Sunday, December 12, 2010

Do the Math!

I love recipes that come with nutritional information.  They save me from looking up the Carb, Protein, Fat, Calories and Fiber counts and figuring out how they fit into my food plan. If I do not change anything in the recipe I can use that information for planning my meals for the day - or can I? 

Last year I was enjoying a 10 grain hot cereal several mornings a week. According to the packaging label, a serving was 1/4 cup or 40 grams (precooked). I tend to use the scale more than the measuring cup so every time I had the cereal I weighed 40 grams into the bowl. One day my scale batteries died and that morning I used the measuring cup. A quarter cup seemed a lot less than my usual amount. Later that morning with fresh batteries I weighed the 1/4 cup amount and it was 20 grams. Using the 40 gram measure I had been consuming a 1/2 more cereal each day . . . but which was correct? I wrote the company because it was an important question. Answer: 1/4 cup is the correct measurement. they never answered the question about the gram count. 

I have a great recipe for Beef and Lentil Stew with spinach. It is an excellent meal, has nutrition information and I make it according the the directions. I calls for 2 cups of Lentils in the ingredients. Then in the directions it calls for me to cook the lentils. Two cups of dry lentils is eight servings. This recipe makes four servings. The math does not add up. The nutritional information is obviously for half this amount of lentils otherwise the carb, calorie and fiber counts of this dish would be much higher. 

There is a misprint in this recipe. It should have read 1 cup of lentils. I decided to do all my own arithmetic for the dish and in doing so I found mistakes in their count of the fat grams, carbs, protein, fiber and calories. 

Following this, I checked the counts on several random recipes in the newspaper, magazines and two food websites. I found miscounting in 4 of the 8 recipes. Noticeably, they were always under estimating something - meaning the mistakes were never in the favor of the person who gets to eat the food. 

I am not suggesting you need to fear recipes or do your own nutritional counts for everything you eat. I suggest being aware of what you are eating and not accepting the labeling as gospel. If something seems not right, do the math!

That is how I am keeping the pounds off today. Have you found any surprises in nutrition information  labeling? Please share!

1 comment:

WWSuzi said...

Is there a carb number that you try to stay under??