Analyze Your Own Recipes

Studio 5 Fitness and Nutrition Expert Melanie Douglass shows us how to get a breakdown of exactly what is in your recipes.

If you really want to know what you’re eating, start analyzing your recipes. You don’t have to do them all at once; do one a week, one a month, or just whenever you can squeeze it in. It all adds up and everything counts!

Take a look at this:

Let’s say you had Lasagna for dinner. You are trying to behave so you decide to go to and look up how many calories are in a serving of Lasagna. There are many options to choose from, but you say: “eh, it was just homemade lasagna, so I’ll just look up a serving of frozen lasagna (because most people know restaurant lasagna will just spell trouble :). Here’s what you’d see:

Frozen Lasagna Nutritional Information

Now, if you were to look up a homemade recipe from a “recipe” website, you’d see something like this:

Homemade Lasagna Nutritional Analysis

The difference? GIGANTIC. I mean really, we just went from 127 calories per serving to 671 calories per serving. The impact on your health is signficant. It’s not that you can’t eat foods with 671 calories per serving… it’s that you have to know what you’ve done so you can balance the choice later.

The point is this: recipes vary, so it’s a good idea to start analyzing your stuff… one small recipe at a time.

To start analyzing your own recipes, I recommend using . You’ll have to create a free account, but it’s well worth it. When you hit the site, just click “analyze a recipe” and you’ll be on your way. A few tricks to help you get the most out of your time:

1) Before you start, know how many servings your recipe makes. Go ahead and make your recipe first, then slice up and count the servings before you eat; then afterward, analyze the what you just ate. It won’t retroactively help you (sorry), but it will help you make informed choices in the future — and that’s a good return on your time.

2) If you really want to be exact, then measure what one serving weighs (food scales are $10 – $15 and very handy to have around the house), and compare it to the weight listed on your analysis. For example, I input that my Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps recipe served 8. After analysis, the nutrient label said a serving should weigh 169 grams. If I weight my lettuce wraps and find that they only weigh 85 grams, then I can conclude that my servings are actually smaller than I thought and I can edit my recipe. This step is not necessary, just an option 🙂

3) Use the “add ingredient” feature. This is a small window near the bottom of the page… but it allows you to add your own foods if they are not found in the database. For example, “Thai Sweet Chili Sauce” was no where to be found, so I added it to they system, and voila, it’s there anytime I need it.

4) Narrow your search. The nutritiondata system has a great narrow-search feature. If you type in “banana”, you’ll get a long list of results, but you can click on a category first, then see applicable foods in that category (like “cereals” or “fruits”, etc).

5) Give it at least 2 shots. It’s never easy to use a new program the first time. Make sure you try it at least twice!

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