All Posts By Toby Amidor

Nutrition Expert at FoodNetwork.com

Herb of the Month: Lavender

by in In Season, June 6, 2012
lavender
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
sprouts
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.

Good?
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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22 Healthiest Summer Desserts

by in Cookies & Other Desserts, May 24, 2012
strawberry dessert
End your meal with Ellie Krieger's Balsamic Strawberries With Ricotta Cream.

Looking to keep your svelte summer figure? Here are 22 healthy and delectable desserts that have less than 250 calories per serving.

Fruity Treats
Juice and delicious seasonal fruit can help satisfy your sweet tooth and provide you with a burst of antioxidants.

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How to Cut the Sugar from Summer Drinks

by in Healthy Tips, May 20, 2012

summer drinks
This country is on a never-ending sugar high! We consume over three times the daily recommended amount of added sugar each day. One easy way to drop your sugar intake is to skip the sugary mixes and bottled beverages and take control of how much sugar’s in your drinks.

Sugar Overload
The American Heart Association recommends that women should eat no more than 6 teaspoons (100 calories) of sugar each day, while men shouldn’t eat more than 9 teaspoons (150 calories). Studies reveal that we’re overindulging on added sugar, consuming 475 calories of added sugar every day.

Close to 40% of added sugar comes from sugary drinks like soda, sports and energy drinks, according to published data in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.  A 16-fluid ounce container of a sports drink has 7 teaspoons of added sugar (105 calories) while the same amount of soda has over 12 teaspoons of added sugar (180 calories). Energy drinks are full of added sugar too, with an 8.3 fluid ounce can of a popular brand containing 6.5 teaspoons (98 calories).

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Can You Get Healthy Food from a Food Truck?

by in Dining Out, May 18, 2012
food truck
Food trucks aren't just for ice cream anymore.

From dim sum to crepes to gourmet burgers, food trucks are selling way more than hot dogs these days, and they’re popping up all over.

But gourmet food still comes with both health and safety concerns: Can you find healthy food on a truck? Where do the vendors go to the restroom while they’re on duty? I got the privilege to speak with the folks who run the Rouge Tomate food cart in New York City and let me tell you—food trucks are definitely not what they used to be!

Q: What makes the Rouge Tomate cart different from other food carts in NYC?

The Rouge Tomate Cart maintains the same philosophy as the Rouge Tomate restaurant and uses local, seasonable and sustainable high-quality food products. We visit local markets and farmers markets to find our ingredients and prepare our food using specific cooking techniques that preserve the integrity and the nutritional qualities of the ingredients.

We are also dedicated to proactively address environmental issues. The Rouge Tomate Cart is certified from the Green Restaurant Association. It uses solar panels for electricity and runs on a gas stove. The cart was made from recycled materials and uses biodegradable paper products.

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26 Healthiest Summer Sides

by in Grilling, Healthy Recipes, May 17, 2012
vegetable salad
Ellie Krieger's Grilled Vegetable Salad With Feta and Mint

Fat-drenched side salads are the norm when it comes to cook-outs. But lighten up the dressing and you’ll be able to savor those delicious spring flavors—fresh fruit, veggies, and herbs—in every bite. Here are 26 side dishes that’ll make your mouth water– all for less than 250 calories per serving.

Grilled Veggie Sides
Toss those farmers’ market finds or extra veggies in your CSA box right on the grill. It’s a perfectly simple way to enjoy fresh veggies.

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Restaurant Dishes vs. Homemade Dishes

by in Dining Out, May 11, 2012
restaurant meal
Thinking of dining out? Consider staying in to save loads of calories.

Want to save money and eat healthier? We’re taking your favorite restaurant dishes and pitting them head-to-head with healthy make-at-home alternatives. Who do you think the winners are?

Dining Out:  P.F. Chang’s Beef with Broccoli
Although the nutrition facts lists this dish as 290 calories, 12 grams of fat, 3 grams of saturated fat and 1,573 milligrams of sodium, each dish put in front of you contains three portions. It’s less likely you’ll keep portions in check when they’re all served in one big plate. If you down the entire dish, that’s 870 calories, 36 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat and a whopping 4,719 milligrams of sodium – more than double your daily recommended sodium intake.

Dining In: Ellie Krieger’s Emerald Stir-Fry With Beef
Ellie’s lightened-up dish made with lean beef, fresh broccoli, edamame and snow peas has 400 calories, 15 grams of fat, 2 grams saturated fat and 625 milligrams of sodium.

By making your own at home, you control the portions and the high salt ingredients. Here’s what you’ll save:

  • Calories: 54%
  • Fat: 58%
  • Saturated Fat: 78%
  • Sodium: 87%

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15 Healthiest Grilled Main Dishes

by in Grilling, Healthy Recipes, May 10, 2012
grilled salmon
Food Network Kitchens' Honey Soy Grilled Salmon With Edamame

If you’ve been grilling the same recipes each season, it’s time to shake things up. We’re giving you plenty of deliciously healthy main dish recipes to choose from—meat, chicken, fish and vegetarian—all for less than 400 calories per serving.

Meats
Beef, pork and lamb can all be healthy choices for the grill. Be sure to choose lean cuts of meat, keep portions around 3-4 ounces per serving and limit the amount of fatty ingredients like butter and oil.

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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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