Recipes Online: Searching for Taste, Health and Cancer Prevention

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A couple of days ago a New York Times article asked “Can Recipe Search Engines Make You a Better Cook?”

If you’ve spent much time looking for recipes online you know the millions of hits that appear for something like “spaghetti sauce.” The article notes that there are 10 million recipe searches a day on Google. I hope that means Americans are cooking at home more!

It can be tricky though with all the choices. Have the recipes been tested, do they match your cooking skill level, do they taste good and do they meet your health goals?

Hopefully you’ve seen and tried some of our recipes from the AICR Test Kitchen here and you receive our weekly Health-e-Recipes in your email inbox.

You can trust our recipes, because all of our recipes are tested –an independent chef prepares each new recipe and a tasting panel at AICR evaluates the dishes for flavor, visual appeal, texture and presentation. Ease of preparation is also considered. Recipes must meet AICR nutritional criteria.

The guiding principle is that most recipes will be vegetable, fruit, whole grain and legume dishes based on the New American Plate concept. The AICR test kitchen will have approximately equal number of fish, poultry and vegetarian recipes.  AICR will offer limited red meat entrees. No processed meat is included in recipes.

AICR Recipe Guidelines

1.            Fats – most fat sources will be naturally occurring, or if added, mostly oils.

2.            Saturated fat levels in most recipes will be 7% or less of the total calories.

3.            Calories from fat in most recipes will not exceed 30-35%, although some (with nuts for example) may be higher.  Emphasis is primarily on total fat and sources of fat.

4.            Fiber – Plant based recipes should aim to provide at least 2-3 grams fiber per 100 calories.

5.            Added sugar – Most follow the WHO recommendation that no more than 10% of total calories should come from added sugar of any type.  Desserts will typically be higher in sugar.

6.            Sodium – No more than 480 mg/serving for side dishes; no more than 600 mg/serving for main dish items.  These are upper limits and ideally most recipes would be closer to the low sodium definition of 140 mg/serving.

7.            Ideally every recipe will have a good source of at least one vitamin, mineral or fiber.


Do you have a favorite AICR recipe?


    Author: Alice RD

    Alice G. Bender, MS, RDN, is the Director of Nutrition Programs at AICR. She helps put the science of cancer prevention by providing tips and tools to choose nutritious and delicious foods. Alice has guided thousands of individuals to healthier lives through diet changes and choices.

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