How to Indulge in Gourmet Meals Without the (Calorie) Guilt

Do you shy away from cooking a gourmet meal or a decadent dessert because you have no idea what the

Do you shy away from cooking a gourmet meal or a decadent dessert because you have no idea what the calorie total is? Here are a few ways to make gourmet work for you, and lose weight in the process.

Use this site to input your own recipes (or calculate recipes from cookbooks and magazines) to discover the calories you consume each day. Simply enter each ingredient and the amount in the tool and break down by serving.

Plus: You can enter meals from specific restaurants–many of the site’s members have already done the work. Type in Starbucks and many different drink and food combinations will come up. Just beware that these user-generated items may not always be 100% accurate

Cost: You can join for free. As a member you can track everything you eat and even include the specific time of day if you choose. As a paid member you can track nutrients as well, though sometimes the results are spotty. Paying members will be able to look back on years of good or bad choices and determine eating trends.

Cool tool: The calorie tracker app for the iPhone will become your little companion as you go through your day. If you forget that bite of cookie or midday vending machine run, this app won’t. This will be the best $2.99 you ever spend.

This site is actually a part of which is a nutrition tracking system for weight loss, similar to’s Daily Plate. The recipe section is great for entering your own recipes or those from magazines to determine the calories you are eating and the nutritional information.

Cost: Free with a login

Arguably the most nutritionally accurate of the three sites, this website is extremely detailed in vitamins, minerals, types of fat, and more. You can input your own recipes or the recipes of others, as with the other sites, but here you’ll really see the health value of each dish.

Plus: You can also add recipes and other nibbles to your daily tracking to see where you are coming up short in nutrients. Colorful charts will keep track of your macro-and micro-nutrient needs. One drawback: you will have to delete everything from the tracking section to start anew the next day.

Cost: Free with a login

Cool tool: Also try the nutrient search tool to find foods high in a specific nutrient and low in another. This tool is addictive for the health nut trying to construct the perfect diet.

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest