All Posts By Toby Amidor

Nutrition Expert at FoodNetwork.com

10 Great Ways to Use Up Fresh Basil

by in Healthy Recipes, In Season, July 13, 2013

basil
Pick up a bunch (or two!) of this fragrant herb while it’s in season. And don’t worry about how you’ll manage to use it all—there are just so many delicious ways.

Pesto
Go the traditional route and whip up a mean pesto sauce. Use as a condiment or as a sauce for fish or pasta dishes.

Ina’s Pesto

Infused Oil
Infuse your favorite olive oil with basil. It only takes a few minutes!

Basil Oil

Appetizers
Having a few guests over? Whip up simple finger foods using fresh basil leaves.

Tomato Mozzarella and Basil Bruschetta
Black Pepper Basil Farmers Cheese Bruschetta
Tomato, Watermelon and Basil Skewers

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20 Kid-Friendly (and Healthy!) Summer Recipes

by in Healthy Recipes, Kid-Friendly, July 13, 2013

peach smoothie
Although it’s easy to give into kids’ pleas for the same old not-so-healthy foods, parents and caregivers should provide a variety of dishes that will help kids grow and develop. Happily, summer offers a great opportunity to break away from the same old chicken nugget and mac-and-cheese routine. The season’s bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables make for deliciously healthy dishes kids will love. Here’s a sampling.
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Veggie Burger: Is It Healthy?

by in Is It Healthy?, July 12, 2013

veggie burger
When ordering a veggie burger at a restaurant, are you really making the healthier choice? It depends. The ingredients vary so widely, it pays to take a close look at what those burgers are made of.

YES?
Many veggie burgers are made from vegetables, whole grains, and legumes (like beans or lentils). These are good-for-you ingredients that provide fiber and a variety of vitamins and minerals.

Packaged veggie burgers (like Morning Star Farms or Boca) can also be a part of a healthy eating plan. They’re a quick and convenient way to enjoy a meatless meal and typically run from 70 to 130 calories per patty. Pair with a whole-grain bun and pile the fresh veggies high for a well-balanced meal.

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How to Reward Kids (The Healthy Way!)

by in Healthy Tips, July 11, 2013

gold star
My youngest goes gaga for store-bought donuts–but I steer clear of my temptation to reward her with sweets. Food should never be used as a reward (or punishment). Children need to appreciate food as a means of nourishment and enjoyment.

If you think rewarding kids with food isn’t a big deal, think again. It can lead to all types of unhealthy actions and behaviors:

Encourage unhealthy eats: Using sweets or non-nutritious foods as rewards sends the message that these types of foods are more valuable than other foods.

Empty calories: Foods served to your kids should contribute to their growth and development. But oftentimes foods used to reward kids aren’t carrots, watermelon and broccoli but fat- and sugar-laden processed foods.

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The Benefits of Berries

by in Healthy Tips, July 10, 2013

mixed berries
Fresh berries are now in season, and I couldn’t be happier. Not only are these babies unbelievably delicious, they’re also brimming with health benefits. Here’s the lowdown on four favorites: strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries.

Strawberries
One cup of strawberries (about 8 berries) has 50 calories, 3 grams of fiber and more vitamin C than a medium orange. They’re also an excellent source of fiber, folate and potassium. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition ranked strawberries third out of more than 1,000 antioxidant-rich foods. Strawberries also contain anthocyanins, which may help protect the nervous system and blood vessels.

Studies have shown that strawberries can help protect against several types of cancer, including breast, colon and leukemia. Research has also found that strawberries help decrease inflammation and control type 2 diabetes. In addition, one study found that eating 8 strawberries a day for 8 weeks helped lower homocysteine levels, a leading risk factor for heart disease.

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Ask the Experts: Favorite Cooking Tools

by in Ask the Experts, July 7, 2013

lemon zester
We all have our favorite kitchen gadgets and tools. I was interested to see what tools nutrition experts favor so I polled some of the top experts from around the country; it was interesting to hear what they considered to be their most prized kitchen possession.

Plane Grater
This popular kitchen tool got two votes from the experts I asked. Lisa Eaton Wright, MS, RDN, LDN President and Media Spokesperson for the Illinois Dietetic Association said “A Microplane grater is one of the most time-saving, efficient kitchen tools out there! There are many uses for this tool, but I use mine to grate fresh garlic for sauces and vinaigrettes, for grating fresh ginger, for grating Parmesan cheese over soups and salads, for adding a chocolate garnish to my chocolate-drizzled angel food cake, for finely mincing hot peppers — like jalapenos that I add to guacamole — and of course my favorite use is grating lemons for all kinds of dishes to add flavor and zest, particularly to my homemade pesto sauce.”

Nutrition consultant and healthy food blogger Christy Wilson, RD also favors the Microplane grater. “I use it to zest limes, oranges, lemons and to finely grate fresh ginger or garlic. This infuses so much flavor into sauces, dressings and salads and the tool itself is small, easy to handle and affordable. I love it!”

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Cheese Basics

by in Healthy Tips, July 6, 2013

cheese
Cheese is one of my favorite foods, but when it comes to getting all the cheesy facts (and there’s a ton!), I turn to the professionals. I had the opportunity to chat with the owners of Sartori Cheese who gave me pretty interesting tips for buying, storing and even pairing cheese.

Q. What are 3 basic facts folks don’t usually know about cheese?

  1. Cheese is a great snack (in moderation)! One ounce of Parmesan has more protein than red meat, 33% of the recommended daily amount for calcium, and vitamins such as B12 and riboflavin, with 11% and 8%, respectively.
  2. With some cheeses, you may experience a slight crunchy feel.  That crunch is actually crystals called calcium lactate that forms as part of the aging process.   They can also appear as white spots on the cheese and are a sign of a well-aged cheese.
  3. Wisconsin is the only state in the United States that has a Master Cheese Maker Program. This is an advanced education program for experienced cheese makers. The three year program requires a minimum of 10 years as a licensed cheese maker prior to applying to the program.

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15 Fourth of July Potluck Recipes

by in Healthy Holidays, July 2, 2013

Jicama and Watermelon Salad
During the holiday weekend, I’m always invited to a potluck barbecue. But no matter which part of the meal I’m assigned to bring, the end result is always a no-fail dish and a string of ooohs and ahhhs by other guests. Here are some helpful tips and healthy recipes.

Tips for Easy Toting

Complicated or soggy dishes like soups, sauces, or soufflés can get VERY messy when traveling. But if that’s your assigned food, wrap the container several times in plastic wrap just in case it leaks. I also like to have the passenger hold the dish during a car ride to be on the safe side.

When traveling with a green salad, add the dressing right before serving in order to avoid soggy leaves.

If you do choose a hot dish, check ahead with the host if they have extra oven space or if you can grill your goodies right before serving. That can save you time at home plus the food will taste better freshly cooked.
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The Worst People For Your Diet

by in Diets & Weight Loss, June 28, 2013

office coworkers
One of the most difficult barriers dieters face are folks who try to sabotage their weight loss efforts. These are the folks who will shove an over-sized piece of cake in your face at a party or insist on having fried food at every meal. Every dieter faces them; your best defense is to be prepared.

Kids
Those sweet little ones can be a dieter’s worst nightmare! Yelling for candy at the check-out aisle or insisting on eating chicken nuggets at every meal. Oftentimes you end up giving into their whining for processed foods and end up becoming the garbage disposal for their leftovers.

Your best defense: Both adults (dieting or not) and kids should be eating fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean meats and low-fat dairy foods. There are many deliciously healthy recipes that everyone can enjoy; get the kids in the kitchen to help choose and prepare healthy recipes and the whole family will benefit.

Office Buddies
There’s always one office pal who brings in the basket of baked goodies, insisting on watching you eat it. Then there are office-mates who go in groups to pick up the latest fancy coffee drinks, some with no less than 350 calories a pop. And if you try and explain that you’re watching your weight—that’s the center of conversation for the next 2 weeks.

Your best defense: Stick to your guns (and your plan)– overcoming office buddies is all about mind over matter.

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5 Overly-Processed Foods

by in Healthy Tips, June 27, 2013

doughnuts in box
Did you clean your kitchen out after reading our list of the scariest processed foods a few months ago? Here are 5 more overly-processed foods that you might want to toss if you’re looking to clean up your diet.

Flavored Rice & Pastas
Check out the sodium on those seasoning packets — you could be downing 35 to 45 percent of your daily recommended dose in 1 cup. Plus you’ll get an laundry list of additives and preservatives (and they’re not even made with real cheese!)—it’s just so easy to make your own.

Healthier Alternative: 5-Ingredient Spicy Cheesy Rice

Processed Pastries
Boxed cakes, cookies and doughnuts might bring up those feel-good childhood memories, but they’re just a high-fat, nutrient-empty junk food. Some boxed doughnut varieties can have as much as 65% of your daily recommended dose of artery-clogging fat for just one! You’ll also find trans fats in some varieties, such as cakes made with shortening-based frosting and cream-filled cookies.

Healthier Alternative: Marbled Banana Bread

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