All Posts By Toby Amidor

Nutrition Expert at FoodNetwork.com

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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Ordering Food Online Might Mean Consuming More Calories

by in Dining Out, Food News, October 18, 2012

pizza on a computer screen
Ordering food online is as easy as a click of a button. Plus you avoid the long lines and there’s no human interaction. But a recent study found that ordering your meals online isn’t so good for your waistline.

The Study
A 2012 study by Ryan McDevitt, an assistant professor at the University of Rochester’s Simon Graduate School of Business, examined the patterns of people who ordered food by phone or at the counter from a franchised pizza establishment compared with those who ordered online. They looked at over 160,000 orders made by over 56,000 unique customers over 4 years. The most notable differences between those who ordered online compared to those who ordered over the phone or in person included:

  • Customers ordering online spent $0.61 more (4%), on average, though they ordered fewer items. The increase in cost was due to increased toppings.
  • The items ordered online were 15% more complex and had 6.1% more calories.

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Why We Love Pumpkin Seeds

by in Healthy Recipes, October 16, 2012

pumpkin seed
With the crisp chill of fall in the air and the excitement of Halloween around the corner, pumpkin season is in full swing. When you’re carving those pumpkins or making a fresh pumpkin soup, don’t forget about the hidden treasure inside—the seeds.

Pumpkin Seed Facts
Pumpkin seeds can add a rich flavor and crunchy texture to many dishes. The seeds have a white fibrous hull (outside shell) with medium-dark green seeds inside; the green interiors are also called pepitas and are commonly used in Mexican cooking. If you’re scooping the seeds out of your jack o’ lantern, give them a dip in boiling water or toast them—both the hull and the seed are edible though I prefer my pumpkin seeds without the outer hull. You can also buy them at the store either  roasted or raw, with or without the hull, and salted or unsalted.

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Food Fight: Almond Butter vs. Peanut Butter

by in Food Fight, October 16, 2012

peanut butter
Get revved up for the next Healthy Eats battle: almond butter versus peanut butter. These nuts butters are popular with folks young and old but which should you be putting in your shopping cart?

Almond Butter
Two tablespoons of almond butter has around 202 calories, 18 grams of mostly unsaturated fat, and 4 grams of protein. It’s an excellent source of vitamin E, magnesium and manganese. It also provides fiber, calcium, iron, a few B-vitamins, potassium, and zinc.

The flavor of almond butter is comparable to peanut butter only nuttier and slightly richer. It’s a tasty alternative for those with peanut-only allergies.

A recent ABC News article also reported that two-time American Olympic medalist and beach volleyball player Kerry Walsh eats almond butter and honey sandwiches, especially before she competes.

There are a few cons when it comes to this nut butter. Some food manufacturers may add sugar, salt or hydrogenated oils in order to increase its shelf life. Read the ingredient list and choose the variety with the fewest ingredients and no additives.

A second con: almond butter isn’t as easy to find as peanut butter. You may need to go to a specialty food stores or ask your grocery store manager to order it. It’s also more expensive than peanut butter – organic varieties can run around 8 to 10 dollars per 15-ounce jar!

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Chicken Nuggets: Are They Healthy?

by in Is It Healthy?, October 7, 2012

chicken nuggets
This kid-friendly and wildly popular food is often DEMANDED by kids.  Should you give into to your kiddos’ requests for these bite-sized poultry pieces?

YES?
At a first glance, breaded and fried chicken isn’t the best nor is it the worst food your kid could be eating. The chicken provides some B-vitamins and protein and served with a side salad or veggies and a whole grain, it can be part of a healthy eating plan.

Much of the nutritional value in nuggets depends on who’s making them. Store-bought and fast-food varieties aren’t without their issues (see below). You can always opt to make your own breaded and baked nuggets. This helps decrease the unpronounceable ingredient list, preservatives, sodium and fat.

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Nuts About Cashews

by in Healthy Recipes, October 4, 2012

cashews
We’ve told you how nuts we are about walnuts, almonds, peanuts, and pistachios but let’s not forget about cashews.

Cashew Basics
These nuts are thought to have originated in northeast Brazil. The kidney-shaped, gray-brown colored cashew nut grows from the bottom of a fleshy stalk that resembles the shape of a pear (though is referred to as the cashew apple). The cashew apple has a bright yellow or red skin and is between 5 to 10 centimeters long. The cashew shell is toxic, that’s why you can only purchase them shelled. Cashews have a distinct sweet, buttery flavor.

Today cashews are primarily produced in India, Brazil, Vietnam and Mozambique. Juice, syrup, preserves, wine and liquor are produced from the cashew apple, though the nut is the main form sold commercially in the U.S.

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