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February 10, 2015

Brussels Sprouts + Math = A Recipe for Confusion

My wife is a dietitian and a very good, healthy cook. Today she was cooking some Brussels sprouts (which I, evidently incorrectly, have been calling "brussel sprouts") and it brought up a great lesson in how hard it is to try to eat healthily in America. Rather, I just finished 26th grade and my wife went to school for this and has literally done this for a living for nearly a decade, and yet we can't figure out what we're eating.

We have a 1-pound bag of Brussels sprouts:
1 pound bag = 454 grams
According to the label, the serving size is 4 sprouts, or 84g, which contains 40 calories. There are 5 servings per container, which should be 20 sprouts in the bag for a total of 200 calories.

 

The label (photo) is identical to the official USDA label (image above).

My wife counted how many sprouts came in the bag, and we have 40, not the 20 the label says we should have (4 sprouts per serving x 5 servings). Which, on the one hand, is great, because, hey, who doesn't want free Brussels sprouts?

So does our bag just have really small sprouts? Or do we have a 400-calorie bag of Brussels sprouts?

4 of our sprouts in a 1-cup measuring cup
10 of our sprouts in a 1-cup measuring cup
This looks like <4 servings, probably closer to 3 with the (inedible) stems cut off

So how do we figure out the nutrition content? Do we have 10 servings of Brussels sprouts and there are 400 calories? Or, do use our measuring cup and we have 160 calories?

My point here isn't that I want bigger sprouts, or "hey look the Brussels sprouts people don't know how to do math!" But again, I just finished 26th grade and my wife went to school for this and has literally done this for a living for nearly a decade, and yet we can't figure out what we're eating.

3 comments:

  1. The NHS says a serving of sprouts is 8 and not 4, but I suspect they think a sprout weighs 12g not 24g. Doesn't the maths all work if the label says "serving size 8 brussel sprouts (84g)"?

    Personally that's 8 too many for me.

    See http://www.nhs.uk/livewell/5aday/documents/downloads/5aday_portion_guide.pdf

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  2. Comment from Todd Raine:
    The ether ate my first reply -
    5 servings of 84 g is 420g. Allowing for the inedible chaff that comes out pretty close to the 454g bag you have. So, you must have smaller than USDA standard sprouts, but does size REALLY matter that much to you???

    The sprouts-in-a-cup pic highlights why its so important to cook (and bake) by weight (sorry mass, we are using grams after all) not volume.

    So what have we learned?

    1. Seth has trouble with math.
    2. Seth eats Brussels Sprouts - but we all knew he was weird.
    3. USDA standard Brussels Sprouts are ENORMOUS.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My wife cooks very delicious Brussels sprouts, so good my 2-year old daughter loves em

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