All Posts By Toby Amidor

Nutrition Expert at FoodNetwork.com

Creative Ways To Use Dates

by in Food and 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 & Weight Loss, 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, 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 and 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 and 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 and 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 and 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

A Look Inside Healthy Grain Bowls

by in Cookbooks, January 20, 2017

Grain bowls are trending, and there’s an art to making these one-dish creations. I called on the expertise of Carolynn Carreño, author of Bowl of Plenty: Recipes for Healthy and Delicious Whole-Grain Meals on how to make bowls that are as beautiful and balanced as they are delicious.

  1. What inspired you to write an entire cookbook on one-dish whole grain meals?

Eating bowls filled with grains and topped with smaller amounts of deliciousness has been my way of keeping myself healthy and feeling good for years. I had some pretty serious, chronic issues with my health, and the way I got better was by restricting a lot of foods from my diet. But there was no way that was going to last forever. Eating and cooking in a non-restrictive, “gourmet” way is a major part of my life. I test recipes for cookbook collaborations. I travel to other countries, such as Italy and Mexico, and I want to experience the foods of those places. I go to food events and I go out to eat about every other night in New York City. Plus, I just love good food.

I didn’t want to deprive myself, so as I started to feel better, I kept myself introducing small portions of what I call “the good stuff”—flavorful proteins and dairy and condiments—onto piles of steamed brown rice (quinoa came later, and then farro and the rest) and Brussels sprouts or broccoli.  I’d put a tiny portion of shredded Mexican pork on a big bowl of brown rice with some black beans and broccoli for good measure. It was a middle ground between healthy and delicious that allowed me to have everything I wanted, without feeling like I got ran over by a truck the next day. When grain bowls went mainstream, I wanted to show the world that there can be so much more to a grain bowl than pink hummus and watermelon radishes. Read more

Order This, Not That: Wendy’s

by in Chefs and Restaurants, January 19, 2017

Out of all the fast food restaurants in the country, Wendy’s was recently rated the top fast food joint in a poll by Ranker. With many folks frequenting this popular restaurant, be prepared with these better-for-you choices. Read more

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