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Diet Detective: Interesting food-tech innovations, websites and apps

Here are some interesting food-tech innovations, websites and apps that can help with meal planning.

Pepperplate (www.pepperplate.com)

Overview: Pepperplate.com is, basically, a meal-planning site, but it gives you great flexibility. Type in your own recipe or the URL of one that’s online and Pepperplate puts it into a calendar for you. The thing that impressed me the most was the ability to import a recipe from another site simply by pasting in the URL.


From Pepperplate: “Manage your recipes, create menus, shop with ease and cook like a pro. … Share your favorite recipes with friends and family via Email, Facebook and Twitter. … Import recipes from your favorite sites and add your own from cookbooks, magazines or old family recipes. … Combine recipes into menus for dinner parties or holiday meal planning.”

Cost: Free

Cook Smarts (www.cooksmarts.com)

Overview: Each week Cook Smarts creates a meal plan with four simple, balanced dinners. There is also a grocery list, and every meal comes with gluten-free, paleo and vegetarian versions. The goal is to create simple, budget-friendly, health-conscious recipes.

From CookSmarts.com: “Our subscription meal plan service gets you out of your dinner rut while saving you time and money. We create weekly dinner menus so that you never have to stress about, ‘What’s for dinner?’ again. Select from gluten-free, paleo, and vegetarian options for each meal, and get a grocery list in just 1 easy click.”

Cost: They have a free component, but the whole plan is $6 to $8 per month.

MenuStat (www.menustat.org)

Overview: MenuStat is an impressive sortable database of nutritional information from almost all restaurant chains that was created by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. It can be searched, sorted and filtered. You can view nutrition information by menu item, food category or restaurant, and even track nutrition changes over time. For example, in one click you can see all the nutrient information for appetizers in a particular restaurant and then sort by sodium.

From MenuStat: “MenuStat is a free nutritional database of thousands of foods served by the nation’s largest chain restaurants. It aggregates nutrition information posted on restaurant websites since 2012.”

Cost: Free

Edamam (www.edamam.com)

Overview: When you type the name of a dish into Edamam’s recipe search engine, you’ll see photos from all the best recipe websites and blogs. Additionally, if there is a recipe for which you want a nutritional analysis completed, just cut and paste the entire recipe into the online dialogue box, and in seconds Edamam’s “nutrition wizard” will do an instant analysis.

From Edamam: “Our goal is to capture the world’s food knowledge and distill it to help you make informed choices at the store and in the kitchen.”

Cost: Basic service is free. Nutrition Wizard Plus is $5.95 per month, but you can use the code RDNutritionist!! to get an entire menu’s worth of nutritional information free for 90 days.

Culinary Agents (www.culinaryagents.com)

Overview: A job-matching site for people in the food industry.

From Culinary Agents: “Culinary Agents is a professional networking and job matching site designed and dedicated to the food, beverage and hospitality industry. …We have an automatic matching process which tees up opportunities to talent and talent to businesses along with the tools to support applicant matching, messaging and management.”

Cost: $49 per post for a restaurant, and $100 for unlimited posts. Free for job-seekers.

FarmersWeb (www.FarmersWeb.com)

Overview: What a great idea! A site that acts like a virtual wholesale market for local food products.

From FarmersWeb: “FarmersWeb helps chefs and purchasing managers order fresh produce, meat, poultry, dairy, and other products from local farms.”

Cost: There is no cost at all to buyers; for farms it’s free if they just want a profile or a flat monthly fee if they want to use all e-commerce functionality ($40/mo for 1-4 products, $75/mo for unlimited products)

CalCutter (www.CalCutter.com)

Overview: Another very cool mobile app created by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. It helps calculate and reduce calories in recipes by offering swaps from its list of more than 400 ingredients and their calorie counts.

From CalCutter: “Enter the ingredients and number of servings in a recipe and the app will calculate the number of calories per serving in the finished dish. CalCutter will then suggest alternative ingredients or cooking methods that reduce the number of calories.”

Cost: Free

AmpleHarvest (www.AmpleHarvest.org)

Overview: This is a really interesting website that connects home gardeners with excess food to food pantries that feed the hungry.

From AmpleHarvest: “We are a nationwide non-profit that educates, encourages and enables America’s 42 million home gardeners who grow food to easily find a local food pantry eager for their excess garden bounty, thereby helping to end food waste and hunger. AmpleHarvest.org is now helping more than 7,000 food pantries be accessible to local gardeners.”

Cost: Free

Raddish (www.raddishkids.com)

Overview: At first glance, I thought Raddishlike BlueApron.com, Plated.com and HelloFresh.comactually sent you the food to cook. That’s not the case, but Raddish does send you a kit with recipes, talk cards and creative activities – all intended to get your kids involved in cooking healthy, tasty foods.

From Raddish: “Each month you’ll receive a themed box that includes the following: 3 illustrated recipe guides, 1 skill card, 2 creative activities, a shopping list, a table talk card deck and an iron-on Raddish patch.”

Cost: $20 to $24 per month

SideChef (www.sidechef.com)

Overview: This app makes it easy for anyone to cook. The recipes include step-by-step instructions with large photos.

From SideChef: “SideChef makes learning to cook accessible, easy, and fun at any skill level by giving you step-by-step photos, instructions, and voice commands. It also makes every step easily shareable, from browsing recipes to purchasing ingredients to celebrating the final meal.”

Cost: Free

Charles Stuart Platkin is a nutrition and public health advocate and founder of DietDetective.com.

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