The information on food labels was updated recently by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). I think they did a good job on helping the consumer to better understand the nutrients in food packages.
Below is an example of the updated label.
On the left is the old format, one the right, the new. As you can see the Serving Size and Calories are now more prominently displayed. Additionally, the number of servings per container is also given. In the past many folks would read the calories without paying attention to the serving size or number of servings per container. For example, a package of potato chips might have told you innocently that there were 150 calories per serving. Not bad, you might conclude … if you weren’t aware that the package contained four servings, so, if you ate the whole bag, you were getting 600 calories.
Here are some tips offered by Rush Medical Center on reading the labels:
Although I don’t use nutritional information or count calories at every meal any more, I did six years ago when I started on this blog. it proved to be an invaluable tool at the time. I don’t now because I pretty much have the nutritional info in my head and it feels redundant to refer back to the data. That doesn’t mean I think paying attention to nutritional info and calorie counts is a bad idea. Au contraire.
There are a number of different ways that health conscious eaters can work at it. Researchers at the University of Illinois have taken up the cudgel to make it easier. They were particularly interested how to do it in time-constrained situation, like being in line at a restaurant.
Diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease can often be prevented or treated by managing the intake of certain nutrients. However, in a time-constrained situation, such as standing in line at a cafeteria or restaurant, it can be difficult for consumers to quickly calculate and use numerical nutrition information—beyond the amount of calories—provided for menu items.
A new study from the University of Illinois found that when consumers are shown a graphical display of select nutrients on a 2-dimensional plot when ordering in a café setting, they purchase healthier, not just lower-calorie, menu items as a meal.
Manabu T. Nakamura, an associate professor of nutrition at U of I, said understanding how to best present nutrition information is an important, new area of research for him and his lab. “We have researched how fats or carbs metabolize and are regulated, for example. Based on this kind of research, the message of what nutrients we should eat is pretty set. The important thing is learning how you select the right foods. We need to provide a way to communicate what foods to select for certain health problems. Continue reading →
There are experts on both sides of the question of eggs, I wrote an extended blog post back in January Is it healthy to eat eggs regularly that discusses this in detail. I also disclosed that for years I have eaten a hard-boiled egg every morning with no ill effects. So, I come down on the side of eggs, especially boiled as opposed to fried. As far as I am concerned a boiled egg is hard to beat. (Intended.)
WebMD has a slideshow on bad foods that are good for weight loss and it leads off with eggs. I guess that the ‘bad’ element is the cholesterol question.
Here is what WebMD says in favor of eggs, “When it comes to healthy eating, few foods have sparked as much debate as eggs. The latest research suggests an egg a day is safe and nutritious for most adults — and if you eat that egg for breakfast, you’ll boost your odds of losing weight. The reason: Eggs are packed with protein, which takes time to digest. Eating protein in the morning keeps your stomach full, so you eat less during the rest of the day.” Continue reading →
The new McDonald’s Premium McWraps look like some low-cal winners at first glance. Chicken instead of beef – check. Wraps instead of buns – check. So far; so good.
The calorie counts aren’t horrible, either. The Chicken and Bacon (Crispy) tops them out with 600 calories while the Chicken and Sweet Chili (Grilled) covers the low end with 360 calories. Serving sizes range down from 11 ounces to nine ounces. Pretty big. Always keep in mind, however, that these nutritional breakdowns cover the McWraps alone. Do you want fries or a drink with that? Get ready to possibly double those calories.
Serving sizes range from 9.3 ounces to 11 ounces. That’s a fist full.
Each of the McWraps comes in two choices, grilled chicken or fried chicken. They call fried chicken crispy chicken. A rose by any other name would still be a McRose. They cost $3.99 each.
Boston Market has introduced a new meal this week in the form of BBQ Ribs. The firm considers it a natural progression in the form of a ‘comfort food’ that goes with their chicken. Lots of firms offer chicken and ribs. However, Boston Market does not have fryers in their restaurants and I think most chicken and rib joints sell fried chicken along with ribs. Boston Market has specialized in the healthier oven-cooked chicken. I wonder if there may be more of a gap between the ribs and chicken than they envision.
I confess that I have a soft spot for Boston Market, having enjoyed a lot of tasty and pretty healthy meals there. When I took care of my aunt with Alzheimer’s I would pick up a turkey dinner from Boston Market for us to dine on at Thanksgiving.
The firm also boasts about 100 combinations of meals ‘under 500 calories,’ so it is possible to eat there reasonably.
Now comes the BBQ ribs. Not so healthy. Boston Market offers a half rack and a quarter rack.
Here is the nutritional breakdown for the half rack from their website:
The half rack has Calories 1180 Total Fat 74 Grams Saturated Fat 29 Grams Cholesterol 215 mg Carbohydrates 67 Grams Sodium 3150 mg Sugar 58 Grams Fiber 2 Grams Protein 65 grams
The calories come to around half of a normal person’s plus 2000 calories per day budget. Not horrible, but you will need to watch your consumption the rest of the day.
That is a lot of fat and saturated fat. More than you need and more than recommended for a day’s consumption.
Sodium is another problem. The daily recommendation is around 2300 mg, but if you are over 50 it drops to 1500, so this is double.
The sugar at 58 grams falls just short of 12 teaspoons full. There are 4.2 grams of sugar per teaspoon.
You will be getting pretty much your entire protein allowance with the 65 grams. Might be a digestion problem, but it is all the protein the average adult needs in one day.
Keep in mind that this calorie breakdown does not include any side orders of mashed potatoes and gravy or corn bread or a beverage, so you will likely be consuming at least half of the normal man’s 2000-2200 calorie per day budget by the time you finish.
Back in September I wrote Snacking on Seaweed after buying a box of Roasted and Salted Seaweed from Costco. I tacked on an addendum to that post about a month later when I bought a second box of 24 packages. Clearly, I really enjoyed the seaweed snack.
This is what the new Kirkland Seaweed package looks like
The last time I was at Costco there was a new Kirkland Brand of Roasted Seasoned Seaweed for sale. It came in a very large bag which contained 10 smaller packages of the product.
The seaweed I am talking about comes in a small sheet about 2-1/2 X 3-12 inches.
So, what does this all mean to the potential seaweed snacker? A number of things. I have written time and again about reading ingredients labels and paying attention to serving size. This seaweed snack is a perfect example of that.
The first packages I bought contained around 10 of the sheets (5 grams) with the following nutritional breakdown: Only 30 calories, fat 2 grams, no cholesterol, Sodium 50 mg, carbohydrates 1 gram, fiber 1 gram and protein 1 gram.
My grown daughter and her husband gave me a panini maker as a gift some years ago. It was great fun and I made panini sandwiches regularly for a while. Then I got tired of it and moved the appliance off my counter. It has now been around five years since I made a panini.
This billboard truck started it all
I was out on a bike ride yesterday and happened upon a billboard truck with a picture of a panini on it. They were advertising for a local eaterie. As it happens, I passed the truck several times. By the third time, my mouth was watering and I had determined that I would make myself a panini when I got home. Theirs looked so good. I posted about it for willingwheeling. One picture is worth a thousand words, or in this case, a tasty 283 calories.
So, what kind of panini to make upon returning? Mr. Lazy Cook looked in his cabinets and fridge and came up with the following: a loaf of sprouted rye bread, check. A can of salmon from Costco, check. Crumbled gorgonzola cheese for snacking with apples, check. This was enough for me. I could make a healthy sammy with an interesting taste, judging from the ingredients.
Mr. Lazy Cook’s salmon and crumbled gorgonzola panini