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EatingWell Nutrition and Recipe Guidelines



 

The EatingWell Difference

EatingWell recipes are as good for you as they are delicious. This starts with healthy ingredients. Our recipes emphasize nutrient-rich, unprocessed and seasonal foods.

All EatingWell recipes are analyzed for their nutrient content and are consistent with nutrition parameters set by EatingWell’s team of registered dietitians and nutritionists. A dietitian reviews all recipe analyses as well as other published nutrition content.

EatingWell Recipe Guidelines
EatingWell Nutrition Analysis
EatingWell Nutrition Parameters & Health Considerations


Our Test Kitchen experts (from left to right): Jessie Price, Editor-in-Chief; Lisa D’Agrosa, M.S., R.D., Digital Nutrition & News Editor; Jim Romanoff, Food Editor; Brierley Wright, M.S. R.D., Nutrition Editor; Breana Lai, M.P.H., R.D., Associate Food Editor; Devon O'Brien, Digital Food Editor; Carolyn Malcoun, Senior Food Editor; Carolyn Casner, Recipe Developer & Tester; Victoria Bruner, M.S., R.D., C.D., Meal Plan Editor; Stacy Fraser, Test Kitchen Manager.

EatingWell Recipe Guidelines:

How We Test Recipes:
Each of our recipes is thoroughly tested in the EatingWell Test Kitchen. Our goal is to provide healthy, delicious recipes that are easy for anyone to cook at home.

• Recipes are tested on average seven times each.
• Each recipe is tested by multiple testers.
• We test on both gas and electric stoves.
• We use a variety of tools and techniques.
• Testers shop major supermarkets to research availability of ingredients.
• Testers measure active and total time to prepare each recipe.

Recipe Timing:
Our recipe testers keep track of the time needed for each recipe.

"Active" time: Includes prep time (the time it takes to chop, dice, puree, mix, combine, etc. before cooking begins). Active time also includes the time spent tending something on the stovetop, in the oven or on the grill—and getting it to the table. If you can’t walk away from it, we consider it active time.

Total time: Includes both active and inactive minutes and indicates the entire amount of time required for each recipe, start to finish.

To Make Ahead: Gives storage instructions to help you plan. If particular equipment is needed, we tell you that at the top of the recipe too.

EatingWell Nutrition Analysis

EatingWell conducts a complete nutrition analysis of our recipes using Food Processor SQL software (ESHA), which uses USDA nutrition data. The nutrient analysis we publish is similar to what you would see on the Nutrition Facts Panel on a packaged food item and includes calories, total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, carbohydrate, total sugars, added sugars, protein, fiber, sodium and potassium. We do not publish trans fat content because it would almost always be zero, as we do not use any ingredients containing partially hydrogenated oils.

When we analyze our recipes we do not include discarded trimmings or marinade that is not absorbed. When alternative ingredients are listed, we analyze the first one suggested. Optional ingredients and garnishes are not included in our nutrition analysis.

Nutrition Bonuses: When a recipe delivers 15 percent or more of the Daily Value of a key nutrient, we list it as a nutrition bonus. We calculate Nutrition bonuses for calcium, folate, iron, Vitamin A, Vitamin B12 and Vitamin C.

Carbohydrate Servings and Diabetic Exchanges: EatingWell calculates Carbohydrate Servings and Diabetic Exchanges for all recipes, following the established protocols of the American Diabetes Association and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Carbohydrate Servings and Diabetic Exchanges are listed as part of the nutrition information that accompanies each recipe on eatingwell.com. That information is not listed in the magazine due to space limitations.

Nutrition Parameters & Health Considerations

All of our recipes are developed taking into consideration specific target goals for calories and sodium (see chart below). We have also created specific targets for some special diets including heart-healthy diets, diabetes appropriate diets and more. Below is a more detailed guide to our recipe tags that can help meet many different dietary needs.

Category

Calories

Sodium (mg)

Entrees

≤500

≤480

Combination meals

≤750

≤750

Side dishes

≤250

≤360

Muffins & breads

≤250

≤360

Desserts

≤300

≤360

Dips & salsas

≤100

≤140

Sauces

≤100

≤240

Salad dressings

≤100

≤140

Drinks

≤250

≤140

Appetizers

≤250

≤360

Allergies (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free and soy-free)
Bone Health
Diabetes Appropriate
Gluten-Free
Healthy Aging
Healthy Immunity
Healthy Pregnancy
Heart Healthy
High Blood Pressure
High Calcium
High Fiber
Low Added Sugars
Low Calorie
Low Carbohydrate
Low Fat
Low Sodium
Omega-3s
Vegan
Vegetarian

Allergies:

Dairy-free: Recipes with this tag do not contain any dairy products or  ingredients that have been derived from or contain dairy. We review the ingredients of each recipe using an established dairy-containing ingredient list from Food Allergy Research & Education.

*It’s important to always check the labels of foods to be sure that there are no hidden sources of dairy.

Egg-free: Recipes with this tag do not contain egg or egg-containg products or ingredients. We review the ingredients of each recipe using an established egg-containing ingredient list from Food Allergy Research & Education.

*It’s important to always check the labels of foods to be sure that there are no hidden sources of egg.

Nut-free: Recipes with this tag do not contain peanuts and all varieties of tree-nuts, nut butters and nut-containing ingredients. Recipes with coconut are allowed to have this tag. Even though coconut is technically a tree nut, it is responsible for very few allergic reactions. However, talk to your doctor before eating coconut if you have a tree-nut allergy. We review the ingredients of each recipe using an established peanut- and tree nut-containing ingredient list from Food Allergy Research & Education.

*It’s important to always check the labels of foods to be sure that there are no hidden sources of nuts or peanuts.

  • Soy-free: Recipes with this tag do not contain soy and soy-containing ingredients. We review the ingredients of each recipe using an established soy-containing ingredient list from Food Allergy Research & Education.

*It’s important to always check the labels of foods to be sure that there are no hidden sources of soy.

Bone Health: Recipes with this tag contain at least 20 percent of the daily value of calcium (200 mg) or Vitamin D (80 IU) per serving.

Diabetes Appropriate: Recipes with this tag are low in calories and are consistent with recommendations for average carbohydrate intake per meal (about 3-4 carbohydrate servings per meal). They also meet our heart-healthy criteria for saturated fat and sodium.

Category

Calories

Sat. Fat (grams)

Sodium (mg)

Carbohydrate Servings

Entrees
     Beef, poultry, pork, vegetarian
     Fish, seafood
     Omega-3-rich fish, seafood
 

≤375

 

≤2

≤3

≤4

 

≤360

≤360

≤360

≤2.5

Combination meals
     Beef, poultry, pork, vegetarian
     Fish, seafood
     Omega-3-rich fish, seafood

≤575

 

≤4

≤5

≤6

 

≤600

≤600

≤600

≤4

Side dishes

≤200

≤2

≤240

≤2

Muffins & breads

≤200

≤2

≤240

≤2

Desserts

≤225

≤2

≤240

≤2

Dips & salsas

≤75

≤1

≤140

≤1

Sauces

≤75

≤1

≤140

≤1

Salad dressings

≤75

≤2

≤140

≤1

Drinks

≤150

N/A

N/A

≤2

Appetizers

≤200

≤2

≤ 240

≤2

Gluten-Free: Recipes with this tag do not contain wheat, barley, rye or other ingredients derived from those grains. People with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity should check their ingredients very carefully for hidden sources of gluten. Two key ingredients to watch out for: oats and soy sauce. Oats are often cross-contaminated with wheat and barley, so be sure to purchase gluten-free oats. Use soy sauces that are labeled "gluten-free," as soy sauce may contain wheat or other gluten-containing sweeteners and flavors. 

Healthy Aging: Recipes with this tag deliver nutrients that aging people may not be getting enough of. Each of these recipes provides at least 20 percent of the daily value of two or more of the following: dietary fiber (≥ 5 g), protein (≥ 10 g), vitamin D (≥ 80 IU) or calcium (≥ 200 mg).

Healthy Immunity: Certain nutrients—including protein, vitamins A, C and E and zinc—are needed for the immune system to function properly. Thus, recipes with this tag provide at least 20 percent of two or more of these nutrients: protein (10 g), vitamin A (1000 IU), vitamin C (12 mg), vitamin E (6 IU) or zinc (3 mg).

Healthy Pregnancy: Recipes with this tag are appropriate for women to consume during pregnancy. They include key nutrients for pregnancy and also exclude foods that pregnant women are advised to avoid. They are considered an excellent source of at least one of the following nutrients: calcium (≥ 260 mg), iron (≥ 3.6 mg) or folic acid (≥ 160 mcg). 

These recipes will not include food that pregnant women are advised to avoid including: soft, raw or unpasteurized cheese; alcohol (unless it is optional or a nonalcoholic substitute is suggested); or fish that pregnant women are advised to avoid (tilefish, shark, swordfish and king mackerel); raw fish; raw sprouts; recipes that include raw or undercooked eggs such as Caesar salad dressing and hollandaise sauce; deli or luncheon meats (unless they are reheated until steaming). Pregnant women are advised to consume no more than 6 ounces of albacore tuna per week, due to the high mercury content. Recipes that contain less than 6 ounces of albacore tuna may receive a healthy pregnancy tag.

*Women who are pregnant should speak with their medical team about any dietary concerns or questions

Heart Healthy: Recipes with this tag meet the following parameters for saturated fat and sodium. Recommendations are based on the guidelines for the American Heart Association (AHA) Heart-Check program and general recommendations for reduced saturated fat (≤5-6 percent of total calories) and reduced sodium (≤1,500 mg/day).

Category

Sat. Fat (grams)

Sodium (mg)

Entrees
     Beef, poultry, pork, vegetarian
     Fish, seafood
     Omega-3-rich fish, seafood

 

≤2
≤3
≤4

 

≤360
≤360
≤360

Combination meals
     Beef, poultry, pork, vegetarian
     Fish, seafood
     Omega-3-rich fish, seafood

 

≤4
≤5
≤6

 

≤600
≤600
≤600

Side dishes

≤2

≤240

Muffins & breads

≤2

≤240

Desserts

≤2

≤240

Dips & salsas

≤1

≤140

Sauces

≤1

≤140

Salad dressings

≤2

≤140

Appetizers

≤2

≤240

High Blood Pressure: Recipes with this tag are appropriate for those trying to eat for a healthier blood pressure. Recipes meet the nutrient recommendations of the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) Eating Plan and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which promote reducing saturated fat and sodium while encouraging more potassium. These recipes meet our Heart-Healthy criteria and provide at least 20 percent of the daily value of potassium (≥ 700 mg).

High Calcium: Recipes with this tag have at least 20 percent of the daily value of calcium (≥200 mg).

High Fiber: Recipes with this tag help people get the recommended 25 grams of fiber per day. Entrees must deliver 6 or more grams of fiber, combination meals 8 grams or more and all other recipes must contain a minimum of 3 grams of fiber per serving. A dish with 3 grams of fiber fulfills 10 percent of the daily value for dietary fiber and, according to the FDA, can be considered a “good source” of this nutrient.

Low Added Sugars: Recipes with this tag contain 2 grams of added sugar or less, approximately 5 percent of the AHA’s recommended limit for added sugar.

Low Calorie: Recipes with this tag are consistent with a 1,500-calorie per day diet. This calorie level enables most people to lose a healthy 1 to 2 pounds per week. Calories must be below the calorie threshold set for each type of meal:

Category

Calories

Entrees

≤375

Combination meals

≤575

Side dishes

≤200

Muffins & breads

≤200

Desserts

≤225

Dips & salsas

≤75

Sauces

≤75

Salad dressings

≤75

Appetizers

≤200

Low Carbohydrate: Recipes with this tag have no more than 15 grams of total carbohydrate.

Low Fat: Recipes with this tag have no more than 3 grams of total fat. This is consistent with the FDA’s definition for low fat.

Low Sodium: Recipes with this tag meet the following thresholds for sodium. These recommendations are based on the guidelines for the American Heart Association Heart-Check program and general recommendations for a reduced-sodium diet (≤1,500 mg/day).

Category

Sodium (mg)

Entrees

≤360

Combination meals

≤600

Side dishes

≤240

Muffins & breads

≤240

Desserts

≤240

Dips & salsas

≤140

Sauces

≤140

Salad dressings

≤140

Appetizers

≤240

Omega-3: Recipes with this tag are high in omega-3 fatty acids. They include at least a 3-ounce serving of a fish determined to be high in omega-3s. Fish that are considered high in omega-3s include: anchovies, herring, mackerel, sablefish, salmon, sardines, sea bass, swordfish, trout, tuna (albacore, bluefin).

Vegan: Recipes with this tag do not contain any animal-based products and ingredients from animal sources. This includes meat, poultry, fish, dairy, eggs, butter, lard, gelatin, fish or oyster sauce, Worcestershire, animal-based broths and honey.
*It’s important to always check the labels of foods to be sure that there are no hidden sources of animal products.

Vegetarian: Recipes with this tag do not contain any meat—including red meat, poultry and seafood. They also do not contain ingredients derived from meat, including gelatin, animal-based broths and fish or oyster sauce. These recipes may still include eggs, egg products, butter and milk or other dairy-containing products.

On a regular basis, EatingWell’s Nutrition Team reviews the current scientific literature to assess whether additional nutrients should be considered for Nutrition Bonuses or Nutrition and Health Considerations need to be revised.

 

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