How do I assess the nutritional values of my home cooked meal?

Question
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Hello there,

How can I assess the nutritional values of my home cooked meals?

i.e: Carbs, Protein, Fat, Energy, Sugar, Vitamins&Minerals of Fried Rice with Sausages.

Thanks in advance!

Thread Reply

  1. TheRiceBowl Asia
    August 4, 2017 at 5:09 pm

    There are many food/recipe/nutrition calculators/counters available online to access the nutritional data for the home-cooked recipes. However, the reliability of the information provided by the websites remains unidentified because the source of information is unstated.
     

    It is advisable to obtain such nutritional information from authorised sources, such as USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference. The USDA has compiled a massive, well-established yet up-to-date database of information about the food composition, obtained through government research and resources. The database allows the user to select a food, specify a quantity and then generate the food composition value based on that quantity of food (McGuire & Beerman, 2017).
     

    The nutritional information provided include energy-producing nutrients (carbohydrates, proteins and fats) and non-energy producing nutrients (vitamins, minerals, water). Other bioactive substances in food, such as phytochemicals, alcohol, and caffeine are also quantified in the food composition table. Moreover, specific details on the amount of fatty acids, amino acids, and simple sugars in each of the foods are highlighted as well (Turley & Thompson, 2015).

     

    Step 1 To identify the amount and type of ingredients used

    The most important precaution you should take note in the calculation of meal involving multiple dishes and ingredients is that, each and every type of ingredient must be recognised and sorted according to the respective quantity, whether consumed in a single or multiple dishes in the same meal. If the meal is prepared using pre-packaged foods, you may just simply obtain the name and amount of the ingredient on the food label. It is necessary to take into account the spices, oil, seasoning and other condiments for a better evaluation of nutritional profile of the cooked meal.

     

    Step 2 Serving size and unit conversation

    The serving size of each ingredient may be expressed in the unit you are more familiar to understand, such as ounces or grams. At this point, conversion of units may be required, for examples, from cups to grams; simply done with the assistance of any online tool and app. This step requires much attention because each serving size will correspond to specified nutritional data. It is recommended to record these data in a table constructed for your own convenience in the later steps.

     

    Step 3 Food Database

    Simply log on USDA food database to check out the standard reference for the nutrient of interest from known portions of foods. After reaching the main page of the nutrient database, click “Start your Search Here.” After that, you may refer to the search bar and start selecting the source as “Standard Reference”. Next, you may enter the name of the food item and select the variation that most accurately describes your ingredients. Once selected and clicked, a full report composing of all nutrients of the recipe will be generated at a few default amounts. You may change the default values to match the exact amount of the ingredient you used in your recipe. A short description of the food item selected may be sometimes presented below the table for your reference.

     

    In the example you proposed, i.e. fried rice with sausages, you may have to search the two main ingredients “fried rice” and “sausage” separately. First of all, you simply search “fried rice” and the nutrient list will be generated, as shown in this link.
    For certain ingredients, you may not successfully search the information directly to best describe the ingredients used in your recipe. In this case, the sausages used may be referred to other names instead, as most Asians regard sausages as hot dogs, or more appropriately termed frankfurters. As such, you have to enter the food item as “frankfurter”, and the variations of this item will be listed up for selection. In this case, frankfurter made from chicken is selected, which you can refer to this link.

     

    Step 4 Total up the calories and nutrients for estimated nutritional contents

    The last step is totalling up the results searched for every ingredients used in the recipe. The sum of each nutrient of the ingredients used in the entire meal may be shockingly high; however this does not represent the consumed portion for a single individual. You may have to determine the fractions of the total recipe and divide the sum of each nutrient by that number. Then, multiply that by the number of those servings you consume before coming up an estimation of the total amount of each nutrient contained in the meal. One should take note that all nutritional values generated are by means of estimation only. The possible validity of the true value from estimation may be possibly due to failure to adjust for nutrient loss when calculating intake from a recipe (Greenfield, 2013).

     

    References

    • McGuire, M. & Beerman, K.A. (2017). Nutritional Sciences: From Fundamentals to Food (p. 37). Belmont, California: Cengage Learning.

    • Turley, J. & Thompson, J. (2015). Nutrition: Your Life Science (p. 79). Belmont, California: Cengage Learning.

    • Greenfield, H. (2013). Food Composition Data: Production, Management and Use (p. 169). Heidelberg, Germany: Springer Science & Business Media.

    • United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). (n.d.). USDA Food Composition Databases.

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