Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Food eating, food recording

The Mortar and Pestle

Last night I actually used my mortar and pestle. This is a little out-of-the-ordinary, because normally it just sits there, decorating my kitchen and making me feel like I'm the sort of person who might use such an earthy piece of kitchen gear.

This mortar and pestle is a gift from The Programmer, and I've already told you about his 'thing' with kitchen appliances.  When I finally got a herb garden going, the logical thing was to get something to crush them with, so I headed off to Farmers with my man tagging along. I grabbed a box with the appropriate picture on it and was headed to the counter when I noticed that someone was missing.

I looked back and saw The Programmer had de-boxed several mortar and pestles and was checking them all for weight, colour, sturdiness and other essential things on his mental checklist. 'You don't want it it to slide around on the counter' he wisely advised.  Indeed.

So, I have an amazing stone mortar and pestle that does not move when I'm crushing herbs and that I could also use to hold down the whole house in case of a hurricane. It's seriously heavy. And gorgeous. Last night I made a paste to flavour a lamb rack, but you could use this on any meat, really. 


  • About 1/3 cup olive oil
  • Two or three cloves of garlic
  • Three sprigs of rosemary, stalks removed
  • Salt and pepper
  • Method
  • Bash and grind to a paste in your mortar and pestle
  • Spread all over your meat and cook for the appropriate amount of time (my lamb rack only took 30 minutes) turning frequently.
I did take a pic of the finished result, but it was not good - out of focus, strange white balance. It should be no hardship to try again later in the week because it was delicious.


Apart from the usual kitchen adventures, I've been playing around with a food tracking program called Foodworks. It's been a while since I did any pedantic food tracking, and I was a bit nervous that it would make me crazy and mental about the minutiae of what I'm eating, but it's going ok. One thing I that helps is I am not familiar with kilojoules, so I see the number and it does not compute. Whereas, if I saw 2400 calories, I might freak a little. 

The reason I am embarking of such a mission is that it is a requirement of one of my graduate papers. I've downloaded the 14 day free trial (which you also can get here, if you are interested) and so far inputted three days worth of eats. What I like about Foodworks is that it gives you an average over however many days you choose - and this is far more applicable to what matters in real life than watching everything day by day.

I also like that this is New Zealand and Australia specific; it caters for our specific issues such as low selenium in our veges due to deficient soil. I also like that you can enter food as meals and analyse each meal separately.

Here is a screen shot of what I've done so far:

What I don't like (apart from the sheer tedium of weighing and entering everything) is that the program does not have a lot of what I think are quite normal foods. Sauerkraut was not in there, so I entered it as cabbage rather than pain my brain by making a custom entry (groooan), nor was almond butter or omega 3 fish oil, both of which are in the USDA database used by other software like Nutritiondata. I don't like that it only shows fats as saturated, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated, rather than allowing a more precise breakdown into the different Omega's and so on.

Also, I don't like the price. The full premium version is AU$2200 **wide eyes**. There is  a student version for AU$30 (three months access), but so far, I'm not wowed.

Are any of you using tracking software, if so, which ones? 
Does it help you to eat well, or does it just make you nuts?


  1. I bought a massively heavy stone mortar and pestle for Bike Boy some years ago, and it gets a regular workout. Way better than a food processor for a lot of things.

    It annoys the crap out of me when Calorie King (free) doesn't have my "normal" stuff in the database. I mean, who doesn't use Sana whey? :p Or agave syrup? Or cacao beans?

  2. I've tried to track my food on one of those online trackers before, but it honestly made me half-crazy. It's easy if you buy pre-made food, but when you're cooking, it's a real pain in the butt to figure out and input all of the ingredients.

    I laughed at you imagining that you're a person who uses a mortar and pestle. I bought a dehydrator. I've only used it once in six years. And yet I refuse to get rid of it because someday I might be a person who uses a dehydrator. Ha!

  3. Anonymous9:41 pm

    Look into using Cron-O-Meter. I know it is USA based, so I don't take the selenium part of it seriously. I use to use Foodworks when I did nutrition at uni, and used the student version of it, or used the uni computers that it.

    Cron-O-Meter use to be standalone, but they have just launched their online version, which I am loving.


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