October  2000

Mastering NYC Nutrition Analysis

NYC nutrition analyses are used by dietitions and nutritionists around the world because of their accuracy and versatility.   NYC's accuracy derives from linking your recipe ingredients directly to precisely described items in the USDA nutrition database. The database lets you distinguish between various forms of a given ingredient, such as raw, cooked, fresh, frozen, canned, low-fat, lean, fatty, fried, etc. NYC's versatility means you can get a nutrition analysis on ANY recipe you obtain regardless of source, not just for a few canned recipes pre-linked to a limited database.  Thus, NYC can give you an accurate analysis of any of the 0.5 million recipes on the internet.  The tradeoff for this power and range, however, is a little more effort in obtaining the analysis.

To perform a nutrition analysis, you must edit the recipe and link each ingredient in the recipe to an item in the nutrition database.  Simply dbl-clicking the ingredient will pop up the nutrition item list, usually at or near candidate links for your ingredient.  Dbl-click the proper nutrition item and your ingredient is linked to that item.  Dbl-click the next ingredient and link it to a nutrition item, and so on until all ingredients are linked.  Then close the linking window and save the recipe.  You can now analyse the recipe using Nutrition... Analysis...

There are two important lessons for success with NYC's nutrition analyses:

First, the USDA database is comprehensive and detailed, so you must familiarize yourself with the USDA terminology and abbreviations for best use of NYC's nutrition features.  There is no substitute for a good working knowledge of the database so you can locate certain nutrition items.   For example, "bacon" is found under "pork,cured,bacon" in the database, and "baking soda" is found under "leavening agents,baking soda".   NYC's Find... feature will help you locate items in the database with a keyword.  You can add user-defined items to the database, but most food items are already in the database, and use of USDA data on the item is far superior to entering your own quantities from nutrition labels.

Second, the secret to linking recipe ingredients to nutrition items is in the units you use in your recipes.  Try to always use a mass or weight unit (g, lb, oz, etc.) for your ingredients.  If you use "large" or "medium" or some other ambiguous unit, try to make it a little more quantitative by including a mass qualifier such as "large (6 oz)" or "clove (0.2 oz)". Mass qualified units are just as good as mass units.    If NYC cannot find a mass unit or mass-qualified unit, NYC searches the nutrition item's alternate conversions for a match with your recipe ingredient.   An exact match with the alternate unit will work, but a partial match on the first word in the alternate unit will work as well.   Failing this, NYC searches your unit conversions list (Shopping... Conversions...) for a matching unit with a conversion to grams.  For more efficiency in linking, you can pre-link ingredients in your droplist (Recipes... Droplists> Ingredients) to nutrition items.  Subsequent use of a pre-linked ingredient in a recipe will avoid the need to link each time it's used.

See previous NYC Tips

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