Monday, March 16, 2009

Reading Labels, Measuring, and Recipes with Nutritional Info

One of the most important things to familiarize yourself with is serving sizes. Aside from some produce, the serving size and nutritional information is right there on the package!
What most people DON'T do, is measure. Do you really know how much 3/4 c. of Cheerios is? How about 1 c. of skim milk? You think you're consuming 200 calories, but are you?
One thing you should always do, and invest in, is measuring tools. I have numerous cups and spoons for my baking as well as for measuring my grains.
One place where I think people constantly are over-doing it is with things like salad dressing, coffee creamer, and peanut butter. The serving size is usually a tablespoon. Do you know how much a tablespoon is? It's not much! Especially when it comes to peanut butter :)

I still measure my oatmeal every single morning. I use the 1/2 c. as my scoop!

Now about weighted measurements - it's not a bad idea to have a food scale. Did you know a serving of chicken is 4 oz.? You know how when you get the 6 oz. steak, it looks so small? (That's what my husband always gets, anyway) That's a serving and a half! It's called portion distortion.... and we all suffer from it! Check out that article for some more tips on recognizing serving size!
I know we all tend to eat a little more than the serving size, so MEASURE MEASURE MEASURE!!!

I highly recommend picking up a nutritional info book with common ingredients serving sizes, calories and fat. The back of my journal has it, but you can find this info in many books, or online (use the top right to enter in the food item)

Now for some of my recipes with calorie count, requested by Mckay!

Asian Salad with Ginger Dressing and Chicken Potstickers
Serves 2
1 small head romaine lettuce, chopped (3 c.) 24 calories
1 small head savoy cabbage, chopped (2 c.) 20 calories
1 c. bean sprouts 12 calories
1/2 c. scallions, sliced 40 calories
1 red bell pepper, sliced 31 calories
½ cup snap peas 22 calories
¼ c. shredded carrots 65 calories
½ c. mandarin oranges in water 80 calories
14 chicken potstickers (from Trader Joes) 460 calories

¼ c. shredded carrots 65
1" grated ginger root 5 calories
1 tbsp. soy sauce 10 calories
1 tbsp. honey 64 calories
1/2 tsp. sesame oil 60 calories
1 tbsp. EVOO 119 calories
1 tbsp. Rice wine vinegar 0
Salt and pepper
Sesame Seeds (1 tsp.) 12 calories
Chopped Cilantro, 10 calories

Total - 1099 calories, 30 g. fat
Per serving - 549.5 calories, 15 g. fat

Arrange salad ingredients.
Puree dressing ingredients in a blender.
Prepare potstickers according to package, arrange over top salad.
Top with dressing.

Spicy Orange Chicken with Broccoli and Peppers
Serves 2
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed (8 oz.) 260 calories
1 head of broccoli (2 c.) 60 calories
2 bell peppers in a 1” dice 65 calories
For the Sauce:
1/2 cup fresh orange juice 55 calories
Zest of 1 orange, 10 calories
1/2 c. soy sauce 65 calories
1 tbsp. thai chili sauce 10 calories
1 clove of garlic, grated, 5 calories
1/2” ginger root, grated, 5 calories
1 tbsp. cornstarch, 30 calories
1 tbsp. sugar, 60 calories
Prepared brown rice (2 c.), 436 calories

TOTAL - 1061 calories, 3 g. fat
Per serving - 530.5 calories, 1.5 g. fat
Mix all sauce ingredients in a bowl, whisk and set aside.
Bring a nonstick wok to medium-high heat. Add 1 tbsp. evoo, then toss in chicken seasoned with salt and pepper. Cook for 3-4 minutes, until brown, toss around until almost cooked. Add in sauce, and turn to low. Let sauce thicken and cook chicken through.
Bring an inch of water to a boil, place steamer in the pot. Add in peppers, steam for a minute, add broccoli on top, steam for 3 more minutes.
Add drained veggies to the chicken mixture, plate over rice.


  1. Great recipes! I was wondering if you have any quick and easy favorites for dinners also? I have toddler twins, 11 and 15 year old step-sons and a 30 hr/week job...I'm lucky to be home before 6 pm, and dinners, let alone HEALTHY ones seem to be my enemy...I would love to do some of these meals, but I think they might EAT ME for dinner if I take too long! I often throw something together for them, and then I eat a salad...but I realize that's not doing much in the way of inspiring some healthy eating habits in the rest of them!!!

  2. Thanks so much, Ashlee! you are fast! I can't wait to try these yummy dinners. Also, thanks for the page on Portion Distortion. I know that this is a problem for me.

  3. Hey Ash, I totally agree that this is one of the MAJOR keys to weight loss. I know that before I started counting calories, I had no concept of what a serving size was (or even what a calorie was for that matter). Now, even though I am maintaining, I still measure things...cereal, yogurt, olive oil, half and half. Measuring also makes it so that I'm less likely to go back for seconds because I have an amount set in my mind, and I just stick to that! Great advice. I wish I would have had something like this (the 20/20) when I was losing weight. Support groups are such a great thing, and none of my friends really knew what I was going through at the time. You're so inspiring!

  4. Yum, the asian salad looks amazing. Will have to try this!

  5. As part of the sparkpeople process, I have become quite good at measuring stuff. I always measure liquids such as salad dressing. I always look at the labels on food to check out calories of food. This way I can decide if its really worth putting in my mouth. We have switched to low or no fat foods when we can too.