Sunday, March 24, 2013

How to calculate the calories of a recipe...

Disclaimer: I am not a health professional. All the information given in this post is my understanding.

For some time, whenever I posted a baking recipe, I made it a habit of calculating the calorie content of that recipe, how much per serving and all. Trust me when I say this, it is quite a bit of work to calculate and make a neat looking table and adding it to the post. I got lazy, got bored so stopped doing it. One of my blogger friend's usual question about a baking recipe is the calories. Good for her since it shows how cautious she is about what goes in her body. So, here is a general idea of how I calculate. Beware, it doesn't give you nutritional details. Something might be 100 calories, but it is alright if it is good for you. Calories' information should not be compromised with the nutrients' information.

So, when you look at the recipe, take each ingredient which has calories. The only item that you don't have to add the calories of is that of water. Everything else has calories. Calories of salt can be omitted while using a very small quantity. Major culprits are butter/oil/fat, sugar, flour and eggs if using.

Let's take an example of one of the recipe I have posted:
This is the recipe of Carrot buns that I had posted long time back here.
Whole Wheat Flour - 2 1/2 cups
Warm Water - 3/4 Cup
Sugar - 1 TBSP
Salt - 1 tsp
Green chillies - 5 chopped fine (optional or about 1 TBSP red pepper flakes)
Cilantro - Chopped 3 TBSP (optional)
Instant yeast - 2 1/4 tsp
Olive Oil - 2 TBSP
Grated carrots - 1 cup (I used the medium grater and measured without packing the cup)

For this, the calorie calculation would go like this - (remember, this is approximate)
If you made 16 rolls out of the same dough, you would be looking at 1354.5/16 calories per roll. As you see if it not rocket science. At the same time, if you replaced whole wheat flour with all purpose flour, the calories is not going to increase astronomically. But you lose the benefit of nutrients that are in whole wheat flour. Same goes with olive oil. You can use butter there and the calories will remain same. It is 120 calories per TBSP of any oil or fat, but if you go deeper into the percentage of saturated fat, unsaturated fat, you will see the difference. Bottom line, don't just go by the calories. Based on per roll, or per slice, you can calculate how many per servings.

I have used many sources online for getting information on calories. Google for any ingredient's calorie value, you should be able to get the information. I have couple of cookbooks/baking books who have this information that I use sometimes.

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  1. you are a genius!!! i loved your recipes which had calorie information and was always curious how u calculated... Now u have a post on it!!!
    Ongoing Event - HITS - Diabetic Friendly
    Ongoing Event + Giveaway - Italian Dishes

  2. Thanks Champa, I really appreciate this detail :)


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