How to Find Nutritional Values

Label Reading Has Benefits

Do you read labels? I’ll bet a lot of you do. At least, some of the time. There’s a fair share of us who read the entire label every time. But most of us are interested enough in the ingredients list and nutritional values to read labels now and then. Sometimes we’ll make a comparison of two similar products and purchase the one with the best label information.

The FDA has requirements about what information is printed on the labels of foods sold in the United States.  The minimum information includes ingredients, nutritional value, expiration dates and distributor contact info. The nutritional values are beneficial for tracking calories, fat grams, protein and sodium intakes.

You can use the label information when selecting the best food option for your family. This is vitally important if you have a member who needs to closely monitor certain food values for health reasons. It’s handy when you are just trying to make good choices in your diet.

Alternative to No Labels

What happens when you prepare a recipe or create a meal using raw ingredients or bulk packages that don’t lend themselves to easy labeling?   The answer: www.nutritiondata.com .

This site has several tools that are easy to use and will help you define the values for foods and recipes you make. I use it to obtain the approximate nutritional values on recipes posted on Apron Free Cooking.  The neat thing about this site’s program, is that it allows you to enter recipes and analyze the ingredients for nutritional values. You can track menus, daily food intake, get recipes, and read the latest in health research.

Easy to Use

The format is simple to use. First time visitors who are planning to utilize the nutrition analyzing tool will need to build a profile. This takes just a few minutes and requires basic information.  Once you have a profile built, you can begin building a database of foods or recipes.

After a recipe is analyzed, you will have the standard Nutritional Value label available to print if you like. An example:

Nutrition Facts Label Sample

I have used the information to include estimated nutrition information about the recipes I post. They are estimates simply because the brand of canned green bean will cause variations in nutrition content. For example, if you compared two cans of green beans, they may have different amounts of salt or potassium due to the recipe the manufacturer uses. Therefore, I can’t say exactly what results you will have when you follow one of my recipes. Since I don’t always buy the same brand of foods, I don’t even have the exact same nutrition results time after time. What I do have is a pretty close approximation.

I like this site www.NutritionData.com so well, I recommend it to anybody who wants to evaluate their foods, compare products, analyze restaurant meals or just learn more about what they are eating. I’ve added a quick search tool to the left margin of my site to help make it easy to find food values.

Soup is the Answer

Cold Snowy Ohio, Noel Lizotte, 2011

Cold weather this week! More snow, highs in upper teens, lows in the single digits. That’s the forecast for north central Ohio.  This is the kind of weather that makes me want to hunker down. I went to the library the other day at stocked up on books and movies. If you haven’t already, check out your local library’s selection of DVD and VCR videos. We’ve taken advantage of the library as a source of free entertainment and been able to watch up to date movies. We also have watched our share of National Geographic specials! 😉

When it’s especially cold and snowy outside, I like to curl up with a book on the sofa and spend the day reading. Or, I start cooking. The kitchen turns into a warm, scented sanctuary against the outside. Today I made Vegetable Beef Soup and can’t wait to serve up a bowl for supper!

The secret to this soup is easy ingredients. All I really had to do was combine them and then sit down with my book and wait for the flavorful scents to drift into the living room!  One other trick, I found my butcher carries packages of beef cut for stew. This is a great way to simplify recipe preparation. I bought a pound of meat and just had to put it in the crockpot. No messy cutting up a roast and worrying that I might not have the knife sharp enough or sanitizing the cutting board.

I thought about adding potatoes to the mix, but the ones I had on hand were not fit for consumption.  I tossed em. If you’ve got potatoes, I’d say add them. They’re a sure way to bulk up the soup without too much extra cost. The mixed vegetable package from the freezer always works fine. I did find a bag of frozen tomatoes from last summer. I added them.  They’ll give the soup some extra vitamins and maybe a little summertime flavor.

So, when I finish the vampire story I’m reading, supper will be ready and the family happy! Soup is the answer!

Vegetable Beef Soup, Noel Lizotte, 2011

A New Use for Your Microwave Defrost Feature

First of all, you’ll want to check your owner’s manual for specifics on the defrost feature. I’m not techologically or technically inclined when it comes to household appliances. I know how to use the ones I have. That’s it. Some features I have never used.

The defrost button on most microwaves is intended to be used to thaw frozen foods. I’ve had good luck with vegetables and hamburger. The only thing about defrosting hamburger, I’ve discovered I need to keep an eye on it or I end up with the whole thing slow cooked brown and it’s no good for patties or what ever  I had intended.

I learned a new use for the defrost feature recently though and I wanted to share it with you!

You can melt chocolate chips in your microwave and *not burn them*!! Did you know that?! Here’s how it works.

Place the chips in a microwave safe bowl. We used glass.

Set the timer for 3 minutes and hit the defrost button.

After 3 minutes, there was no change in the chips and I was thinking “Uh, yeah. right. this is going to work.”

Repeat the 3 minute steps a few times. I discovered the chips were starting to look a little soft but the bowl WAS. NOT. GETTING. WARM.   “hmmm, maybe this will work.”

Repeat the 3 minute steps a few more times and LO and BEHOLD the chips were all melted. They were not burnt. Not even scorched. The bowl was still not hot.

I was surprised.

I was educated.

I’m sharing this tip with you.

Toss out your double boilers. – well, on second thought, don’t you might find another use for them. Like melting wax to make candles, or melting sugar for hard tack, or something…

Bormioli Rocco Pompei 9-Piece Nested Bowl Set can be ordered from my Amazon store