All Posts By Toby Amidor

Nutrition Expert at FoodNetwork.com

In Season: Honeydew

by in In Season, August 18, 2012
honeydew granita
Food Network Kitchens' Honeydew Granita

This green melon is my 5-year old’s hands-down favorite. I’ve never seen anyone so thrilled when a fruit’s in season—she devours fresh chunks at breakfast and bedtime snack. As a mom, I’m happy that she enjoys a food filled with good-for-you nutrients. Though as a food lover, I’m happy to report that there are many other ways to enjoy the heavenly taste of honeydew.

What, Where, & When?
Honeydew is part of the muskmelon family, along with cantaloupe and person melon. This family is also known as netted melon; their skin looks like its covered with a thick, rough netting. Honeydew is very aromatic, but if they’re picked too early they won’t become as sweet and flavorful.

The oval-shaped melon has a smooth, cream-colored rind and green-colored flesh that’s bursting with sweetness. You can also find gold and orange honeydew varieties, with flesh colors described by their name, though they’re not as easy to find. These melons range from 4 to 7 pounds in size.

This scrumptious melon is thought to have originated in Persia and was also prized years later by ancient Egyptians. Today honeydew is grown in Mexico, California, Arizona, and parts of the southwest and is most abundant from late summer through early fall.

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Taste Test: Hot Sauce

by in Taste Test, August 14, 2012

hot sauce
With so much talk about hot sauce, we had to taste test all the popular varieties for ourselves. We got our mouths fired up for this spicy taste test. Find out who topped our list.

It’s All About Sodium
Hot sauce is the new ketchup. Dab a little on sandwiches, pizza, pasta dishes, chili, grilled meats, eggs – almost any dish. If you check out the label, you’ll notice that there’s not much nutrition information per serving—no calories, fat, saturated fat, carbs, or protein (or at least so little that it can be listed as zero by food labeling guideline). What it does have is sodium—and some brands have more than others.

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Coconut Diet 101

by in Diets & Weight Loss, August 10, 2012

coconut
This popular diet has a die-hard following. We’ll tell you if coconut oil is the ultimate superfood that’ll help you shed pounds or just another fad diet making waves.

Overview
The theory behind this diet is that when coconut oil is combined with a low-carb diet, it’ll help melt the pounds away. This is due to the fact that coconut oil is made from medium-chained triglycerides which are more easily absorbed by the body (as opposed to long chained triglycerides found in most other oils).

The alleged secret ingredient to this weight loss plan is eating 2 to 3 tablespoons of coconut oil every day. The diet discourages high-carb foods like refined grains, potatoes, sugars, desserts and alcohol while encouraging antioxidant-rich veggies and lean protein. After following this plan, it promises that you’ll lose weight — a staggering 10 pounds or more in the first 3 weeks, which then slows to 1-2 pounds a week — and your food cravings.

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Produce Safety 101

by in Food Safety, August 7, 2012

washing peppers
You know you should be eating your fruits and veggies. But it’s just as important to your health to make sure your produce is clean and free of harmful pathogens. Luckily, there are simple tips you can follow to keep you and your loved ones safe.

Foods Involved
The culprits include raw fruits and veggies and fresh juices made from them. Choosing organic or sticking to the clean 15 can help decrease the amount of pesticides in your produce but it won’t change the possibility that harmful microorganisms may be present.

At the Store
Whether you’re buying from your local supermarket, farmers’ market or belong to a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) keep these tips in mind:

  • Purchase in-season fruits and veggies, especially in the summer when so much is available.
  • If you’re heading to your local farmers’ market, go early! You don’t want to buy fruits and veggies that have been sitting out in the heat for many hours or that have been touched by lots of people.
  • Buy only what you need for the week. You’re better off making several quick trips to the market rather than stocking up and risking having the excess go bad.
  • Choose produce carefully. Look for signs on spoilage such as mold, bruises, mushiness or cuts.
  • Instead of buying pre-packaged produce, choose loose produce. It gives you a better opportunity to check for signs of spoilage.
  • When buying fresh juice, be sure it’s pasteurized (treated with heat to kill harmful germs). If you’re not sure, ask or don’t buy it. Remember, young kids, pregnant and lactating women, older adults and those with a compromised immune system should lay off unpasteurized juices.
  • If you’re bagging your produce in reusable bags, be sure to wash the bags regularly.

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5 Ways to Overcome Emotional Eating

by in Diets & Weight Loss, Healthy Tips, August 6, 2012

doughnut
We eat when we’re happy, upset, stressed, bored — you get the picture. Oftentimes, these emotional indulgences become a more frequent event leading to weight gain. Use these 5 tactics to gain control.

#1: Recognize Hunger
Do you find yourself having an overwhelming desire to munch even when you’re not truly hungry? It could be that you’re bored or stressed—this type of emotional eating is a behavior we teach ourselves over many years— it takes time and effort to really gain control of it.  The next time you get the urge to dig in, ask yourself “What I am really feeling”?

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Herb of the Month: Chives

by in Healthy Recipes, In Season, August 4, 2012

chives
We’re kicking off August with an herb that’s been historically used to help promote male fertility. Learn why chives are so good for you, then try our mouthwatering chive recipes.

Chives Basics
Chives are related to the garlic, leeks and onions and are native to Asia, North America and Europe. It’s thought that Marco Polo tasted chives and brought them back home to Europe where they became popular.

This fragrant slender herb has a milder flavor than onions and garlic. The plant grows as lofty stems adorned by gorgeous purple flowers.

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The Craziest Diets Ever

by in Diets & Weight Loss, July 31, 2012
grapefruit
Remember the grapefruit diet?

I’ve read over 200 diet books and some of the advice I’ve come across is just plain wacky or even worse, dangerous to your health. Here are some of the nuttiest plans out there and suggestions on how to choose the right diet plan for you.

Oldies but Goodies
Some of the most famous fad diets are those that promote eating one specific food. These include:

Many of these diets have come out with updated versions that incorporate several well-balanced meals into their plan. However, their premise is still the same. They believe that eating more of a certain food is healthier and can help you lose weight. Unfortunately, more of one food usually mean less of another—and we should be eating a wide variety to make sure we’re meeting our nutritional needs.

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Talking with U.S. Fencing Olympian Tim Morehouse

by in Healthy Tips, July 27, 2012

olympian tim morehouse
The summer Olympics are here! Ever since I was a little kid, I couldn’t wait to watch gymnastics, — diving, track & field and fencing (my mom used to fence in high school). I was thrilled to have the opportunity to speak with U.S. Fencing Olympian Tim Morehouse about what he eats in order to train for such a big competition.

Q: Congratulations on winning a bronze medal at the Moscow World Cup, which qualified you for the London Olympics! What’s your daily training regimen like when you are training for the big event? How far in advance do you start training?

Thank you; we hope to bring home the gold for the USA! Our daily regimen involves 5 to 6 hours a day of training which includes an hour of footwork, an hour-long lesson on technique and strategy, an hour of weight training, an hour of conditioning and several hours of sparring.  For us, the Olympic is a 4-year cycle. Since right after the Beijing Olympics ended, I’ve been training for 2012 London Olympics.

Q: What do you eat before and after you train?

Before training it is important to eat to fuel your muscles and brain. Snacks eaten within an hour of exercise will help maintain blood sugar and keep you from feeling hungry. A pre-exercise snack should be predominantly carbohydrates because it empties quickly from the stomach and becomes readily available for the muscles to use. After training it is important to eat within 45 minutes, carbohydrates with protein to reduce muscle breakdown and replenish glycogen stores. Another top priority after a hard workout is to replace the fluids lost through sweating.

For past few years I’ve been sponsored by BistroMD to eat their entrees while training. BistroMD provides healthy meals for me to eat conveniently while I am training for the Olympics. Since the menu has been custom designed for me by a registered dietitian and arrives fully prepared by a chef, I don’t have to worry about portion control or each ingredients’ nutritional value. It has been a great help to manage my weight while eating delicious food.

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24 Healthy Summer Salads

by in Healthy Recipes, July 24, 2012

buffalo chicken salad
A nice cool salad can help beat the summer heat and give you an antioxidant boost. But did you know fruit and veggies also help quench your daily fluid needs? Stay refreshed with these recipes.

Main Dishes
Dive in to a delicious array of summer produce, perfect for lunch or dinner on a steamy summer day. Each of these recipes has less than 400 calories per serving.

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Baked Potato Chips: Are They Healthy?

by in Is It Healthy?, July 21, 2012

baked potato chips
A health halo has been placed on baked chips while fried chips have been getting a bad rap. But are you really making a healthy choice when you toss a bag of baked chips into your shopping cart? Let’s take a closer look.

Yes?
One ounce (about 15 chips) of baked potato chips has 14% fewer calories (153 vs. 131), 50% less fat (10 grams vs. 5 grams) and 67% less saturated fat (3 grams vs. 1 gram) than traditional potato chips. If you’re looking at the calories and fat alone, then you would assume it was the healthier choice.

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