Diet, Your Immune System, and Colon Health, with Toby Amidor
| Episode 007
It has been said that the gut is where bacteria and your immune system meet. As you know, the natural flora which live in your colon are vital to achieving and maintaining good colon health. At the same time, having a healthy and strong immune system is just as important for your overall well-being.
Today we explore the intersection between the immune system and colon health with, specifically, diet being a mediator between the two. Our guest is Toby Amidor, world-renowned nutrition expert and praised cookbook composer. During our discussion we will explore one of her more recent pieces: The Family Immunity Cookbook: 101 Easy Recipes to Boost Health. It’s time you hit the kitchen and benefit from not just improved colon health, but as Toby says it: “healthy and wholesome CAN also be appetizing and delicious!”
Click the play button above to listen to my conversation with Toby.
Highlights from Today’s Episode
- How your immune system impacts your colon health.
- The importance of diet on the immune system.
- How you can aim to maintain a strong immune system with healthy meals which are quick, easy, and delicious.
- Recipe resources which can benefit you or your loved ones, from diabetes-tailored meals to phenomenal meal prep options.
Featured on Today’s Episode
Guest Spotlight: Toby Amidor
Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, FAND is celebrated as a Wall Street Journal best-selling cookbook author, spokesperson, speaker, leading dietitian, and recipe developer. She has over two decades of experience and is internationally recognized for her innovative, yet approachable, recipes that anyone can achieve at home. Toby has written numerous cookbooks to date, including The Best 3-Ingredient Cookbook, The Create-Your-Plate Diabetes Cookbook, The Best Rotisserie Chicken Cookbook, Smart Meal Prep for Beginners, The Easy 5-Ingredient Healthy Cookbook, The Healthy Meal Prep Cookbook, and The Greek Yogurt Kitchen among others. Toby trained as a clinical dietitian at the prestigious New York University and has published with or served as expert for Self.com, Oxygen Magazine, Dr. Oz The Good Life, Mic.com, Reader’s Digest, Shape.com, Women’s Health, Redbook, Men’s Journal, Huffington Post, Everyday Health, and many more.
About the Colon Health Podcast
Co-hosted by Dr. Dac Teoli and Ariel Bridges, the Colon Health Podcast features guest interviews with expert physicians, leading researchers, nutritional scientists, integrative health specialists, and other foremost experts in colon health.
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Dr. Dac: Welcome to the “Colon Health Podcast” brought to you by colonoscopy.com. My name is Dr. Dac Teoli, and we’re going to talk healthy recipes on today’s show with celebrated guest, Toby Amidor. Toby has over 20 years’ experience across the food and nutrition industry. She’s written not three, not six, but eight cookbooks, and has been recognized as “The Wall Street Journal” bestselling cookbook author. On top of all that, she’s a spokesperson, recipe developer, and public speaker. She believes in the mission as she puts it best, “Healthy and wholesome can also be appetizing and delicious.” Believe it or not, she’s also founded the Toby Amidor Nutrition offering professional nutrition and food safety consulting services for individuals, restaurants, and food brands alike. Plus, she’s served as expert and contributor to establishments I’m sure many of you in the audience have heard about these before, little organization called foodnetwork.com, U.S. News & World Report, shape.com, “Reader’s Digest,” “Men’s Journal,” and trust me, many more. Today, we’re gonna be discussing one of her phenomenal cookbooks entitled “The Family Immunity Cookbook: 101 Easy Recipes to Boost Health.” Thanks for being here today with us, Toby, and welcome.
Toby: Thank you so much for having me.
Dr. Dac: You know, the first question I have is one probably on everyone’s mind, and I’m sure it’s gonna be a very simple answer from you. How do you do it? How do you find so much time to accomplish so much in just the average day? What’s your secret?
Toby: Am I allowed to say I don’t know, but actually, I’m organized. I have my to-do list and, you know, I’ve actually made it…these days, I try not to work on weekends so I can really spend it with my family. So it’s about balance as well and scheduling.
Dr. Dac: Gotcha. I imagine your balance has to be important because with everything you’ve accomplished and you’re doing, I imagine most people would probably burn out and they just would kind of not be able to get through all of these things and run as many ships as you’re kind of steering right now. So, no, it’s phenomenal.
Toby: No. Thank you so much.
Dr. Dac: So, I’m curious about the motivation you had with creating one of your most recent books, the one that I mentioned earlier, “The Family Immunity Cookbook: 101 Easy Recipes to Boost Health.” This particular book, how did this one come about?
Toby: So, during the pandemic, I just saw so much misinformation out there. I guess as a registered dietician, it really upset me because a lot of people are saying, “Take this supplement, take this medication, it’ll help boost your immune system,” when truly the first step to keep any part of your body, including your immune system, healthy is just really eating right. And that’s kind of what I did with this cookbook. I pinpointed 25 foods that really, they play a role…nutrients within these foods play a role in keeping your immune system healthy, in general, and then general rules of just healthy eating. And that’s really what my goal was. Just get back to basics, get back to deliciousness and wholesome recipes. And that’s really how you can do it.
Dr. Dac: That’s phenomenal points too because, you know, out of head to toe, but especially when it comes to colon and colon health, it can be very sensitive, not just infection, but also inflammation, really systems that tie, as you mention and allude to right in this book, immunity and the immune system. So I think this is really gonna be of interest to a lot of our listeners.
Toby: Excellent. I’m so happy to hear that.
Dr. Dac: When it comes to your recipes, and again, for everyone at home, there are thousands that she’s put together across all of her books, where do you draw the inspiration from these? So, for example, with the “101 Easy Recipes to Boost Health” in this book. For example, some recipes developers get their inspiration from prior world travels, others from talking with their readership base and seeing what they want to hear about, others it sounds like they just hit the kitchen and they experiment and experiment until something tastes good. How do you consistently put together such tasty and healthy recipes?
Toby: Well, with this book specifically, it was a little bit different because my first thing that I sat down to do is let me look which nutrients are really part of that immune system, and then on top of that, I did research. Let me see which foods have a ton of these nutrients or the highest levels of nutrients. And also, are these foods easy to find foods, inexpensive foods, and ones that you can use in a lot of recipes? So I really was looking at not just like the foods, you know, I didn’t want it to be a very expensive or something you really needed to go to the internet to find. I wanted you to be able to really find it at your local supermarket and that it had the versatility to be used in a wide variety of recipes. So I did take time to think through that list. And then from that list, I started with my recipes. Some of them…I have an Israeli background, so I have Mediterranean, I eat Mediterranean style, is just the way I was raised. So you can find a lot of Mediterranean-based styles in the cookbook. And then also comfort foods that I know, you know, make people feel happy, but in a helpful way. And then, of course, lots of fruits and vegetables in there I always try to include. So that’s really my tactic for creating the recipes.
Dr. Dac: Right. No, that’s excellent tactic to have, in my opinion too, because as you mentioned a few moments ago, a lot of these ingredients that you utilize, folks don’t have to be living in Beverly Hills to get, or they don’t have to go to some vineyard somewhere in order to find these ingredients. It sounds like stuff that folks can get at their local market or their local grocery store.
Toby: Absolutely. And that was my point. I mean, one of the first thing on the list is garlic. You know, and I have a garlic dip that’s delicious, but everyone uses garlic and most people have garlic in their home. So it was just a matter of, how do we utilize it a little bit stronger in some of the recipes or a little bit more? And I did find some really fun recipes to use with them.
Dr. Dac: You know, when it comes to the book, “The Family Immunity Cookbook,” in my mind, it’s relevant not just to people who unfortunately might suffer from colon ailments, but also for folks who are just enjoying healthy eating and good food and good colon health, and they want to keep it that way. I see it as a book maybe that could be for, you know, unfortunately, maybe the sick, but also the healthy as well, whether they’re new in the kitchen or whether they’re a seasoned pro. Basically, this seems like a book for everyone. Am I way off base here or who would you say this book is for specifically?
Toby: Well, that’s why it’s titled “The Family Immunity Cookbook” because it is for everybody. And another thing I do with my recipes is you don’t have…some of the recipes that you see, you’re like, “Well, what do I do here? I don’t understand.” So, you don’t need to be an expert in the kitchen to cook these recipes. And actually, my 14 and 16-year-old girls do the testing with me so I know it’s not super complicated. You know, they’re good cooks at this point because they’ve been helping me with eight or now to be nine soon. After this is another one, but I want everyone to be able to go in the kitchen, simple instructions, simple ways to do it to have tasty and delicious food that’s healthy, but easy to make too is important.
Dr. Dac: I wanna put you on the spot for a moment. Across the 101 recipes in “The Family Immunity Cookbook,” do you have a favorite recipe either to make or to eat from this set?
Toby: You know something? I found so many good recipes. I try to also do things I haven’t done before in my previous cookbooks, you know, in case somebody wants to buy a couple of the cookbooks. And I really try to use different ingredients, but I found just such fun recipes. First of all, I have like a golden cauliflower salad. So I take the cauliflower with some tumeric, that’s the golden color because tumeric is one of the 25 foods cause of the anti-inflammatory aspect in there. So that was a really, really fun salad that I made. And then I also have, I mean, vegetable beef soup. Beef also has something like zinc in it that helps with your immune system. That’s certainly something your immune system needs. I mean, just really simple, simple stuff. Also, eggs stuffed bell peppers, just so fun. All the time, I actually like stuffing avocado with eggs, which you can do because both eggs and avocado are on my list, but this time I wanted to do it with red bell peppers that’s also on the list. And it was just a really fun recipe to do. That was just really fun to look at, eye-pleasing, and just delicious to eat. So those are some of my favorites.
Dr. Dac: They sound like they’re gonna be some of my favorites too. And you mentioned fun. And I think that’s a key point here as well because we’re talking a lot about the health aspect of things and also, you know, the delicious factor, 10 out of 10, but fun. It sounds like these recipes are fun to make unlike maybe some other ones out there. It sounds like it can be a family affair. Of course, you know, it says family right in the name of the book, but someone might read this and think, “Oh, it’s recipes that maybe my spouse will eat them, but my kids will eat it too.” But from, for example, as you mentioned, stuffed peppers, in my own family, that can be kind of a fun day in the kitchen when the kids help out and start stuffing peppers with me. So would you say for a lot of these recipes, they’d also be good if folks have kids at home or little ones that they want to get their hands dirty with whoever’s doing the main cooking in the kitchen? Can it be a family cookbook also in the sense that the whole family can get in on making these recipes?
Toby: Absolutely. You know something? I’ve written a bunch of articles on this topic. Like you mentioned, I write for a tremendous amount of national media outlets. And so, like, even a stir fry, you know, it also depends on the kid’s age. So let’s say for a stir fry, someone who’s very young, go bring me the rice. You know, here’s a measuring cup, let’s measure the rice and the water to make it. They don’t have to play in the heat, but they can at least use the measuring. They can bring you the ingredients. As they get older, like my daughter’s 14, she can actually trim the vegetables. She can cook the rice. And we learn…because it’s hard when you start cooking rice, sometimes it gets stuck on the bottom of the pan. You know, these are normal things. So I give her little tricks and a lot of times as we’re cooking this, I’m like, “That’s a good Toby step.”
So you’ll see these little tips in the kitchen that I give you also, not just for adults, but also for kids, how to store certain things, how to make sure…one of the things like with rice, I always tell my daughter, “Just add a little bit more water if you think it’s going to get stuck on the bottom, you can always drain the extra water out of the rice if you need to. But at least it won’t stick to the pot.” So, even if people don’t wanna cook, let’s say my son, he’s in college and he’s not the biggest cook, now he’s starting to get interested. But for him, even selecting, because it has beautiful pictures in a ton of them, selecting the recipe. That’s another role somebody can play. You know, everybody can choose a different recipe every day, you know, everyone from the family. So there are many, many roles that can be played by different family members of all ages. It could be someone older wants to go to the supermarket and pick up the stuff for the recipe. So there’s many, many different roles that each family member can play.
Dr. Dac: Got you. And given our audience on this show and their interests, I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that they’re going to have a lot of interest as well in your other books. And if I’m reading this right, indeed, there’s seven more to date, I’m sure there’ll probably be more in the future. Do you want to share anything with us about your other cookbooks?
Toby: Sure. For someone who just wants to get some healthy, delicious, and really easy, I have a three-ingredient cookbook. I actually sent my son to college with that, just learning even the guacamole. I strip it down to three ingredients and the only extras that are allowed in any recipe are olive oil, salt, and pepper, which everyone should have in their cabinet, but it is three ingredients, beautiful pictures in there. And you’re like, “What? I can make mac and cheese with three ingredients?” Yes, I did it. So it’s really fun in that sense. And then I also have a rotisserie chicken cookbook. It’s not to make the rotisserie, but a lot of people are just grabbing those rotisserie chickens and don’t really know what to do with it. So this one has 100 ways to use that rotisserie chicken from salads to soups, to mains, to sandwiches, to all kind…even breakfast, I have. Like breakfast eggs and hash with some chicken in it and chicken and waffles. And just some really, again, fun stuff that you can do in the kitchen with a rotisserie.
And then some of my other books are… I do have a five-ingredient one too. And then I have a couple of meal prep cookbooks, which a lot of people are into meal preps. So, I have the beginners and then I have a smart meal prep. And then I have one of two others. One is the Greek yogurt. There’s a lot of Greek yogurt, a lot of recipes using Greek yogurt. And then I have one with the American Diabetes Association on the create-your-plate diabetes method, which is very easy method. Of all the methods that I ever taught as a registered dietician, clients and hospitals or whatnot, this is the easiest method I’ve found and really much simpler to do than some of the others. So that’s an overview of everything.
Dr. Dac: Oh my goodness. Well, I’m glad you mentioned them actually because, you know, not just as you know, a significant portion of the American population, unfortunately, suffers from diabetes and indeed our listeners also follow with that trend as well, and a significant amount of our listeners also are working and living with diabetes. So, hey, you have something specifically kind of tailored for them too, it sounds like.
Toby: Yeah. And actually, my ninth cookbook is gonna be meal prep for people with diabetes.
Dr. Dac: Wow.
Toby: Using that create-your-plate method. So it’s really, really nice. I’m very, very proud. It’s gonna come out probably in early 2022, but I’m very proud of this book. I’m very happy to be able to provide people with diabetes the way to do meal prepping for themselves to help save time but, you know, can follow.
Dr. Dac: Yeah, no, it’s so important. You know this, and I know this, and the people with diabetes know this as well, but for our other listeners that maybe don’t have that condition or no loved ones that don’t have that condition, really for you folks at home, she’s providing a great resource to our citizens and these patients. So that’s great. Thank you for dedicating the time and effort because it sounds like a lot of blood, sweat, and tears goes into each and every one of these books that you put together.
Toby: Oh, absolutely. I really think about who’s cooking this. I want everyone to have really an easy time in their…as easy as possible in their kitchen and really enjoy it and enjoy food with their families, with their loved ones, with their friends. That’s really what it’s all about.
Dr. Dac: Now your name and your work beyond this podcast, you know, we’re talking to you right now, but I wouldn’t be surprised if many of our listeners have heard of you before because like you’ve mentioned, you’ve been on not dozens, but hundreds of different venues over the years. Where else can our listeners find more about you, maybe more resources by you, for example, a website that you’d like to tell us about?
Toby: Sure. My website with a ton of recipes and I also provide information on blog posts, Toby Amidor Nutrition, T-O-B-Y, is my first name. So, tobyamidornutrition.com. You can find all my cookbooks. You can find blogs. You can find recipes. From all my books, I have sample recipes on my website as well if you want to take a look to see if it’s the right book for you.
Dr. Dac: Gotcha. Phenomenal. And, you know, as you mentioned earlier on in this episode, the pandemic, so maybe some of our listeners are at home and they’re worried about going out into crowded places, the bookstore, things like that. Would they be able to get your books also offline on the internet?
Toby: Yes. Everything’s available on Amazon. You could find it there. Barnes & Noble’s online. So definitely those are two big online stores that you can purchase them. I think even Walmart and Target, they carry a lot of my books as well. So you can Google that and see where you can find it online. But Amazon, definitely all of them.
Dr. Dac: Excellent. Well, there you have it, folks, “The Family Immunity Cookbook: 101 Easy Recipes to Boost Health.” Not just good words, not just good texts, but also it sounds like excellent images in there. I know some of our folks are visually oriented, so don’t worry when you crack open this book, it’s not gonna be just walls of texts, but there’s gonna be pretty rich images in there to feast your eyes on as well. So, definitely pick up a copy of this book and keep an eye open, especially if you yourself have diabetes or you have a loved one or a co-worker with diabetes that you wanna reference them to, it sounds like, next year. You heard it here first. I guessed her…well, that would be your ninth book, will be coming out next year. So we’re gonna be keeping our eyes to that as well. Anything else you wanted to share with us, Toby, before we wrap up?
Toby: I mean, the only other thing if somebody wanted to follow me on any of the social media platforms, I do post recipes regularly. I post articles of interest, usually the latest kind of trends or whatnot out there that you might be talking about or interested in. So you’re welcome to always follow me. And it’s always Toby Amidor Nutrition on all the outlets.
Dr. Dac: I wanna thank you for being here tonight, Toby, and for sharing your expertise with our listeners. Just as much, I wanna thank all you folks at home who tuned in and listened to this episode. And as always, we’re gonna have the summary of today’s episode, including the key points and links to Toby’s different links and resources that we discussed, as well as a list of resources available on the colonoscopy.com website. Really, when we think about it, it’s never too late to pick up a new hobby. And cooking healthy, cooking delicious food, that’s definitely a hobby worth picking up. And it sounds like Toby’s gonna help you achieve that goal. Please take care. Good night and good health.