We occasionally like to come out with some of our rules of thumb or “dialysis tip”. A pint of water weighs 1 pound, hence the phrase “A pint is a pound the world around”.
When is a Pint not a Pound the World Around?
There are two types of measurements generally used for cooking in the USA; weight and volume. Ounces and pounds we all recognize as weight but we could also use grams or kilograms. Volume measurements include teaspoon, tablespoon, cup and quart; you could also use liters, but I don’t see the term in many recipes. The rub is that there is no standard conversion between weight and volume unless you include density. Forget it, not going to happen. So, the phrase, “A pint is a pound the world around” really only works for water and a few other liquids.
Fortunately the USDA provides the weight in grams of some standard volumetric measures for many food items. For example, according to the USDA, a cup of white sugar weighs 200 grams . If you adhere to the pint is a pound rule, (A pint is a pound the world around), then a pint is 454 grams and a cup 227 grams. That would be about a 13% error if you assumed a cup of sugar weighed the same as a cup of water.
Does It Matter? Not in the least if you are just making an apple pie or any other recipe. However, if you are trying to keep track of the nutrients you eat, it can matter in a fairly big way.
An ounce is an ounce, but eight ounces in not always a cup and that is makes it difficult to track nutrients in a recipe. It is especially difficult when you are dealing with ingredients that don’t easily lend themselves to being measured in a cup.
An apple for example; what is a medium apple? Is it one cup; a half cup? Apple slices aren’t easily measured in a measuring cup either. The only way for accurate measurement is by weight.
If a recipe calls for six apples sliced; How much apple are you using. Does it really matter? In the context of what we are trying to accomplish, it does. An apple pie is not going to care much one way for the other if there are six or seven cups of sliced apples in it, but I care because I what to know the quantity of the various nutrients I am ingesting and the size of the piece I can allow myself changes accordingly.
When my potassium gets low I start feeling really lousy. The only way I can stay on an even keel and keep my dialysis chair time down is to closely manage my diet and keep it within the limits that work for me.
What are we trying to accomplish? We are searching for a reasonably accurate way of managing my diet by tracking the nutrients critical to dialysis and End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD). The food database that we have started provides information relating grams of nutrients to teaspoons, tablespoons, cups, ounces and pounds.
In some cases we were forced to use measurements like cans and each. These make my analytical mind shutter. A medium apple is listed in the USDA database as 161 grams; of course we all know how big a medium apple is. Want to take a guess? Still, a guess is better than nothing. We could weigh the apple. That of course works if we are eating an apple. But if I put six apples in a pie and then eat 150 grams of pie, how much of each nutrient am I getting. If the recipe called for 966 grams of sliced apple; would you bother to weigh it?
Does it matter?
In my opinion it does and my husband goes the extra mile with everything he cooks. He also grumps loudly if I don’t write down everything I eat.
By the way, a medium apple is three inches in diameter.
And that's today's dialysis tip! 🙂