All Posts By Toby Amidor

Nutrition Expert at FoodNetwork.com

35 Vegetarian-Friendly Holiday Recipes

by in Healthy Holidays, December 22, 2012

lasagna
Looking for tasty vegetarian recipes this holiday season? From appetizers to mains to desserts, these 35 recipes will leave everyone (including meat lovers) begging for seconds.

The Criteria
The terms “healthy” and “vegetarian” may seem synonymous but that’s not always the case. All the selected recipes meet our healthy criteria for calories, fat and saturated fat. In addition, in order to meet the nutrient requirements of a vegetarian, a variety of recipes that include whole grains, lean proteins, nuts, seeds, fruits, and veggies were selected.

Although there are various types of vegetarians, we stuck to the basics. These recipes don’t include any meat, poultry, fish or seafood.  Some do include dairy and eggs and would be appropriate for a lacto- or lacto-ovo-vegetarian.

Appetizers

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8 Tricks for Lightening Up Holiday Foods

by in Healthy Holidays, Healthy Tips, December 13, 2012

eggnog
We heart holiday food, but holiday food doesn’t always show love our waistlines. Use these simple tricks to lighten up your favorites.

#1: Baked Ham
Ham is a lean meat but when recipes call for one pound per serving the calories skyrocket to 760 and the fat climbs to 44 grams! Also, when you’re talking smoked or cured foods, the sodium can get out of control.

To lighten: Stick to 3 to 4 ounce portions and lessen the amount of salt added to flavor the ham or use lower-sodium versions.

Other tips to lighten up baked ham

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Homemade Holiday Gift: Rum Balls

by in Cookies & Other Desserts, Healthy Holidays, December 13, 2012

rum balls
These deliciously decadent chocolate-flavored balls have been a family favorite for decades. Whip them up this holiday season for the ones you love.

Food Safety Note
These rum balls have been modified from the version my mom made when I was younger. The original version calls for a raw egg (the batter isn’t cooked). To make these rum balls kid-friendly and adhere to prevent salmonella, I use a pasteurized whole egg and swapped in rum extract for the real stuff. This means the egg was heat treated to kill pathogens, though it looks like any other raw egg. Many markets carry them—look for the word “pasteurized” on the label.

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Spice of the Month: Star Anise

by in Healthy Recipes, December 12, 2012

star anise
This spice is known for its distinctive licorice flavor and is an ingredient in one of my favorite liquors, arrack.

Star Anise Basics
This member of the parsley family dates back to at least 1500 B.C. For centuries, the seed was used to help with digestion. In India it was eaten after a meal to aid not only in digestion but also act as a breath freshener.

Star anise is the fruit of a small oriental tree. Its shape resembles a star with an average of 8 boat-shaped points. The points are actually seed pods which are hard-skinned and brownish-red in color. The anise seed (found inside the pods) has a greenish-brown color. Star anise is picked before it ripens and is then dried. It has a unique, sweet licorice flavor. You can find star anise whole or ground into a reddish-brown powder.

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32 Diabetic-Friendly Holiday Recipes

by in Healthy Holidays, Healthy Recipes, December 11, 2012

stuffed pork
Finding mouthwatering diabetic-friendly recipes can be a challenge but don’t let anyone tell you that it isn’t possible! Whether you’re throwing a huge holiday shindig or having a more intimate affair, here are 32 diabetic-friendly holiday recipes from appetizers to desserts and every course in between.

The Criteria
In order to be diabetic-friendly, the recipe must contain a maximum of 30 grams of carbohydrates per serving (which equals two carbohydrate exchanges). In addition, all of these recipes are sensible in the calorie and fat department too.

Appetizers

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Talking With the Co-Founder of Garden Lites

by in Grocery Shopping, December 8, 2012

garden lites
This line of gluten-free frozen dishes, soufflés, and veggie muffins has taken the market by storm. I spoke with Garden Lites’ co-founder Jeff Moskowitz to find out the secret of their success.

Q1. How did you come up with the idea of creating Garden Lites foods?
I wanted to make foods that would help people live a healthier lifestyle. There’s no healthier food than vegetables, but people seem to look at veggies as something they HAVE to eat versus something they WANT to eat. I wanted to change that perception.

Q2. You have a delicious line of soufflés. Are they meant to be eaten on their own or can they be used in cooking?
Our consumers eat them for breakfast, lunch or a hearty snack as well as cut them up and serve as a side dish. The soufflés also make a wonderful ingredient. We started a partnership with Meatless Monday where we post meatless recipes using our soufflés on our social media and cross promote it on Meatless Monday’s Facebook page. That has been very successful. We have a lot of really amazing recipe ideas (like our Veggie Lasagna below), which you can find on our website. We will also be expanding our recipe section on our new website starting in January 2013.

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Family-Friendly Hannukah Fare

by in Healthy Holidays, December 6, 2012

potato pancakes
Hanukkah has always been one of my favorite holidays. Baked goodies, chocolate coins, and 8 days of gifts—what’s not to like during this festival of lights? As an RD and mom, I want to teach my kids healthy eating habits even on holidays (no need for fried EVERYTHING) and I also want to watch my own waistline. Here are some healthy, Hanukkah-licious recipes that are perfect for the entire family.

Appetizers

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Talking to the Expert: “The Germ Guy” Jason Tetro

by in Food Safety, December 5, 2012

jason tetro germ guy
With cold and flu season upon us, it’s important to get the facts on how to prevent the spread of germs in and out of the kitchen. I had the pleasure to speaking with Jason Tetro – AKA The Germ Guy—where we discussed how to keep your kitchen safe, the calming effects of hand washing  and why kids should eat dirt.

Q. How did you come to be known as the “Germ Guy?”
Back in 2008, I was asked by the local television station, CTV Ottawa to do regular question and answer segments on germs and our relationship with them in our daily lives. The host, Leanne Cusack, felt that my title, “University of Ottawa Microbiologist Jason Tetro” was a little too long and shortened it to “The Germ Guy.”  The name stuck in the community and soon, I was better known by that moniker. I went on to develop my own blog and then became a contributor for the Huffington Post.

Q. I heard that you always wear a loose piece of clothing in order to help prevent the spread of germs. Can you explain?
One of the best ways to prevent infection is simply to avoid exposure through the nose and mouth.  I tend to wear a loose undershirt so that when I am around someone who is obviously sick and not following proper etiquette – such as sneezing or coughing into the elbow – I take the matter into my own hands and cover my nose and mouth with the shirt.  It’s come in handy in many places and thankfully, I’ve never been mistaken for a robber!

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Red Wine: Is It Healthy?

by in Is It Healthy?, December 4, 2012

red wine
Red wine has been coined the good-for-you alcohol. My clients often tell me they choose red wine over other alcoholic beverages because it’s good for their heart. Does red wine really provide this amazing-for-you benefit or is it an over-hyped health halo? Mull over the pros and cons.

Yes?
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans say that if you would like to sip on alcohol, have a maximum of one drink per day for women and 2 drinks per day for men. When it comes to wine (red or white), one drink is equivalent to 5-fluid ounces of wine (or about 125 calories). For beer, one serving is 12-fluid ounces and hard alcohol it’s 1½ -fluid ounces of an 80-proof liquor (like rum or vodka)—both range between 100-150 calories per serving.

For those looking to maintain or lose weight I often recommend sticking to wine because the calories are easier to control. Hard alcohol is typically used in mixed cocktails. The combo of multiple shots along with juice and/or other mixers can skyrocket calories in a flash.

Many folks choose red wine because of the health benefits. Studies have found the polyphenol antioxidant resveratrol found in red wine may help protect the lining of blood vessels in your heart.

Studies have also found that red wine may be linked to breast cancer prevention. A 2011 study published in the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology found that resveratrol help stop breast cancer cells from growing.

You can also find delicious bottles of red wine at a low cost. See our top 5 red wines for those on a budget.

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High-Vitamin C Recipes

by in Healthy Recipes, November 27, 2012

beef pops
To help increase your immunity this cold and flu season, give yourself an extra boost of vitamin C (no supplements required!). This antioxidant is found in a wide range of foods from potatoes to bell peppers. Check out these 5 delicious, vitamin-C rich recipes.

The Guidelines
The recommended daily amount of vitamin C is 60 milligrams. Each of the recipes below contains at least 20% (or 12 milligrams) of your daily recommended dose.

Vitamin C has many other roles besides helping stave off the common cold. It also helps form collagen, a building block of connective tissue that gives strength to skin, hair, and nails.  Vitamin C also helps increase the body’s absorption of iron.

The Recipes

Beef Pops With Pineapple and Parsley Sauce (above)
These bite-sized skewers get most of their vitamin C from the pineapple chunks. Surprisingly, the rest of the vitamin C (over 15% of your daily dose) is from the chopped parsley.

Recommended daily amount of vitamin C: 53%

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