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Cookbook Recipes Yielding More Caloric Servings Than Ever

Taking your diet into your own hands by eating at home is the best way to control what and how much you're consuming, but it appears that restaurants aren't the only source of super-size portions that threaten your waistline. A new study evaluated how classic recipes have changed over the years and discovered a disturbing trend: for nearly every recipe reviewed, there was an approximate 40 percent increase in calories per serving.

In studying the evolution of recipes in the Joy of Cooking cookbooks, first published in the 1930s and most recently updated in 2006, 17 of 18 recipes were found to have an increase in calories per serving.

To see how some of the recipes compared from then to now,


  • The 1936 chicken gumbo recipe made 14 servings at 228 calories per serving, while the 2006 recipe yields 10 servings at 576 calories each.
  • The book's brownie recipe from the '60s and '70s editions yielded 30 brownies, while recipe from the 1997 edition yielded 15 — using the same sized pan.
  • The 40 percent increase in calories per serving can be attributed to an increase in total calories per recipe (about 567 calories) and larger portion sizes.
  • The study's director, Brian Wansink, said, "That (calorie increases) is more insidious because that's the sort if thing the average person wouldn't notice, wouldn't even think would have happened over the years."

To combat this trend, continue being mindful of your portions and make healthier substitutions in recipes when possible.


Join The Conversation
marie-lee marie-lee 8 years
Its frightening how much portion sizes have increased. Even the size of cupcakes. When did cupcakes get as big as muffins (or bigger)...they're huge! When your surrounded constantly by huge portions it makes it easy to think they are normal sized...
Spectra Spectra 8 years
If the original recipe yields 30 brownies and the new one yields 15, just cut your brownies smaller. It's not exactly rocket science. When you make any recipe, you can adjust the portions to make them bigger or smaller than what the yield says.
ShedItandGetIt ShedItandGetIt 8 years
A lot of the recipes they compared though, like brownies, sugar cookies, and apple pie, aren't exactly staples of the American diet that are considered healthy to begin with. Yes, portions are a problem, but after further reading, I think this study's methods leave something to be desired.
Francoisehardly Francoisehardly 8 years
I forgot to mention though that I separate foods according to what looks like enough food and not too little or too much.
Francoisehardly Francoisehardly 8 years
That's really annoying, even though I don't know if this applies to any recipes I might have used. Why do the portions in restaurants and in recipe books need to be bigger?
miss-malone miss-malone 8 years
melizzle melizzle 8 years
Not surprised. Portion sizings are growing at home and at restaurants.
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