All Posts By Toby Amidor

Nutrition Expert at FoodNetwork.com

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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Ask the Experts: Favorite Halloween Treats

by in Ask the Experts, Halloween, October 25, 2012

candy bar
As a registered dietitian, my philosophy is to embrace holidays like Halloween without going overboard. This means allowing my children to go trick-or-treating and indulge in SOME treats. I’m not the only nutrition expert with this philosophy—I spoke to top experts around the country who weighed in on their favorite Halloween treats.

Ding Dong at the Dietitian’s House
Nutrition consultant Alexandra Oppenheimer, MS, RD claims “It’s not all apples and raisins at my house; I do give out candy but purchase ones that have some redeeming qualities. When picking out my Halloween offerings, I choose chocolates with nuts like peanuts or almonds and skip the sugary caramel. I choose chocolates (and lean towards the darker varieties) because of the potential heart-health benefits and antioxidants. In addition, they also provide fiber, protein and calcium. For these reasons, I prefer passing out chocolates versus candies made completely out of sugar with little to no other nutrients. Although plain chocolates and those with nuts do contribute nutrients, it’s important to remember they are still a treat and should be eaten in moderation.”

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Food Day 2012

by in Food News, October 23, 2012

food day logo
The second annual Food Day is this Wednesday. Thousands of events are taking place around the country to help celebrate healthy, affordable and sustainable food. Here are some fun ways folks are celebrating and ideas on how you can celebrate Food Day in your neck of the woods.

About Food Day
Food Day takes place on October 24th each year. Food movement leaders, organizations, nutrition professionals, labor leaders, environmentalists, farmers, chefs, authors, cookbook writers, parents, kids and teachers have come together to unite their belief in a better food system. Food Day aims to fulfill six goals, which you can read about in a post I wrote about Food Day last year.

Events celebrating Food Day have been organized nationwide, but you can also create a local event at your school or library or at home with family and friends.

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