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How to Determine Carb Count of a Salad


A salad might seem like an intricate meal made up of all sorts of ingredients. How do you determine the carb count of the end result? Here's the step by step instructions!

I have a Very Veggie salad pretty much every day for lunch. I crave it. I love the pea pods and pine nuts and other things I use. So for me if I don't have it, I miss it. It's like how some people crave coffee every morning when they wake up. It's something their body looks forward to.

Here's how I determined the carb count for my daily salad. All I needed was a typical kitchen scale.

I put the bowl on it to start with. That bowl is 35.9oz. I like using a heavy, pretty bowl to make the salad meal a wonderful one.

Next, I pour in half a bag of Very Veggie. You can of course use any stuff you want. The key is not what I'm putting in, but how I'm doing this. That brings the weight up to 40.45oz, meaning I just added (40.45-35.9) = 4.55oz of salad. A "serving" of salad according to the bag is 3oz and that gives you 4g total carbs, minus 2g of fiber, means 2g of net carbs. Now, I'm eating more than 3oz. So I'm eating (4.55 / 3) = 1.5 times a serving amount. That means my carb intake is 1.5 times the amount, or 3g net carbs.

So far so good? Reread that to see how it makes sense. If you're confused, contact me - I'm happy to explain it in more detail.

Next up I add on the cheese. I use a cheddar / colby mix because I like the different colors. With the cheese the weight went up to 42.90oz, so that means I added 2.45oz of cheese. The cheese package lists its serving size by grams. I'm doing this mismatch on purpose to show you how to handle it. So first I have to convert my 2.45oz of cheese into grams. The conversion is 1 ounce = 28.35 grams. So I take my 2.45oz x 28.35 = 69.5 grams of cheese. A serving of cheese, on the package, is listed as 28g. So I'm eating 2.5 servings of cheese. Each serving is 1g so I'm eating 2.5g of carbs from the cheese.

Next goes in the olives. The weight goes up to 44.00oz. The olive container CLAIMS olives have no carbs. You'll find this often with "little things" - what they mean is at a tiny serving you get practically no carbs. However, if you eat more than that, you do get carbs. This is why it's important to look up the value yourself. BellaOnline has an Online Nutrition Calculator to let you do that. When I look up olives I find that 100g of olives have 3g of carbs but all 3g are fiber. So it does actually have no net carbs! Excellent.

I now add in pine nuts, bringing the weight up to 44.65oz. So that's 0.65oz of pine nuts. The container says that a serving is 56g. Once again I'm converting ounces to grams. My 0.65oz = 18g of pine nuts. So I'm eating 18/56 = 0.3 servings of pine nuts. One serving has 7g total carbs, minus 2g fiber, means 5g of net carbs. Multiply 5g of net carbs by 0.3 servings and you get 1.5g net carbs in these pine nuts.

We're reaching the end, and an entirely new challenge :). We now reach the salad dressing. Salad dressing tends to be measured in VOLUME, not weight. So you have a different challenge here. Start with the whole, full bottle. My ranch dressing comes in a 16 fluid ounce / 473ml bottle. Fluid ounces are NOT weight ounces. Fluid ounces measure how much space the fluid takes up. When I weigh this bottle , it weighs 18.5oz. Of course some of that is the bottle itself.

I poured the ranch dressing onto my salad. My salad now weighs 47.95 ounces. So I added 3.3 ounces of dressing. I then weighed the bottle again. It weighs 15.2oz - which means the bottle lost 3.3 ounces. So far, so good.

A serving of this dressing is said to be 30ml, or 473/30 = 15.7 servings per container. That will have 3g of carbs in it.

Now I have to wait until I use up this container. That will let me see what the empty bottle weighs - so I can then figure out what the liquid inside must weigh in total. That will let me finish these calculations!

I'll update in a few days when I get to that point.

To summarize:

very veggie: 3g net
cheese: 2.5g net
olives: 0g net
pine nuts: 1.5g net
dressing: ?

Total: 7g + ?
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Content copyright © 2013 by Lisa Shea. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Lisa Shea. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Lisa Shea for details.

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