Nutrition labels were a part of food packaging I'd always skimmed over; all I wanted to know was how many servings came in the package. That all changed when my younger son was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes six months ago. Suddenly I needed to know the amounts of carbohydrates and dietary fiber in everything he ate.

calorie king bookThis led to a daily exercise in math as I looked up the carbs in every ingredient of every dish I prepared. If I didn't remember to write down the result, I'd kick myself the next time I served that food, since I'd have to do the math all over again. I love cooking; math, not so much.

Dinner became a word problem:  if 150g of a food has 6g of carbs, how many grams of carbs are in 227g of that food? We were weighing everything as I cooked--so dinner was late night after night as eatsmart digital scaleI tried to get my head around what was in the food so I could give my son the right amount of insulin. Most of the recipes I use are online, including my own, and it was cumbersome to do a one-ingredient-at-a-time analysis while trying not to burn the main course.

I was thrilled to find the nutrition analysis tool on the Calorie Count website. It allows me to paste the entire ingredient list from an online recipe and input the number of servings. Then, with only one click, I have a nutrition label calorie count screenshot for chicken tomato fennel basil CMfor that recipe.

I tested several recipes that I'd already analyzed line by line, and the results were always within three carbs of my calculations.

If I'm using a recipe that's already online, I can have a label in seconds. It's accurate and efficient and saves me both time and stress.

You may not have a diabetic in your household, but these labels also provide data on calories, fat and important nutrients.

To demonstrate how this tool worked, I analyzed my recipe for Chicken with Tomatoes, Fennel and Basil.

I found a few glitches while using this tool, mostly regarding measurement. The tool is based on weight, not subjective measurements like nutrition label chicken tomato fennel CM"1 large onion." Similarly, I had to edit my recipe because "1 can (14 oz) diced tomatoes" wouldn't compute, either. Once I changed it to "14 oz. canned diced tomatoes" everything worked fine.

I've been working on adding nutrition labels to the recipes on my new food blog as I post them. I'm not a doctor, nurse or dietician, so these cannot be considered medical advice, but the labels are definitely helpful in planning your meals.

To use this tool, simply create a free account at Calorie Count, then choose "Recipe Analyzer" from the menu on the Foods & Recipes page.

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Copyright 2014 Barb Szyszkiewicz