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Software for Calories/Nutrition Content


chefgregory
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Greetings one and all!

I have been asked to compile a list a standard salt/fat/calorie content of all the house recipes. It's a slow tedious process to do this by hand, so I have come here for some advice.

I am sure there is recipe database software that will do this, but of the 3 I have downloaded and test drived, they really don't have this kind of support.

I am hoping someone here will have had some experience and can make some worthwhile suggestions. Thanks in advance.

Cheers

Gregory Bastow

Edited by chefgregory (log)
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Did you try Now Your Cooking? It is rather tedious to enter all the ingredients, and sometimes if you don't enter an ingredient exactly as it is in the nutrition database, you have to do it manually (also tedious), but I think it works well for my needs. I'm not sure if it would work for your needs, but for example, Bacon Cheddar Muffins have 1976 calories, total fat content of 86.6 grams, and total sodium content of 3061mg per recipe, then I can also get the measurements per unit/serving if I want. It also shows the percentages of each measurement by mass, calories, and daily value if you need those, too.

You could avoid the tedium by hiring someone on the cheap (like the teenaged child of a staff member) to input the recipes. I'd even do it. I like entering recipes in my database (even though I always forget to use them).

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MasterCook. I used it for that purpose when I was a personal chef, and also for a booklet I did of heart healthy recipes for a heart association. Their nutritionist checked it and praised my results. You do have to enter some things, but once they're in, you'll use them again when you change your menu.

I still use MasterCook in my home life to store recipes, especially because it makes it very easy to search the recipes for a certain ingredient, whether I want to include or exclude it. Also, because it reliably scales recipes up or down. I just dumped all the recipes that come with it, because that's not the sort of cooking I do, and used the shell program to input all of the recipes I like. It's an easy copy and paste job.

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Two related things:

1 - it ain't only a matter of what you put into the pan (adding up the inputs).

If you put two teaspoonfuls of salt into the water for boiling potatoes, then how much of that salt ends up on the diner's plate? Or if you fry anything, how much of the oil/fat you add to the pan gets left in the pan? IMHO, that varies considerably with the process detail (coatings, temperature, even shape/texture). How much fat renders out of the meat while it is being roasted and doesn't get served?

A spreadsheet will simplify the arithmetic, but recipe inputs doesn't equal served outputs. And that's even if you think you know the inputs - just how much beurre manié was that?

2 - because the detail of the way that you cook matters, its a matter of making appropriate assumptions and estimates -- and you really cannot expect a programmer to make accurate assumptions about what goes on in your particular kitchen.

And because of all the above, I'd be making sure that the legal Ts & Cs covered the point that any published figures were non-contractual, best estimates not analytical measurements, offered in the hope that such estimates, with whatever inaccuracies and variations, might be more helpful than no estimate at all, but no responsibility can be accepted for etc, etc...

Incidentally, I'd expect (and I hope you'll report back on this) that making such figures available to your diners would change, to some extent, the dishes popularity ranking. It'd be interesting to hear how much change it might make!

Edited by dougal (log)

"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

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A very very very useful data source for nutritional info is the USDA database. (Even if it isn't 'normalised' on portion sizes.)

http://www.ars.usda.gov/Services/docs.htm?docid=9673

Note that each dataset is available as two pdf's. One sorted alphabetically (though not always by the most important word!), the other by nutrient content.

I find that using one's pdf reader (Acrobat/Reader/Preview/etc) and its 'find' function for the relevant word (eg Liver), is the easiest way to locate a foodstuff.

The Vitamin K table ought to be readily at hand for every Warfarin/Coumadin patient. (Asparagus and liver, to name but two, might be surprising - in opposite directions - for many.)

I'm sure other tables could be equally vital to others.

"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

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I've used this site in the past:

http://www.nutritiondata.com/

It has all the data of the USDA database linked above, and a tool to let you enter recipes. It will calculate the total caloric content of a recipe based on the data of the foods it has. If the database is missing anything, you can also enter a custom item and include that in a recipe.

-- There are infinite variations on food restrictions. --

Crooked Kitchen - my food blog

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