All Posts By Toby Amidor

Nutrition Expert at FoodNetwork.com

Order This, Not That: Starbucks

by in Dining Out, December 13, 2011


Who doesn’t love Starbucks’ holiday drinks? They have such fancy names and delicious ingredients. But the hidden calories . . . you won’t believe your thighs! Get the skinny before you order your next grande or venti holiday brew.

ORDER: Reasonable portions of tasty delights
Many folks look forward to the seasonal offerings at Starbucks. There’s nothing wrong with tasty caffeinated beverages, but many of Starbucks dressed-up drinks contain as many calories as we should be eating in one meal. Luckily, Starbucks gives you the power to take control of your order. You choose the size of your drink, type of milk, and whether or not you want whipped cream. When ordering a fancy-shmancy drink, count it as a snack and aim for no more than 200 calories.

Just to get some perspective, a grande (16-fluid ounce) cup of brewed coffee without sugar or milk contains 5 calories and is free of fat and sugar. Add ¼ cup of skim milk for an additional 15 calories. Now take a look at the numbers on some of the more popular holiday drinks: Before you order one of those yummy drinks, choose one with a reasonable amount of calories.

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Talking to the Experts: Ellie Krieger (and a Recipe for Scalloped Potatoes Au Gratin)

by in Cookbooks, Healthy Recipes, December 2, 2011
scalloped potatoes
Ellie's Scalloped Potatoes Au Gratin

With the cold weather settling in, many folks turn to their favorite comfort foods. But the truth is, most classics like macaroni and cheese, chili, and chicken fingers are laden with calories. I had the opportunity to speak with Ellie Krieger, a registered dietitian, cookbook author and host of Food Network’s hit show Healthy Appetite, about her new book Comfort Food Fix.  She tells us how we can eat these favorites without worry.

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12 Days of Holiday Gifts: Panini Maker

by in Healthy Holidays, December 2, 2011
panini maker
Is there a panini press on your wishlist? (image: Cuisinart Panini Press)

Whether you’re cooking for a family or just for one, a Panini maker can help dress up an ordinary sandwich. Here are the most popular Panini makers, plus healthy recipes to print and attach to your gift.

Panini Makers:

Cuisinart Griddle/Panini Press
Cost: $49.95

Le Creuset Panini Press
Cost: $85.00

Krups Universal Grill Panini Maker
Cost: $79.99

Simply Calphalon Nonstick Panini Pan
Cost: $39.95

Healthy Panini Recipes:

12 Days of Holiday Gifts: Chocolate Covered Pretzel Sticks

by in Uncategorized, December 1, 2011

pretzel sticks

We’re kicking off the holiday season with 12 Days of Holiday Gifts — gifts that are both homemade and gifts you can buy at the store for your loved ones this season. Day 1: Chocolate-Dipped Pretzel Sticks that you can make with your kids.

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Is the 5-Second Rule Valid?

by in Food Safety, December 1, 2011
candy on floor
It was just on the floor for a few seconds, can you eat it?

I’ve heard of the 5-second, 10-second and even 30-second rule. You drop food on the floor and if you pick it up in time, then it’s okay to eat. Is this a safe rule to live by?

For the Love of Bacteria!
One of the most disgusting cases I’ve seen is a pacifier dropped on the New York subway floor. The mom picked it up, stuck it in her own mouth to clean and then right in the baby’s mouth. The pacifier was on the floor for about 5 seconds, but that’s enough time for bacteria to cling to food (or in this case a pacifier).

Bacteria love protein and carb-based foods that are moist and not too acidic. This includes foods like meat, chicken, eggs, dairy, cooked vegetables and cooked pasta. Once bacteria is on a food they love, they can double their number every 20 minutes—this means, one bacterium can become over 1 billion in about 10 hours, which is more than enough to get someone sick.

If you think acidic foods like lemons and tomatoes are safer foods, think again. In 2002, an outbreak of salmonella was reported from participants in the U.S. Transplant Games held at Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida. The culprit was thought to be Roma tomatoes.

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Nutrition Myths Debunked: Does Chicken Soup Cure a Cold?

by in Healthy Tips, November 29, 2011
chicken soup
Can soup cure the sniffles?

Going as far back as the 12th century, Jewish scholars have touted the effectiveness of chicken soup for a variety of ailments, including the common cold. Even today, when you’re in bed with a cold, someone has either reminded you of its goodness or brought you a piping hot bowl. Are the wonders of chicken soup just cultural myths passed down from generation to generation, or can soup really cure a cold?

What’s In It?
Chicken soup is made from a stock or broth and a variety of veggies. In a stock, the chicken bones are cooked for a few hours. This gives enough time for minerals like zinc, calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium to seep into the liquid stock. These same minerals won’t be in a broth since a broth is typically made from the meat only. Don’t discount out the nutritional goodness of broth though,  it’s still brimming with minerals like selenium and phosphorus. Of course both soups and stocks are made from a variety of veggies like celery, onion, carrots, leeks, parsnips, or turnips —  all of their minerals seep into the liquid too.

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Leftover Canned Pumpkin 5 Ways

by in Healthy Recipes, November 27, 2011
canned pumpkin
It's not just for pie.

Did you buy too many cans of pumpkin this year? Don’t let them sit in the pantry and collect dust! Whip up any of these mouthwatering recipes.

Rice Pudding
This spin on traditional rice is both eye and belly pleasing for both kids and adults!
RECIPE: Pumpkin Rice Pudding
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Thanksgiving Strategy

by in Thanksgiving, November 22, 2011
turkey dinner
Indulge, but don't overdo it on Turkey Day with our easy tips.

We’re not going to tell you to give up your beloved turkey and stuffing, so you can breathe easy and keep reading. But there are some super simple strategies you can use to help keep calories in check while still enjoying your meal.

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The Rules of Thanksgiving Food Safety

by in Food Safety, Thanksgiving, November 21, 2011
thanksgiving dinner
Safe turkey, safe fixins' = safe family.

Thanksgiving is the start of the holiday season where friends, family, and loved ones gather to have one fantastic meal after another. It’s not the time to skimp on those food safety habits that can make or break the festivities. Here are some simple reminders.

Purchasing the Goodies
At the market, be sure you check the quality of all the products you buy. Look at the color, firmness, and texture of the produce and meats and don’t forget to check the expiration dates on packaged foods. Once you pay for your groceries, be sure to get them stored in the proper place immediately—refrigerator, freezer or pantry. A few extra stops on the way home is plenty of time for bacteria to have a party on your food.

Make room for your turkey—overcrowding your freezer or fridge can actually raise temperatures dangerously high and spoil your food and ruin your equipment.

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Deciphering Deli Meats

by in Food Safety, Grocery Shopping, November 17, 2011
deli salami
What should you look for, and how much should you buy?

Not all foods at the deli are created equal. Check out some healthier and safer options to order up next time you’re at the counter.

Be In The Know
Not all deli “meats” are straight from the cow (so to speak). Here’s the breakdown on where all the deli goodies come from.

  • Whole cuts: A part of the meat or poultry is cooked and sometimes flavored with spices, sugar or salt. It’s then sliced and sold by the pound. These cuts tend to be pricier.
  • Sections and formed meat products: Parts of meats or poultry are “glued” together to create a single, larger piece (like cooked ham). These are typically cheaper than whole cuts.
  • Processed meat (or sausages): These include liverwurst, bologna, knockwurst, salami and other such products. The meat can come from pork, poultry, beef, mutton and veal. Byproducts like heart, kidney, liver, lips and pork stomach are often tossed into the mix.

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