All Posts By Toby Amidor

Nutrition Expert at FoodNetwork.com

Chicken: Good or Bad?

by in Food Safety, May 8, 2012

marinated chicken
Our recent post on 5 Healthiest Kids Meals stirred up controversy over chicken. Some folks felt that it’s loaded with artery-clogging saturated fat while others voiced their concern over how chickens are raised and fed. Here’s a breakdown of the good, the bad and the ugly.

Good?
Chicken is easy to prepare in a healthy way by grilling, roasting, sauteing, poaching, stir-frying and baking. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, we should be eating lean sources of protein, including chicken. It is recommended to remove the visible fat and skin from chicken before eating to decrease unnecessary calories from fat. Here is a comparison of 3-ounces of chicken breast with and without the skin:

Without the skin:
Calories: 142
Fat: 3 grams
Saturated Fat: 1 gram
Cholesterol: 73 milligrams
Protein: 27 grams

With the skin:
Calories: 193
Fat: 8 grams
Saturated Fat: 8 gram
Cholesterol: 82 milligrams
Protein: 29 grams

As with most meat and poultry, it can get expensive. The problem is, most folks eat much higher portions that they really need. Purchasing 3-4 ounces cooked (about 4-5 ounces raw) per person can help keep portions at bay and control costs.

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In Season: Vidalia Onions

by in Healthy Recipes, In Season, May 6, 2012
vidalia onions
Sweet vidalia onions are in season right now.

Vidalia onions, the official state vegetable of Georgia, are only available for a limited time. Get your hands on these sweet onions while they’re in season!

What, Where & When?
During the Great Depression, farmers were looking for a new cash-crop. They were pleasantly surprised when a strange, sweet onion, grown near Vidalia, Georgia, became an instant moneymaker. Word spread of “those sweet onions from Vidalia” and that’s how the name was born.

Over time, the Vidalia onion began to gain national fame. In 1978 Vidalia onions had their own annual festival in Vidalia, Georgia where it is still celebrated today. In 1990, the Vidalia onion became the official state vegetable of Georgia and the name “Vidalia” is trademarked and owned by the Georgia Department of Agriculture. In order to be called a Vidalia onion, it must be produced in one of 13 counties and portions of 7 others, all in Georgia.

Vidalia onions are grown in low-sulfur soils that prevent bulbs from developing a pungent taste. (It’s the sulfur that makes you cry when you slice an onion.) Since Vidalias contain fewer sulfur compounds, you’ll tear less when you slice them.

Today, Vidalia onions are available in 50 states and most of Canada. They’re available from late April through August.

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Quinoa, 5 Ways

by in Uncategorized, May 5, 2012
quinoa
Quinoa With Shiitakes and Snow Peas

Quinoa-a-holics have been sprouting all over the nation. If you’re looking for some new, creative quinoa recipes—we’ve got 5 you’ll love!

Asian-Style
This Asian-inspired warm quinoa salad is a quick side dish for any weeknight dinner. Wrap leftovers in a whole-wheat tortilla for a high-protein brown-bag lunch.

Recipe: Quinoa, Shiitakes and Snow Peas

Smoothie
Toss out your protein powder! This deliciously healthy breakfast smoothie is made with almonds, quinoa and oats has 9 grams of protein per serving.

Recipe: Horchata

Bean Salad
Beans + quinoa = a winning combination. Beans are chock full of fiber, B-vitamins, iron, calcium and zinc while quinoa provides protein, B vitamins, potassium and selenium.

Recipe: Bean Salad With Quinoa

Clusters
Combine quinoa, whole-grain oats, sunflower seeds, pistachios and dried mango with maple syrup and canola oil to make these simple snack clusters.

Recipe:  Toasted Quinoa Mango-Ginger Bliss

Mexican-Style
Hot pepper, adobo seasoning, garlic, and onions dress up this quinoa salad. Leftovers can be added to scrambled eggs or used as a topping for homemade pizza.

Recipe: Yellow Quinoa 

Avocados 5 New Ways

by in Healthy Recipes, May 2, 2012
avocado mayonnaise
Replace regular mayo with a creamy, avocado-based sandwich spread.

We’ve told you how to enjoy avocados these 5 basic ways—but here are 5 more creative ways you can use them in recipes. Which will you try?

Avocado Halves
Although the fat in this recipe slightly exceeds our Healthy Eats guidelines, it’s the heart-healthy, unsaturated type. Since fat takes longer to digest, this low-calorie snack will help keep hunger at bay.

Recipe: Avocado Boats

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Is Sugar Toxic?

by in Food News, May 1, 2012
sugar on spoon
Is this sweet stuff toxic?

First fat was the enemy, then it was salt and now sugar. A recent episode of 60 Minutes titled “Is Sugar Toxic” had folks buzzing over Twitter and whispering at the water cooler. But is sugar really the enemy or is this yet another nutrient that’s being needlessly blackballed?

The Claims
Dr. Sanjay Gupta interviewed Dr. Robert Lustig, professor of clinical pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco, who claims that sugar is to blame for diseases such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and cancer. Much of the fat that’s been removed from low-fat foods gets replaced with sugar and Dr. Lustig hypothesizes that the way people eat sugar today is putting their health at risk. Sources of sugar include honey and table sugar along with foods that have hidden sources of sugar like yogurt, sauces, bread and peanut butter. As a result, Dr. Lustig recommends eliminating all sugar from our diet.

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Is It Healthy: Sushi?

by in Is It Healthy?, April 27, 2012
sushi
Is sushi a good idea for lunch today?

My husband and I make a weekly sushi lunch date.  It’s quick and easy to do in the middle of a busy work day and sushi is made with fish, veggies and rice, so it’s a healthy choice . . . or is it?

Yes?
Sushi can be a balanced meal with fish, veggies and steamed rice. Opt for fatty fish like salmon and tuna and get your daily dose of omega-3 fats or choose lean white fish or low-calorie shellfish like shrimp or scallops. Veggies like cucumbers and carrots are low in calories and avocado adds heart healthy monounsaturated fat. Many places now serve brown rice in their sushi rolls instead of white for an extra boost of fiber.

You’ll also get a healthy dose of sea vegetables like nori in sushi rolls and wakame in miso soup. These low-calorie veggies are packed with minerals like calcium, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese and iodine along with vitamins like E, C, A and various B’s.

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Deciphering Health Studies

by in Food News, April 25, 2012
chocolate squares
Can chocolate make you thin? If a health study sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Reports on health studies appear on the news regularly. You might read one study that touts the benefits of a food – like chocolate, for example—while a different study doesn’t find the same benefits. These differing reports can get confusing . . . who you should believe?

Study Basics
Scientific studies are done in order to test a hypothesis—an assumption that needs to be investigated further. There are different types of studies—some look at past data collected while others compare data from subjects over months or even years. Other studies divide the group of subjects into 2 groups, giving only 1 of the groups the “treatment” (or food) while the other group is given a “control” oftentimes called a placebo.

The results are then compiled, statistical analysis is performed and conclusions are drawn.

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Food Safety: Grocery Store Bags

by in Food Safety, April 22, 2012
re-usable bag
Your grocery bag may be green, but is it clean?

Many folks love their eco-friendly re-usable grocery bags. But when’s the last time you washed them? A new survey found that only 15% of Americans regularly clean their totes, putting them at a higher risk for food poisoning.

The Issue
A recent survey conducted by the Home Food Safety Program found 85% of Americans aren’t washing their re-usable grocery bags. Raw foods like meat, poultry and fish carry harmful bacteria which can linger in your totes waiting to board ready-to-eat foods like produce. The risk is even higher with the spring weather setting in as bacteria love to flourish at warm temperatures. Luckily, it’s easy to keep you and your family safe from food bugs.

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Nuts About Peanuts

by in Healthy Recipes, April 17, 2012
peanuts
We're nuts about this . . . legume!

We’re nuts about peanuts, but they’re actually not a nut! Peanuts are part of the legume family along with lentils and beans. Seems we’re not the only ones going crazy for them. The average American eats more than 6 pounds of peanuts and peanut butter products each year.

Peanut Basics
Peanuts are also called groundnuts, earthnuts and in the South, “goobers.” Like other legumes, peanuts are edible seeds enclosed in pods. They grow underground in tropical and subtropical regions and are thought to have originated in Brazil or Peru. Today China and India are the largest producers of peanuts. In the U.S. the legume is grown in Georgia, Alabama, Texas, North Carolina, Florida, Virginia and Oklahoma.

Three main types of peanuts grown in the U.S. include Spanish, Runners and Virginias. Spanish peanuts have small-sized kernels, while runners have a medium-sized kernel. Virginias are also known as cocktail nuts and have large-sized kernels. Valencia peanuts have three or four small kernels in a shell but are not as commonly grown in the U.S.

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5 Bad Dieting Tips To Ignore

by in Diets & Weight Loss, April 10, 2012
apple on scale
Weigh the crazy dieting advice you receive very carefully.

Trying to shed pounds for bathing suit season? Be careful how you go about losing the weight. There’s so much nutrition misinformation out there—don’t get sucked into thinking you’ve found the magic way. Although there are many dieting faux pas out there, here are 5 common misconceptions I often hear.

#1: Avoid All Fruit
Fruit is nature’s candy and contains a form of sugar called fructose. Before you shun all sugar,  it’s important to understand the source. Oftentimes, folks confuse natural sugar found in fruit with added sugar found in cookies, candy and sugary drinks.

Fruit contains about 60 calories per serving and a ton of vitamins, minerals, fiber and special plant chemicals that help fight disease. The sources of added sugar (like sodas, chocolate bars) typically contain hundreds of calories and not many nutrients. Of course, you need to balance out fruit with other foods, but any healthy diet plan should include several servings of fruit each day.

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