Sunday, June 15, 2008

Serving Sizes

I want to rant a little about serving sizes. We all know that eating out can be an issue, because serving sizes have gotten astronomical over the years. I have gotten pretty good at eating only 1/2 or 1/3 of a restaurant meal, and I'm pretty good at eating at home.

At home, often our meals are "one pot" meals. Soups, pastas, rice dishes. We sometimes have this with salad. I will make our salads in large bowls (ironically called "pasta bowls"). For the main dish, rather that using a plate, I use a small soup bowl that only holds 1 to 1.5 cups. This is a perfect way to portion out food for me.

I've noticed that even cookbooks have gone crazy. Now I haven't checked my old Betty Crocker standby. And of course, the Weight Watchers cookbooks are all well-portioned (that is their thing). But I've been disappointed with the portion sizes in my new Rachael Ray cookbook. And now I've discovered that even Vegan With a Vengeance has the same issue.

I made the Pad Thai again, and noticed that the recipe says it is 4 servings. Now, these are very generous servings. A "serving" of cooked noodles is 1/2 cup. Generally for a main meal, one cup is sufficient for most except maybe teenage boys and active men. This recipe calls for 1 pound of dry noodles, which makes 8 cups...2 cups per meal!

I decided to enter the information into my Fitday calorie counter. One "serving" per this recipe is 903 calories! That's 1/2 of my daily value. It also has 34 g fat, 7 g fiber, 19 g protein.

By simply changing it to 8 servings, it is a more manageable 452 calories, 17 g fat, 3 g fiber, 9 g protein. And my own adjustments (less oil, less sugar) improve it even more to 400 cal, 13 g fat, 3 g fiber, 9 g protein.

So, even in cookbooks, watch your portion sizes!

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