Ask Food: Perfect portion sizes

Q: Is there an easy way to decide how big a portion should be?

A: Here are some easy ways to tell the perfect portion size:

-- Baked Potatoes

When not covered in cheese and sour cream, potatoes aren't hard on the waistline and are high in potassium and vitamins C and B6. A perfectly portioned baked potato should be about the size of a computer mouse.

-- Cheese

A few cheese cubes and some fruit is the perfect mini-meal between lunch and dinner. To make sure you're noshing on the right amount, roll some dice. A serving of cheese is one ounce, or the size of six dice.

-- Pancakes

Don't go for a cartoon-sized stack of flapjacks -- one compact-disc-sized pancake is the recommended serving size.

-- Dried Fruit

Dried fruit keeps longer than fresh fruit, but it also has four to five times the calories by weight. One serving of dried fruit is about 1/4 cup, or about the size of a large egg or golf ball.

-- Peanut Butter

It takes about 850 peanuts to produce an 18-once jar of peanut butter, so a little of the stuff packs a powerful protein punch. Two tablespoons, about the size of a pingpong ball, is an appropriate serving size.

-- Pasta or Rice

A one-cup serving of pasta or rice should be about the size of a tennis ball. You'll fill up faster on a serving of grains if you choose healthy whole grains whenever possible.

-- Meat

One serving of meat is about 3 ounces, roughly the size of a deck of cards.

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