Toby Amidor is the founder of Toby Amidor Nutrition, PC, where she provides nutrition and food safety consulting services for individuals, restaurants, and food brands. She has eight published cookbooks with her most recent The Family Immunity Cookbook, released in November 2021 and nominated for a Gourmand Award. Her ninth cookbook, Diabetes Create Your Plate Meal Prep Cookbook will be released in April 2022. For over 13 years she has been the nutrition expert for FoodNetwork.com, and a founding contributor to their Healthy Eats Blog. Toby is a regular contributor to U.S. News and World Report Eat + Run blog, Shape.com, Sparkpeople.com, and has her own “Ask the Expert” column in Today’s Dietitian Magazine. She has been quoted in hundreds of publications and appears on local and national television shows like The Dr. Oz Show and CT Style. For 11 years she was an adjunct professor at Teachers College, Columbia University teaching food service management, and is currently an adjunct at CUNY Hunter School of Public Urban Health in New York City. Previously, she taught Foodservice for 10 years at the Art Institute of New York City.
Toby trained as a clinical dietitian at New York University. Through ongoing consulting and faculty positions, she has established herself as one of the top experts in culinary nutrition, food safety, and media communications. In 2018, Toby was awarded by the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics the coveted Media Excellence Award.
In this episode, Toby shares how to pre-plan and meal prep healthy and delicious recipes for every meal, while staying sane and not having to be a master chef in the kitchen!
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Welcome to the Sugar Solve podcast where we're demystifying health one gram of sugar at a time. From eliminating excess sugar to cutting back on carbs, diving into keto, or becoming a devout vegan, today's diet landscape can give you a sugar crash just thinking about it. Sugar Salt is here to demystify all the nutrition and health trends you're bombarded with on a daily basis, bringing you unbiased insight, research and real world experiences from experts in the field of medicine, nutrition, health and wellness. You'll gain knowledge and clarity around the biggest trends in health and nutrition and leave each week feeling empowered to make informed decisions in your own life to optimize your diet and personal wellness for longevity, long lasting energy immunity, improve focus and performance that will leave you feeling better day in and day out. The truth won't be sugar coated here. Welcome back to the Sugar Solved podcast. Today we'll be speaking with Toby Amidor, who is an award winning nutrition expert and Wall Street Journal best selling cookbook author. She is the owner of Toby Amidor Nutrition PC, where she provides nutrition and food safety consulting services to individuals, restaurants and food brands. She has eight published cookbooks with her most recent The Family Immunity Cookbook being released in November 2021 and nominated for a Gordon Award. Her ninth cookbook. Diabetes Create Your Plate Meal Prep Cookbook will be released in April 2022. She has a signature five step method called the Plate Method, which will help you and your family meal prep and with ease. Today we're speaking with Toby Amador.
Hi. How are you? Thanks for having me.
You can give us a little bit of background about yourself and your expertise.
Sure. So I'm a registered dietitian and I do I always say I do salad of things. So I'm the nutrition expert for about 14 years at Food Network, writing for their Healthy Eats blog. I have nine published cookbooks and then I do a lot of spokesperson work as well.
Fantastic. So what has been your own relationship with diet, nutrition and sugar specifically?
Well, my mom is one of five kids and she always struggled with her weight. But she became a dietitian only after she had the five kids and we did it together. So in terms of weight, she's always been after her third kid. She was I was the first kid. So after the third one, she was overweight. So I don't remember her really, except the way she always was. And I know she tried every diet. So growing up in my life, I always saw her struggling to lose weight. And I completely understand that frustration. And so now as I'm getting older and I have three kids that are teenagers, I see also like during the pandemic, the weight kind of came on a little bit for me too, but it's I really try to work out regularly, whether it's competitive tennis or doing like a hit workout. And then I also watch what I eat in terms of sugar. I do love sugar. I love that's my go to. But I try to find ways to fresh fruit or vegetables or vegetables won't do it as much as some of them do. But like lately, it's like cold grapes. That's what I want for like my sugar craving. So I do find outlets for my sugar cravings.
So what type of clients do you specifically work with? I know you've written cookbooks specifically for diabetics, so if you could tell us more about your actual practice.
Sure, I'd actually don't see private clients. I used to many years ago, but it's just because I'm so busy consulting, so I do more writing to millions of individuals. A lot of the articles I write do get syndicated. And so I have really spoken to, I would say, the masses where chronic disease like heart disease, diabetes, being overweight, obesity, these are all issues that many, many people face. I mean, my master's is in clinical nutrition and dietetics, and I did practice clinical nutrition for numerous years, both in a hospital and private setting. But that was I wanted to reach more than just one individual. So that's why I set it up this way.
So what are some things that people typically get wrong when they're cooking for themselves and their families? And is it something that is sugar and diabetes more linked to what people are cooking at home? Or is it when they're eating out, how do they start to balance that?
Well, in terms of cooking at home and dining out, I mean, both of them do play a role in how you're eating on a regular basis in terms of dining out. It's tough because I've looked at hundreds of menus from various restaurants. If you're looking to control sodium, very, very difficult when you eat out. And that's why I like to have people cook at home a little more because you can really control the ingredients that you have over there. The best way when you're dining out is to really and I do this myself to look at the menu in advance, understand like if you do it in the morning, so you remember, okay, I want fish, right? I want some salmon when I eat out tonight. So then for lunch you can okay. So if you're having salmon for dinner, I'm not going to have it for lunch. What can I eat then? Maybe there's a chicken breast or I want to make a turkey sandwich or maybe some canned tuna in water. That's fine. Maybe I don't want the tuna because I'm having the salmon. I want fish all the time. So it allows you to plan and understand what you can have for lunch when you make it at home. If you understand what you're having out at night. Okay, I'm not going to have that extra snacks. I want to have some of the bread on the table. So, you know, just making some choices in advance will really help you keep on track.
Now, I know you talk about the five steps for the plate method and specifically for meal prepping at home. So if you can kind of walk us through this method for cooking and meal prepping at home.
Sure. So my book will be out April 20, 22. It basically talks about using the plate method for people with diabetes and how they can meal prep because there really wasn't any books like that. So I have another cookbook also that talks about just the plate method and you can utilize it either at home cooking or you can put it in a box for meal prep, which is wonderful. So it is designed for people with diabetes, but you don't need to have diabetes in order to follow it. It's absolutely healthy for everybody. Basically have your plate. You're going to fill it with non-starchy vegetables. So that could be like kale, broccoli, spinach, cucumbers. You can do a little salad. You could do cook vegetables so you won't have to plate non-starchy vegetables. And then a quarter of the. You want starches and so you really want to go for whole grains whenever possible. So like just now I just made some farro. About a half hour ago. So to be fair, it could be quinoa, it could be brown rice, could be whole grain pasta. So your plate is that in that category? You can also you can swap out if you want.
You can have dairy or you can have fruit instead because those all have the carbohydrates. So somebody who is with diabetes, they do have to watch how many servings they have of carbohydrate. So that would go in a quarter of the plate. The last quarter of the plate would be proteins and you do want to go for a lean protein. So some lean proteins would be like a chicken breast. You can have some fish if you want salmon or if you want some seafood, you just want to cook it in a healthful method. You don't want to do fry it basically. And then to that you want to add a non caloric beverage, could be water, could be seltzer and then a healthy fat because healthy fat helps keep you feeling full. So that could be a piece of avocado or some nuts on a salad or even a vinaigrette if you put on a salad because that has some healthy oils in it. So there's many, many options to put on your plate. But that's the plate method, the five steps.
Now, what are some things people obviously, if they're cooking at home, how should they when they take their trips to the grocery store, what should they be looking for? So they only be buying things that aren't packaged or is it safe to get some snacks and things like that? What should people be looking for when they're at the grocery store?
Well, when you're at the grocery store, really preplanning, just like with your food, when you're cooking and dining out, preplanning at the grocery store is really important. So figure out what you want to cook for the next few days and make yourself a list. Make sure you don't double buying especially spices. It's that is definitely like wasting money that I know people are really trying to save. So always like double check your ingredients, make sure you don't have any of them and then you can buy packaged goods. But you have to be careful what it is. For example, something like a canned beans. Canned beans are extremely healthy to cook up beans is very time consuming. So just look for a canned beans that is low or no added salt. And if it's too expensive, let's say at that store, they don't have them. You can actually rent your beans. And research shows that it will reduce the sodium by up to 40%.
So when people are meal prepping, what are some tips that they can use to save time? Because obviously we're all really busy people and we can't be cooking our meals every single day. So now that people are, they know what kind of their plate should look like, their meals now, how do they take that and start meal prepping at home and start saving time? So they're not always in the kitchen measuring things out and doing these different recipes.
So the meal prepping, especially for people with diabetes who really have to look at what they're eating at every meal, it really helps, especially when you're doing it in advance. So choose one or two days during the week, which is very helpful. So if you can't cook, let's say you want to cook a lot of recipes maybe divided into two days, so you're not cooking up all day on Sunday. Also, be realistic. You don't have to cook up for every single meal and every single snack. Just be realistic if you know you can have lunch at your work or that you're going out or that you don't need breakfast every day, prepare whatever it may be, just reduce your recipes. So even if you do three or four, that will absolutely help you. And planning is really key. So remember, you need a shopping list, you have to go to the market and then you need time to cook. So you don't want to leave everything for one day. Otherwise it's going to be a lot of hours. So if you do it slowly over a few days to prepare one day, look at the recipes, then make your list and then go to the supermarket, which takes an hour the next day. Cook Within those two days, you can actually make enough food for about four or five days. And so that really helps. Then you have your box. And if you do make a dish and it serves four people, you do want to divvy it up among the four boxes, measure everything. So you have an even amount, first of all, so you have enough for all four meals. If you start taking three, three hands out of a big container or bowl, you may not have enough food for your last meal or you might overeat in other meals. So it's best if you pre measure everything. So every box has the exact amount that you want to eat and then you don't have to think about it again the rest of the week. You just pull it and then you eat it and you're good to go.
So should people be calorie counting or looking at the portions that they're eating depending like the meal prep all this, but how do they know how many calories they should be getting? They can divide their plate up, but how do they know the correct portion right away?
So the plate method is designed not to calorie count. And so if you know how active you are too, because the plate method also starts with a standard eight inch plate. But let's say that, you know, you're a smaller body, you don't work out as much and you know, you need a little less calorie, fewer calories, then start with a smaller plate and fill up a smaller plate or. Smaller container. The same thing goes the opposite way if you work out or if you're taller or you usually need a little more calories than you can go with a bigger plate, an 11 inch plate. And so you have a little bit more food. If somebody does want a calorie count, absolutely, you can do it. All my recipes and cookbooks, you can find recipes for people with diabetes. Even if you don't have diabetes, if you want to count it, that's fine, too. But on your plate, the way I just described should get you around the right amount of calories that you need in a meal. If you're feeling hungry, you can always add something to it if needed. You can always add like a cup of vegetables. You can always add a little bit more an answer to a protein depending on what it is, but you can always add to it if you're feeling hungry.
Now, should people ever be fasting now? How does this plate method carry over into all the meals of the day? Should people be eating that strict, you know, three meals a day or should they? What about snacks? Like, do people have to be worrying about that? What's your take on that?
So the math is really for the meals, but certainly someone with diabetes and even if you don't have diabetes, but you feel yourself going over 5 hours between meals or you're very, very hungry, it's time for a snack. And someone with diabetes really has to be careful because their blood sugar is regulated by their snacks, too. So if they're going too long between meals, their blood sugar may go a little wonky. This is good to especially someone with diabetes. You really should have a health care team with a dietician and a physician and talk to them and talk about should I insert a snack? Should I not insert a snack? But snacks don't have to look like your plate, but they should be composed of various food parts, so you should have something to keep you full, whether it's a protein or fibre, or you can do some healthy fat in there as well. Usually in a snack you want someone with diabetes wants at least a serving of carbs because that helps with the blood sugar control as well. If you don't have diabetes, you don't necessarily need the carbs. Like if you wanted an egg, you can have an egg as a snack too. That's up to you. If you wanted a bowl of soup, vegetable soup, you can do that as well. But so really depends on your metabolic needs or what your body needs. But having a snack is certainly should be composed of. I always tell my daughter count how many food groups because those different food groups not only give you different nutrients and nutrition, but also certain nutrients. Like I said, fat, fiber and protein also help keep you full.
So can you take us through just a general, a day of healthy meals? So from right when they wake up to the end of the day, what's just a general good kind of starting point for someone to kind of work off of?
Sure. So let's say I'll give you a go from my cookbook. I have actually five weekly plans, so for the first week is a beginner plan so I don't have for meal. Prepping is a little different if you're not prepping every single meal. So. You know, maybe you're only doing breakfast and lunch or breakfast. Lunch and a snack. So that's the beauty of meal prepping. You can design it however you want it to be, but let's say you want a breakfast so you could do an egg scramble with a little bit of spinach and you can sprinkle maybe a tablespoon of feta cheese in there, have that with a whole wheat English muffin and a tablespoon of peanut butter, and that would be a breakfast for lunch. You can do a this is an example from again, the cookbook. You can have a stew like a beef and butternut squash stew and put some steamed broccoli on the side. So you have again, you have that plate, you have the beef, you have the butternut squash, which is your carb, actually, and then you have some broccoli as your vegetable. So you do have a plate. And then for dinner you can have some. Maybe you're going to do a sheet pan salmon and you're going to put some potatoes in there and you're going to put some Brussels sprouts and you can even add like a small vegetable tossed salad with a little vinaigrette in there, and then you have your dinner. So it doesn't have to be complicated, but something like a stew, you can prepare on Sunday and you can have it for the whole week. So that's the beauty of meal prepping.
So if there is one big key point that you want our listeners to come away with, what would that be?
I think planning is the key, you know, just a little bit. You don't have to do it all the time. It's not forever. But in the beginning, just to get in the swing of things and getting used to taking down recipes you want to make for this week. And it could be the same ones. It doesn't have to be. You don't have to do a million different recipes, but until you get good at making that recipe that you really like, that you like to have almost every week, just give yourself a little extra time and leeway. Don't be so hard on yourself. Maybe one time you burn the pan. That's okay. But just give yourself some time and some scheduling. And once you get into the swing of things you're going to see, it's so much easier for you to just pre-plan.
Yeah, I agree. And you can tell our listeners where they can find you. Get in touch with you. All of that.
Sure. So you can find me on my website. Toby Amidor Nutrition dot com and its top y. Amy de la nutrition dot com and on social. It's usually my first and last name be Amador and you can email me. There's a Contact Me page on my website as well.
So we will have all that in the show notes. Thank you so much, Toby.
Thanks so much for having me.
Thank you for tuning in to another episode of the Sugar Solved podcast. As always, if you like what you hear. Share it with a friend. Leave a rating and review on your favorite podcast player and tune in next week for another episode of the Sugar Salt podcast, where we demystify health and nutrition. One gram of sugar at a time.