Thursday, May 21, 2009

Calories in the Ottawa Citizen Food Section Recipes

A number of weeks ago I joined the Ontario Medical Association in calling for legislation to force chain restaurants to post calories on menus.

The vast, vast majority of news pieces and editorials were strongly supportive however my local paper, the Ottawa Citizen, wasn't so enthralled with the idea.

In their editorial on the matter the Citizen made the case that while they felt indeed it would be useful that rather than legislate the matter that consumers should demand it and industry would respond.

In that spirit that week I wrote a letter to the editor of the Citizen "demanding" that the Citizen publish nutritional information for its Food Section recipes. I included in my letter the calorie, sodium, fat and sugar counts for that week's recipes and pointed out that it took me all of 5 minutes to make the calculations.

The letter didn't get published and still the recipes are count free.

Starting today I will endeavor to calculate the Citizen's Food Section calories but in return I'd like to ask a favour. If you find this information useful please click here to email Ron Eade, the Citizen's food editor, to request that the Citizen include this information in their newspaper. The information would not be meant for judgement but rather knowledge and it would benefit the tens of thousands of Citizen readers who may be dealing with obesity, heart disease, kidney disease or diabetes - all diseases where nutritional information can be very useful.

Ron, if you're reading this, I'd be very happy to sit down with you and show you how easy it is to calculate. We could even sit down over a smoked brisket.

So without further ado, this week's recipes:

Mixed-Grill Vegetable and Chick Pea Lasagna
(per entire dish) 3,356 calories, 4,569mg sodium, 172gr fat (33g saturated), 39.7g sugar
- Fairly high in both calories and sodium.

Blueberry Orange Muffins
(per muffin) 240 calories, 286mg sodium, 14.5g sugar, 3.1g saturated fat
- Not terrible for a muffin. Would be much less on all counts if you substituted Splenda (wholly or partially) for sugar and apple sauce for oil.

Whole Wheat Penne with Chicken, Wild Mushroom and Tomato Basil Pesto
(per serving) 446 calories, 106.4mg sodium, 2.8g saturated fat 0.4g sugar
- A winner! Especially given the 11 grams of healthy unsaturated fat in the recipe.

[BTW, Ron has a great blog Omnivore's Ottawa and is on Twitter as well!]