All Posts By Toby Amidor

Nutrition Expert at FoodNetwork.com

Talking to the Experts: Fabiola Gaines on Soul Food

by in Cookbooks, September 18, 2011

The New Soul Food Cookbook for Diabetics

Good old soul food is famous for excess fat, salt and sugar. Thank goodness for soul food expert and registered dietitian Fabiola Gaines, who told us how to lighten up soul food without compromising taste.

Q: What inspired you to write The New Soul Food Cookbook for Diabetes, especially for diabetics?

Several years ago, the American Diabetes Association asked my partner and I to sit in on a cultural diversity committee. They came up with this recipe card that wasn’t appropriate for the African American population with type 2 diabetes– the recipe was for sweet potato pie with raisins.  In the typical African American cuisine raisins are not included in sweet potato pie. We became a critical part of choosing recipes for this project, and the American Diabetes Association asked my partner and I if we would be interested in writing the first African American cookbook. Both of our fathers died of complications from diabetes and the book is near and dear to our hearts. It was important that we show that soul food is not bad but needs a facelift.

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What’s the Best School Lunch Program?

by in Back to School, Food News, September 16, 2011
kids at school lunch
How does your local school's lunch program rate?

With Michelle Obama’s push to promote healthy eating, some schools are taking action. We looked at public schools around the country to check out what they’re doing to make lunches healthier. We found some forward thinkers and amazing programs.

Washington State
The Bellevue School District in Washington State has implemented several healthy eating programs. The first is their Fruit, Vegetable and Grain of the Month Program. For the past 4 to 5 years, one food is featured from each category and information can be found on the district website. There are also educational signs posted in the lunch room and tasting that’s done in the elementary, middle and high schools. Some featured grains have been farro, brown rice, wheat pasta, wheat berries, couscous, and bulgur. Hot, grain-based sides will also be offered this year such as lentil-barley pilaf and wheat berry stuffing.

This year, the Bellevue School District is also implementing Meatless Mondays. Some featured items on the menu are cheese-stuffed pasta shells, cheese enchiladas and a hummus platter.

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Which is Healthier, a Tuna or a Turkey Sandwich?

by in Uncategorized, September 15, 2011

turkey and tuna


Brown Bag ChallengeWe’re teaming up with fellow food bloggers to host a Brown-Bag Challenge, a month-long initiative to eat consciously and save money by packing a lunch each weekday instead of eating out. Join us here and share what you’re eating on Facebook and Twitter with the hashtag #brownbag.

Healthy Eats’ Brown-Bag Challenge has folks from around the country packing their lunches this month. Two popular brown bag items have been tuna salad sandwich and turkey sandwiches. These bad boys are going head-to-head for the title of healthiest sandwich.

Tuna Salad Sandwich

Pros:
Three ounces of canned tuna in water contains 108 calories and 20 grams of protein. It provides 5 percent of your daily iron needs, a multitude of energy boosting B-vitamins and 80% of your daily recommended amount of selenium. Tuna is also plentiful in omega-3 fat, which is important for heart health, growth and brain function. For the sandwich, using whole grain bread can up your daily dose of fiber as can piling up on the veggies.

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In Season: Grapes

by in Healthy Recipes, In Season, September 9, 2011

grapes
Grapes are in season right now. Get them fresh off the vine and try some of our favorite ways to prepare them.

When, Where, & What?
Grapes (Vitis spp, Vitaceae) are edible berries grown in clusters on small shrubs or vines. They grow best in temperate zones such as Italy, France, Spain, Mexico and Chile. New world settlers found that grapes brought over from Europe didn’t survive the winter cold and were prone to fungal diseases. They developed the hybrid varieties found in America today. Today California is the largest producer of “table grapes” – the kind for snacking.

There are thousands of varieties of grapes. Some are grown for wine production while others are grown to be eaten as-is. Concord grapes are used to produce grape juice, jams and jellies. They’re blue in color, with a thick, chewy skin and contain seeds. They’re sold as table grapes along with other varieties like Interlaken, Lakemont, Einset Seedless and Venus. Muscat grapes are turned into raisins while Riesling grapes are used to produce wine. Dana found fun varieties when she scouted her local farmers market including Mars and Juniper grapes.

Grapes are typically round or oval, smooth skinned and juicy. Some varieties contain seeds while others are seedless. Some are “slip skin” where the skin can easily be removed while other varieties have skin that is tough to remove. Grapes are divided into categories by color: white or black (or red). White grapes range in color from pale yellow-green to light green, while black varieties range in color from light red to deep purple. In the U.S., peak season for grapes is August through October.

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10 More Healthy Foods Under $3

by in Uncategorized, September 8, 2011
oatmeal
Rolled oats will cost you just 20 cents per 1/2 cup portion.

Our original top 10 list was so popular, Healthy Eats readers asked for more. Here are 10 more healthy foods that won’t break the bank.

#1: Carrots
Cost:
$0.89 per 1 pound bag (about 9 carrots)
Even my kids tout the benefits of carrots, “They give you healthy eyes, mom” they always tell me. But beta-carotene has more benefits than meets the eyes. It also helps promote healthy bones, skin and hair. Make carrot soup, add to a stir-fry, or slice into strips for an easy kids snack.

#2: Low fat cottage cheese
Cost:
$2.75 per 16-ounce container
This perfect combo of protein, carbs and fat will help keep you satisfied. It’ll also give you a boost of calcium with 10% of your daily recommended dosage in every ½ cup serving. If you’ve been passing this underappreciated food in your dairy aisle, check out more reasons why we love it.

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Labor Day Sides

by in Healthy Recipes, September 3, 2011
grilled summer squash
Grilled summer squash, from Food Network Magazine.

Celebrate the end of summer with these healthy sides — each has fewer than 250 calories per serving. Side dishes should add color, flavor, and a variety of nutrients to your meal. Take your pick from these scrumptious options.

Recipes To Try:

You Might Also Like:

Ask the Experts: Top Back-To-School Tips

by in Ask the Experts, September 2, 2011

back-to-school kids lunches
The hustle and bustle of getting the kiddies back to school can make your head spin. We’re not just talking about the youngsters either. People of all ages are getting ready to start their studies – and let’s not forget about mom and her hectic schedule too! We asked nutrition experts from around the country to share their top back-to-school tips to help ease the stress of this busy time of year.

Start Off Right
Our experts agree, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Healthy Eats contributor Katie Cavuto Boyle says “it’s tough to learn when you’re hungry so remember to eat breakfast; it fuels your mind and body so your school day is productive and enjoyable.” But if you’re like most families, mornings are hectic. Registered dietitian Sherri Hoyt suggests some advance planning. Kids (and parents!) may be tempted to skip breakfast or grab a sugar-laden pastry or fatty breakfast sandwich on the run.  Instead, “take time to make time”. . . in other words, plan for tomorrow’s breakfast the night before.

In need of a few quick breakfast ideas? Check out our Top-5 Quick Breakfast Ideas.

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Packing a Safe Lunch

by in Back to School, Food Safety, August 31, 2011
kids looking into lunchbox
Feed them well, keep them safe.

A new study published in the August issue of Pediatrics may change the way you pack your child’s lunch this school year. Find out the shocking results and what you can do to keep your child safe from food-borne illness.

The Study
Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin tested temperatures of pre-school lunches in 9 Texas day care centers. Lunches of 235 kids with at least one perishable food items were checked 90 minutes before lunch. The researchers also noted whether lunches contained ice packs. The results were astounding:

  • 39% of the lunches had no ice packs.
  • 45.1% of the lunches had at least 1 ice pack.
  • 88.2% of the lunches were found to be at a hazardous temperature.
  • 1.6% of perishable items checked were found to be safe.
  • Even lunches with multiple ice packs were found to be at unsafe temperatures.

This means that most kids (at least from the sample studied here) were eating food that was unsafe. This is especially scary since we’re talking about young children who are more susceptible to becoming sick from food bugs due to a weaker immune system. So what’s a parent to do to keep their kiddies safe?

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Ketchup: Is It Healthy?

by in Is It Healthy?, August 24, 2011
ketchup
Ketchup: friend or foe?

Ketchup goes with just about everything—French fries, eggs, hash browns, burgers, deli meats . . . the list goes on and on. This red condiment has been touted as being healthy by some, but does that mean we should be using endless amounts of it?

Yes?
Ketchup is a low-calorie condiment, made from tomatoes, vinegar, salt, pepper, and spices. It contains 15 calories per tablespoon and vitamins A and C. Compared with its competitor mayonnaise, ketchup has no fat and far fewer calories per tablespoon (mayo contains 103 calories, 12 grams fat). This makes it a healthier choice for those trying to cut out added calories.

Processed and cooked tomatoes were also found to have high levels of the antioxidant lycopene. In 2004, a study released from the Harvard School of Public Health revealed that women who had higher levels of lycopene in their blood had a 50% lower risk for developing heart disease. That study also proved useful for ketchup manufacturers who got the word out that their product is “healthy.” After that I found friends, family and even clients who’d squeeze bottles of ketchup on their plate and rationalize its overuse by saying, “hey, it’s good for me!”

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Why We Love Tomatoes

by in In Season, August 23, 2011
heilroom tomatoes
Tomatoes. We love 'em. (Who doesn't?)

For all you die-hard tomato fans, these babies are now in season! We’ve dedicated this week to celebrating these red gems. Pick some up during your next visit to the farmers’ market and whip up some tomato-licious recipes.

Tomato Facts

Tomatoes were introduced to Italy in the early 16th century but many folks feared they were poisonous since they belonged to the nightshade family (peppers, potatoes and eggplant also belong to this family). The French, however, felt differently about tomatoes and called them “pomme d’amour” (a.k.a. love apples). Colonists who settled in Virginia brought tomatoes with them, but they didn’t become popular until the 19th century.

Tomatoes are technically a fruit since they grow on vines. They come in various shapes, sizes and colors, too. Don’t be fooled into thinking they should all be round —check out some of the crazy tomato finds out there. Read more