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MEASURING THE FAT IS A GOOD EXERCISE

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Mayonnaise has 12 grams of fat per tablespoon.

I knew that, but it wasn't until recently that I realized just how small a tablespoon is.I was making tuna salad and decided to measure the ingredients so I could figure how many fat grams there would be in each sandwich. I thought a couple of tablespoons of mayonnaise would be plenty.

Wrong.

Two tablespoons of mayonnaise was barely visible among the chunks of tuna. I stopped after adding two more but had to supplement with mustard to keep the tuna salad from being too dry.

If I had just dolloped out the mayonnaise as I usually do, I probably would have ended up with at least eight tablespoons.

"People often don't realize what a serving portion is," said Linda Jaster, a nutritionist and dietary manager of Texas State Technical College's Food Service/Culinary Arts.

That's why when she does presentations, she brings along food models.

These food items made from modeled plastic let people see just how big (or in some cases how small) a serving size is. That way, when they are trying to meet the guidelines spelled out by sources such as the USDA's Food Pyramid, they know how much to eat.

Also, Jaster talks about making smart choices at home and when eating out.

Since breakfast sets the tone for the whole day, Jaster gave it as an example of how people can sometimes be fooled by restaurant offerings.

While most people know that a bagel or English muffin has less fat and fewer calories than a doughnut or danish roll, did you know that toast with margarine has less fat than most bran muffins?

- EASY SUPPERS: Circumstances are forcing Glenn Bales and his wife to become experts in ideas for easy-to-make suppers. The Waco couple has a 5-year-old, twin 3-year-olds and a set of newborn twins.

Glenn said he and his family depend on the crock pot to give them a good, warm meal when they walk through the door in the evening.

"We just throw in stew meat, potatoes and carrots, turn it on low and by the time we get home at night, it's done," Glenn said.

The Baleses don't use set recipes. Instead they use the vegetables they have on hand and flavor the stew with beef bouillon or V-8 juice.

To save time in the morning, Glenn said they try to get the ingredients ready the night before, let them sit in the refrigerator overnight, then put them in the crock pot in the morning.