Hello, 100 Days of Real Food readers! Lisa has asked me to share a guest post with you while she’s on vacation, and I’m thrilled to be here. My story is remarkably similar to hers and her family’s: Until a couple of years ago, my diet was filled with processed and fried foods. After slowly gaining 30 pounds — and eventually having my “ah-ha!” moment — I started exercising and eating more healthfully. I lost the extra weight, and felt great. During that time, I read The Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food, which led to my own October Unprocessed challenge last year. I discovered 100 Days of Real Food somewhere around the same time, and Lisa and I met in person at a conference a few months later. We immediately became friends, of course, since we’re kindred spirits!
Any time I can find tips, tricks, or tools to help make eating healthfully easier, I get really excited. One device that has helped me tremendously is my iPhone. With this little magical gizmo always at my side, I can look up nutrition information, figure out which seafood is the best for my family and my planet, and a whole lot more.
A little while back, I posted a list of 27 Apps for Healthy Foodies, on my own blog, and for this post Lisa has asked me to narrow the list down to just ten — with a focus specifically on apps that will help busy families. So without further ado, here’s my list of top ten apps for healthy foodie families. If you have other favorites, please share in the comments!
1. Dirty Dozen (Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides)
The Environmental Working Group’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides is the definitive guide of fruits and veggies with the most and least residual pesticides. Their “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean Fifteen” lists help you know which to buy organic, and which are okay to by conventionally-grown (if organic is not available).
With this handy list, you can make the best choices with a limited food budget: You’ll know which are the most important choices to buy organic, and which don’t matter quite as much (since they are likely to have less residual pesticides).
Seasons is all about foods that are in season. It covers fruits, vegetables, lettuces, herbs, mushrooms, and nuts. It supports the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, Western and Central Europe. It lets you search by “local” and “imported” season. It also includes an international Farmers’ Market finder, which makes this app perfect for the traveling local foodie. (Geeky kids — like me — will enjoy the little graphs that show the availability throughout the year.)
(Want a similar, but free, App? Check out Locavore for iPhone and Android.)
If you haven’t heard of Fooducate yet, you’re in for a treat. This free app lets you scan the barcode of any product (or just shake it for a random item, which is fun), and then gives you a letter grade, the number of calories per serving, and additional relevant health-related information (My favorite? “Look out! Not 100% whole grain.”)
Click the “Alternatives” tab for suggestions of better products, or you can compare two products to help you decide which to put in your cart. Helpful kids will love to scan barcodes, of course, so they can get in on the action (and education).
4. Seafood Watch
This is the essential guide for making more sustainable choices when buying seafood. With the exception of a few species (Wild Alaskan Salmon! Wild Alaskan Halibut!), I have trouble remembering which fish are the way to go, and which are the best to avoid (Swordfish! Orange Roughy!). Just type the seafood into the searchbox, and you’ll instantly have the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s expertise and guidance on what to order, guilt-free. (And next time you’re in Monterey, California, be sure to bring the family to the aquarium — it’s phenomenal!)
5. Good Guide
Good Guide has rated tens of thousands of products (not just food) according to health, environmental, and social performance. Everything gets a score from 0 to 10; the higher the better. All the scores are available on their website, but you can use the mobile app when you’re at the store to quickly scan a product’s barcode and see how it stacks up. See if your kids can find items that score a “10” before putting them in the shopping cart!
6. CSPI Chemical Cuisine
Have you ever wondered about some of those multi-syllabic chemicals in the ingredients list? Curious to know if it’s okay to eat Maltodextrin, Inulin, or Sorbic Acid? This mobile version of the Center for Science in the Public Interest’s Chemical Cuisine website lets you look up more than 130 food additives to find their descriptions and safety ratings to help you make informed, healthful decisions.
7. Cook IT Allergy Free
If you’ve got family members with food allergies, you’re going to love this one: Created by a mom after her oldest son (and her husband) were diagnosed with Celiac diseas, Cook IT Allergy Free has over 200 recipes that can all be customized to be made allergy free. Tell the app everything you (or your little ones) are allergic to, and it’ll automatically adjust the recipe to include a subsitution. You can save your adjusted recipes, keep notes on your “trial & error,” create a shopping list, and more.
$4.99 for iPhone/iPod, $8.99 for iPad
8. Paprika Recipe Manager
The Paprika Recipe Manager App lets you enter your own recipes, browse for them online (and save them to the app), plan your meals, make a shopping list, email recipes, and sync across devices (for an added fee). Great for keeping track of all your family favorites!
Okay, this isn’t specifically a food app — but we use it regularly for our family grocery list, so it definitely deserves a mention. TeuxDeux (pronounced “To Do”) is a simple, designy, to do manager. The great thing is that you can use it online, or in the app, and it stays in sync. If items are not crossed off the to do list, they automatically roll over to the next day — so the list stays current. We share an account just for our grocery list, and add items as we think of them. Then, as either of us are at the store, we just use the list and check off items as we go.
(Available free at TeuxDeux.com and as an iOS app; they sync gracefully.)
10. Lose It!
Lose It! helped me lose 30 pounds, so I can’t not list in a favorite apps list! It lets you set a weight-loss goal, and then helps you log everything you eat (as well as your physical activity), all in a simple, easy-to-use interface. By using it consistently, you’ll likely lose weight — but more importantly, by doing logging everything, you’ll start to learn about appropriate portion sizes, how many calories are in everything you’re eating, and how to start eating nutrient-dense (as opposed to calorie-dense) foods. They’ve incorporated social networking and friend updates — so the entire family can get in on the action and encourage each other.
(Available free at LoseIt.com and as an iOS app; they sync gracefully.)
Andrew Wilder is the author of the blog Eating Rules. His philosophy is that health and nutrition information may be complicated, but eating delicious, healthful food doesnít have to be. Get his free Guide to the Nutrition Facts Panel on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter at @eatingrules.
31 thoughts on “Guest Post: 10 “Real Food” Mobile Apps”
Before reading this article or by reading its title, I thought it will be about the food delivery apps or dieting apps. But after reading, I am happy to know that there are some of this kind of app that can guide us about the food quality, kind of foods. Thanks for sharing it. I enjoyed it a lot.
Grocery IQ is great. We use it and it syncs my devices, our home desktop, and my hubby’s devices. When one of us ends up at the store we just pull it up and get everything we needed, whenever anyone thought of it. It also scans labels to load into your favorites. Sounds like if I could get it to work with fooducate or good guide I’d be in heaven. Thanks for the list!
I wonder if Cantalopes are going to be taken off the “Clean Fifteen” list.
I don’t and won’t use cell ph will app work on pc?
These apps are specifically designed for mobile devices, but some of them have website versions, or the same information can be found on their websites.
For example, you can get info on the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen, and the Seafood Watch website is an excellent resource.
There’s also Good Guide, Teux Deux, and Lose It
Thanks so much for posting!
I just recently purchased paprika and love it. I can upload recipes from a ton of websites or enter my own manually. I can also make notes if I tweak a recipe I uploaded from someone else. The grocery list and meal planning functions have been amazing also. I use CalorieSmart when I’m in the calorie tracking mood. It has a huge database and the ability to enter your own foods. I can’t recall if I paid for it or not though.
Great list, very helpful! There are 4 apps that I am going to download immediately; Dirty Dozen, Fooducate, Good Guide, Seafood Watch and Seasons. Thanks for posting.
I can’t seem to find the Fooducate on the Android market. Is it possibly listed as something else?
The logo/link seems to be working for me. Try this:
That is the app I had a hard time with, too. My phone isn’t compatible with it, so yours may not be either.
Thank you for these apps! I always forget the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15, so that app will be handy. I am going to try Good Guide and Fooducate, too!
Thank you times ten! I’m so grateful!
Thanks so much for these awesome app ideas!! I recently purchased an i-phone, and I’m excited to add apps that will benefit my life (and my husband and kids, too).
I really like this post. I just recently got my first smartphone and I appreciate the Android links…so easy to add the apps!
Thanks, Kari! I’m guessing the rest of them are working on Android versions, too. Just a matter of time… :)
Unfortunately, the one I’ve been wanting isn’t compatible with my android phone :-(. I’ll have to make a comment on the Market Place page to add my phone.
Guess I really need to buy my iPad – getting closer…
Hi Liz! I’m holding out for the iPad 3… :)
I also love the seafood app.
For a free recipe solution, Try Evernote. I have 3K+ recipes stored. You receive 60mb of free storage space EACH month, and it’s easy to “clip” a recipe from a web site or write your own. I’d be lost without it.
For groceries, I love Grocery IQ. been using it for awhile, I think I actually PAID for it but now it’s free. Yes, they have a little bit of advertising, but I just ignore it. I can add prices and it calculates my total bill when I “check off” each item.
Thanks for your article!
Debbie, can you tell me how you store recipes on Evernote? Do you manually type them in? Or can you take a snapshot of a webpage? Thanks!
Shalene, I’m sorry that I didn’t see your question until now. You can do both, manually typing and a clip of any web page. When I clip a web page, I go back and edit it to remove the extra stuff like advertizing, images, links, etc. If a web page has a “print” version of their page, that is even easier.
I wrote a blog post about Evernote a few months back. http://www.thatsjustme.com/2010/11/organizing-recipes-with-evernote-online-offline-iphone/
Evernote.com has some tutorials explaining how to use the software. Everything is synced – web, computer and smart phone/iPad – all your info is available everywhere!
I love Evernote for my recipes! I scan recipes from magazines, books, etc., but the web clipper tool is invaluable to “capture” recipes from websites. Then you can tag them and search for ingredients. It’s fabulous!!
Amanda, I love tagging too! And the search tool in evernote is great too.
Hm. Looks like Blackberry needs to get on the stick!
Agreed! I checked the Blackberry App store, but didn’t have much luck. :(
Thank you so much, I will be getting a few of these shortly. I also love the SparkPeople App it’s alot like the Lose It App. And Grocery IQ for your grocery shopping you can make favorites, add your own store, sort the food by isles, and scan the prices in so you can see what your bill will be before cheking out.
My doctor recommended LoseIt! and I’ve been pretty good at keeping track for the past couple of weeks. It’s kind of a shocker to see that even on days when I’m eating well and still a bit hungry, one little thing (like 2 handfuls of almonds instead of one) will put me over my calorie budget. It’s also affirming to see the leeway 20-30 minutes of exercise gives me to stay under that daily “budget.” I love it.
That doctor is a keeper!
I totally agree about the leeway thing — there’s something special about those extra 200 or 300 calories that I “earned” by exercising. :)
Love the seafood app – I always forget once I’m at the store too, so end up buying the few I can remember as okay!
The seafood app is fantastic! When we were at the Monterey Bay Aquarium a few weeks ago, we got a paper list of seafood to avoid, eat in moderation and enjoy. Looks like this app will do all that from our phones! Sweet.