I admit it. I love a bowl full of pasta, just topped with melted butter. So simple, so perfect. I love a bowl of rice. Sometimes I would mix it with plain tomato sauce for a meal. When I was a kid I would eat a bowl full of cereal with just the right amount of [skim] milk to accompany my crunchy oats without making them soggy. If I got the proportions wrong I would need to add one or the other until balance was restored, at the cost of consuming a half to a whole additional bowl full. I’ve long since moved away from the edible bliss of eating a bowl full of anything guilt-free.

That’s what you realize when you start to read nutritional labels and actually take a moment to wonder what a service size actually is. For pastas, rice, cereals, it is far less than a bowl full. The actually serving size of pastas is one cup and some pasta bowls can contain between 2 to 4 servings. There is a trick to estimate a cup worth of food by comparing the serving to the size of your fit.

As I journey further towards having more knowledge and control over the foods I eat, I have since decided that the fist-estimating trick is not sufficient if I want to eat well while eating smart. So I am very happy to announce the latest addition to our household: a kitchen scale.

We had a wide selection from which to choose, but ultimately we bought a slim black glass model with a very simple set of functions. Two to be precise. The first is unit conversion: the scale can switch between grams and ounces, as well as milliliters and fluid ounces. This is incredibly important as an imperially taught American living in the metric loving world. It is great because I can be sure to use no more than the 30g of cheese called for by my favorite salad, but it will be far easier for me to use my stash of American recipes that call for a cup of this, a tablespoon of that, when packages here are always in grams.

The other really cool feature is the tare function. I didn’t know this was an English word, but it’s good to learn something new. I just looked it up on wikipedia:

Tare (/ˈtɛər/), from the Middle French word tare “wastage in goods, deficiency, imperfection”, sometimes called unladen weight, is the weight of an empty vehicle or container. By subtracting it from the gross weight (laden weight), the weight of the goods carried (the net weight) may be determined… Tare weight is often published upon the sides of railway cars and transport vehicles to facilitate the computation of the load carried… (from wikipedia)

The tare feature enables you to place a container on the scale, it will calculate the weight of the vessel and reset to zero before weighing whatever will be placed inside the vessel.

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You can forget about the days of high school biology when you had to weigh the container, weigh the contents in the container and manually subtract — while good mental exercise, when one is trying hard to get their food consumption under control, mental mathematics can just be enough to end it all.

Thus, there is no longer any guess work involved in adding the 100g serving of goat cheese, coated in 2 tsps of wheat germ, to a frying pan with 2 tsps of hot olive. Saute for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the cheese reaches the desired consistency.

Whether you choose to add the 1/4 cup servings of slide almonds and golden raisins, or 28 grams is up to you.

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The kitchen scale also provides a smart way to portion out a sensible amount of croutons and dressings, should you like to add these to your salad, rather than just dumping it on top. Certainly key if one of your goals is weight management.

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Our scale is ADE, a German brand. I found it on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Slim-Electronic-Kitchen-Scale-Black/dp/B002DPRGHA/ref=sr_1_3?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1330171533&sr=1-3

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