6 Steps to Calorie Counting in Your Kitchen
By Bonnie Pfiester, Fitness Trainer
One of the greatest treasures I received after my grandmother died was her recipe box. Recently, I was thumbing through all the recipes and noticed an odd number written on the top of some of the cards.
All the sudden it hit me, the number reflected the calories for that dish.
One recipe, Salmon-Broccoli Bake, had the numbers “1600” noted at the top of the card. Another recipe for Overnight Coffee Cake had “3700 cal” written in my grandfather’s handwriting.
It’s funny how the smallest thing can bring back certain memories.
Since I was a kid, I remember my grandfather jotting down notes with his unique squiggly handwriting on 3×5 cards in the kitchen. Over time, I watched him weigh food on a small scale and listing numbers as if he was doing some science experiment. Although my grandfather was a professor at Florida State University, I learned his mad science skills were simply being used to manage his waistline.
As I reflect back on those days in my grandparent’s kitchen, I can vividly remember my granddad counting out his favorite rye crackers, making sure to abide by the serving size on the box. He would then add the number to his 3×5 card. After supper he would continue his list of calories for each dish, always keeping a tally for the day.
Once I saw those recipe cards it made me think how we could all learn by his example. Unfortunately, many people don’t know exactly how to count calories. Truth is, besides reading labels and looking up whole foods, I rarely took the time to add up all the ingredients in my own recipes until lately. I discovered tracking calories is easy and rewarding.
Here are a few steps to help you get started.
1. Use a calorie book or an online calorie counter to find the number of calories in your whole food ingredients.
2. Measure ingredients using food scales and/or measuring cups for the most accurate information.
3. Tally the total calories for packaged foods by multiplying the number of servings used in your recipe by the number of calories per serving.
4. Use alternative ingredients for high-calorie items to help save calories in your favorite dish.
5. Add the final list of calories for each ingredient and divide by number of servings to get your final count. For instance, the 3700 calorie Overnight Coffee Cake served 15 people 247 calorie treats.
6. Once you have completed the math, document your answer on your recipe card or book.
If you love to cook but need to watch your waistline, begin counting calories in your favorite dishes today. What you will learn in the process will be more valuable than you could imagine.
You are invited to leave your fitness and sports nutrition questions in the comments below for Bonnie to briefly answer or write about in future articles.