Complex Caloric Calculations

Nope, I don’t have an accurate count yet. Who knew it would be so complicated?! First of all, because I use a low-tech food scale (the pelouze K5 postal scale—“rates effective January 2001”—hey, it works!) all my food weights are in postal ounces, not grams. Imagine my dismay when, upon beginning to compose a “meal” for the Daily Plate, I realized that many (of not most) of the foods I would be using were offered up in gram servings!

Undeterred, I quickly whipped up an oz/gram conversion formula to plug into the original Excel spreadsheet. I took the opportunity as well to cleverly add an additional formula (she grins modestly) that would divide the meal weights into individual servings. The original spreadsheet, for simplicity’s sake, had lumped together all the meals of the same kind (3 salmon pasta Parmesan dinners, for example) as well as the duplicate snacks (22 Rebars, 44 DodieKakes, 11 days worth of gorp at 2-person servings per day …).

That particular bit of math taken care of, I turned my full attention to building some basic backpacking meals: our longtime favorite hot lunch of Kashmir spinach shrimp & rice, fruit & nut gorp, the aforementioned & much-evolved DodieKakes, and our perpetual supper, heretofore referred to as pease porridge from the nursery rhyme that hummed into my head just a few days down the trail (maybe day 9?):

Pease porridge hot! Pease porridge cold!
Pease porridge in the pot nine days old.

Some like it hot; some like it cold.
I like it in the pot nine days old!

Aside: Turns out De La Soul did a hip-hop version of this little rhyme, but my money’s on Miggy’s verson

How’d it go? It went great! I got all the meals in, all the snacks in, all the thises-n-thatses, hit the update button & almost fell off the couch at the appallingly low number of calories! Went back in, found some calculation errors (If I made the hot lunch meal to reflect one servings, why in the world had I only given myself a quarter of a serving for the day? Hmmm) as well as some omissions (Had I really left out all the hummus mix & most of the almond butter from the DodieKake recipe or had the MyPlate software dropped it? Mysteries of software indeed).

It was while making adjustments to that last recipe, the ginger-laden snack bar affectionately known as the DodieKake, that I was struck by the truly alarming realization that I had NO IDEA (NO idea!!) how many bars resulted from the recipe I had painstakingly entered into the food-analysis database.

Some scribbles on the much-marked up recipe sheet indicated that the “whole recipe should make enough for an 8-day hike.” Ha! But was that the printed out recipe, with the original amounts, or the most-recently revised recipe, which not only included a few new ingredients (see handwritten notes to “grate 2 carrots & 1 apple into dry mix” as well as “add 1 cup brown rice syrup”) but also doubled the original amounts, while eliminating other ingredients?

Ruefully, I realized that the only way to get a true reading on the caloric content of the elusive food bars was to whip up a new batch & COUNT the cakes; maybe write it down clearly somewhere this time?

In the meantime, the preliminary numbers are: 1,945 calories with about 52% carbs (249 g), 31% fat (66 g) & 18% protein (85 g)–and yes, of course it comes out to more than 100%! if you have an account at, you can take a preliminary peek at the not-entirely-accurate menu for one backpacking day at the Red Elephant Eats Daily Plate for Aug 21, 2009.