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Calorie Planning with weight loss tools

Hello!  This is Richard Hill, back with some dieting tips.

Dieting is hard if you don’t know what foods cost your diet. has some tools to help you understand the diet cost of many foods.  Everyone knows that salad is a great diet food.  You can eat all you want and never get fat, right? 

Last time we recalled that the Dr. Liu plan includes eating plan food.  This makes meal planning much simpler than going it alone, at least at first.  We calculated the plan calories at 600 calories, leaving 250 calories for your lunch and dinner each.  Learning to plan meals helps focus our attention on what we eat and on the value of the foods we eat. 

So, let’s have a salad.  A bowl of iceberg lettuce is not a salad nor very nutritious.  I want leafy greens and a bunch of colorful vegetables.  I want some crunch and some flavor.  I want three cups of salad.  Let’s visit to choose the vegetables and calculate the calories.  From that web page, just click on the “Food” tab at the top of the screen, and then click on the “Recipe” tab in the row below the Food tab.  When the page opens, find the “Enter New Recipe” button on the right side and click on it.  The “Recipe Nutrition Calculator” page will open.  Let’s type “Salad” in the “Recipe Name” box and type a number “1” in the “Number of Servings” box.  Now find the “Ingredients” and click on the blue “Add Ingredient” words to open the “Add Ingredient to “Salad”” page.

Now search for romaine lettuce by typing the vegetable name in the search box and click on “Search”.  The first choice should be “Lettuce – Cos or romaine, raw”.  Let’s click on it and then choose the default that pops up on the right side:  “one serving of 1 cup shredded” and click on the “Add” button.  That will take you back to your recipe page and you will see your lettuce added to the recipe, and see that it costs eight calories.  Now add some mushrooms, onion, red cabbage, broccoli and some tomato on you own.  Take a bit of time to explore the various options and choose enough to make a total of three cups of salad.  Your salad will likely cost about 60 to 80 calories, depending on what you choose and whether it adds up to three cups total.

So, we have a calorie budget of 250 calories.  We plan to consume, say, 80 calories.  We have 170 calories left in the budget.  Shall we have some salad dressing?  Blue cheese or ranch dressing will taste great, but may cost as much as 180 calories or more and we will be over our budget!  If you shop around, you may find some that cost around 120-130 calories.  Remember that we have very little protein in this meal.  We could use a reduced calorie ranch dressing or reduced fat creamy Italian at about 80 calories.  Or try lite version balsamic vinaigrette at 30-60 calories.  That would leave us 120 to 150 calories for some protein.  A big surprise to me was my discovery of Maple Grove Farms of Vermont’s Fat-Free balsamic vinaigrette with only 15 calories.  Then I discovered their Sugar Free version with only 10 calories.  Raley’s sells the brand. 

Now we have a nice big salad with dressing at no more than 90 calories and can search for some good protein that costs 160 calories.  Happy meal planning!

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