All Posts By Toby Amidor

Nutrition Expert at

Why We Love Shrimp

by in Uncategorized, June 30, 2012

grilled shrimp

For years my culinary students have told me how much they love shrimp. They’re pretty surprised when I tell them that these crustaceans are not only delicious, but good for you too! Here’s why we love shrimp and how you can too.

Shrimp Facts

90% of the shrimp Americans consume is imported from countries in the Central and South America and Asia-Pacific regions. The hundreds of species of shrimp are typically divided into 2 basic categories: warm-water and cold-water shrimp. The rule of thumb is the colder the water, the smaller and juicier the shrimp.

Shrimp ranges in hue from deep red to pink to grayish-white to yellow and even dark green. When cooked, most shrimp shells change color due to a heat-induced chemical change.

You can buy shrimp according to their size—usually you’ll find that larger shrimp cost a prettier penny. Colossal shrimp usually come 10 or less per pound, jumbo 11-15 per pound, extra-large 16-20 per pound, large 21-30 per pound, medium 31-35 per pound, small 36-45 per pound and miniature about 100 per pound. Of course, these numbers can vary from region to region. As a general rule, one pound of whole, raw shrimp yields ½ to ¾ pound of cooked meat.

Shrimp is available all year round. They can be found in various forms at your local market such as shelled or unshelled, cooked or raw and fresh or frozen.

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10 Summer Food-Safety Tips

by in Food Safety, June 22, 2012
summer picnic food
Play it safe this summer when it comes to picnic foods.

The hot weather is the perfect time to picnic and cook outdoors, but  the warm weather also creates the perfect environment to support the growth of harmful food bugs. Keep your food and family safe by following these simple tips.

#1: Use a thermometer
A thermometer is the number one tool to make sure your grilled goodies are cooked to the perfect temperature to destroy pesky pathogens. Studies show that checking the color of the food isn’t an accurate way to tell if your food is cooked through.

Tips for choosing the right thermometer

#2: Monitor leftovers
Perishable food like cooked or raw meats and salads should never be left out at room temperature for over 2 hours. When the weather gets hot — above 90 degrees Fahrenheit — your window for leaving food lying out is only 1 hour. Toss any unrefrigerated food if it surpasses the time limit.

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Does Healthy Food Cost More Than Junk Food?

by in Food News, June 21, 2012
apple on money
Does eating well cost more money?

Does following a healthy diet mean dishing out more dough? Not necessarily. A new study published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture revealed that healthy food isn’t any more expensive than junk food.

The Studies
With more than one-third of U.S. adults being overweight and a push from the Obama administration to fight rising obesity levels, this new study sheds light on budgetary concerns when it comes to healthy eating.

Previous studies were highly criticized for comparing the cost of food per calorie. These studies found that pastries and chips and cheaper than fruit and veggies. The newest study conducted by the Agricultural Department compared cost of foods by weight or portion size which reveals that grains, veggies, fruit and dairy foods are less costly than most meats or foods high in added sugar, salt, or artery-clogging saturated fat. The study found that carrots, banana, lettuce and pinto beans were all cheaper per portion than soda, ice cream, ground beef or French fries.

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Have You Tried: Anchovies?

by in Have You Tried, June 18, 2012
Have you tried these little guys?

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, there’s no denying that anchovies are chock full of nutritional goodness. Now is the perfect time to give these small fish a first or second chance.

What Are Anchovies?
These small, silvery fish are members of the herring family. They are about 1 to 4 inches in length and have been eaten around the world for thousands of years. These fish taste pretty fishy and salty—which can make them overwhelming if you don’t know how to balance their flavor. Anchovies also have a fifth taste, called umami, a savory taste found in foods high in the amino acid glutamate.

Anchovies are typically filleted, salt-cured and canned in oil. They can be found in the canned tuna and salmon section at your grocery store. Canned anchovies can be stored for up to 1 year in a cool, dry place. Once opened, store in the refrigerator in a sealed container covered with oil for up to 2 months. To decrease its saltiness, soak in cool water for about 20-30 minutes, drain and pat dry with a paper towel.

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In Season: Kale

by in In Season, June 15, 2012
Are you crazy for kale?

Many of my gal pals email me photos of their homemade kale chips. Everyone is talking about and making them. Luckily, this green, leafy bunch of goodness is now in season so you can make your own kale chips or any of our healthy kale recipes.

What, Where, & When?

Kale is a member of the cabbage family which also includes cauliflower, broccoli and Brussels sprouts. It’s suspected that kale was brought to Europe over 2,500 years ago. In the 17th century, it was introduced to the United States by English settlers. Today kale is primarily grown in the southeastern United States. Kale has a mild flavor, similar to cabbage and comes in many colors ranging from dark green to different shades of blue or purple. There are many varieties including Curly (or Scots), Plain Leaved, Rape, Leaf and Spear, Dinosaur (or Cavolo Nero), Tuscan and Lacinato (or black cabbage), and Ornamental, which is popular for landscaping but can be eaten too.

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Talking to the Experts: Weight Loss Guru Joy Bauer

by in Diets & Weight Loss, June 15, 2012

joy fit club
Want to know how to lose weight and keep it off? Registered dietitian Joy Bauer has helped folks lose hundreds of pounds on her Today show series Joy Fit Club. I had the privilege to speak with Joy on how people can achieve long-term weight loss success.

Q: Congrats on your new book The Joy Fit Club: Cookbook, Diet Plan & Inspiration. What prompted you to write this book which showcases 30 the personal stories of folks who successfully lost weight?

Thanks! I started the Joy Fit Club series on the TODAY show about 4 years ago – we were looking for a powerful way to inspire viewers and show them that lasting weight loss is possible. Every other week, we induct a new member into the club — someone who has lost at least 100 pounds with diet and exercise alone (no pills, potions, fasting, or surgeries). The series was so popular and we got so many questions from viewers after the stories aired that we decided to put together a companion book, which would allow us to go into greater depth on the strategies our members used to achieve success.

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Grilled Meat, 5 Ways

by in Healthy Recipes, June 14, 2012
Make dad a meaty meal for Father's Day this weekend.

What better way to celebrate Father’s Day then by cooking dad a meaty meal? Show dad some love with any of these 5 mouthwatering meat recipes.

Tex-Mex Steak
Chili-spiced steak steak topped with avocado sauce and fresh tomato salad, all for 325 calories and 17 grams of fat per serving.

Recipe: Steak With Avocado Sauce and Tomato Salad (above)

A little goes a long way when it comes to these delish sliders. Create a toppings bar with mango salsa, grilled pineapple slices, black bean salsa, avocado, pico de gallo or hummus. Let everyone pick their favorites.

Recipe: Swiss Cheeseburger Sliders

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Is It Healthy: Hot Sauce

by in Is It Healthy?, June 7, 2012
hot sauce
Is hot sauce healthy?

A little goes a long way but is this fiery sauce worth the heat? Here are the cool facts.

One teaspoon of hot sauce has zero calories, 6 percent of your daily dose of vitamin C and 119 milligrams of sodium. This condiment helps spice up dishes for very few calories.

Hot sauce gets its burn from a compound found in hot peppers known as capsaicin. The spiciness of hot sauce depends on the type of chili pepper and spices used. That’s why the heat (and capsaicin) will vary from brand to brand.

Although some folks believe spicy foods including hot sauce is a stomach irritant, researchers believe that capsaicin can help decrease the risk of peptic ulcers. Though too much can also irritate your stomach — the ideal amount still needs to be further studied. Studies have shown that it can slightly increase your metabolism several hours after eating.

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Herb of the Month: Lavender

by in In Season, June 6, 2012
Have you tried cooking with lavender?

Nicknamed the “herb of love,” lavender is in season now. For those new to the idea of cooking with lavender, we’ve got simple recipes to get you started.

Lavender basics
The name lavender comes from the Latin verb “to wash.”  Throughout history, it was commonly used in baths to help purify the body and spirit. Today, it is added to many hand soaps and body washes due to its aromatic fragrance.

A relative of mint, the lavender plant is adorned with violet flowers and green or pale grey leaves. Both the flowers and leaves can be eaten and have a pleasant yet slightly bitter flavor. Lavender grows throughout southern Europe, Australia and the United States.

Nutrition Info
Dried lavender has only a few calories per tablespoon and is free of fat and cholesterol. Throughout history it has been used to remedy various ailments including insomnia, anxiety, depression, and fatigue. Research has shown that lavender oil may help alleviate insomnia, anxiety, and stress.

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Raw Sprouts: Good or Bad?

by in Healthy Tips, May 31, 2012
Are sprouts safe?

The FDA categorizes sprouts as a potentially hazardous food, which means they can carry illness-causing food bugs. Does this mean you should steer clear of them? Not necessarily.

Raw sprouts like alfalfa, clover, radish, onion and mung bean add color, texture and flavor to dishes. They can be enjoyed cold in sandwiches and salads or warm in stir-fries.

Sprouts are also a nutrient-dense food. One cup of alfalfa sprouts has a mere 8 calories and is a good source of vitamin K. It also provides a slew of other nutrients like vitamin C, fiber, folate, copper and manganese.

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