All Posts By Toby Amidor

Nutrition Expert at FoodNetwork.com

Sneaky Ways Supermarkets Get You to Spend More

by in Grocery Shopping, April 20, 2017

If you’re like most folks who are on a food budget, you head to the supermarket with a list in hand. Oftentimes, however, you end up leaving the store with a cart filled with items that you had no intention on bringing home. Supermarkets are in the business of getting you to spend more, and many folks fall into their trappings. Here are 5 ways to help minimize overspending at the market.

Oversized carts

When you hit the grocery store to purchase a few items and are wheeling around a huge cart, adding a few more items may seem harmless. Those large carts filled with only a few items also makes you feel like you aren’t purchasing enough, playing on your feeling of guilt.

Instead: Use a hand-held basket, or many supermarkets now offer smaller sized carts that offer fewer items.

Hidden staples

How many times have you gone to grab milk and eggs and added just a few more items to your cart? To get to many perishable items on your shopping list, you’ll need to walk through other aisles which tend to be filled with snack foods and sugary beverages.

Instead: When walking through aisles filled with junk-type foods, focus only on what you need to buy. Also, make sure you eat before heading to the supermarket, so you don’t make these types of impulsive buys. Lastly, keep your kids at home if they tend to whine and beg for junk foods when you’re running through those middle aisles (my eldest son was one of those kids). Read more

Moldy Foods: When to Toss, When to Keep

by in Food Safety, April 13, 2017

How many times have you found cucumbers or cheese in the fridge with mold? Should you just cut off the moldy area or toss? Some molds can be toxic and make you sick. Find out when it’s okay to keep it, and when to throw them away.

What’s the Deal with Mold?

Molds are fungi that are transported by air, water, or insects. Although you can see the green or blue fuzzy dots on bread, cheese, meats, fruit, and vegetables, they have branches and roots that are can be growing very deep into the food. Some molds can cause allergic reactions and respiratory problems. Under the right conditions, a few molds can produce poisonous toxins that can make you sick. Although most molds prefer warm temperatures, they can easily grow in your fridge. They also love salty and sugar foods like jams and cured meats.

So which foods should you keep verses toss? You don’t want to be that person who just tosses everything in the trash, which can lead to lots of unnecessary food waste. Here’s a list of what you should keep verse toss based on the recommendations from USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).

Jams and Jellies: Discard

Don’t scoop out the mold and use the rest. The mold found in jams and jellies could be one that produces dangerous poisons and can be deeper than you think. Read more

Creative Ways To Use Dates

by in Food & Nutrition Experts, March 21, 2017

Growing up, I spent my summers in Israel, where dates were part of the daily diet. These days, I’m pleasantly surprised to see that this dried fruit has become mainstream in the States. I spoke with Colleen Sundlie, founder of the Date Lady, to ask for her tips for getting creative with this versatile, nutrient-packed fruit.

The History

This naturally dehydrated fruit goes back over 5,000 years, and is native to the Middle East. These babies require a hot, dry climate, and are grown in the Middle East, Africa, along with California and Arizona. You may be familiar with the Medjool variety, but there are numerous other varieties including Dayri, Halawy, Thoory, and Zahidi which may be found in specialty food markets.  Most varieties are about 1-2 inches long and have an oval shape with a single oblong seed inside. The skin is paper thin, while the flesh has a sweet taste.

Dates are green when unripe, and turn yellow, golden brown, black, or deep red when ripe. The sweet fruits are typically picked and ripened off the tree before drying. You can find pitted and un-pitted dates at the market. Read more

Diet 101: The Ketogenic Diet

by in Diets, March 12, 2017

The latest fad diet riding on the coat tails of the low-carb trend is the ketogenic diet. This nutrition plan has been around for ages, and has been effectively used in the treatment of epilepsy, but it’s also become popular to help folks shed pounds. Here’s what you need to know about this diet plan before you hop on another fad diet bandwagon.

About the Diet

This diet promotes low carb, moderate protein, and high fat intake touting health benefits such as weight loss and improved overall health.  It promotes an extremely low intake of carbs: about 30 grams per day. For the average American on a 2,000 calorie diet, this would be 120 calories of any type of carb per day. You can find carbohydrates in fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy, and legumes — which, when minimized in the diet, limits food choices dramatically. The distribution of macronutrients recommended is 5% carbohydrates, 25% protein, and 70% fat.

The fats recommended include both unsaturated like avocado and fatty fish along with saturated like whole milk, sour cream, and mayonnaise. Flour, sugar, and other such carbs are not recommended on the plan. Fruits are eaten in very small amount, low carb vegetables are recommended, and nuts in moderation. Read more

Cooking in Parchment Paper

by in Healthy Recipes, Healthy Tips, March 3, 2017

Looking for a portion-controlled, mouthwatering meal that takes seconds to clean up? Try cooking in parchment paper, or as the French say it, “en papillote.” Although most French techniques have a bad reputation for being unhealthy (hello butter and salt!), cooking in parchment can be a light and flavorful, quick and simple way to cook. Here’s what you need to know to get started.

Why cook in parchment?

When you cook ingredients like fish, meat, veggies and herbs in a parchment paper packet, you’re steaming the ingredients inside using their own moisture — no added fat required. Plus, there’s no need to dirty pans, so cleanup is as simple as tossing the paper in the trash.

The process

The French term for this cooking method comes from papillon, the French word for butterfly, since the paper resembles delicate butterfly wings when cut into a heart shape. You then layer ingredients on one side of the paper, fold the other side overtop, and crimp the edges to seal. (To get a visual on how to cook in parchment paper, check out this how-to.) Read more

5 Apps That Will Help You Eat Healthy

by in Food News & Trends, Healthy Tips, February 15, 2017

There are so many nutrition and fitness apps hitting the market that you just don’t know which to try. I set out to find some apps that may not be on your radar and are worthy of space on your smartphone.

 

HealthyOut

Cost: Free

There are now more options than ever for healthy eating when dining out. This app helps you find the best dishes at both chain and non-chain restaurants. Categories include heart healthy, high protein, lactose free, low calorie, low fat, vegetarian, vegan, and more. It’s a quick and easy way to sift through long menus to find choices that are better for you.

 

Food Intolerances

Cost: $5.99

If you have strict dietary intolerances or allergies, this app may be right for you. Those who have conditions like histamine intolerance, fructose malabsorption, sorbitol intolerance, gluten sensitivity or low FODMAP diet will likely find it a helpful tool. The database of hundreds of foods tells you if the food is allowable with the food sensitivity. A con of the app is that it categorizes all processed foods the same, such as a regular tomato sauce verses one that was created specifically to be low FODMAP-friendly. Read more

The Only Ways Nutritionists Will Eat a Bagel

by in Food & Nutrition Experts, February 12, 2017

Think nutritionists don’t eat carb-filled bagels? Think again! As all foods fit into a healthy eating plan — in moderation, of course — I got the inside scoop (pun intended!) on how 9 nutritionists from around the country love make eating bagels part of their well-balanced diet.

The Scoopers

“When I eat bagels (which are not often) I definitely scoop them! By getting rid of the dough, I am saving some extra calories. I always order whole wheat for added fiber and put some almond butter and a little all-natural jelly on it. It’s a yummy, satisfying and filling!”

Ilyse Schapiro MS, RDN, co-author of “Should I Scoop Out My Bagel”

 

“My usual bagel choice is a whole wheat everything bagel. Once sliced, I pull out the inside doughy part, which eliminates some of the bread but gives room to add a lot of good vegetables and protein. First I put on some cream cheese, followed by capers and crumbled hard-boiled egg – the “moat” keeps all these goodies in and the cream cheese sort of locks them in place. Then on top I put lox, sliced tomatoes, and sliced cucumbers. Voila! A bagel full of great protein and vegetables. Other good additions or swaps include grated carrots, vegetable cream cheese, and peppers.” 

–Abbie Gellman, MS, RD, CDN, is a New York City-based registered dietitian and chef and owner of Culinary Nutrition Cuisine.

 

“I’m a bagel scooper. I’d much rather have room for extra filling and balance my meal to feature fewer carbs. I start with a whole wheat or oat bran bagel, truly because I prefer the taste as well as the nutritional boost. My fave is a bit of veggie cream cheese, smoked salmon, tomato, onion and a small amount of whitefish salad if it’s available.”

–Lauren Harris-Pincus, MS, RDN, owner of Nutrition Starring YOU. Read more

What Nutritionists Feed Their Pets

by in Food & Nutrition Experts, February 11, 2017

Since nutritionists are very particular which foods they put into their bodies, I was curious to find out what these healthy food aficionados feed their beloved pets. So I talked to 11 nutrition experts from around the country, and was quite surprised what they feed their four-legged friends.

 

 “I cook for everyone else in the house, and our beloved pooch is no exception. I mix foods like roasted chicken, scrambled eggs, and canned tuna along with her food. I’ve created a bit of a monster, but she’s the best dog in the world.”

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, FoodNetwork.com Healthy Eats contributor and owner of Dana White Nutrition.

Four-legged family member: dog Violet Pickles

 

 “Bulldogs are GASSY, which means paying a ton of money for food is worth it because it helps suppress the gas. We always know when he’s been eating table scraps fed to him by my 3 year old. He doesn’t have to say a word but we know…”

Holley Grainger, MS, RD 

Four-legged family member: Winston the bulldog Read more

6 Healthy Breakfast Foods for Under $4

by in Food & Nutrition Experts, Healthy Tips, February 7, 2017

Breakfast is the first opportunity during the day to nourish your body with the vitamins and minerals it needs to keep you healthy. Instead of grabbing for the massive carb-filled muffin at the corner store or skimping on breakfast altogether, opt for these 6 good-for-you breakfast foods instead.

 

Oatmeal Cups

Whip up a healthy whole grain breakfast in a flash by just adding boiling water. If you’re racing to work, don’t forget to pack a spoon.

Average cost: $1.99

 

Greek Yogurt

Instead of going sans breakfast, munch on nonfat Greek yogurt which provides twice the amount of protein compared to traditional yogurt. Protein also helps keep you satisfied so you can concentrate on your morning.

Average cost: $1.50 Read more

How To Get Your Fruits and Vegetables During Winter

by in Food & Nutrition Experts, January 28, 2017

During the dead of winter, fresh seasonal fruit and vegetables become slim pickings. However, eating fewer fruits and vegetables is not an option if you’re looking to stay healthy. According to the 2015 dietary guidelines for Americans, 80-percent of us don’t eat the daily recommended amount of fruit, while 90-percent of Americans don’t take in enough vegetables. Now is the perfect time to turn to canned and frozen produce, as they absolutely count towards your servings of produce, plus they’re brimming with good-for-you nutrients.

But Isn’t Canned Bad?

One of the biggest misconceptions is that fresh is the only healthy option. Because produce is easily perishable, both freezing and canning were created in order to extend shelf lives. Further, the 2015 dietary guidelines specify that canned and frozen also count towards your daily recommended amount of fruits and vegetables.

Canned fruit retains much of its vitamin C, which can be diminished in its fresh counterparts if it is stored for a long period of time, or shipped long distances. Canned produce is also packed at the peak of ripeness and within hours of being picked from the fields. This summer I visited a tomato farm and cannery in Sacramento, California and I saw tomatoes picked in the fields and quickly delivered to a nearby cannery within several hours to be processed and packed. In fact, tomatoes are an example of produce that actually has higher nutritional value when cooked or processed since canned tomatoes contain 2 to 3 times more lycopene compared to fresh. (Lycopene, naturally found in tomatoes, help protect against the damaging effects of oxidative stress and inflammation.) Read more

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