four questions 88.
(photo credit: )
Who knows three? I know three! Three are the kilos I expect to add to my already well-rounded collection by the time Pessah is done! Pessah is all about numbers. You've got your four questions, your four cups of wine and your four sons. Four is actually a pretty popular number at Pessah time.
As is 2,000, which is the number of calories most people consume at the Seder! At our place, we love Pessah - but what's with all the food?
Yes, I'm aware of that wise old bit of Jewish genius, "They tried to kill us, we won, let's eat." But come on! Three shots of matza (395 calories per 100 grams, or 130-150 per piece, machine made) four cups of wine (123 per five fluid ounce serving), a bunch of eggs (77 per), some vegetables and salt water - and you're up to 1,000-plus calories even before they bring out the matza ball soup.
I love junk food as much as the next guy - but I'm getting to the age where my doctor would tell me to cut out this, that and the other thing - or else.
So, its time to get off my duff and get some exercise - like getting up, putting one foot in front of the other, and moving the 10 feet to the chair by the computer (well, at least I tried!), where I can download the Klepiesoft Food File, a fantastic resource for those determined to eat properly, or for those who just like to read about those who do.
The Food File is a handsomely done compilation of information provided by the United States Department of Agriculture. There are about 7,000 food items in this database - with most of them listed by familiar brand name, not just a generic title. You get all the major nutrition statistics, like calories, fiber, cholesterol, sodium, carbohydrates, etc. - but also lots of more esoteric information, like alpha and beta-carotene levels, fat data broken down to saturated, mono, poly and poly-unsaturated fat, full vitamin and mineral information and even dietary ash (!) - a brand new stat, to me at least.
If you read food labels to check out what you're actually putting into your body, you notice that different products have different ways of measuring data. In Israel, the law requires companies to list basic nutrition information per 100 grams of product, which is great if you're eating that size serving. What if you want to check the calorie count of a smaller version? You could whip out your calculator and slide ruler - or you could load Food File, which lists all the top statistics in terms of volume or serving size. So, for example, if you're a schnitzel fan, you can get information on "Fast foods, chicken, breaded and fried, light meat (breast or wing)" in grams or ounces, or per serving size of two 150-gram pieces. How many calories in an M&M? Exactly 3.4; there are 34 calories in a handful of 10, and a whole lot of sugar and fat.
Finding information in Food File is a breeze; you just type in the food you want and possible choices appear in the list below. If there are too many possibilities, just click on one of the category tick boxes to specify the category (M&Ms are in the "sweets" category). Once the data come up, you get all the nutrition information, as well as a marvelous animated graphic of a 3D pie chart showing the food's breakdown of carbs, fat, protein, water and ash. And, under the pie chart is a summary of just how good or bad the food is from a nutrition point of view: M&Ms, for example, have a high fat and high sugar content - but at least they're low on sodium.
The basic Food File program is free, and is great for supermarket shopping. But what about "our" kind of food? Chicken soup may be a cure-all, but the USDA - whose database Food File is based upon - doesn't know from matzo balls. Fortunately, though, you can get that information at the great Calorie King site (http://www.calorieking.com), which has a huge database of information that includes a section of food the way we like it - potato knishes, gefilte fish and latkes, felafel, chopped liver - and, of course, cholent!
You can access all of Calorie King's basic information right on the site for free, or you can download a free 14-day trial of the Calorie King Nutrition and Exercise Manager (http://www.calorieking.com/software/; the full version is $29.95) which will give you the calorie and fat data you need (although the information is not as detailed as Food File), as well as giving you recommendations for meals and exercise to either lose, gain or maintain weight.
Armed with Food File and/or Calorie King, you can go into your Seder with the knowledge of how much the feast is going to cost you. Not that knowing is going to do you any good - I'm getting hungry just thinking about that Seder night matza ball soup already! Download Food File for free from http://www.foodfileonline.com, or access the information from the site's on-line database.