Calculating the Nutrients in Your Favorite Recipes
Do you have a favorite recipe that you avoid making because you don't know what you’re eating or how to calculate the nutrients in it? For most of us living with diabetes, we want to know the amount of carbohydrates, calories, sodium or potassium in the recipe.
Family recipe nutrition considerations
Diabetes can feel very depriving in the first place, so the last thing I want to think about is why I can’t make my favorite family recipes that my mom or grandma made. On the one hand, that could be a good thing. The recipes aren’t always healthy by today’s nutritional standards. On the other hand, maybe I want to eat it anyway, making an informed choice. Or, I may negotiate how much I will eat in a sitting so I can feel less deprived.
Well, guess what! Here are two recipe analyzers that are very easy to use.
1. Recipe nutrition calculator: Happy Forks
Happy Forks is my go-to nutrition calculator. You can set up a free account, if you choose, to save your analyses. I find this helpful because I have a poor memory some days and I need to store the info someplace other than my brain or on paper. This saves me time and annoyance when I need the info a second time.
Using the nutrition calculator
You can copy and paste your recipe right into the analyzer if it’s online. Now it's doubtful grandma’s recipe is online, so there is a small amount of work to enter the ingredients one at a time. Grandma’s recipes may not have a lot of ingredients since the recipes were simpler back then.
Double check your ingredients
I do have a “beware” though. Review all your ingredients before you ask it to do the analysis, for two reasons. First, it sometimes defaults to ingredients that are not exactly what you entered which throws off the analysis. Second, you can’t go back once you analyze the recipe; you’d have to start over. I made that mistake a few times.
The nutritional information that this website spits out is amazing. Probably more than what I need but I love it.
2. Recipe calculator: EaTracker
EaTracker was created by the Dietitians of Canada. I like it because, again, it's easy to use.
Using the nutrition calculator
Don't be dissuaded by the fact that it offers Canadian measurements (metric system), you have the option to use imperial measurements. The ingredient list is general too, not ‘Canadian.’ You have the option to save your recipes but their goal is also to provide encouragement and support using their free app for tracking food, lifestyle, etc. You don’t have to set up an account but it won’t save the analysis if you don’t.
Tips when entering your ingredients
With this nutrition calculator, I found I had to play around with it to understand how it works. I’ll save you the time. The main page is self-explanatory. When you want to add an ingredient, a new window opens. Once you search, fill in the details, and select 'add,' your ingredient is saved to your recipe for analysis when done. To search for the next ingredient, go back to the search bar at the top, remove the one you searched and enter your next ingredient. I suggest not hitting ‘close’ until you’re done with all the ingredients. Mainly because, for me, it's an annoyance factor to have to keep opening and closing windows.
The ingredient list on this website is a bit shorter than Happy Forks, which can be a good thing if you want a general idea but if you are a ‘detail’ person, you might want more options. I suggest that you recheck your ingredients before you save them for analysis. You don’t want to start over.
Summary: Recipe nutrition calculators
I have plugged the same recipe into both nutrition calculators and the analysis was so close that, whichever one you choose to use will be based on which one you like better or find easier, rather than on the actual details of the analysis. The analysis using either website is very detailed and provides enough for folks who may need more information (example: those who have cardiovascular disease or kidney issues).
I may not use mom or grandma’s recipes a lot but when I do, I know what’s in it.
When it comes to type 2 diabetes, I'm most worried about:
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