August 2006


Using the Ingredient Droplist for Nutrition Pre-Linking


If you use NYC’s nutrition analysis a lot, you will find that it pays to pre-link items in your ingredient droplist to items in the nutrition database.  When you later add a pre-linked ingredient to a recipe, it will automatically already be linked to nutrition.  Also, for existing recipes, you will be able to use Nutrition… Get Links From Ingredient Droplist… to automatically link recipe ingredients to nutrition (i.e., for those ingredients that are pre-linked).


To pre-link items in your ingredients droplist to nutrition items:


  1. Recipes… Droplists… Ingredients... to open your ingredient droplist.
  2. If necessary, add an ingredient (use simple wording).
  3. Select “unlinked” radio button.
  4. Dbl-click an ingredient in the list of unlinked ingredients.
  5. Link the ingredient to an item in the nutrition database that pops up (dbl-click nutrition item to link the ingredient to that nutrition item).

Here are some excellent tips for using and modifying the ingredient droplist, adapted from suggestions by Phil Clink (NYC power user) on the NYC-MM email group:


Ingredient Descriptions


Pick ONE way to describe a particular ingredient and stick with it throughout droplists and recipes.  Why?  Because when you later use the shopping list function, NYC will group like ingredients and give you a total quantity on the shopping list.  If you have multiple ways to describe a single ingredient, you will get multiple entries in the shopping list.  Using the "Update Using Recipes" feature is not recommended unless all like ingredients in the cookbook are described the same. 

There are 2 reasons to use commas in your ingredient droplist.  1) The USDA database does it that way (consider "thyme" which is listed as "thyme,fresh" and "thyme,ground". If your ingredient is fresh thyme, the lookup starts with "fresh" and you completely miss the entry in the nutrition database. This is really only important when you first link the ingredient to the database.  2) When you are entering an ingredient, you can use the up & down arrows to scroll the list.  Therefore, when entering "thyme" the autofill function will display the first entry in the list (“thyme, fresh”) but if you want “thyme, ground”, all you need do is use the down arrow.  Yes, you COULD decide to use "ground thyme" for your ingredient but autofill gives the FIRST entry in the list so if you have a lot of "ground whatevers" you will not have an easy time using the up/down arrows. 


Sometimes it will be necessary to link multiple ingredients to a single USDA entry.  For example VINEGAR. You will find that there are a number of vinegars that do not differ much in their nutritional content. With vinegar the exception is BALSAMIC so I made a user database entry for balsamic and linked "vinegar, balsamic" to that entry. The others, cider, malt, red wine, white, white wine, etc. are all linked to a single nutrition entry, but I have different ingredients in my list. (Recipe-wise there is a big difference, even if they are nutritionally similar). Easy to select with the arrows.

Pre-Linking Items in Your Ingredient Droplist


When you have your ingredients entered into the droplist, click the "show unlinked" radio button to see which ingredients you need to link.  Double-click the entry and the link screen will come up with the correct database item (hopefully) displayed on the screen. If not, use the menu item Edit > Find to bring up a search window (or manually scroll the window). Remember that the database is written in USDA “governmentese” and it may take some experimentation to get a successful search.  If you search for "dressing" you get zilch, as your salad topping is listed as a "drsng".  After a while it gets easier.  Double click the database entry to link to the ingredient.  Close the database window and on your droplist window click SAVE. (When working with any droplist window, save early and save often!)


Using Pre-Linked Ingredients in Recipes

Once your droplist is setup, analysing a recipe is a snap.  To get pre-linked ingredients into your recipes, ensure that all ingredients that can be selected from your droplist have been selected from the droplist.  If an ingredient is not on the droplist you will need to manually look it up in the USDA database and link it. (Remember to go back to the droplist edit and add in the new ingredient after you save the recipe. You must close both the recipe edit window and the recipe list window to access the menu option for the droplists.)  OK, so you are ready to do an analysis, what now?  Either use the nutrition menu OR use the keyboard shortcut. I use the shortcut.  Alt-G gets nutrition links from the droplist.  Alt-S saves the recipe. Alt-A analyzes it.  I do it in that order and up pops an analysis window and sometimes an Omission Sumary window.  If there is an issue with the analysis it will be displayed in the Omission window.  If it says "Quantity or unit missing for ingredient", well that's another topic for another day.  If it says "No nutrition link for recipe ingredient" then you did not Alt-G first of there was some other problem with the entry in your recipe/droplist.  For example, since you KNOW what is on your droplist you might have just typed in "brocolli" without looking/noticing that you wanted “broccoli”.  The good result is when you just see the analysis window.  By default you get the entire recipe in the analysis.  If you want it broken down by serving you must select that (see “per yield unit” radio button).  Ctrl-A adds the analysis to your description window.  Ctrl-C closes the analysis.  SAVE the recipe.


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