All Posts By Toby Amidor

Nutrition Expert at FoodNetwork.com

7 Ways to Boost Your Metabolism

by in Healthy Tips, March 7, 2012
weights
Boost your metabolism the healthy way.

Looking to rev up your metabolism? Say no to dangerous weight loss pills and wacky crash diets. Instead try any of these 7 safe ways instead.

Metabolism Facts
Between genetics, gender, and age we have limited control over how much we can boost our metabolism. Men in general have a higher metabolism than women due to their higher muscle mass. As we age (especially after the big 4-0), our metabolism slows down. There’s not much you can do about the hand you’re dealt, but a few healthy habits can help boost it up.

#1: Resistance Training
A regular weight training regimen can help increases your muscle mass, thereby boosting your metabolism. The key word is “regular”—meaning, hitting the weights once in a while won’t do the trick. Aim for three times per week.

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8 Surprising Sources of Sugar

by in Grocery Shopping, Healthy Tips, February 29, 2012
sugar
Is there sugar hiding in your groceries?

Move over salt, there’s a new bad guy in town: sugar. We know that sweet treats and heavily processed food tends to be laden with sugar, but you’ll be shocked to find out that these 8 common foods that contain more sugar than you think.

The Guidelines

The American Heart Association recommends that women limit their added sugar to no more than 6 teaspoons (or 100 calories) while men shouldn’t consume more than 9 teaspoons (or 150 calories) each day. Americans blow these recommendations out of the water, consuming an average of 475 calories of added sugar each day! So take a good look at your pantry to see if you’re eating any of these hidden sources of sugar.

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Why We Love Tofu

by in Healthy Recipes, February 28, 2012
bbq tofu
Barbequed Tofu

If you’re looking to reduce your cholesterol or eat more plant foods, tofu is an excellent protein-packed option. Choosing the type of tofu can get a little confusing, but we’ve got you covered along with recipe ideas too.

Tofu 101
Also called soybean curd, tofu is made by curdling soy milk with a coagulant (such as calcium sulfate or nigari, which is found naturally in ocean water). It’s then pressed (similar to cheese) and the firmness depends on the amount of liquid that’s extracted.  Tofu has a bland, slightly nutty flavor that absorbs the flavors you combine it with.

There are 3 types of tofu available at the market: firm, soft, and silken. Firm tofu (also found as “extra firm”) holds up well in dishes where you want it to maintain its shape like on the grill or in a stir-fry. Soft tofu is appropriate for recipes where you blend the tofu like puddings, tofu scrambles or eggless egg salad. Silken tofu is made by a slightly different process where the end result is a custard-like product. It’s great in pureed dishes like smoothies and mousse.

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Wheatgrass: Is It Worth the Hype?

by in Is It Healthy?, February 22, 2012
wheatgrass
Have you tried wheatgrass? Should you?

Consumers are buying trendy products like acai, mangosteen and coconut water like crazy lately. But many folks forget to do their research to find out if they’re going to end up flushing their money down the toilet. Today we’re delving into wheatgrass to tell you if this trendy green plant is worth the buzz.

The History of Wheatgrass
Wheatgrass was made popular by Boston’s Ann Wigmore, who immigrated to the U.S. from Lithuania. She believed that wheatgrass could cure disease from her interpretation of the Bible and from observing dogs and cats feeding off the plant when they became sick. In the early 1980s Wigmore was sued by the Massachusetts Attorney General over claims that her wheatgrass program could decrease or eliminate the need of insulin for diabetics. Although she later retracted the claim, in 1988 she was sued again for claiming that her “energy enzyme soup” cured AIDS. She was finally ordered to stop claiming that she was licensed to treat disease. In 1993, Wigmore died but her ideas on wheatgrass live on.

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Buffet Dos and Don’ts

by in Dining Out, February 20, 2012
all-you-can-eat buffet
Don't feel pressured to eat all you can at an all-you-can-eat buffet.

Tired of rolling home after an all-you-can-eat buffet? Use our tips to keep your waistline in check when you visit a buffet or salad bar.

DON’T: Skip all your meals and arrive famished.
DO: Eat well-balanced small meals before hitting the buffet.
Studies show that when you skip meals, you tend to overeat at your next meal. It’s best to eat your regularly scheduled small, balanced meals and arrive hungry but not out-of-control famished.

DON’T: Pile your plate with the first food your eyes land on.
DO: Take a stroll around the buffet to examine all of your choices.
Oftentimes, we start by eating the first thing we see but realize later that the “good stuff” is hidden at the other end of the buffet. Take the time to check everything out before you make your decisions.

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Meet This Grain: Amaranth

by in Gluten-Free, Healthy Recipes, February 17, 2012
amaranth
Have you tried amaranth?

This under-appreciated grain is a perfect way to get in your whole grains, plus it’s gluten-free. Get tips on cooking it and creative recipes to try this tiny grain.

What is Amaranth?
Also called pigweed or Chinese spinach, amaranth was a staple crop of the Aztecs who used to make idols from amaranth, honey and human blood. This outraged Cortes who burned the amaranth fields and decreed that anyone growing the crop would be killed.

Amaranth was rediscovered centuries later and about 60 varieties are available today. Although amaranth is categorized as a grain, it’s really a seed (just like quinoa). The tiny seeds are about the size of sesame seeds and have a yellowish color. The seeds can be used whole or ground into flour. They have a sweet and nutty flavor and are a bit crunchy when cooked. The greens of the plant are also edible and have a sweet flavor.

Today China is the biggest producer of the grain, but it’s also cultivated in Mexico, Central America and some areas in the U.S.

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Should You Drink Bottled Water or Tap Water?

by in Food Safety, Healthy Tips, February 14, 2012
bottled water
Should you spring for bottled, or is tap just fine?

It’s the battle over water! Should you be dropping cash on bottled versions or is tap the way to go? We’re diving into this controversy and sprinkling you with all the facts.

Bottled
Pros:
There are different varieties of bottled water, depending on their source. Here is a rundown:

  • Mineral water comes from an underground source and contains a certain amount of minerals and trace element like copper, zinc, and arsenic.
  • Spring water is collected from a spring that flows naturally through the surface.
  • Municipal water comes from a public source that is usually treated before it’s bottled. You may see it labeled as “purified water.”

Having bottled water available when you’re on the go is convenient and less messy (many reusable bottles leak), but recent studies conducted will make any bottle-loving person a skeptic.

Cons:
According to a 2008 investigation conducted by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a variety of contaminants were found in every tested brand of bottled water. Although tap water is typically tested annually, bottled water doesn’t have to meet the same testing standards and they don’t have to disclose results of any contaminant testing conducted. After conducting this research, the EWG concluded that the “purity of bottled water cannot be trusted…[and] consumer confidence in the purity of bottled water is simply not justified.”

Also, bottled water has a larger carbon footprint than tap water and doesn’t contain any of the added nutrients found in tap water (like fluoride)—though you can find bottled water that has been fortified with fluoride. the problem is, over-consumption of fluoridated water can lead to fluorosis which causes a brownish discoloration on the teeth. It also costs thousands of times more than tap water.

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Talking to the Experts: The Biggest Loser Dietitian Cheryl Forberg

by in Diets & Weight Loss, Healthy Tips, February 14, 2012
cheryl forberg
Dietitian Cheryl Forberg

The NBC hit show The Biggest Loser has helped contestants lose hundreds of pounds and motivate a country in dire need of weight loss. There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes, including many hours of nutrition and food counseling provided by registered dietitian Cheryl Forberg.

Q: What was your role as the dietitian on The Biggest Loser?

As a member of the medical expert team, I participated in a week of screening physicals each season to help select the cast. I met with each prospective cast member to discuss their eating patterns, food preferences, weight loss/weight gain history to help me create personally tailored eating plans for each of them.

Q: I understand that you have both a culinary and nutrition background. Could you tell us about that?

Yes, I am a chef first, nutritionist second. I attended a sixteen month program in San Francisco to attain my chef diploma (formerly California Culinary Academy currently a Cordon Bleu school). I won an apprenticeship in France upon graduation and studied in restaurants in Champagne, Alsace and the Loire Valley. I returned to San Francisco to open Wolfgang Puck’s Postrio restaurant and moonlighted as a private chef to clientele, most of whom had some sort of dietary restriction — low fat, low sugar, low calorie. At the time there were few chefs with nutritional education and few dietitians with culinary training. I taught myself to adapt my classic French training to meet the needs of my clients. After several years as a private chef, I decided to legitimize what I was doing and returned to school at UC Berkeley to attain my BS in Nutrition and Clinical Dietetics and become a registered dietitian.

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Chocolate 5 Ways

by in 1 Food, 5 Ways, Valentine's Day, February 13, 2012
Celebrate Valentine's Day with chocolate treats morning, noon and night.

Just a touch of chocolate is all you need to remind that special someone how you feel. This Valentine’s Day, enjoy any of these scrumptious chocolate delights morning, noon or night.

Breakfast
Start Valentine’s Day with chocolate-filled French toast. Even your kid will be shocked you served chocolate for breakfast! With only 1 teaspoon of bittersweet chocolate chips per serving, a little goes a long way.

Recipe: Chocolate and Strawberry Stuffed French Toast

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Talking to the Experts: The Fuelin’ Roadie Wendy Jo Peterson

by in Food and Nutrition Experts, February 9, 2012
wendy jo peterson
The Fuelin' Roadie: Wendy Jo Peterson

With the Grammy’s right around the corner we sought to answer questions like how do musicians keep their voice in tip-top shape, or what do musicians eat on the road? I had the pleasure of speaking with registered dietitian Wendy Jo Peterson, who provides nutrition counseling for musicians including the guys from Reckless Kelly who are up for a Grammy this year.

Q: What’s your role as a dietitian for musicians?
When working with musicians I take on the role of a nutrition coach, culinary expert and sports nutritionist. I work with musicians on the road but also music festivals, catering companies and event coordinators. Besides working with some of the guys from Reckless Kelly, I have also worked with musicians from last year’s Grammy-winning group, Ryan Bingham and the Dead Horses.

Q: You counsel your musicians to eat like athletes. Do musicians really burn that many calories? Does this philosophy apply to the entire band (i.e. drummer, guitarist)?  
Interestingly the current data is quite outdated in regards to calories burned by musicians, but I have measured calories burned with many of the artists I work with and yes, they burn like athletes. Whether they are banging drums, bouncing around with a fiddle, or doing a choreographed dance while singing they are all burning calories that require nutrition and sport performance considerations. In addition to calories they have major sweat losses on stage, and until they see the evidence they don’t quite get it. I employ similar principles with my athletes as I do with my musicians. The results are impressive!

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