Protein has been a real buzzword lately, and for good reason. Protein is made up of amino acids, the building blocks for muscle, blood, skin, hair, and nails. In total, there are 20 amino acids, which join together in different combinations to form unique proteins in the body. Some of these amino acids, nine to be exact, can’t be made by the body, so they are known as essential amino acids, as it is “essential” that we consume these nine amino acids through the foods we eat. A complete protein source is one that provides all of the essential amino acids; these are also called high-quality proteins.1 Animal-based foods such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and cheese are considered complete or high-quality protein sources. Of all the high-quality sources of protein, eggs are the most affordable at an average of just 15 cents apiece and they deliver 13 other vital nutrients, including vitamin D, choline, riboflavin and phosphorus.2,3
Eggs are a nutritious choice for families on a budget. But it’s also important to pair eggs with the company they deserve, such as colorful seasonal vegetables, whole grains and dairy for a nutritious, balanced meal.
The below Italian Vegetable Custard serves four and provides a balanced, inexpensive, and quick dinner. Looking for affordable on-the-go snacks? We’ve got several portable snack ideas for you to check out.
- 4 eggs
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups coarsely shredded yellow summer squash
- 1 cup coarsely shredded zucchini
- 1 can (2.25 oz.) slices ripe olives, drained, DIVIDED
- 2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 tsp. dried basil leaves
- ½ tsp. garlic salt
- 6 very thin tomato slices
- 1 small onion, thinly sliced, separated into rings
- ½ cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese (2oz.)
- Step one: Heat oven to 450°F. BEAT eggs and flour in medium bowl until smooth. ADD yellow squash, zucchini and ¼ cup olives; mix well. SPREAD in greased 8-inch square baking pan.
- Step two: BAKE in center of 450°F oven just until custard is set, about 10 minutes.
- Step three: MIX Parmesan cheese, basil and garlic salt; sprinkle over custard. TOP evenly with tomato, remaining olives, onion and Jack cheese. BAKE until cheese is melted, about 4 minutes.
Excellent Source: Protein, Folate and Choline Good Source: Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Calcium and Iron
Calories: 237; Total Fat: 12 g; Saturated fat: 5 g; Polyunsaturated fat: 1 g; Monounsaturated fat: 3 g
Cholesterol: 201 mg; Sodium: 424 mg; Carbohydrates: 19 g; Dietary Fiber: 2 g; Protein: 14 g; Vitamin A: 727.9 IU; Vitamin D: 41.7 IU; Folate: 83.4 mcg; Calcium: 110.8 mg; Iron: 2.6 mg; Choline: 138.7 mg; Vitamin C: 19
1) Smith, M. (2011, August 11). Protein directory. Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/diet/protein-directory
2) United States Department of Agriculture. Economic Research Service. Retail data for beef, pork, poultry cuts, eggs, and dairy products (August 2012). Retrieved on July 23, 2013 from http://www.ers.usda.gov/Data/MeatPriceSpreads/
3) United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory. 2010. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 23. www.ars.usda.gov/nutrientdata. Nutrient facts per raw serving.