By Jillian Thaw
Whether you're wondering how much of your super-size restaurant meal to eat or how much peanut butter to put on your sandwich, use your hands. They're excellent for estimating everything from a teaspoon to a cup to a few ounces. "Be honest, though," cautions Allison Kerin, Director of Employee Wellness and Recognition at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, TX. For instance, "my fist is the proper one-cup size-but using your partner's bigger hands is cheating!" Keep clicking to learn to which measurements your fingers, palm and more correspond. Photo by Getty Images.
1. One Teaspoon
When cooking with fats like mayonnaise, oils and butter, the tip of your thumb (to the first knuckle) is a great visual aid for putting the right amount in the pan. Use it for estimating baking ingredients too. When you're out to eat and want a bite of your hubby's dish, consider taking two thumb tips' worth. "That satisfies a craving," says Jessica Crandall, a registered dietitian and general manager of the Denver Wellness and Nutrition Center-Sodexo-and won't derail your diet.
2. One Tablespoon
It's easy to spread two or three servings of peanut butter onto bread when you make a sandwich. But your whole thumb-from the tip to where it meets the palm-is about one tablespoon, equal to the suggested serving size. Think of your thumb when you use other nut butters as well as jams, cream cheese, salad dressing and dips.
3. One Ounce
Cheese lover? Know that one one-ounce serving is the size of your index finger. And that serving usually contains between 80 and 100 calories. For nuts, dried fruit and trail mixes, on the other hand, one one-ounce serving fits comfortably in a cupped palm. And for chips, popcorn or pretzels, fill up two cupped hands to reach the one-ounce mark. If you spread your hand wider to accommodate your snacks, you're going beyond the standard portion size.
4. One Cup
Restaurants often dole out three cups of pasta, rice and whole grains on a single plate-that's three times the recommended serving size. Check out your fist to see what one one-cup serving looks like. It works for breakfast foods, too: Most bagels contain four servings of grains, but a fist-sized one has the proper amount for a single sitting.
5. Three Ounces
Your open hand is about how much animal-based protein, like fish and poultry, you should eat at a time. That's also the serving size for a juicy steak-much smaller than the typical eight or 10-ounce slab served at most restaurants! If you and your husband disagree about what a serving of meat should be, try this other visualization: an iPhone or similarly sized smartphone.
6. A Pinch
If a recipe calls for a pinch of an ingredient, and you're worried about over- (or under) doing it, look to your pinkie finger. From the first knuckle to the tip is the appropriate amount. Remember that not only for baking but also for taking small tastes of your kitchen creations.