What’s your favourite cookbook?

I have one called Healthy Eats that’s pretty good, but realistically all my recipes come from the Internet soo… BBC Good Food?

6. No more sweets or no more hearty foods?

I think it has to be sweets. I would miss chocolate, but I would miss mashed potatoes more!

7. What’s your favourite Cuisine?

Probably Indian, but British-style Indian. I’d have to go to India to decide whether I like the real deal.

8. What’s your favourite food movie?

I totally have to steal Kerri’s answer here and say Ratatouille because the only other food film I can think of is Chocolat and I hated that! (Book is so much better!)

9. What’s your most guilty pleasure?

Umm… I don’t know? There’s nothing I feel guilty about eating (well, other than too much and that could be too much of almost anything. Except maybe lettuce leaves.)

10. What’s your greatest inspiration source?

I feel bad that I’m stealing all of Kerri’s answers, but my stomach is just so perfect a response! Failing that my inspiration comes from whatever random stuff we have lying around after I’ve failed to go shopping again.

11. Cooking at home or going out for dinner?

Cooking and having to deal with the mess or letting someone else do all the work? I prefer the latter. Although I actually do enjoy cooking for friends (Christmas dinner for 9 anyone?) so what I’m really saying is I would rather not have to cook every single day after work (but life would rapidly get expensive if we always ate out instead. So unfair)

12. High end or low profile?

I don’t understand the question… high end is expensive, right? But what’s low profile? Like a place nobody else knows about? Those two things aren’t opposites, are they? I’m so confused!

13. What’s your favourite restaurant?

I don’t have one – I like to keep trying new ones.

14. I do my grocery shopping at:

One of two local supermarkets. One is closer, the other sells the teabags I like. Sometimes I go to Aldi but it’s on the other side of Basel so it rarely happens.

Denner
Not the supermarket I usually go to, but the only one I have a photo of.

15. The tastiest food I’ve ever eaten was:

EVER?! That’s a lot of food for you to expect me to just pick one thing from…

17. Coffee with George Clooney or Heston Blumenthal?

I had to google the Heston guy… apparently he’s a TV chef? Neither, really but if I absolutely have to pick one then George Clooney just because I still love E.R.

18. What should not be missing in your kitchen?

A freezer. I didn’t have one for about 3 years and it was so annoying!

19. What is your favourite snack?

All the British crisps… Monster Munch, Wotsits, Skips, Hula Hoops. Sadly I almost never get to eat them.

20. What’s on your pizza?

It really depends what I’m in the mood for, but bacon, yellow peppers and feta is a good combo. Plus the normal pizza cheese of course.

21. What food do you really dislike?

Broccoli – it’s the devil. Also sweetcorn, green peppers, mushrooms and liver.

22. What’s your favourite food blog?

Don’t know… don’t read any.

23. What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten?

Oyster omelette. Also the most disgusting thing I’ve ever eaten. Maybe that should have been the answer to question 21?

24. What’s on your food bucket list?

Drink champagne in Champagne and port in Porto. Yes I’m aware those are drinks, but so is coffee. I also want to eat frog’s legs in France… there, I included a food!

25. I couldn’t live without:

Potatoes. I will also accept sweet potatoes as a substitute.

I tag everyone who feels like telling me about their eating habits. And now, appropriately, I’m off to find something to cook for dinner.

Recent doings #7

Ugh, I’m behind on my blog reading again! If I haven’t commented on your blog recently I’m so, so sorry! We had a weekend away, then visitors and more visitors. This weekend we get a brief break but I need to get the flat sorted for the next round of visitors – Jan’s mum and her partner are here on 16th/17th July.

Anyway, it’s time for another “What’s New With You” linkup… which means another month is over. Where are you going, 2016? I wish I could pause you for a while to catch my breath…
So, what did I get up to in June?

What's New With You
Reading. I already did a check-in post for the summer reading challenge, so I’m not going to repeat myself here 😉 I will, however, say that I’ve now finished The Magus! Woo hoo.
Watching. The news a lot immediately after the EU referendum. I still can’t believe the result. Why you so stupid, Britain?
Travelling. To the Rhine Falls (Rheinfall) with my mum and brother. Jan and I also went to Graubünden at the beginning of June, so I’ll have lots of travel photos to share with you once I’m done with New Zealand. Here’s a sneak preview:
DSCN8578
Rheinfall
Cooking. Horse steak so my mum and brother could try it. Although technically Jan cooked it on the barbecue. I just made the veg 😉
Waiting for. Our new wardrobe. Actually, we ordered it in April so I’ve been waiting for it a while, but it was finally due for delivery in June. Then it finally turned up but the back wall was missing, so I’m still waiting! The missing part is supposed to be coming next Wednesday…
Buying. Clothes. I went to Germany and purchased a skirt for €6 and a dress for €9 – you wouldn’t get clothes that cheap in Switzerland!
Drinking. Cocktails. We found a cute little bar that does interesting cocktails, so when we met up with two people we’ve been kind of hanging around with in Basel (yeah, I maybe made some friends?) we took them there and then took my mum and brother there as well.
What have you been doing recently? Check out the linkup to see how everyone else spent June.