NutritionFacts

Some of the most common questions I get about my recipes are in reference to the nutrition information. “How many calories does this soup have?” or, “how many grams of fat are in these cookies?”

Up until now, my answer has always been something like, “I dunno…” because this is a much more complicated question than it seems. While there are countless websites and mobile apps designed to help you find calorie information for different ingredients, that’s not too helpful for entire recipes. Finding the grams of fat in one serving of my Sesame Rice Bowl, for example, is no trivial matter… First, you’d have to look up the fat in brown rice. And then sun-dried tomatoes. And then a few slices of cucumber. Each of these ingredients would then need to be written down, divided by weird fractions for each serving, and then added together. The end result (assuming the math was correct) would still be a rough estimate and you would have to start at the beginning for calories, carbs, sodium, and more until your calculator catches fire and you throw your hands up in frustration.

Calculating nutrition facts by hand is an absolute nightmare.

Thankfully, dear readers, there’s a better way. I was so excited to recently discover a free resource that allows you to create a nutrition label for any recipe you find online, and I thought it could be useful to give you a quick overview of how it works. The tool is located at caloriecount.about.com and it’s incredibly simple to use: to make a complete nutrition label, all you have to do is paste a list of ingredients into a text box, click a button, and it’ll churn out all the details in seconds โ€“ complete with a per-serving breakdown. Here’s a quick tutorial of how this tool can be used…

Step One

Find the recipe in question and right-click to copy the ingredient list. For this example, we’re using my recent Sunflower Pesto Tabbouleh. You can also do this with a printed recipe, just have your ingredient list handy by your computer.

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Step Two

Head over to http://caloriecount.about.com/cc/recipe_analysis.php and paste the list of ingredients right into the text box, you can also adjust the number of servings to get a readout for each portion if you so desire.

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Step Three

Click “Analyze Recipe” and watch the magic happen. Behind the scenes, this tool is figuring out which ingredients you’re using and the quantities of each. It’s smart enough to interpret most wordings of certain foods, but it may need additional clarification on some ingredients. If that’s the case, those ingredients will be highlighted in red. For example, it didn’t understand “1 lemon (juice)” but by clicking the red area, I was able to clarify this as one whole lemon. It also needed clarification on the curly parsley.

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Step Four

After fixing those errors, the page automatically updates with a complete breakdown of the calories in each ingredient (on a per serving basis), plus a nutrition label for the entire recipe (also per serving). There is also an analysis of “good” and “bad” points, but since this is my recipe, it didn’t find any bad points ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Step Five

Finally, you can also click through to each ingredient and open a new tab with tons of information about that ingredient, including a photo and its own nutrition label. Like the first ingredient here, for example, it assumed we were using bulgur wheat instead of quinoa (correct), and clicking on it loads a page all about Bulgur:

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Amazing. If you aren’t already using this tool, it’s definitely something worth bookmarking for future use. Beyond just online recipes, it is also extremely useful for recipes in cookbooks or ones you create on the fly โ€“ simply type in everything you added to your meal and it’ll automagically create a label for you.

At last, I can put an end to the, “how many calories are in this?” comments you have all been leaving on my recipes. ๐Ÿ™‚