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Hungry for Apps? Eat healthier with your smartphone

Sarah Rufc, Houston Chronicle
Published 12:53 pm, Wednesday, March 20, 2013

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Eating healthier doesn't have to mean living out of a juicer or counting calories obsessively.

Sometimes it's as easy as making better choices at the grocery store and learning to make great meals out of fresh ingredients. Whether you're a culinary pro looking to streamline your grocery list or a kitchen newbie ready to learn the basics, these apps offer plenty of help for healthy choices.

1 AllRecipes Dinner Spinner: Tired of the same chicken dish? The spinner makes searching through AllRecipes' 40,000 options fun and easy by letting users pick a type of dish, ingredients to include or exclude (so you can use what you already have) and filter by categories like vegan and low-fat. Free for Android, iPhone, Windows Phone and Kindle Fire.

2 Fooducate: When it comes to eating healthy, not all foods are created equal. Fooducate takes the guesswork out grocery shopping by labeling thousands of everyday items with a letter grades based on their nutrition facts and ingredient list, recommending foods that minimally processed and good sources of nutrients and antioxidants, accessible by search or scanning a barcode. Fooducate also assigns every food a FoodPoints value, so dieters can enter weight-loss goals and track their points. Free for Android and iPhone.

3 Harvest: Fruits and vegetables are a key part of a healthy diet, but they can be costly. Get maximum flavor and minimum waste from produce choices with Harvest, which offers tips on selecting more than 120 fruits and vegetables, from what color rosemary should be to how to knock on a watermelon. There's also a guide to pesticide levels for different foods so users can make informed decisions on what fruits and vegetables are worth the going organic. $1.99 for iPhone.

4 How To Cook Everything: The app version of Mark Bittman's über-popular cookbook is even better than the original, offering 2,000 recipes and 400 how-to illustrations and guides on everything from how to crush and peel garlic to using a chef's knife. $9.99 for iPhone/iPad.

5 Jamie's Recipes/Jamie's 20 Minute Meals: Chef Jamie Oliver continues his multimedia quest to make healthy cooking accessible for everyone with an ever-growing family of sleek apps. The easy-to-use interface includes gorgeous food photography for every step of the recipe as well as video tips from Oliver. For iPhone and iPad, the Jamie's Recipes app is free and comes with a starter pack of 10 recipes, with the option to subscribe for more. For Android, the 20 Minute Meals app has the same stunning visuals, with 65 quick recipes and over 20 instructional videos included for $3.99.

6 Paprika: Rather than offering its own database of recipes, Paprika lets users import their favorites from across the web, from almost 200 supported sites including Food Network, Epicurious, Weight Watchers, Bravo, Martha Stewart and Rachael Ray. Plus with the cloud, Mac users can use their computer for importing recipes, read from an iPad in the kitchen and pull grocery lists up on their phone. $4.99 for Android and iPhone/iPad.