All Posts By Toby Amidor

Nutrition Expert at FoodNetwork.com

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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Foods to Soothe Menopause Symptoms

by in Healthy Tips, April 9, 2012
soy
Soy, in its many forms, can help soothe menopause symptoms.

Hot flashes, night sweats, irritability, oh my! If you’re looking to soothe symptoms caused by those hormones gone wild, add these foods to your diet.

What’s Menopause
Menopause marks the end of a woman’s child bearing years and typically begins around 50. During menopause, the body produces less of the hormone estrogen, which results in symptoms like difficulty sleeping, thinning hair, hot flashes and weight gain. In addition, women become at higher risk for heart disease and osteoporosis.

Foods that Can Help Ease Symptoms:

#1: Soy
Soy contains natural plant estrogens (AKA phytoestrogens) called isoflavones and lignans—both work in the body as weaker forms of estrogen and help alleviate hot flashes and night sweats. Soy is found in tofu, edamame (baby soybeans), tempeh and soy milk. Flaxseed, garlic, chickpeas, black beans and pistachios also contain phytoestrogens.

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Label Claims: Too Good to Be True?

by in Grocery Shopping, April 7, 2012
food labels
Should you believe everything you read on food labels?

There are some packaged foods that make me want to scream! Some try to make not-very-healthy foods seem like they’re super nutritious, while others take healthy food and make them less nutritious. Oftentimes the first thought in my mind is “who thought this up?” Check out these outlandish foods, and keep in mind that if a label claim sounds too good to be true, it probably is. You’re better off eating real, whole foods over packaged or manufactured foods any day.

#1: Snap Infusion Supercandy
This candy is marketed as having “the deliciousness and instant gratification of candy, packed with super benefits.” It’s packed with a variety of B-vitamins, the antioxidant vitamins C and E, and a variety of electrolytes.
Instead: Be careful popping these over-fortified candies. Eat a balanced meal to get B-vitamin from proteins, vitamin C and potassium from fruit and veggies, vitamin E from healthy fats, and electrolytes from dairy.

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Why We Love Asparagus

by in Healthy Recipes, In Season, April 5, 2012
lemon-parsley asparagus
Food Network Magazine's Lemon-Parsley Asparagus

It’s officially asparagus season; get yourself a bunch or two and we’ll tell you how to enjoy them!

Asparagus Facts
Part of the Lily family, asparagus is available from late March through June. There are about 300 varieties of asparagus, 20 of which are edible.

The asparagus plant lives between 8 to 10 years. You can tell the age of the plant by the thickness—the older the plant, the thicker the spear. Asparagus plants grow in sandy areas so it’s important to wash them thoroughly before eating them.

The most common varieties of asparagus are green, white or purple in color. The earliest stalks have a gorgeous apple-green color with slightly purple tips. White asparagus is grown underground and isn’t exposed to sunlight. They have thicker and smoother spears.

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5 Healthiest Restaurant Kids’ Meals

by in Dining Out, April 3, 2012
kids menu
Think beyond grilled cheese when dining out with your kids.

Trying to feed your kids healthy options when dining out can be stressful. Most restaurants offer the usual chicken fingers, mac and cheese, hamburger with fries or grilled cheese, but the calories, fat and sodium on these items is through the roof. Here are the healthiest options we found at popular restaurants.

Chili’s
The grilled chicken is the way to go at Chili’s. You can order the Grilled Chicken Platter, which has 160 calories, 3.5 grams of fat and 170 milligrams of sodium or the Grilled Chicken Sandwich with 230 calories, 5 grams of fat and 230 milligrams of sodium. Add a side of celery sticks with ranch dressing for an additional 80 calories, steamed broccoli for 30 calories or mandarin oranges or pineapple for 35 calories.

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Healthy Passover Foods: Traditional and Fresh Ideas

by in Healthy Holidays, April 2, 2012
matzo ball soup
Food Network Magazine's Matzo Ball Soup

In a Passover food rut? Although it’s wonderful to dine on traditional foods, sometimes you just want to try something new.

Traditional Fare

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Herb of the Month: Parsley

by in In Season, April 1, 2012

parsley
Spring is in the air and fresh herbs are in season, readily available at grocery stores, farmer’s markets and home gardens. We’re starting the season by celebrating a quintessential green herb: parsley. Did you know it was traditionally added to plates as a way to freshen breath after meals?

Parsley Basics
This green Mediterranean herb is part of the Umbelliferae family along with carrots and celery. The parsley plant prefers to grow in rocky areas. There are more than 30 varieties of the herb with the most popular being the stronger flavored “flat” leaf (AKA Italian) and the milder “curly” leaf.

Parsley is grown worldwide. In the U.S., it’s mostly grown commercially in California and Florida. Curled parsley is available all-year while Italian parsley may sometimes be more difficult to find.

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