All Posts By Toby Amidor

Nutrition Expert at FoodNetwork.com

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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10 Healthy Sweet Potato Recipes

by in Healthy Recipes, September 29, 2012

sweet potatoes
Fall in love with sweet potatoes again and again with these 10 deliciously healthy recipes.

Nutritional Goodness
One medium tuber contains 105 calories and 4 grams of fiber. These babies are bursting with antioxidant vitamins A and C, potassium and manganese. They also contain lycopene, another antioxidant that’s been shown to help fight certain types of cancer and heart disease.

Maple-Roasted
Thick pieces of potato wedges drizzled with a touch of maple syrup makes a delightful side dish.

Recipe: Food Network Kitchens’ Maple-Roasted Sweet Potatoes (pictured above)

In Quinoa
Enjoy pieces of roasted sweet potatoes in this protein-packed dish.

Recipe: Sweet Potato Quinoa

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Why We Love Olives

by in Why We Love, September 28, 2012

olives
My friends and family can attest that olives are one of my all-time favorite foods. I heart olives in my morning omelet, chopped into my Israeli-Style Salad and when sipping on a cold brew. There’s no wrong time to munch on this salty, briny fruit.

Olive Facts
Olives date back to biblical times where the olive branch was a symbol of peace. These gems were thought to have originated in the Mediterranean, tropical and central Asia and several parts of Africa. Olive trees were first seen in California in the late 1700s.

Olives grow on trees, have one pit in the center, and contain oil in their flesh. In order to extract their oil the olives must be pressed. The difference between a green and black olive is their degree of ripeness: black olives are the most ripe. Fresh olives picked right off the tree are inedible and must be prepared with brine, salt or cured in olive oil before being consumed.

Some of the most popular varieties include Manzanillo, Mission, Rubra, Sevillano and Gordal. Mission is most commonly used for cold-pressed olive oil from California and Gordal is a very popular table olive from Spain.

Today, over 90% of the world’s olive oil production comes from Spain, Italy, Tunisia, Turkey, Greece, Syria, Morocco and Portugal.

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High-Iron Recipes

by in Healthy Recipes, September 26, 2012

tofu cups
Many folks discover they have iron-deficiency—a condition which can result from not eating enough foods that contain iron. If you’re looking to pump up your iron, here are 5 recipes to help you do so.

The Guidelines
Although women tend to need a bit more iron then men, the general recommended dose is 18 milligrams per day. Each of the recipes below contain at least 1.8 milligrams of iron, which is 10% of your daily requirement.

Iron is an important mineral that helps red blood cells carry oxygen through your body. Lack of iron can result in dizziness, fatigue, weakness and pale skin. Eating foods high in vitamin C, such as peppers, potatoes, tomatoes and citrus fruits, can help absorb iron. Conversely, coffee and foods high in calcium decrease absorption of the mineral.

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