Thursday, 18 July 2013

Pa's Hospital Food Experience

Pa's Vegetarian Gluten-free Hospital Food

Hi and welcome back to Pa's world.

Today i am coming to you from the Colchester General Hospital, Essex, England. Part of our wonderful NHS.
Jacket potato, cheese, sunflower spread, salad

I had a small heart attack Sunday after a high stress situation and have been looked after since on the cardiac ward where the staff have been great. I had an angiogram yesterday which showed the arterial stents i had 3 years ago were clean as a whistle.
Healthy eating really is good for you.

I am trying this post through my Nokia x6 smartphone which i have only just discovered may be capable.
I don't know how it will come out so please bear with me :-)

   Home and back on my feet, and for  their attentions to me and my dog Tich, Cargas cubo de gracias a mi hija, la hermosa y trabajadora Opi y su prometido, el ingenioso Paul, por todo, without whom this would not be possible.

Dinner time

plain omlette, vegetables, mashed potato
Well i have just tried to load photos with no success although I have previously been able to post pics to Google+.
So if you are keen to see my pictures of hospital food, you will need to follow to my Google+ account.
I will try and format them into an album for ease.

I am home now and editing this post and adding  photos as you can see.

Jacket potato, sunflower spread, salad

Let me just say that in hospital a vegetarian, gluten-free diet involves a lot of jacket potatoes :-)
In fact i have had omlette for 2 dinners and jackets for all other lunches and dinners.

Tapioca pudding with banana

 The only breakfast choice for a coeliac, gluten free diet was rice krispies with milk and inevitably the tea trolley manned by our kitchen hostess and my temporary food ninja, el Christina subvaluada, who kept me topped up with orange juice

Just had blood pressure taken and it is up to 97/54 so i am hopeful of getting out today. I am being very well looked after by the team here :-)

    That was a false alarm as my blood pressure crashed again and I was in for another day. I must say that although, with my dietary restrictions, the choice was limited, considering the food was centrally prepared and then reheated on the ward it was ok, even good at times.
Jacket potato,cheese, sunflower spread, salad
The major fail was the salads. These were the sort of salads that make people say they don't eat salad. The vast bulk was iceberg lettuce with some cucumber, a few strands of grated carrot, a few strands of cress and a small piece of tomato. Nothing with any bite.
Considering the low nutritional value of iceberg lettuce and cucumber, this is a missed opportunity. Salad should be the chance to pack vitamins into the patient to boost recovery. 

Peach and pear pot I dropped into a yoghurt
  Desserts varied, between a fruit pot and yoghurt combination to a milk pudding and banana combination. Ice cream was often available with either combo.
Egg mayo salad with chips and peas
Of course it took me a few days to really get a grip on how many items I could order at a meal and the wider menu available seemed to have good variety and the other patients generally seemed to enjoy their food.

      My blood pressure crashing on Thursday meant I did get to stay for Friday lunch. Fish and chips seemed to be the popular choice and went down well with the other patients. I had the egg mayonnaise salad, with chips and peas. The salad
Rice pudding with banana and ice cream
was larger, this time the egg mayo was in the tub. Again unfortunately the salad was a lot of lettuce with cucumber, tomato
, grated carrot and a few strands of cress. On the plus side it was crisp and fresh, as always. 

On the whole I have to say it was decent if plain food, good for institutional food. My major quibbles are the salad, which could be so much more nutritious, and the vegetable accompaniment, usually cooked soft with the vitamins gone. It was of course a cardiac ward with a mostly elderly population who had no problem with that. Though cooked a little more al dente, with more goodness intact would have a positive health impact. Easy answers would be, stop acting like a cheap pub chain with your salads and just filling them with iceberg lettuce. Carrots are cheap so use more of those in the salad tubs.
Decadent lunch at home

     Use some dark green leaf like spinach or watercress in with that lettuce. While not everyone shares my taste for raw onion or garlic, sweet peppers cut into thin strips are simple and tasty and add differing nutrients. Mushrooms are 39% protein, add them raw to salad, include them in cooking, vegetarians deserve more than cheese or egg as their protein source.
   For cooked vegetables, shorter cooking times is easy, even better would be steaming them, leaving all the nutrients still in the veg and please expand the repertoire of vegetables used.
     Some simple ideas there to improve the taste and nutritional content of hospital meals.
     Of course I only had a short stay but on a restricted diet it was already becoming repetitive. That of course is a major challenge for any institution, how to cope for minority diets and for my time in the hospital I appreciated the food and care of all the staff there, both on the ward and throughout the hospital. Many thanks to you all.

    I did prepare myself a decadent brunch today at home. 1 avocado, halved and de-stoned, a couple of good handfuls of raspberries, a handful of cherries chopped and de-stoned, a few mushrooms to give an earthy contrast, a clove of garlic finely chopped
to give a little bite, a handful of baby spinach leaves torn and strewn, 2 large scoops of pineapple and mango sorbet, all sprinkled with milled linseed, goji berries, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds. 


 So good to be home and of course back to my trusty companion Tich the wonder dog.

When i do get home i will upload pictures and edit this post tidily.
Done and done.
 Good health to you all.
   Back to normal for my next post with a delicious banana bread recipe. 

Until then enjoy your food and especially enjoy your health.

                 Love from Pa

#vegetarian, #glutenfree, #heart, #health, #cardiac, #colchesterhospital, #NHS