I've always been fascinated with what people eat on a daily basis. I'm not just talking about people from other cultures but also from within your own city or country, people's diets vary so widely. Some people have the funniest eating habits and portion sizes and meal times vary considerably too.
My friend recently Joan Holloway told me about her new flat mates. We were having lunch and she was relieved to be eating "normal" food in a normal way. Apparently, she has two new flatmates and one has a restricted diet (gluten free) but she actually isn't gluten intolerant while the other one doesn't eat very much at all.
"I'm so glad to be eating normally with a normal person" she said to me (isn't it nice when people call you a normal person when you know that your eating habits may not be normal? ;)). Is what I eat normal? Who knows!
Quite a few of you have asked me what I eat on a day to day basis so I figured that I could keep track of what I ate in a typical week (although there is no real typical week for me). There were some false starts-a couple of days I completely forgot to take photos of what I ate so I had to start from the beginning again. But here it is, in all of its gory and calorific details. Nothing has been styled to look pretty, indeed some of it admittedly could use some zjushing. I also get the fantastic Lydia Sutakowsky, a 'real world' dietitian to give her opinion on things. And let me tell you that I was nibbling my thumbnail as her email was downloading as I felt like I was getting a report card! Bon appetit! x
Ahh the first day and any good weekend day starts with a sleep in and brunch. Mr NQN was away sailing and we had a full fridge from shopping so I made myself a pita pocket with shaved chicken breast, mango chutney, mayonnaise, salad and fresh parsley and coriander. As I can't grow a thing (I truly have a black thumb) I buy bunches of herbs fresh and place them in a glass and pluck off what I need.
Lydia: A good start to the week, some leafy greens, lean protein a lovely fresh light brunch. And a great way to add flavour is with tasty relishes, mustards, chutneys and fresh herbs. Good thinking 99.
Dinner was the result of testing out things for the blog. I went to my parents' house to try out some of my mum's recipes which we were testing for the blog. We made a rice dish with Chinese sausage and shiitake mushrooms-that one needed reworking but the fried rice was fantastic as were the bananaques for dessert.
Lydia: As for dinner,a bit difficult to judge, but Sunday nights are great for a comfort meal. I can see some colour in the rice so its looks like some vegetables made an appearance. As for dessert, well bananas are fruit. Not sure what you did to them, but they look delicious. I will tell you my thoughts on delicious comfort food later.
I'm going to get in trouble but I really don't eat breakfast most days. I know, I know, that's terrible but once I get into work, I really don't stop and I find I don't get hungry until about 11am. I always start my day off with one thing though and that is a cup of hot lemon water. I know, coffee lovers will probably laugh but I find that it's fabulous for the skin and I can notice the difference straight away (try it for 2-3 days and tell me what you think ;) ). If you want to try it, just add 20ml of fresh lemon juice to lukewarm water-I set my kettle to go to 50C/122F and then very importantly, drink it through a straw as lemon juice is acidic and isn't good for tooth enamel.
Around lunchtime, I made a big batch of cauliflower coleslaw which is enough to last 2 days for my lunch as well as Mr NQN's lunch. It also makes a great snack for when you're hungry. I interchange cauliflower for cabbage, whatever is better at the market and even on day two, it's fabulously crunchy, creamy and full of flavour. If you want the recipe just let me know! ;)
I know it's ugly...
Dinner was not very exciting I'll admit. Turkey patties with more of the coleslaw but I have to admit that I love simple dinners too. Oh and I almost forgot, I had a late night snack of steamed asparagus. I was saving up my calories for the next few days ;)
Lydia: Okay so now its time to put my serious dietitian's hat on - here we have an excellent example of planning and organisation OR healthy weight rule number 1. Think ahead, if you know you are in for some serious eating, have a few light days. Lorraine gets a gold star for her caulislaw. Crunchy fresh vegetables need lots of chewing giving you time to fill up, provide you with loads of fibre and goodness (anti-oxidants, vitamins and minerals) but minimal kilojoules. Also, by making a batch you are thinking ahead and making it easier to choose something healthy later on. Lunch and dinner are light, healthy and there is some good quality protein in the turkey patties. All is forgiven for the not restaurant quality appearance. And Im not going to comment on the lack of breakfast (whats that saying about flogging a dead horse).
By now you're wondering how boring can my lunches be . In short, very boring. Another pita bread sandwich with roast beef and more of the cauliflower coleslaw and beetroot leaves on top. But I had to make a quickie because I had a meeting at noon.
And yes, I burnt my own quesadillas. Mr NQN's remained unburnt...
Tuesday dinner was quesadillas. It didn't stop me from burning the quesadillas though as I was distracted with taking phone calls while cooking them. They were filled with roast beef, red bean puree, cheese, coriander, baby spinach, light sour cream and salad and a side of roasted beetroot.
Dessert was some yogurt and some stewed strawberries-I had to stew them because they seem to go off so quickly nowadays!
Lydia: Another light day but your nutritional needs have been met. Lean protein, a little bit of carbohydrate in the pita bread and tortillas, some more caulislaw, beautiful nutrient rich beetroot, some fresh greens in the spinach and coriander, dairy from the cheese, sour cream and yoghurt everything in moderation. All berries are packed with nutrients but very little kilojoules, so thats a lovely light dessert.
Remember the light dinner from the night before? Well the reason why was because of lunch and dinner. Lunch was at Kurtosh, a new cake place that I was visiting with friends Buxom Wench and Silver Fox. They sell cakes by weight and you can get as little or as much as you want. So of course we had to try a few things. For research purposes you know ;)
Lydia: So what does a dietitian think about cake for lunch? Lets put this down as an occupational hazard. When you are a professional full time food blogger you will need to review cake shops, cafes and bakeries. I can see the sense in making a meal out of it from an energy (kilojoule) point of view. If you had eaten breakfast and lunch then energy dense cakes would cause strive with your waistline. But from a nutritional point of view (I really dont like getting up on my soapbox) there isnt a lot of goodness here. Apart from buttery, golden pastry goodness. Warning- if you eat fast and cant control yourself when hungry, this strategy could backfire. You could easily and quickly consume too many kilojoules and no nutrition in a very short period of time.
A fresh vegetable juice (think carrots, beetroot, celery, cucumber and ginger) would make a healthy aperitif.
Then that evening, was a food fest. Dinner was at The Morrison with two gals that love food as much as I do. We came, we ate and then ate more. But it's important to try as much of the menu as we can. Still, I ended up with a package of shoulder of lamb to take home as we hate wasting anything. This will go into lil lamb & mint pies for Mr NQN for when I am away.
Lydia: Im not sure what exactly was eaten here, I can see some beautiful natural oysters (I instantly think of salty, sexy, zinc rich goodness)(minerals iron, zinc, magnesium, selenium, chromium so important for good health). I digress but would like to add that nuts are rich in fibre and minerals. A great snack. There are some salads, carrots, iceberg lettuce, a fettucine dish, some unctuous looking lamb and a selection of desserts. I cant really determine what Lorraine ate but I presume she tasted everything. Dietitians tip number two the pleasure is in the first three mouthfuls. So taste, enjoy then move onto the next dish.
Thursday lunch was one of my favourite lunches, eaten in front of the computer. A slice of rye bread with salad, a new batch of cauliflower coleslaw and some Snowy Mountains smoked trout on top. All in preparation for dinner with my friend Ute that evening.
Lydia: This is a beautiful lunch. Try and eat fish several times a week. Smoked trout provided protein, gorgeous heart healthy omega 3 fats not to mention satisfying deliciousness. Thats a real word, really it is. You could turn this into a healthy dinner with some pre boiled potatoes, avocado and fresh dill.
Dinner started out at Chat Thai in Haymarket where we were quite restrained. Mainly because I had been dying to go to a new chocolate cafe nearby. After fish cakes, satay, blue eyed cod and prawns and one sticky rice and mango dessert (I can never pass up Thai desserts), we adjourned to Princess Coco to share a hot chocolate, some truffles and a cake. I like to think that sharing these meant that we didn't eat that much but I'd be called Cleopatra, the queen of denial ;)
Lydia: Im going straight to dessert and Im sorry, but I cant say a bad word about chocolate. Rich in mood elevating and pleasure enhancing compounds, sharing some dark, rich chocolate treats with friends can only enrich your life and make you healthier and happier. Look up theobromine and phenylethylamine if you dont believe me.
Friday 27th September
I was too engrossed in work to realise that by noon that I was starving. Not wanting to break concentration, I took a quick 5 minute break and made some kale chips using some Tuscan kale that Celia had given me from her garden. I set it to bake and 20 minutes later, I had the best snack ever. And I know, that's not breakfast but there you go...As I had the oven on, I threw in some whole beetroot and some pumpkin and baked those for lunch.
My late lunch was a pita pocket stuffed with cauliflower coleslaw, greens and some roasted pumpkin because it was just before grocery day and we didn't have much else.
Dinner was a bit of an anticlimax. I was hoping to go out but Mr NQN was tired so it was a tortilla stuffed with cauliflower coleslaw and greens and a few chunks of sweet roasted pumpkin and beetroot. But then...I remembered I had some ice cream to test! Connoisseur sent four of their new "Australian" flavours made with dessert chefs and Mr NQN tested these out while watching The Big Bang Theory. The two flavours I liked were the salted caramel and the honey and fig. The white chocolate and raspberry wasn't bad but it was too sweet and the blueberry crumble held such promise (crumble in ice cream!) but it just didn't do it and was a bit of a let down.
Lydia: So this was a very light eating day, lots of vegetables, lots of colour and no meat. The ice cream testing increased the fat and energy but overall, this was a good counterpoint to the chocolate fest the night before.
Saturday 28th September
It's almost therapeutic feeding Mr NQN food. He usually skips breakfast at work and goes straight onto lunch after a morning coffee so every weekend day, I try and make him a good breakfast (ironic I know since I always miss it, breakfast by proxy?). We were out of oatmeal so I took a loaf of Hearthfire macadamia and fruit nut loaf we had bought a few weeks ago from Bellingen and froze so we could have it later. He's a maniac for fruit smoothies so I made him one of those and then stole bites and slurps from both because as you know, pilfered calories don't count ;)
If you are after the smoothie recipe, it's very easy and here it is:
3/4 cup milk
2/3 cup frozen blueberries
1 medium banana, peeled
3-4 tablespoons honey
3 heaped tablespoons natural Greek style yogurt
2 tablespoons chia seeds
Step 1 - Blend everything together in a blender until smooth. Serve cold.
That night, we went out to Chat Thai for round two. Mr NQN was hungry so we ordered an enormous range of dishes-our initial embarrassment at not being able to fit everything on the table soon passed as we realised that the couple next to us did exactly the same thing!
Lydia: This brunch was delightful for a number of reasons. Have I mentioned that Im a huge fan of nuts? And is there a more nutrient packed nut than macadamia nuts from Qld or NSW? The oil in nuts goes rancid rather quickly, nuts dont like heat, light or moisture. Ive given up on imported walnuts, they are usually rancid on purchase. Qld and northern NSW grow gorgeous peanuts, pecans and macadamia nuts. Elsewhere in Australia you can get fresh almonds (major harvests are in April-May). Tassie growers are producing fresh walnuts. So buy local and buy in season for maximum flavour and freshness. Oopsie, on the soap box again. Also, the smoothie is a winner for obvious reasons, Ill stop ranting now.
Do you ever get up in the morning and have the sudden urge to eat something. In this case, I woke up (and no need to read anything into it) wanting balls! The balls I meant were those delicious Vietnamese Chè xôi n??c balls stuffed with mung bean paste with a sweet rice flour coating. They're served in a gingery syrup with coconut cream and they usually come as two enormous balls and about half a dozen smaller ones. Anyway, we were on an adventure after shopping for clothing for Mr NQN to find me some of these.
Mr NQN was hungry so we had the same breakfast smoothie (blueberry, banana yogurt, chia & honey) followed by a couple of pieces of fruit and macadamia nut bread. Around lunch time we had some watermelon. I was deliriously happy because the day before I had found some long watermelons at Paddy's Markets. Those of you that have read the Food Bank story know why I am so happy. The long watermelons have black pips and are sweeter and juicier than seedless melons but they have disappeared from supermarket shelves.
Just before we left, I had a slice of rye bread with salad, some roasted beetroot from yesterday, some smoked rainbow trout and fresh dill-can you tell we had done the shopping? The day after grocery shopping day is the best food day! :)
Nothing until about 6pm where we visited a restaurant as part of a story on Burwood-I had heard that other things were good there but I didn't want to write that they were until I tested it myself. We ended up sharing a plate of bbq pork and bbq duck with rice and a won ton noodle soup. The pork and duck were my favourite and they also gave us a warming bowl of fantastic broth as it was unseasonably chilly outside.
I got my balls! I could taste them all day and nothing else would do until I sank my teeth into them. They were divine and worth waiting for. I bought Mr NQN a container of coconut cream taro sago which he wolfed down. I offered him a bite of the balls and he didn't much care for them so they were all mine. Oh and just because I had to test it out, we bought a slice of cheesecake from another shop just for the article.
Lydia: So we have come full circle and we are back to some Sunday comfort eating. Whatever it is that you enjoy on a Sunday (the traditional Aussie roast perhaps) my message is to make time to enjoy a meal with those that you love.
In summary, Im not surprised that NQN maintains her petite proportions. Take note of the lack of snacks (one late night snack was steamed asparagus no complaints here). Snacking can contribute a lot of unnecessary kilojoules, fat and sugar. Take a leaf out of Lorraine's book and limit snacks or choose raw or lightly steamed vegetables or a handful of raw nuts.
Remember rules number 1 (planning and organisation) so think ahead, prepare some healthy meals when you have time (think the crunchy caulislaw) and balance the indulgent days with lighter ones.
If you find yourself craving rich treat foods, remember rule number 2. The pleasure is in the first three mouthfuls. So enjoy the cheesecake or chocolate, but dont eat it all, just enough to satisfy your craving. Store the remainder safely in the fridge and enjoy the rest on another day.
I dont believe in guilt so dont beat yourself up when your eating doesnt go to plan. Be kind to yourself, forgive yourself and plan something positive for the next day. Start with a brisk walk (some lemon water ;-)), have that gorgeous smoked trout for lunch and feel good about yourself.
I aim for lots of colourful foods to ensure that I get a good mix of nutrients and anti-oxidants. Its easy to get the greens, reds and orange foods in but the tricky ones are the purples and blues. Take note that NQN includes beetroot, strawberries, blueberries, watermelon, red beans in her diet.
I also have to give Lorraine 10/10 for the lemon water through a straw. Not for the nutrition but for the imagery. That is so cute, Im sure it makes Mr NQN smile every morning.
Phew! Now that was quite a lot of food. And when I look back and see how much three of us ate at The Morrison, I'm astounded. I do try my best to balance things, even if it doesn't look apparent at all. Being 155cms tall, every little mouthful shows. I was so relieved that Lydia didn't lecture me on my less than healthy food consumption but then again, she is a real world dietitian who eats real food i.e. butter, not margarine so she is my sort of gal. I really loved what she said about the pleasure being in the first three mouthfuls-slowly savoured, there's nothing better. So, there you go! I hope I haven't horrified you too much but there you go, what I eat in one week Dear Readers :)
So tell me Dear Reader, what do you eat in a week and do you have a favourite lunch or dinner? Have you ever kept a food diary? Do you eat differently on weekends? And can you just eat three mouthfuls or are you always compelled to finish the plate?
About Lydia: Lydia Sutakowsky has been a member of the Dietitians Association of Australia for 22 years and is an Accredited Practicing Dietitian. Her position at the University of the Sunshine Coast encompasses all aspects of the clinical placement experience that students in the Nutrition and Dietetics program undertake in their fourth year of study.
She loves everything about food, talking about it, cooking it, eating it and learning about it. The perfect week for Lydia will include yoga, a swim, one or two short runs and anything that is fun. Lydia shares her life with the 'gorgeous M' and his 4 year old son. She loves her black kelpie Pirate and her three fat hens.