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

Light and Delicious

Last month I planted out little container garden (thankfully we choose a place with a deck!).  With all the heavy rains we’ve been having around here I wasn’t sure if some of the seeds would ever produce anything.  Thankfully everything is on its way to becoming some delicious goodies.  We planted Thai chili peppers, habaneros, pepperoncini, carrots, cucumbers, snap peas, super sweet tomatoes, yellow pear tomatoes, radish, zucchini, basil and lettuce.  I took this picture this morning:

My last few recipe posts have been pretty “heavy” foods, so today while I was making dinner I thought I should probably post this one.  It is quick, easy, light and delicious and believe it or not budget friendly (see below the recipe for more information).  A perfect meal for this kind of weather.  I love when spring and summer comes around because this means more fresh ingredients available and I don’t know if it is just me but I don’t crave those heavy meals much.  I love salads and more veggie based meals during this time of year and I plan to be posting more recipes like this soon. To kick off my lighter recipes (this may not be a daily thing but I will get better about posting more recipes like this), I decided to make some gluten-free pasta (We mostly eat Sam Mill’s or Goldbaum’s gluten-free pastas, we find that to use these are the two that have a very similar taste and texture to “regular” pasta) with pesto, diced zucchini and for a little treat some sautéed shrimp. My basil hasn’t grown enough for me to make homemade pesto so for now we have been using the Classico Pesto – which is gluten-free! and delicious.  While at the grocery store today I found some pretty decent sized zucchini and summer squash and thankfully shrimp was on sale so we picked up a few to toss in and add a bit of protein to our meal.  Of course Bryan made us a salad with mixed greens and cucumbers with some homemade balsamic dressing.

This meal is delicious with our with out the shrimp, however we never splurge on shrimp but we are pretty sick of chicken and red meat right now and wanted to mix it up a little bit.  You could always add some grilled chicken on top also or if you wish to add more veggies mix in some halved grape tomatoes, diced summer squash or blanched/grilled asparagus.

Pesto Pasta with Shrimp and Zucchini (serves 2)

1/2 Pound gluten-free pasta of your choice, I prefer penne,  fusillior gemelli because I think it holds the pesto better)

1 Large zucchini diced into 1/2 – 1 inch pieces

1/4 Pound of Shrimp (cleaned, deveined and tails still on)

1/4 Cup pesto – more if you prefer

2 Tablespoons of olive oil, divided

Sea Salt and Pepper

In a medium saucepan bring water with salt and a tablespoon of olive oil to boil for pasta and cook according to the package instructions.

Season the shrimp on both sides with sea salt and pepper.

Heat one tablespoon in a non-stick sautée pan over medium heat. When there is about 5 minutes left on the pasta add the shrimp to the sautée pan. Cook for about two minutes on each side (until shrimp is opaque in the center)

When there are four minutes left on the pasta cooking time add the diced zucchini.

Strain the pasta and zucchini but do not rinse the pasta in cold water.  Return the pasta to the pan, add the prepared pesto and shrimp.  Toss until well mixed (if you are adding in the halved tomatoes add them in now and toss again).  Add more pesto if you wish, serve with a side salad.

This meal is very versatile – add shrimp, chicken, veggies – whatever your heart desires.

Recipe cost break down:

Seeing as I just finished up my Menu Planning and Cost Control course I thought I would break down how inexpensive this meal was to make: the total recipe cost was $5.34 which means only $2.67 per portion!! Now can you imagine if you were to order this while eating out you would be paying around $12 – $14 for this dish that really only costs $2.67 per portion including shrimp.

Weekly Menu Planning

I’m determined to get back into planning out a weekly menu and base our grocery shopping on that menu.  I hope that this will save us money but also the frustration of what to eat each night.  This week is a very Asian inspired week as you’ll see below.  I really miss my favorite little Chinese restaurant in Monterey, Full Moon.  They were so great to me, I would bring them a bottle of gluten-free soy sauce and they would make my food with that. We have both been craving Chinese food lately and Bryan could go out and get some but I can’t so I figured I would make a few Asian inspired recipes this week that will hopefully hit the spot.

When planning weekly menus I usually look at my cookbooks, blogs etc and search for dishes that are tasty, easy and that the ingredients can be used in more than one dish during the week.  This weeks menu inspiration comes from: Artisanal Gluten-Free Cooking, Everyday Food-Fresh Flavor Fast and a few recipes I found online.

November 29-December 5

Monday

Grilled Steaks, mashed sweet potatoes and corn (these were our last steaks from Omaha Steaks -a gift from Bry’s parents)

Tuesday

P.F. Chang’s inspired Beef A La Sichuan (Bryan’s favorite dish to order there, even off of the gluten-free menu)

Wednesday

Asian Inspired Noodle Bowl (Artisanal Gluten-Free Cooking pg. 30)

Thursday

Beef Stir Fry (Everyday Food Fresh Flavor Fast pg. 190)

Friday

Penne A La Broccoli (Light dish with red pepper flakes from DrWeil.com)

Saturday

General Chang’s Chicken (Artisanal Gluten-Free Cooking pg. 163) I’ll be making this for my birthday dinner along with some cupcakes, or maybe even a cheesecake…I have yet to decided which one I really want.

Sunday

Not 100% sure what to make just yet for sunday, maybe some beef stew or pot roast.

If you haven’t picked up a copy of the Artisanal Gluten-Free Cooking cookbook by Kelli and Peter Bronski you really should – this cookbook is fantastic.  I’ve made several of their recipes and have enjoyed every one of them.

What are you cooking this week?