In Pictures: One-person Hotpot of Restaurants in Japan

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New Portion Size Guide Tells You How Much You Should Actually be Eating

James Rogers wrote . . . . . . . . .

Nutritionists have launched a brand-new portion size guide to tackle overeating.

The British Nutrition Foundation’s (BNF) guide spells out how much of each sort of food.

The guide includes starchy carbohydrates, protein, dairy, fruit and vegetables and oils and spreads.

The aim of the guide is to revolutionise our eating and tackle the obesity crisis.

It takes into account the foods we should be eating – and in which portions – to have a healthy diet.

Women should be eating 2,000 calories a day – and men 2,500.

According to the guide, the correct portion size for pasta is two hands cupped together.

A finger and thumb, meanwhile, is the right thickness of spaghetti.

The right amount of cheese, more worryingly for cheese lovers, is a mere two thumbs.

The suggested single portion of a grilled chicken breast, a cooked salmon fillet or a cooked steak is “about half the size of your hand”.

A baked potato should be the “about the size of your fist”.

The BNF survey suggested that when it comes to eating pasta, on average we eat around 230g worth when cooked.

And that’s without any sauces or sides.

Researchers found that 10% of the people questioned eat 350g.

That’s around 500 calories alone, but their recommendation is 180g.

A portion of fruit or vegetables – of which we should eat at least five a day – could be two plums, two satsumas, seven strawberries, three heaped serving spoons of peas or carrots, one medium tomato or three sticks of celery.

But it’s not all bad news.

If you do fancy a snack, you’re still allowed them – but you are told to keep them small.

They should be around 100 to 150 calories, and not too frequent.

Examples included a small chocolate biscuit bar, a small multipack bag of crisps, four small squares of chocolate (20g) or a mini muffin.

Bridget Benelam, nutrition communications manager at the BNF, said: “More often than not, portion size is not something people give much thought to.

“The amount we put on our plate typically depends on the portion sizes we are used to consuming, how hungry we feel and how much is offered as a helping at a restaurant table or in a packet/ready meal.

“Nonetheless, in order to maintain a healthy weight we should ensure that our diets contain the right balance of foods, in sensible amounts.

“This isn’t just about eating less; it’s also about eating differently.”

Louis Levy, head of nutrition sciences at Public Health England, said: “The Eatwell Guide, the nation’s healthy eating model, shows the proportion of foods that should be consumed from each food group for a healthy balanced diet.

“With the exception of fruit and vegetables, fish and red and processed meat, the government does not provide guidance on specific food portion sizes as there is no evidence to make recommendations at a population level.”

Source: Birmingham Live


Read also at British Nutrition Foundation:

Find your balance, get portion wise! . . . . .

More Evidence Marijuana May Damage the Teen Brain

Dennis Thompson wrote . . . . . . . . .

Smoking just a couple of joints may cause significant changes in a teenager’s brain structure, a new study has found.

Brain scans show that some adolescents who’ve tried marijuana just a couple of times exhibit significant increases in the volume of their gray matter.

These changes were associated with increased risk of anxiety, and decreased ability on thinking and memory tests.

“It is important to understand why some people may be more vulnerable to brain effects of cannabis at even the earliest stages of use, as it might give us some insight into why some people transition to substance misuse while others do not,” said lead researcher Catherine Orr. She is a lecturer at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia.

“Also, if we can identify some of the factors that place people at greater risk of these brain effects, we need to let people know what they are so that they can make informed decisions about their substance use,” Orr continued.

However, these findings are inconsistent with earlier studies that have found no significant long-term changes in brain structure or deficits in memory, attention or other brain function that can be attributed to pot use, said Paul Armentano, deputy director of NORML, an advocacy group for reform of marijuana laws.

“The notion that even low-level exposure to cannabis results in significant brain changes is a finding that is largely out of step with decades worth of available science,” Armentano said. “Therefore, these findings ought to be regarded with caution.”

Most studies involving the effects of pot on the brain focus on heavy marijuana users. These researchers wanted to focus instead on what might happen as teens experiment with marijuana.

To that end, they gathered brain scan data obtained as part of a large research program investigating brain development and mental health in teens.

The researchers examined brain imaging of 46 kids, aged 14 years, from Ireland, England, France and Germany, who reported trying pot once or twice. They also looked at the teens’ scores on cognitive and mental health tests.

The teens’ brains showed greater gray matter volume in brain areas more affected by pot, when compared with kids who’d never toked, the study authors said.

“The regions of the brain that showed the volume effects map onto the parts of the brain that are rich in cannabinoid receptors, suggesting that the effects we observe may be a result of these receptors being stimulated by cannabis exposure,” Orr said.

Regions most affected by weed were the amygdala, which is involved in processing fear and other emotions, and the hippocampus, which is involved with memory and reasoning, the researchers said.

The findings were published in the Journal of Neuroscience.

Senior study author Hugh Garavan said, “You’re changing your brain with just one or two joints.” Garavan is a professor of psychiatry with the University of Vermont.

“Most people would likely assume that one or two joints would have no impact on the brain,” he added in a university news release.

Researchers can’t say whether these changes in the structure of the brain are permanent, Orr said. There are a lot of things that influence brain development in teens that can’t be ruled out by the data at hand.

“The imaging technology we have does not let us disentangle what differences in the adult brain may be a result of smoking pot once or twice as a 14-year-old from what differences are due to studying a second language or playing video games as a teen,” Orr said.

Yasmin Hurd, director of the Addiction Institute at Mount Sinai, in New York City, said one would expect some things to return to normal if a teen tries marijuana a couple of times and then stops.

“I would be very surprised if just a few exposures to marijuana would cause irreparable damage,” Hurd said.

On the other hand, even temporary changes in brain structure might make a person more predisposed to emotional or cognitive problems later in life, Hurd added.

Orr suggested that “if they may then use drugs later in life or are exposed to excessive stresses later in life, they’re much more vulnerable. This indicates that any drug use leaves a trace in the brain. Whether that trace has long-term consequences for subsequent disorders, that’s something that really needs to be researched.”

Source: HealthDay


Today’s Comic

Chinese Comfort Food at Its Finest – Yuk Beng, or Steamed Pork Patty

Susan Jung wrote . . . . . . . . .

Yuk beng doesn’t sound that delicious when translated as “meat cake” but it’s comfort food for many Chinese people. It’s a basic, versatile dish: minced pork (the default meat for Han Chinese, but you can use beef) mixed with the usual seasonings (soy sauce, rice wine, sugar, salt and white pepper) then steamed. You can add toppings (the most common are salted fish and salted egg yolk) and other “mix-ins” (such as preserved vegetables).

Steamed pork patty with dried cuttlefish, and fresh squid

This version is based on a luxurious but homey dish I ate at Ding’s Club, in Central. There, the meat was hand-chopped, which makes the texture so much better, as does using a fatty cut (I use skinless pork belly).

It’s a lot of work, though, so I won’t blame you if you have the butcher put the meat through the grinder. If you do hand-mince the pork, freeze it slightly so it’s firmer; it’s difficult to chop at room temperature.

Buy a whole dried cuttlefish, not the shredded type sold as a snack; the whole cuttlefish is less salty and the texture is different. It should be soaked until pliable, then the skin needs to be peeled off (it comes off easily). If you can’t find dried cuttlefish or dislike it, leave it out.

Chun pei (dried tangerine peel) comes in seg­ments that are usually attached at the base; for this dish, you need one or two segments, depending on how much you like the distinctive flavour. You can soak the chun pei in the same bowl as the cuttlefish.

Because this dish tastes best hot, I divide the mixture into two portions and pat it into two dishes; I steam one to serve immediately then steam the other while everyone is eating, so it’s ready when the diners want seconds. If you like, you can make one larger meat patty and steam it all at once (it will need about 40 minutes to cook). This serves six as part of a Chinese meal.

Ingredients

10 grams dried cuttlefish
1 or 2 segments chun pei (陳皮)
600 grams skinless pork belly, minced
2 tbsp soy sauce
1-1/3 tbsp rice wine
5 grams sugar
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1/4 tsp finely ground white pepper
1 tsp sesame oil
5 grams cornstarch
3 very thin slices of peeled fresh ginger
4 fresh water chestnuts
1 fresh squid (about 150 grams)
4-6 spring onions

Methods

  1. Rinse the dried cuttlefish and chun pei under running water then put them in a bowl and add warm water to cover. Leave to soak until the cuttlefish is pliable (about an hour).
  2. If you’re hand-mincing the pork, freeze it for about 20 minutes, then slice it as thinly as possible. Use a very sharp cleaver to mince the meat. (Or just have the butcher coarsely grind it.)
  3. Put the minced meat into a bowl and mix in the soy sauce, rice wine, sugar, salt, pepper, sesame oil and cornstarch.
  4. Peel off and discard the tough skin of the dried cuttlefish, then cut it into small pieces. Squeeze the water from the chun pei, then finely chop it. Finely mince the ginger. Peel the fresh water chestnuts and rinse them thoroughly before cutting them into small dice. Add these ingredients to the bowl.
  5. Clean the fresh squid. Pull the tentacles from the body. Peel off and discard the skin. Slit open the body on one side then scrape out and discard the innards. Cut off and discard the face and beak from the tentacles. Chop the body and tentacles, then add the pieces to the bowl with the meat and other ingredients. Mix thoroughly.
  6. Divide the mixture into two even portions and put them into two shallow bowls. Flatten the ingredients to make meat patties about 1.5 cm thick. Heat water in a tiered steamer (or in a wok with a metal rack) and, when the water boils, place one of the bowls in the steamer and cover with the lid. Steam over medium heat for 20 minutes, or until the pork patty is cooked.
  7. While the meat patty is steaming, mince the spring onions. When the meat is cooked, remove the dish from the steamer, scatter the spring onions on top and serve immediately. Cook the second dish (you’ll need to add more boiling water to the steamer) while eating the first portion.

Variations

For salted egg pork patty, make the dish as above, but leave out the chun pei, dried cuttlefish and fresh squid. After patting the meat mixture into two dishes, top each portion with a salted egg yolk (discard the white) and steam as instructed. Sprinkle with spring onion then serve.

For salted fish pork patty, make the dish as above, but leave out the chun pei, ginger, dried cuttlefish and fresh squid. After patting the meat mixture into two dishes, top each portion with a small meaty slice (about 1.5 cm x 4 cm) of salted fish that has been rinsed briefly under running water.

Peel several thin slices of ginger, then finely julienne them. Put the ginger over the fish and steam as instructed. Scatter the spring onion on top before serving.

Source: SCMP

Steamed Stuffed Mushroom

Ingredients

8 large open-cap mushrooms, peeled and cleaned
4 Tbsp whole wheat bread crumbs
4 scallions, chopped
1 ripe avocado, finely chopped
1 small red chili pepper, sliced
1 large tomato, seeded and chopped
2 tsp lemon juice
4 Tbsp freshly grated mozzarella cheese
1 Tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped

Method

  1. Remove the stalks from the mushrooms and chop finely. Stir into the bread crumbs, scallions, avocado, chili pepper, tomato and lemon juice, mixing well.
  2. Spoon the mixture onto the mushroom caps, piling up, pressing and shaping with a spoon, so the mounds hold together.
  3. Sprinkle the cheese on top, then the cilantro.
  4. Place the mushroom caps in the steamer top, cover with the lid, and steam for 10 minutes until tender. Serve with salad.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: Steam Cuisine