What Is A Serving Size?

Image from: blturlock.blogspot.com

I am on a mission this year to get in shape and to become healthier. I’m doing this for several reasons but one in particular is that if I plan to become an RD I need to be healthy – no one, including myself wants to take advice about health and wellness from someone who is not healthy and practicing what they are preaching.

One of the biggest things that I have found is really being conscious of the serving sizes. I don’t know about you but I don’t tend to carry around my food scale and measuring cups with me everywhere I go to measure everything I eat. So below is a list of examples for you to keep in mind. You can find more information about healthy eating on my Healthy Eating page , Choose My Plate. There are also many more examples and references along with various images out there for serving sizes, but these are a few that I have found to be helpful.

Confused about portions sizes? Try relating them to everyday items to help you out!

  • A rounded handful – one 1/2 cup vegetables or fruit, 1/2 cup of cooked rice or pasta, or a snack serving of crisps or pretzels
  • Woman’s fist – another way of visualising a serving of vegetables, or one piece of whole fruit
  • Small handful or golf ball – 1/4 cup of dried fruit or 2 tablespoons of peanut butter
  • A matchbox – a 1 oz serving of meat, or a serving of cheese
  • Deck of cards, – a 3 oz serving (recommended serving = 3-4 oz) of meat, fish or poultry, or ten chips/french fries
  • Check book – a serving of fish (approximately 3 oz)
  • Tennis ball – 1/2 cup of pasta, or a serving of ice cream
  • Computer mouse – a medium baked potato
  • Compact disc – one serving of pancake or small waffle
  • Thumb tip or one dice – one teaspoon of margarine
  • A ping-pong ball – two tablespoons of peanut butter
  • Small milk carton – 8 fl oz glass of milk
  • A baseball – 8 fl oz cup of yogurt, one cup of beans, or one cup of dry cereal

Are you wondering how much you should be consuming of each food group on a daily basis? Visit this great resource, Personalized Daily Food Plans from Choose My Plate.

For more resources be sure to visit:

WebMD.com  – Portion Size Plate

MIT – Serving Sizes

Spark People – The Portion Distortion Guide


Gluten Free Culinary Student

A few days ago I posted about my visit to Johnson & Wales University in Providence, RI for the Culinary Arts/Culinary Nutrition program.  I had applied earlier that week and during the visit I was told they were just waiting for my previous college transcripts, but my application file was on someone’s desk waiting to be reviewed.  I called on Tuesday to make sure they had received my transcripts and was told that they had and would be doing an evaluation worksheet on them to see if any of my previous courses would transfer in.  Before hanging up I asked when I should expect to hear an admissions decision and was told “Actually you were admitted yesterday, Congratulations!”  To my shock and surprise I have been admitted to my dream school.  I’m still kind of numb from it I think, don’t get me wrong I am beyond excited and I know that this program is going to be difficult, tiring, long hours, lots of hard courses (especially for the culinary nutrition aspect of it).

My Passion

Growing up I have had several real passions, cooking (thanks to my grandmother), photography (thanks to my dad) and pathology (again, thanks to my dad who every Christmas gave me presents revolved around it: dissection kits, anatomy coloring book, which I still have, and amazing anatomy pop up books).

Like I mentioned above, my Grandma Lu has had a huge influence on my love of cooking.  A few months ago I wrote a post about her (you can read it here).  She is truly an amazing woman who I will forever be grateful for. Ever since I was little she has been a huge encourager in my life.  My Grandma Lu is a rock in our family, always keeping her children and grandchildren a priority no matter what is going on.  She is a sweet little Italian lady who doesn’t have a problem telling you how it is.  She hasn’t has the easiest of lives but she is one tough cookie, with a positive attitude.  I have so many fond memories of her. If you don’t mind I want to share a few memories and little things about my grandmother:

  • When I was younger she taught me how to make chicken soup from scratch – I was about five or six and she pulled a chair up to the stove next to her and taught me how to cut veggies and make a soup with what you had on hand.
  • When my parents divorced she gave me a little card with the “Serenity Prayer” on it and I still have it to this day.
  • No matter how bad things got she would say “This too shall pass”
  • When I was born she came to the hospital with a crocheted santa and I still have it – actually in a few weeks that santa will be 29 years old.
  • I have always been told that I am a mini-me of her and to me that is one of the best compliments that anyone could ever give me.
  • She is a fantastic cook – she used to cook for the Priests at her church and when I lived with her I would often go and help her.

Seeing as she was so willing to help me when I first started to look at JWU 12 years ago I figured she would be excited for me now.  The hard part is she has Alzheimer’s.  I called her yesterday to tell her the good news and she was so excited for me and kept saying, “Wow you are going to be a chef!” “Oh that is a great school” “I have Alzheimer’s and I don’t like that I have it”, and then would continue to repeat the conversation over and over again.

I haven’t been around for five years so her progression is a bit hard for me.  My other family members are a bit more used to it but I am not.  I cried like a baby after getting off the phone with her.  I know she is proud of me and I just wish I could express to her and share with her how much of an impact she has had on me and this passion of mine.  I tried to explain it a bit yesterday and she kept saying she has some recipes and cookbooks to give me. She was looking for her brown folder of recipes – which are coveted by many.  I didn’t have the heart to tell her that her coveted collection of recipes has been given to my Aunt Lisa (her youngest daughter). I so badly wish I could take her Alzheimer’s away, but nothing will ever take the love I have for her away.

She is definitely a huge influence for me. And I told Bryan last night that when times get tough in school please remind me that I am doing this partially for her.

My journey

I have been dreaming on and off about JWU for the past twelve years.  While in high school this was where I wanted to go, but when I hurt my left shoulder at the beginning of my senior year, when I fell down/off stairs that had no railing, I gave up my dream.  My grandmother really wanted to me to go and even offered to help me if I changed my mind, but at the point I couldn’t lift anything more than five pounds.  After many doctor visits, physical therapy and an MRI I was told that it was nothing just some tendonitis.  A little more than a year later I was still in physical therapy and one day they had me do this one stretch called the “superman” and that was it, tears streaming down my face, couldn’t talk, couldn’t put my arm down or up.  They called my mom to come get me and she made a phone call to Dr. Peace who performed a surgery on her torn rotator cuff a few years earlier.  I got an appointment the next day and sure enough, he took one look at the MRI and saw the tear right away.  I had torn my rotator cuff a year or so before and apparently had torn it even more the day before.  Not long after I had my surgery and started the recovery process, however my left should will never be 100%.

Instead of pursuing my dream of culinary arts I changed plans and attended a local college and changed my major about five times (I’m not joking).  After a semester of attending classes full time and working part time at the school I was offered a full time job there and started taking classes part time.  Four years later I left there and enrolled in a Photography school in California.  Working at a school I was that obnoxious prospective student, calling and emailing them a million and one questions before I accepted the offer.  I packed up two suitcases and my camera bag and flew across the country to tackle this goal of becoming a photographer.  Three months into school I was told that they were under investigation for falsifying admissions information (I had asked them about this issue before enrolling and was ensured they were not involved). Needless to say I left after that and moved to central California where I lived and worked (again, in higher education) for five years.

During all of this, I never gave up my love of food and cooking.  Over the years I’ve made some amazing friends who also love food, cooking and experimenting. It is also during this time that I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease.  At first for someone who loves food, especially pasta and bread this new life style was a bit depressing and scary.  “What was I going to eat?” Thankfully though I approached this new lifestyle and diet like another adventure.  I cleaned out my cabinets of all food that contained gluten and went shopping for some new goodies to try.  I started this blog to help myself and hopefully help others.  My big thing was I didn’t want to be that person that says “Oh I had to give up everything I love”, so instead I started taking my favorite recipes and adapting them to be gluten free.  It has turned out rather well, there isn’t much that I miss or can’t have.

Then Bryan came along…well actually we have known each other for six years now.  Every few months over the five years that I was in California we would exchange e-mails to see how the other was doing etc.  I went to visit him last summer for a week and that started it all.  After not seeing him for five years it was like we never missed a beat.  He truly is my best friend.  After he got accepted to law school in Rhode Island we started talking about me moving back east to be with him and to be closer to our families.  In July I moved to New Jersey and then we moved to Rhode Island in August.  After searching for jobs and not finding anything I decided I should start looking at going back to school.  I was looking for nutrition programs because ultimately I want to work with families who have food allergies.  During my search I found that JWU offers a Culinary Nutrition Program.  I about fell over – Culinary Arts and Nutrition combined, it couldn’t be real, could it? So Bryan and I started talking about it and decided that we will go to their open house and check it out.  Bryan said I should request my transcripts and apply before we went so I did.  He has been beyond supportive of this desire of mine and I can’t thank him enough.

I feel even more in love with the school after visiting it.  I asked as many questions as I could about doing the programs and having Celiac Disease.  Everyone I talked to were very encouraging about it and there have been several students who have done this.  And now here we are…starting in March I will be a Culinary Arts/Culinary Nutrition student at my dream school – Johnson & Wales University. Best part is, I’ll be doing this Gluten-Free (as best I can!)  Needless to say once school starts I’m sure the blog will change a bit, I’ll be posting about my experiences as a gluten-free culinary arts student in a not so gluten-free environment, some recipes etc.

So Grandma Lu this is for you – I love you more than words can express, thank you for instilling in me the love of food and being creative with what you have and making something wonderful out of nothing.

Gluten Free Culinary Student-We’ll See

A few of you may have noticed my recent posts about possibly going back to school but not just any school, my dream school from when I was in high school, Johnson and Wales University.  I have been looking at schools for a little while now for a nutrition program but there really isn’t much around us in that field.  One day when searching I noticed that Johnson and Wales has started a Culinary Nutrition program. This program blends my two goals. Below is a little blurb about the program and JWU.

Developed in response to industry and consumer concerns about food allergies, food intolerance and food-intake related diseases, the Culinary Nutrition bachelor’s degree is designed to produce chefs who know how to make nutritious food, and nutritionists who know how to cook. It is the first of its kind to receive accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Dietetics Education (CADE) of the American Dietetic Association.

As a student in the program, you’ll learn to develop sensory evaluation techniques, nutritional diagnostic skills and innovative food products. Through the completion of an internship in your senior year, you’ll apply your practical knowledge in a professional setting of your choice. Qualified students may have the opportunity to replace their internship with a summer term abroad.

As a graduate, you will be positioned to work in major test kitchens, health care facilities, cruise ships, spas, resorts and the personal chef industry, where an emphasis on nutrition is fundamental.

I called a few weeks ago to see how realistic it would be for me, having Celiac Disease to do a culinary arts program there.  To my delight they said it is extremely possible to do and they have several students with Celiac Disease and a few other food allergies, such as nut and citrus not only complete the culinary arts degree but they have also successfully completed the baking and pastry arts degree. So today Bryan and I went to Providence to check out the campus, facilities and program.  The facilities are incredible! To read more about them, click here.

When we arrived, I checked in at the table to register and was asked if I was a high school senior, no lie – some of you will laugh at this but I am 28 years old and will be turning 29 in a few weeks, and still to this day I will get offered the kids menu and crayons at some restaurants.  It took everything in side of myself and Bryan not to laugh out loud and not look at each other. I really don’t mind people thinking I’m very young, it works in my favor, or at least I hope it will in about twenty years.  When the first information session ended and we are about to go on our tour, I look around and started to realized that I am probably the oldest or one of the oldest people there that is actually looking at the school for myself and no my child!

While on the tour today we (well Bryan) got to test out some tasty foods. We learned out some really fascinating courses that they offer-Skills of Meat-cutting, International Cuisine, How Baking Works (the professor of this course is releasing a Gluten-Free cookbook next year), Mixology and so much more.  I asked as many questions as I could think of and was informed that gluten-free cooking is well received and encouraged.  For example in the “healthy desserts” course I was told that the students are broken up into groups and they decided on a recipe such as, chocolate chip cookies and one group will make a recipe that is for diabetics, one group will make one for those with celiac disease and another group will pick another food intolerance, allergy or medical condition that needs an alternative diet.

At the end of the tour we got to walk through the Culinary Arts Museum which had an exhibit of some of their more famous graduates, which include Sarah Moulton, Thomas Keller, Martin Yan and Emeril Lagasse!

I know that this program is going to be extremely difficult, tiring, exciting, humbling and everything in between. However, I think I could do this if I actually get admitted…seeing as there are no guarantees my fingers are crossed.  My ultimate goal is to get my A.S. in Culinary Arts, my B.S. in Culinary Nutrition, get an internship and then sit for the Registered Dietitian exam.  Once all that is done, have the ability to work in either a hospital and/or work with families that are newly diagnosed and do cooking lessons with them, to show them that just because you have an allergy you don’t have to miss out on healthy and delicious food. Overall it was a great day and a great school.

Below are a few photos that I took with my phone today, so I apologize for the bad quality.

Steak crostini with horseradish cream, roasted red pepper and micro greens

French Onion Soup

Students getting ready for NY Food week

Students preparing cafe diablo

Bananas Foster

One of the two things I could taste today – really good!

Student sugar sculpture projects

Close up of the sugar sculpture

Close up of Hansel and Gretel bread sculpture

Hansel and Gretel student bread sculpture

Yummy smelling bread that I couldn’t eat

Brioche with cream filling – Bryan really enjoyed this.

Our last demo, Culinary Nutrition.  Some fantastic Squash soup was made for us.

Culinary Nutrition food lab

Culinary Nutrition food lab (2) – 8 mixers and 8 ovens

Culinary Arts Museum

Culinary Arts Museum – Sarah Moulton

Culinary Arts Museum – Thomas Keller

Also don’t forget there is a great giveaway going on at Creative Cooking Gluten Free – click HERE to read more about it.