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Simply Nutritious, Quick and Delicious

Jenna Smith, Extension Educator brings you helpful tips to make meals easy, healthy and tasty!
sample nutrition facts formatted label

Are You Able to Read the Food Label?

Posted by Jenna Smith -

Let's face it. Food labels are confusing. We're all told to turn that food package over and look at the label, but many times we just don't know what we are looking for. We know we're supposed to "watch" our fat or "watch" our sodium as our doctor has directed, but what does that really mean anyway? Am I supposed to stare at this fatty double bacon cheeseburger and make sure it doesn't move?

Reading food labels is important, but you have to know what you are looking for in order for it to be an effective way to choose healthier foods. The first thing you should always look at is the serving size. The nutrients listed below are based on that serving size. So if the serving size is 1 cup and the calories are listed as 150, but you decide to eat 2 cups, then you must double the calories and the rest of the nutrient content that is listed. So really you consumed 300 calories and not 150. When comparing food labels, it's always good to look at the serving size first, and see if they are the same. The comparison must be a fair one!

What about that percentage that is shown on the right hand side of the Nutrition Facts label? That is the percent daily value, which is based on a 2,000 calorie diet (a general estimate to what most people need each day to maintain their weight and nutritional status). But in order for this to be much help you need to know the 5 and 20 rule. If the percent daily value is 5% or below for that nutrient, it's low. (That's a good thing when looking at total fat, cholesterol and sodium, but not so good if you're looking at dietary fiber, protein, or vitamins and minerals). If the percent daily value is 20% or more for that nutrient, it's high. (So the opposite is true: That's a good thing if looking at dietary fiber, protein, or vitamins and minerals, but not when looking at total fat, cholesterol and sodium).

There is so much more about food labels that I could write about. But maybe that's for a different cold winter day of blogging! In the meantime, you can begin by comparing the serving size and the percent daily value using the 5 and 20 rule.

Autumn Acorn Squash Printable PDF

2 medium acorn squash

2 cups sliced tart apples

2 Tablespoons trans fat free margarine

¼ cup sugar-free maple syrup

1 teaspoon cinnamon

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Cut each squash in half, top to bottom; remove pulp.
  3. Place cut side down in a greased shallow baking pan and bake for 35 minutes.
  4. Combine apple, margarine, maple syrup and cinnamon in a medium bowl.
  5. Fill the center of each squash half with the apple mixture.
  6. Continue baking for an additional 25 minutes or until squash is tender.

Yield: 4 squash halves

Nutritional analysis per one squash half: 170 calories, 6 grams fat, 0 milligrams cholesterol, 55 milligrams sodium, 33 grams carbohydrate, 5 grams dietary fiber, 2 grams protein

 



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