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Prairie Fare: Indulge Your Sweet Tooth in Moderation

Julie Garden-Robinson, NDSU Extension Food and Nutrition Specialist Julie Garden-Robinson, NDSU Extension Food and Nutrition Specialist
You might be wondering why someone in the nutrition field just admitted to drinking pop of any kind.

By Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist

NDSU Extension Service

I was in a long line of women as I approached a large barrel of pop cans on ice. I was thirsty for a can of caffeinated pop with no calories.

As I fished around the barrel, my efforts only resulted in a cold hand. All the diet pop was gone.

I walked across the large room to another barrel of pop cans surrounded by men. I hit the jackpot this time. Some of the men were shaking their heads.

“It’s all diet!” one of the men said as he walked away.

The next day I found the line with the most men. I nabbed a can of diet pop.

I found the situation a little interesting. Of course, some women drink regular pop and some men drink diet pop.

You might be wondering why someone in the nutrition field just admitted to drinking pop of any kind. Soda pop is not a nutrition all-star whether or not it provides calories.

Like most people, I enjoy sweet foods on occasion. If I’m going to indulge my sweet tooth, however, I would prefer something that requires chewing, such as a brownie.

Drinking excess calories is quite easy. A 12-ounce can of regular soda pop, for example, has about 150 calories. Consuming an extra 100 calories a day beyond your body’s needs can result in a 10-pound weight gain in a year.

If you do the math, that’s the amount of calories in an 8-ounce cup of regular pop a day.

The average portion size for sodas has increased markedly in the past three decades. A typical portion of pop increased from 13 ounces to about 20 ounces from the 1970s to the 1990s.

A 20-ounce bottle of regular pop provides about 250 calories. Some locations sell 64-ounce portions of pop. Consider the calories in that thirst-quenching jug of pop.

Unfortunately, our bodies generally do not recognize beverages to be as filling as foods. We can take in more calories from beverages without feeling as full as we might feel after consuming the same amount of calories from solid food.

According to current nutrition recommendations, we all have a “calorie salary” that allows us to meet our nutrition needs while maintaining our weight. We get some discretionary calories to “spend” as we wish after we’ve met our basic needs.

For people who need about 2,000 calories per day to maintain their weight, the amount of discretionary calories is about 200 to 300. You can learn your allotment of discretionary calories and how they fit into a healthful diet by visiting

Check out the calories per serving and the serving size on your favorite foods.

To maximize your nutrition, consider your beverages as well as your solid foods. Quench your thirst with plain water most often. To get the calcium you need, enjoy three daily servings of calcium-rich dairy foods, such as low-fat or fat-free milk.

Enjoy some discretionary calories without guilt. These brownies have less fat and fewer calories per serving than typical brownies. They go well with milk.

Chocolate Chip Applesauce Brownies

1 1/2 c. sugar

1/2 c. shortening, margarine or butter

2 eggs

2 c. applesauce

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

2 Tbsp. cocoa

2 c. flour

1 1/2 tsp. soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 c. nuts, chopped

1/2 c. chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 F. Beat the sugar and shortening together. Add the eggs and then applesauce. Add the dry ingredients and beat. Coat a 10-inch by 16-inch jellyroll pan with nonstick cooking spray. Pour batter into pan. Sprinkle over the top 1 tablespoon sugar, 1/2 cup nuts and chocolate chips. Bake 25 to 30 minutes.

Makes 25 servings. Each serving has 125 calories, 21 grams (g) of carbohydrate, 4 g of fat and 160 milligrams of sodium.

(Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., L.R.D., is a North Dakota State University Extension Service food and nutrition specialist and associate professor in the Department of Health, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences.)

NDSU Agriculture Communication

Source:Julie Garden-Robinson, (701) 231-7187,
Editor:Rich Mattern, (701) 231-6136,
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