All Posts By Toby Amidor

Nutrition Expert at FoodNetwork.com

Thanksgiving Day Breakfast

by in Thanksgiving, November 21, 2012

chocolate oatmeal
Although a turkey feast is approaching, it’s important to fuel up the morning of Thanksgiving. A well-balanced breakfast will give you enough energy to pleasantly chat with family and friends—no need to be agitated and hungry when you see everyone. Plus, eating breakfast can keep hunger under control and keep you level-headed and ready to make more reasonable choices when it’s time for the big meal.

Breakfast Goals
Quick and simple does the trick. With all the hustle and bustle of last minute holiday prep, there’s no need to slave in the kitchen. Your goal is about a 400-500 calorie breakfast which should include whole grains, fruit, and dairy. Make sure you get in enough fiber to hold you until the holiday meal.

#1: Oatmeal
Oats are a whole grain and they’re brimming with fiber and energy-boosting B-vitamins. Cook with skim or almond milk and top with fresh fruit, nuts and spices.

Recipe: Food Network Kitchens’ Hot Chocolate Banana-Nut Oatmeal (pictured above)

#2: Eggs
There are so many ways to enjoy this protein-rich breakfast favorite. For a fun holiday twist try my recipe which includes whole grains, eggs and dairy using only 5 ingredients.

Recipe: Eggs In a Basket

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Thanksgiving Dinner-Hopping Strategies

by in Healthy Holidays, Healthy Tips, Thanksgiving, November 21, 2012

thanksgiving dinner
Are you a feast hopper– stopping by 2 or even 3 Turkey Day meals every year? Follow these tips so you can enjoy holiday favorites without feeling like you need to roll home by the end of the evening.

Strategy #1: Come Hungry, Not Starving
Arrive at your first feast famished and you’ll probably end up over-stuffing yourself. You’ll feel tired (turkey coma?) and can even end up with heartburn. At the next house, you’ll turn down Aunt Mary’s famous pie and insult the whole family (oh, the drama!). Have a small snack about 30-45 minutes before your first stop. A piece of fruit, granola bar or nonfat Greek yogurt will do the trick.

Strategy #2: Enjoy the Conversation
Instead of shoveling food with lightening speed, put down the fork and enjoy chatting with family and friends. This also helps slow down your food flow, enabling you to eat less and leaving room for feast #2.

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10 Healthiest Thanksgiving Sides

by in Healthy Recipes, Thanksgiving, November 13, 2012

roasted squash
These Thanksgiving sides all have fewer than 250 calories per serving and will get the attention and admiration of everyone at your table because they’re so unbelievably delicious. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Squash
Yummy slices of winter squash topped with maple syrup and a touch of lemon juice.

Recipe: Lemon Maple Squash (pictured above)

Stuffing
Traditional stuffing recipes can easily have 400-500 calories per servings. Sandra uses fresh mushrooms with herbs and spices to bring out the flavor and not your waistline.

Recipe: Sage and Mushroom Stuffing

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Why We Love Pears

by in Healthy Recipes, November 8, 2012

tilapia with pears
A lot folks out there don’t show enough love to this under-appreciated fruit. Find out what you’ve been missing.

Pear Facts
Pears are one of the few fruits that don’t ripen on the tree. They’re harvested when mature but not quite ripe to eat. They ripen when left at room temperature, becoming sweeter and more succulent from the inside out.

For most varieties, you can’t judge the ripeness of a pear based on its color. Instead you should “Check the Neck.” The USA pear growers came up with this catchy phrase to remind pear lovers to gently apply pressure around the neck of the pear with your thumb. If your thumb yields to the pressure, then you’ve got yourself a nice, juicy pear. Once a pear is ripe, you can store it in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Other pear tips:

  • Like apples, pears also brown once sliced. To prevent browning, dip them in a 50:50 mixture of water and lemon juice.
  • Place under-ripe pears in a bowl with fruit like bananas that give off ethylene and speed up ripening.
  • Wash pears thoroughly before eating in order to eliminate dirt and bacteria. Be sure to pay special attention to the pear near the stem and bottom by gently scrubbing.

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8 Healthy Pumpkin Recipes

by in Healthy Recipes, In Season, November 7, 2012

pumpkin risotto
Packed with vitamin A, pumpkins are good for more than carving, and it’s time to expand your palate beyond pumpkin pie. They’re absolutely delicious in any of these 8 healthy recipes.

Nutrition Lowdown
Both fresh and canned pumpkins are packed with nutritional goodness. Oftentimes, recipes will use the canned pumpkin since it takes a little work to use fresh. If you choose canned pumpkin, make sure to purchase 100% pureed pumpkin, not pie filling (check the ingredient list).

One cup of canned pumpkin has 83 calories, 1 gram of fat and 7 grams of fiber. It also has close to 800% of your daily recommended amount of vitamin A, 49% of the daily recommended amount of vitamin K and 19% of your daily recommended amount of iron. It also has a good amount of vitamins E and C, pantothenic acid, magnesium, potassium, copper and manganese.

Creamy Risotto
This recipe uses a combo of diced and pureed pumpkin. Combined with mascarpone and fresh Parmesan cheese, it’s heavenly.

Recipe: Creamy Baked Pumpkin Risotto (above)

Spiked Punch
Pureed pumpkin mixed with brown sugar, cinnamon and a splash of rum (for the adults) will help warm you up on a chilly night.

Recipe: Mexican Pumpkin Punch

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Food Fight: Agave vs. Honey

by in Food Fight, Healthy Tips, November 1, 2012

honey
This is going to be our toughest food fight yet! Two natural sweeteners pitted against each other – it’s a very difficult decision.

Agave
Most agave nectar is produced from the blue agave plant grown in desert regions like the hilly areas in Mexico. The syrup is extracted from the “honey water” found at core of the plant, filtered, heated and then processed to make it into thicker nectar you see at the store. This makes agave a good sweetener for vegans (who don’t eat honey).

Agave nectar has a dark amber color, but has a more neutral flavor than honey. One tablespoon of the sweetener has about 60 calories compared to about 45 and 60 in the same amount of granulated sugar and honey, respectively. It’s 1 ½ times sweeter than sugar and so you can use less of it. Agave easily dissolves in cold liquids like smoothies and iced tea and can be used to replace granulated sugar in baked products (see instructions below). Many food manufacturers also use agave nectar in products like energy drinks and bars because of its light flavor and over-hyped nutritional benefits.

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Don’t Be Tricked Into These Treats

by in Halloween, Healthy Holidays, October 30, 2012

halloween candy
It’s not just the ghouls and ghosts causing a scare on Halloween — how about the mountains of treats handed out to kids by friends and neighbors? Some treats are worse than others — these are the ones that I pick out of my kiddos’ candy stash when they’re not looking and toss them into the trash.

Taffy
Depending on the brand, taffy has about 160 calories and 27 grams of sugar for about 5 pieces. The fact that my kids need to try VERY hard to bite into one tells me they shouldn’t be eating it. Read the ingredient list and you’ll find corn syrup, palm oil, hydrogenated oil and artificial colors. In one bite, your kid can eat at least 4 ingredients that many experts tell you to avoid.

Candy-Filled Lollipops
Gum or chewy-candy filled lollipops may be exciting for kids but why on earth do they need a 2-in-1 treat? The only thing they’ll be getting more of is sugar!

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5 Scary High-Calorie Menu Items

by in Dining Out, October 29, 2012

restaurant menu
Like many of you, I check the nutrition facts on menus when I’m out to eat. Every so often I come across such high-calorie menu items that it makes me shake in my boots! Check out these 5 menu items with frighteningly high calorie counts plus see which restaurant wins our scariest calorie award.

#1: IHop: Country Fried Steak & Eggs with Sausage Gravy
Nutrition Info: 1650 calories; 45 grams total fat; 14 grams saturated fat

This breakfast combo includes 8 ounces of fried beef steak smothered in sausage gravy, two eggs, hash browns and two buttermilk pancakes. Order this and you’ll eat almost all your recommended daily calories before your day has begun. I love steak and eggs, but there’s a healthier way to serve them up.

#2: California Pizza Kitchen: Pesto Cream Penne with Chicken and Shrimp
Nutrition Info: 1620 calories; 105 grams total fat; 58 grams saturated fat

This dish has chicken, shrimp and pasta drenched in freshly made basil pesto cream sauce. Although the freshly made cream sauce sounds appetizing, drowning food in cream sauces racks up the calories and hides the flavor of all the other foods.

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Inside Scoop: New Foods on the Market

by in Grocery Shopping, October 28, 2012

prducts
Every year I attend the Food & Nutrition Conference and Expo and scout the expo for the newest must-have foods. This year I found a variety of new chips, fun dairy flavors and one hot blender.

Beanitos
Chips made from various grains and legumes are very trendy right now. These bean chips come in a variety of flavors such as Black Bean (my favorite), Pinto Bean & Flax, and Black Bean Chipotle BBQ. They are non-GMO certified, corn-free, gluten-free, kosher and high in fiber (contains at least 5 grams of fiber per serving). One serving of the Black Bean Chips (about 10 chips) has 140 calories, 7 grams of fat, 0.5 grams of saturated fat, 5 grams of fiber and 4 grams of protein. It also provides 6% of your daily dose of iron (pretty good for a snack chip!).

Lundberg Rice Chips
This second type of chip is made from 70% organic ingredients. The package has the Whole Grain Stamp and the Non-GMO verified label. There are 9 flavors available—I tried the Sea Salt (my favorite), Sesame & Seaweed and Sante Fe Barbecue. One serving of Sea Salt Rice Chips (about 9 chips) has 140 calories, 6 grams of fat, 0.5 grams of saturated fat, 1 gram of fiber,and 2 grams of protein. First ingredient listed on the package is organic whole grain-brown rice – a whole grain!

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Diet 101: Wheat Belly Diet

by in Diets & Weight Loss, October 26, 2012

bagels
Here’’s a look at the newest diet being promoted on the “popular diet book” table in book stores around the country. But is eliminating any and all wheat the healthiest way to lose weight?

Overview
If you’re walking around with a gut—it’s no longer called a “beer belly” but rather  a “wheat belly”—or so says William Davis, MD, the creator of this diet. He claims that whole-wheat grain has become unhealthy due to over-breeding and modification over time. In addition, wheat and processed foods made with wheat are like opiate drugs and eating bread is just like taking crack. The theory is that wheat promotes high blood sugar which though a series of reactions, causes the body to accumulate more visceral fat.

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