Nutritious Dietary Patterns

Dietary patterns (also called eating patterns) are the combinations and quantities of food and beverages consumed over time. Consistent evidence indicates that, in general, a plant-based dietary pattern is more health-promoting than the current average U.S. diet. However, a “plant-based” eating patterns doesn’t mean only plants; pairing high-quality protein foods, like eggs, with plants is essential for the synthesis and maintenance of muscle tissue, and for achieving optimal vitamin and mineral intakes.

The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend three healthy eating patterns, all of which include eggs. But what are the sample eating patterns, and what are the key differences between them?

To learn more about healthy eating patterns, including those recommended in the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines, and how eggs fit within those patterns, explore the following PowerPoint, and feel free to share it with friends!

Healthy Eating Patterns: How do Eggs Fit?

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5 Ways to Find Balance

By Stacey Mattinson, MS, RDN, LD

The Egg Nutrition Center partnered with Stacey Mattinson, MS, RDN, LD to write this blog post.

During times of uncertainty, encouraging patients and clients to focus on aspects of their health they can control is even more important. When life throws curveballs and routines fall out of whack, self-care becomes even more essential. Here are five ways we can encourage balance during hectic times:

1. Fuel your Body (and Brain!) with Combination Meals and Snacks. Often people find themselves grazing or snacking frequently because their food choices aren’t bulky enough to promote satiety. Multi-food group combos pairing protein-rich foods, like eggs, with sources of fiber and healthful fats trigger satiety signals and provide maximum nutrients and absorption.

Great examples include:

Each of these examples provides nutrient-rich sources of protein, carbohydrate and fat, coupled with colorful plants, making a perfect macro- and micronutrient matrimony. With only 1 in 10 adults eating enough fruits and vegetables1 , eggs are a particularly great vehicle in a plant-forward diet. In fact, naturally nutrient-rich eggs can help with the absorption of nutrients found in plant foods like vitamin E and carotenoids. Plus, pairing plant foods with high-quality protein foods, like eggs, can help meet protein needs to help support healthy muscles and strong bones.

2. Prioritize Family Meals. Whether this means physically in your own home or virtually, mealtime is the perfect time to check in with family. Research indicates family meals are associated with greater consumption of fruits, vegetables, fiber, calcium-rich foods and vitamins.2 Kids also see improved grades, less participation in risky behaviors and less likelihood of developing eating disorders with more family meals eaten per week.3 Whether you choose breakfast, lunch or dinner, the benefits amplify with more meals eaten together each week. Try kid-friendly recipes like the Caprese Egg Muffins, Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Pancake Poppers, or Egg Pita Snackers.

3. Eat Intuitively. Humans are born with innate hunger and fullness cues. Although these can be overridden over time when they are ignored, they can be uncovered by practicing mindfulness around eating experiences. Evaluating hunger before, during and after eating occasions helps sharpen personal awareness and unearth habits of eating in response to stress, boredom or emotions. Alternative coping mechanisms like walking, meditation, practicing a hobby or catching up with a friend are healthy responses to external triggers unrelated to hunger.

4. Sweep Out the Negative. Give permission to not be perfect. Successful long-term healthy habits are bred from someone’s ability to quickly dive back into positive behaviors rather than ruminate on unhealthy pitfalls. The week is not botched from a cookie, a missed workout or indulging in your favorite takeout. No one has tainted the next hour or the next day. Encourage clients to hop back on the healthy train and likewise consider removing negative social media influences that might make them feel poorly about themselves.

5. Add in One New Positive Habit. If nothing else, ask your clients, “What’s one thing you could change today that would help you live a healthier life?” This question invites clients to weigh their values, empowering manageable, realistic changes.

When clients are looking for advice on how to optimize health during uncertain times, remember to look at the big picture and point them toward long-term, sustainable lifestyle changes in ways that are meaningful to them!

References:

  1. Lee-Kwan SH, Moore LV, Blanck HM, Harris DM, Galuska D. Disparities in State-Specific Adult Fruit and Vegetable Consumption — United States, 2015. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2017;66:1241–1247. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6645a1.
  2. Adv Nutr. Come and Get It! A Discussion of Family Mealtime Literature and Factors Affecting Obesity Risk. 2014 May; 5(3): 235–247. Published online 2014 May 6. doi: 10.3945/an.113.005116
  3. Can Fam Physician. Systematic review of the effects of family meal frequency on psychosocial outcomes in youth. 2015 Feb; 61(2): e96–e106.

Snacks and Small Bites to Help You Eat Right

By Kim Hoban, RDN, CDN, CPT

The Egg Nutrition Center partnered with Kim Hoban, RDN, CDN, CPT to write this blog post.

While there is no one way to eat “right,” small changes and small meals or snacks can have a big impact on health and wellness. Incorporating snacks and small bites into the day can be a simple way to help boost energy levels, regulate blood sugar and ensure adequate nutrition. If you’re busy and often on-the-go, prefer grazing over sit down meals or are trying to replenish appropriately after a workout, snacks can be a helpful tool in reaching your nutrition goals.

This month, we are joining the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in celebrating National Nutrition Month. In a nod to this year’s theme to “Eat Right, Bite by Bite”, we’ve rounded up some well-balanced snacks and small bites to fuel you all day long.

So what should snacks and small bites include? Strict rules around food are no fun, but when planning out snacks or mini meals, a good rule of thumb is to pair protein foods with carbohydrates and/or fat. Think fruit with nut butter, crackers and cheese or veggies with hard boiled eggs, like in these veggie egg pops! In fact, hard boiled eggs are such a simple, convenient and nutritious snack option, due to the one-two punch of protein and fat. Just one large egg offers six grams of high-quality protein and all nine essential amino acids. Hard boiled eggs are also great dipped in hummus or guacamole, drizzled with your favorite pesto or simply seasoned with salt and pepper.

Don’t forget to include snacks when planning your week or meal prepping ahead of time too! Egg muffins can be made in advance as an easy on-the-go option. Try these Caprese Egg Muffins or Quinoa Egg Muffins as a way to get some extra protein and veggies between meals or post workout. These Egg Pita Snackers make a great mini meal any time of day. If you’re looking for something sweeter, whip up a batch of these Cherry Cheesecake Baked Breakfast Bars to have on hand for breakfast, mid-afternoon snack or even dessert.

No matter what your meal and snack pattern looks like, you too can eat right, bite by bite this National Nutrition Month!

5 Ways To Build An Egg Bowl

The Egg Nutrition Center partnered with Natalie Rizzo, MS, RD to write this blog post.


Here’s a common dilemma I hear from many folks: You want to prepare and eat a nutritious meal, but picking out and cooking a recipe takes too much time and energy. Don’t reach for the take-out app just yet. If you’re overwhelmed with recipes, I have the ultimate solution for you– a no-recipe egg bowl formula. It’s a simple blueprint to help whip up a satisfying meal on the fly without any recipe reading. 

Here’s the simple formula to get you on your way to lunch or dinner success:

1 to 2 cups of veggies + ½ cup of whole grains + 1 large egg + 1 tablespoon sauce. 

The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend eating 2½ cups of vegetables per day, and this egg bowl helps you meet those recommendations. Start by picking out your favorite veggie(s) and build the bowl from there. If you opt for more than one vegetable, try to eat different colors for a variety of nutrients. 

Next, add a whole grain. MyPlate recommends filling a quarter of your plate with a grain. Whole grains provide fiber and protein, two nutrients that contribute to satiety, as well as heart health and muscle growth. There are a ton of tasty and affordable whole grain options to choose from, such as brown rice, farro, oats, bulgur, barley and more. 

Your bowl already has some protein, vitamins and minerals, but top it with an egg to add even more nutrition. Eggs naturally provide many essential nutrients, such as Vitamin B12, biotin, iodine, selenium, choline, riboflavin, pantothenic acid and protein. Not to mention that they are one of the only foods that naturally have Vitamin D, which along with calcium, is critical for building strong bones. Eggs are also an important part of a plant-forward diet, especially since they aid in the absorption of nutrients found in plant foods, such as vitamin E and carotenoids. 

What’s more, eggs contain important nutrients for brain health, including choline and lutein. Choline is critical for brain development during pregnancy and infancy, but approximately 90% of pregnant women don’t get enough of this essential nutrient. Two large eggs supply more than half of the recommended intake for pregnant women and can help them meet their needs. Lutein has long been associated with eye health and emerging research shows lutein may also play a role in cognition too. 

Lastly, don’t forget to add a sauce to your egg bowl for flavor and even more nutrients. Opt for sauces made with healthy oils, vegetables, beans and/or legumes. If you need a little inspiration, make sure you check out the five simple egg bowl suggestions below.

  • Fall Harvest Egg Bowl: oven-roasted Brussels sprouts & cauliflower + wheatberries + over easy egg + balsamic vinaigrette
  • Pesto Egg Bowl: oven-roasted crispy broccoli & sun-dried tomatoes + farro + poached egg + pesto
  • Mexican Egg Bowl: fresh shredded purple cabbage & corn + brown rice + fried egg + salsa
  • Green Tahini Egg Bowl: fresh kale & shelled edamame + quinoa + sunny side up egg + tahini sauce (whisk together 1 tablespoon of tahini, a pinch of salt and a splash of water)
  • Mediterranean bowl: fresh cherry tomatoes & sliced cucumber & olives + lentils + hard boiled egg + hummus

Keep eggs on hand to help reduce food waste in 2020

By: Jen Houchins, PhD

Food waste is a major concern in the United States with more than 30% of our food tossed out1, which is about 20 pounds of food per person per month!2 This wasted food impacts the environment, our natural resources, and certainly, your spending.  As we head into a new year, you might consider a new year’s resolution that can benefit more than just you: keep eggs on hand to help you reduce your food waste.

Eggs can help cut down on food waste as they are versatile and combine easily with other foods.  Eggs are a favorite at breakfast and we are just starting to appreciate the opportunities of dinner eggs.  Eggs can be combined with a variety of vegetables, grains, and dairy foods to create delicious meals, which can be especially valuable when these food items would otherwise be tossed because they are at the end of shelf-life.  Often times, even fruits and vegetables that are past their prime in terms of appearance may be acceptable for cooking.2  Instead of tossing out the vegetables that have been in the refrigerator too long, #honortheharvest and combine these vegetables with eggs for a quick meal:

  • Country Veggie Breakfast Skillet is a veggie-packed breakfast skillet topped with sunny-side eggs.  This recipe, developed by Egg Enthusiast Andrea Mathis, MA, RDN, LD, is certified by the American Heart Association and it is easy to swap in your extra veggies you happen to have on hand. Heart-Check certification does not apply to research or scientific statements unless expressly stated.
  • Vegetarian Fried Rice is fast and versatile.  This recipe was developed for the Egg Nutrition Center by our Egg Enthusiast Weichen Yan, and is a perfect recipe for your go-to box on busy weeknights.  For an alternative option, try Easy Vegetable Fried Quinoa developed by Andrea Mathis, MA, RDN, LD.

Besides reducing food waste, pairing eggs with vegetables is demonstrated to have a nutritional benefit, beyond the nutrients provided by eggs.  Recent work at Purdue University sponsored by the Egg Nutrition Center showed that when eggs are consumed with salad, absorption of carotenoids and vitamin E are enhanced.3,4 This nutritional benefit and other new egg science was recently discussed by ENC’s Executive Director Mickey Rubin on Sound Bites, in collaboration with Registered Dietitian Melissa Joy Dobbins.

Importantly, if you are pairing eggs with leftover produce, it is important to make sure your eggs are safe to eat.  Most egg cartons have a “Best By” date stamped on the side which indicates when the eggs will be at their highest quality, but eggs remain safe to eat when stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 weeks.5,6  Of course, if the eggs or vegetables are rotten, skip the veggie-egg combination and dispose of the unsafe food.  Many communities have organic recycling programs that can divert these foods from the landfill.

Please visit our website for more ways to put an egg on it!


1.         Buzby, J.C., H.F. Wells, and J. Hyman. The Estimated Amount, Value, and Calories of Postharvest Food Losses at the Retail and Consumer Levels in the United States. 2014  17-Dec-19]; Available from: https://www.ers.usda.gov/webdocs/publications/43833/43680_eib121.pdf?v=0.

2.         U.S. Food and Drug Administration. How to Cut Food Waste and Maintain Food Safety. 2019  December 13, 2019]; Available from: https://www.fda.gov/food/consumers/how-cut-food-waste-and-maintain-food-safety.

3.         Kim, J.E., M.G. Ferruzzi, and W.W. Campbell, Egg Consumption Increases Vitamin E Absorption from Co-Consumed Raw Mixed Vegetables in Healthy Young Men. J Nutr, 2016. 146(11): p. 2199-2205.

4.         Kim, J.E., et al., Effects of egg consumption on carotenoid absorption from co-consumed, raw vegetables. Am J Clin Nutr, 2015. 102(1): p. 75-83.

5.         U.S. Department of Agriculture. Food Product Dating. 2019 2-Oct-19 17-Dec-19]; Available from: https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/food-labeling/food-product-dating/food-product-dating.

6.         U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. FoodKeeperApp. 2019  17-Dec-19]; Available from: https://www.foodsafety.gov/keep-food-safe/foodkeeper-app.

Surprisingly Simple Tips to Utilize MyPlate

The Egg Nutrition Center partnered with Natalie Rizzo, MS, RD to write this blog post.

The Egg Nutrition Center is proud to be a Strategic Partner of the ChooseMyPlate program. MyPlate is a tool created by the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) to teach people how to make healthy food and beverage choices from all five food groups, including fruits, vegetables, grains, protein, and dairy.

A new program called Start Simple with MyPlate offers simple tips for utilizing MyPlate on a daily basis. MyPlate recommends filling half your plate with fruits and vegetables, one-quarter of the plate with protein and one quarter with grains. The Start Simple program also suggests varying your vegetables, choosing whole fruits, making at least half your grains whole grains, switching to fat-free or low-fat milk and drinking water instead of sugary drinks.

For healthcare professionals, the Start Simple with MyPlate Toolkit can help provide realistic and actionable ideas to motivate clients to eat healthier and improve overall health. This tool is easy to use and helpful in many healthcare settings. Here are a few ways you can help spread the message of Start Simple with MyPlate in your own practice and beyond.

Be active on social media

Take to your favorite social media platform to share the Start Simple program with your followers. The great thing about social media is that you can show your own personal experiences in real time. Create a plate following the Start Simple with MyPlate tips, snap a picture and share it with the hashtag #StartSimplewithMyPlate. Then challenge your social media followers to do the same.

Use the MyPlate Plan

This easy-to-use tool gives clients and patients a plan with a personalized calorie level and food group recommendations. Just follow the prompts and provide some basic information (sex, age, activity level) to get your tailored calorie range and sample meal plan. The recommendation tells you how much of each food group to eat throughout the day. And now there’s even a MyPlate App with additional habit tracking features and on-the-go access. 

Create a MyPlate challenge

Although community weight loss challenges are popular, they don’t always promote healthy habits. Instead, build a challenge among your patients or followers that encourages healthy behaviors, like filling half your plate with fruits and veggies or choosing water instead of sugary drinks. Whether you run the challenge for a week or a month, it’s bound to inspire some people to try the MyPlate techniques. Choose a prize for the winner, whether it’s a free nutrition counseling session, a gift card to buy groceries or a refillable water bottle.

Share recipes

Sometimes the easiest way to incite change is to share mouth-watering recipes that will entice your clients to cook something healthy. Whether you use social media, a blog or handouts, share recipes that utilize the tips in the Start Simple with MyPlate program.

Do you utilize MyPlate in your practice already? Send an email to ENC@eggnutritioncenter.org and share how!