All Posts By Toby Amidor

Nutrition Expert at FoodNetwork.com

5 Food Safety Rules You’re Breaking (Without Knowing It)

by in Food Safety, August 1, 2013

cutting board

Skipping out on simple food safety rules may have bigger consequences than you think. Beyond resulting in a belly ache, it can have more serious outcomes for those with weaker immune systems, like young kids, pregnant women and older adults. Here are 5 food safety guidelines that most people forgo because they are busy, forget or just don’t know any better.

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Diet 101: The Fast Diet

by in Diets & Weight Loss, July 30, 2013

cottage cheese

This diet became all the rage after it aired on the BBC during the 2012 London Olympics, and The Fast Diet book has become a best-seller. But is frequent fasting the healthiest way to lose weight, stay healthy and live longer?

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How Often Should You Eat?

by in Diets & Weight Loss, July 29, 2013

clock
Many experts recommend eating small meals frequently throughout the day. However, a new school of thought has emerged that recommends eating larger, less frequent meals. So how often should you be eating?

Eating Smaller, Frequent Meals
The Theory: Nutrition experts tend to recommend eating 3 balanced meals (350 to 600 calories each) and 1 to 3 snacks per day (between 150 and 200 calories each). The calories for each meal and snack depend on a variety of factors including, height, weight, age, gender and activity level. The philosophy is to make sure you don’t go longer than 5 hours or so without eating. After going without food for a prolonged period of time, folks tend to become ravenous and their decision-making skills plummet. They end up choosing any food they can find, including fast food or high-calorie treats.

Pros: Having a small, healthy snack between meals (like cut veggies and hummus or half a PB&J on whole-wheat bread) can curb hunger until the next meal and enable people to make sensible food choices.

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7 Summer Foods That Sound Healthier Than They Are

by in Healthy Tips, July 26, 2013

beer
The hot weather brings with it a bounty of delicious, seasonal foods that may seem healthy but are anything but. Be in-the-know and avoid some of these health-halo booby traps.

#1: Light Beer
I love kicking back with a light beer on a hot summer day. But if you’re guzzling 4 or 5 beers—the calories will quickly overflow. If you want to booze it up, the USDA’s recommendations are 1 beer per day for women and two for men. (And no, you can’t save all your drinks for a Saturday night.)

#2: Fro-Yo
Although they may start out at a reasonable amount of calories (about 100 to 140 per half cup), many people eat WAY more. And when you add toppers like crushed cookies, syrups and other goodies, you sabotage a perfectly calorie-friendly treat. Keep a mindful watch on portions (especially from fro-yo machines) and go light on the toppings.

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The 5 Worst Diets for Weight Loss

by in Diets & Weight Loss, July 25, 2013

empty plate
Trying a weight loss plan that doesn’t work can become extremely frustrating and discouraging. Before starting any of these diets, read why I say skip ‘em!

#1: Paleo Diet
This plan recommends you eat like your caveman ancestors, emphasizing lots of fruits, veggies, lean meats and seafood. Dairy and grains aren’t allowed on the plan—omitting two important food groups and numerous important nutrients in your diet. This diet was ranked last by US News and World Report on their list of Best Weight Loss Diets. Their expert panel determined that there is a lack of scientific evidence to show that long-term weight loss can be achieved.

#2: Dukan Diet
Although celebs like Gisele Bundchen and Jennifer Lopez have reportedly followed this diet post-baby to shed pounds, it was ranked second to last by US News and World Report’s Best Weight Loss Diets. This updated version of the Atkins diet eliminated carbs, fruits and veggies (especially during the very strict first phase), while allowing unlimited amounts of lean protein. It’s a very restrictive plan that will have you losing weight rather quickly—actually too quickly according to safety guidelines set up by the National Institutes of Health. The end result: You’ll probably end up regaining your lost weight plus more.

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5 Calcium-Packed Delicious Dishes

by in Healthy Recipes, July 24, 2013

macaroni and cheese
Are you getting enough calcium? Turn to diet first to get your recommended daily dose of (or as much calcium as possible) before popping a calcium supplement. Here are five recipes to help you do so.

The Recipes

#1: Yogurt and Fruit Parfaits
Yogurt is one of the highest sources of calcium around. Plus, the probiotics found in yogurt make it lactose-intolerant friendly.

Recommended daily amount of calcium: 34%

#2: Macaroni and 4 Cheeses (above)
There are so many sources of calcium in this cheesy recipe. Top contributors are cheddar cheese, milk, and Monterey Jack, with smaller contributions from the ricotta, enriched pasta, squash and Parmesan.

Recommended daily amount of calcium: 30%

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20+ Healthy Foods to Pack When You Travel

by in Dining Out, July 22, 2013

whole-grain crackers
Hitting the road this summer? Whether traveling by car or plane you can still make healthy choices.

By Car
By the time you turn the corner, everyone in the car is begging for food. The last thing you want to do is bring a never-ending supply of junk. Instead, pack a few good-for-you mess-free meals and snacks. To keep things fresh, bring a cooler (the traditional kind or one that plugs into the car).

Meals:

  • Whole-grain pasta salad or quinoa salad
  • Turkey and cheese sandwich on whole-wheat bread
  • Hard-boiled egg and cheese in a whole-wheat pita

Snacks:

  • Sliced fresh fruit like melon and berries
  • Snack bar
  • Greek yogurt
  • Cheese and whole-grain crackers

If you end up having to hit the quick mart anyway, look for the smarter choices:

  • Whole-grain pretzels
  • Hummus cups
  • Coffee or tea (nothing fancy)
  • Fresh or dried fruit
  • Small bowl of oatmeal

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15 Cocktails Under 250 Calories (Cheers!)

by in Healthy Recipes, July 19, 2013

mint julep
Kicking back with a few summer cocktails? Choose wisely or you’ll end up gulping way more calories than you think.

Calorie Overload
If you love the taste of sweet summer cocktails, you could be downing upwards of 500 calories apiece. Each standard shot (1½ fluid ounces) of 80-percent proof rum, vodka or gin has about 100 calories. Combine several of those with sugar-laden mixers–plus juices and soda–and you’re likely throwing back more calories and sugar than you bargained for, especially if you’re guzzling several drinks in one evening.

Always measure out the hard stuff. And forgo those overly sweetened bottled mixers; instead, choose 100% juice or use fresh fruits and herbs to flavor your drink. You can also choose to cut back on calories by using diet soda as a mixer–but be aware that studies have shown that you do get drunk quicker. Size also matters: Be sure you’re sipping from an 8-ounce glass (or smaller!).

Or sip one of the delicious drinks below.

Cocktails Under 250 Calories:

Cream Cheese: Is It Healthy?

by in Is It Healthy?, July 19, 2013

cream cheese

Does this soft, spreadable cheese have any place in a healthy eating plan? It may depend on which kind you choose.

Yes?
Cream cheese comes in numerous forms: brick, regular, whipped, light, fat-free and Neufchatel. You can also find regular, light and fat-free in flavors like scallion, vegetable, cinnamon-raisin, salmon and strawberry.

Two tablespoons of regular cream cheese have 100 calories, 9 grams of fat and 6 grams of saturated fat. So if you want to lighten things up, whipped or light varieties are the ways to go.

Whipped cream cheese incorporates air (from whipping) so it seems as if you’re eating more. Two tablespoons have 80 calories, 8 grams of fat and 5 grams of saturated fat.

Light cream cheese has even fewer calories, with 2 tablespoons clocking in at 70 calories, 5 grams of fat and 3 grams of saturated fat. (Fat-free has about half the calories of whipped or light.)

Neufchatel has one-third less fat than regular cream cheese with 80 calories, 6 grams of fat and 4 grams saturated in 2 tablespoons.

Beyond its traditional uses (with lox, in cheesecake), cream cheese can enhance the flavor of many healthy recipes. Use the whipped or low-fat variety to make cream cheese frosting, mashed potatoes, artichoke dip, alfredo sauce or even a cheese and fruit pizza. As always, the key is to keep portions under control.

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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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