All Posts By Toby Amidor

Nutrition Expert at FoodNetwork.com

Shop Smarter: Savvy Grocery Shopping Tips from Mary Abbott Hess

by in Grocery Shopping, May 5, 2013

grocery shopping
Confused by all the choices at the supermarket? I had the chance to speak with dietitian Mary Abbott Hess, author of The Pocket Supermarket Guide. Her savvy supermarket shopping tips will have you reaching for healthier choices during your next trip to the market, and saving money too.

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How to Adopt a Mediterranean Lifestyle

by in Diets & Weight Loss, May 3, 2013

salmon
It’s not just about eating more fish and using olive oil. To get the health benefits associated with the Mediterranean diet, you need to embrace the lifestyle.

The Benefits
Many researchers have found that those living in the Mediterranean have a lower risk of certain types of disease. A recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that incorporating more olive oil and nuts may help reduce the risk of heart disease by about 30% in folks who are at high risk. Since the release of this study in April 2013 the popularity of the Mediterranean diet has skyrocketed—and with good reason. On top of incorporating many good-for-you foods, the cuisine is pretty darn tasty.

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Should Healthy Kids Be On Special Diets?

by in Food News, May 2, 2013

kid eating
It’s becoming more common to see parents eliminating foods or food groups from their healthy child’s diet. Even superstar mom Gwenyth Paltrow reportedly cut all gluten and carbs from her kids’ diets. Is it a good idea for parents to make drastic dietary changes without medical supervision?

Why Eliminate?
We’re not talking about a child who is allergic to a food or needs to avoid it due to a medical reason. Parents are eliminating food groups like gluten, carbs, sugar, eggs or milk because they feel they aren’t healthy. Perhaps they spoke to “specialists” who advised them to do so or they made their own decision based on views they’ve seen in the media. (Oftentimes, these recommendations are geared towards adults, not kids.) They may also decide to follow a hot trend that isn’t scientifically sound.

According to this US Weekly article, Paltrow states that all the doctors, nutritionists and health-conscious folks she’s approached agree that gluten isn’t healthy. However, most registered dietitians agree that gluten shouldn’t be avoided if not medically warranted, especially in children.

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7 Foods to Fight PMS

by in Healthy Tips, April 25, 2013

pineapple
Mood swings, irritability, bloating . . . who needs it? Premenstrual syndrome affects an estimated 40% of American women. Studies have found that eating certain foods may help decrease those pesky symptoms.

#1: Yogurt
A study conducted at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst found that women who ate the highest amount of calcium (around 1,200 milligrams a day) were 30% less likely to develop PMS than women who ate much lower amounts (530 milligrams per day). One cup of nonfat plain yogurt has about 40% of your daily recommended dose (400 milligrams).

Other calcium-rich foods: milk, calcium-fortified orange juice and soy milk, kale, bok choy

#2: Salmon
Vitamin D and calcium work together to help keep bones strong. The same study conducted at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst found that women who took in more vitamin D from food showed a similar risk reduction as when eating a high-calcium diet. Three ounces of cooked salmon has over 100% of your recommended daily dose of vitamin D.

Other vitamin-D rich foods: tuna, vitamin D-fortified milk and orange juice, sardines

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Lose Weight by Eating Mindfully

by in Diets & Weight Loss, April 24, 2013

man eating rice
More and more studies have been supporting the concept of mindful eating when it comes to weight loss, weight control, and overall health. Here’s the 101 on this popular method that can help you develop healthier eating habits.

What’s Mindful Eating?
Eating mindfully involves an awareness of the foods you choose to eat, the environment you eat in and your hunger cues. Many folks don’t pay attention to their daily habits which may be leading to unhealthy eating (such as mindlessly munching in front of the TV). It’s common practice to take a bag of chips and relax in front of the TV for the evening. By the time the commercials hit, you’re wondering where all your chips went.

You really want to use all your senses when eating mindfully. Taste the food by savoring every bite, eat in a quiet environment or with pleasant conversation, smell the delicious flavors, and look at variety of colors (from fruits and veggies) that are on your plate.

Some mindful eating programs also incorporate meditation and gentle stretching. These techniques help decrease overall stress, which can help lower calorie intake if you like to eat when you’re stressed.

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Food Fight: Regular Soda vs. Diet Soda

by in Healthy Tips, April 23, 2013

soda
Should you go for the sugar-filled soda or the one made with artificial stuff? Find out which is better to sip on when you’re in the mood for soda.

Regular Soda
It’s filled with sugar and a ton of empty calories, but soda can be part of a healthy eating plan if it’s consumed rarely and as a special treat. However, studies have found that soda is one of the top sources of sugar in our diets. New York City has even tried to ban the sale of sugary beverages that are larger than 16 fluid ounces to help keep soda portions in check.

In addition to leading to weight gain, studies have found that folks who guzzle large amounts of soda tend to drink less milk and take in fewer nutrients like calcium. Furthermore, drinking large amounts of soda can be detrimental to your bones. Soda contains high amounts of phosphates, which can deplete the body’s calcium stores.

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Meet This Grain: Freekeh

by in Healthy Recipes, April 17, 2013

freekeh
Freekeh (pronounced free-kah), is an ancient grain that’s had new-found popularity lately. If you haven’t seen it on supermarket shelves or on the menu at your favorite restaurant, be on the lookout; you will soon.

What is Freekeh?
In Arabic, the word freekeh means “to rub.” About 2,000 years ago, the grain was created by accident when a Middle Eastern village was attacked and their young green wheat crop was set on fire. The villagers rubbed off the burnt outer layers and cooked up the grain, and thus freekeh was born. It has a crunchy, nutty taste, which has been described as a cross between brown rice and barley.

What Makes Freekeh So Healthy?
One half cup of cooked freekeh has about 130 calories, 1 gram of total fat and 8 grams of protein. It’s free of saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium. This ancient gem is an excellent source of manganese, providing 70% of your recommended daily amount. It’s also a good source of fiber (with 4 grams per ¼ cup dry), plus phosphorus and magnesium. Freekeh is a whole grain so adding it to your diet can help you meet the USDA’s Dietary Guidelines to make half your grains whole.

Freekeh is also rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, two plant chemicals that have been shown to aid in eye health. This ancient grain also seems to work as a prebiotic, helping good bacteria flourish in the digestive tract.

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How To Build A Healthy Salad

by in Healthy Recipes, Healthy Tips, April 14, 2013

crab and avocado salad
From choosing the greens to pouring the dressing, building a healthy salad requires some thought. Selecting the ingredients carefully or you can end up with a 1,000+ calorie meal.

Work Your Way Up
Start from the bottom and work your way up to the dressing. First course of action: Select your greens. Good choices include romaine, spinach, or a combo of field greens. Keep in mind that iceberg lettuce contains fewer nutrients than darker greens, and build your salad on a plate or in a bowl — stay away from the calorie-laden crunchy taco shell.

The Veggies
Choose several colorful veggies to top your salad like tomatoes, carrots, radishes, cucumbers and bell peppers. More colors mean a wider variety of nutrients. This is a great opportunity to use leftover veggies that are lingering in the fridge—and a perfect way to minimize food waste.

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10 Healthy Canned-Tuna Recipes

by in Healthy Recipes, April 10, 2013

tuna pasta
It’s one of the easiest proteins to keep on hand for a quick meal. Get the scoop on buying the best varieties, then get ready to cook these deliciously healthy canned-tuna recipes.

Choosing the Right Can
Both water and oil-packed tuna can be used create a healthy recipe. At the market, the most common water-packed varieties are albacore and chunk light. Albacore comes from a larger species and has a milder flavor, while chunk light comes from a smaller fish and tends to have a stronger flavor. Three ounces of tuna canned in water has around 100 calories, 1 gram of fat, and 22 grams of protein.

Oil-packed varieties have more calories and fat than water-packed tuna, and the price is usually higher than water-packed. Three ounces has about 170 calories, 7 grams of fat and 25 grams of protein. Splurge on oil-packed on a special occasion and drain to help remove some of the fat.

Tuna is even more convenient than ever — you don’t even need  can opener to enjoy it; you can now find tuna in pouches. The pouches are available in the same oil and water-packed varieties with similar nutritional content to canned. Some companies like Starkist also pack their tuna in extra-virgin olive oil or sunflower oil and have low-sodium options available.

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Talking To The Experts: Clean Eating Cookbook Author Michelle Dudash

by in Cookbooks, April 7, 2013

clean eating for busy families
Clean eating has been around since the 1960s but has been gaining popularity recently. Registered dietitian Michelle Dudash author of Clean Eating for Busy Families explains how simple it is to follow.

Q. Could you explain what clean eating is?
Clean eating is the lifestyle of enjoying foods in their most natural and least processed state, including fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, nuts and seeds, lowfat dairy and expeller-pressed oils. For example, instead of eating white bread, seek out sprouted wheat bread, which is a true whole grain. Also, if you can’t pronounce an ingredient on the label, you probably shouldn’t eat it. Instead of components that sound like things from lab experiments, opt for foods with ingredients found in home kitchens. Clean eating to me also means opting for in-season foods—not just produce, but seafood, too—whenever possible.

Q. So many foods marketed to kids are processed — how can you eliminate or minimize processed foods, and how can you tell which packaged foods are clean?
Unfortunately, many foods marketed to kids can be deceiving. You must look past the healthy images on the front of the package and go straight to the ingredient label on the back. If you see sugar in any form (yes, even evaporated cane juice and brown rice syrup) as the first ingredient, put it down. If it’s a grain product like a bar or cereal, whole grains like oats or brown rice should be listed first. If you see more than a few ingredients you can’t pronounce, it’s probably been manipulated and is highly processed. Despite the widespread availability of processed kids’ snacks, remember, kids still love fruits and vegetables or whole-grain crackers paired with dip.

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