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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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!

Quick and Easy Meals for the Busy Holiday Season

By Jessica Ivey, RDN, LDN

The Egg Nutrition Center partnered with Jessica Ivey, RDN, LDN to write this blog post.

The holiday season can be magical, but it also tends to be one of the busiest times of the year. Tight schedules filled with special activities and get-togethers can lead to on-the-go eating and skipped meals. Prioritizing regularly scheduled meals featuring nutrient-dense foods, like eggs, can help keep you feeling your best all month long.

Protein is an essential part of an overall healthy diet. This macronutrient helps build and maintain muscle tissue in adults, and diets higher in protein have been shown to increase satiety, helping people to control their appetite and support a healthy body weight. With 6 grams of protein and a good or excellent source of eight essential nutrients per large egg, eggs are a convenient and easy-to-prepare protein. Pair proteins, like eggs, with vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and/or low-fat dairy products to create balanced meals to fuel your body.

To minimize mealtime stress, keep things simple with quick and easy meals that can be made in thirty minutes or less. Eggs can cook in just minutes and can be enjoyed any time of day.

Make-ahead meals can be a lifesaver for a hectic week. Spending a little time on the weekend prepping for the week ahead can set you up for success even with a full calendar.

  • Frittatas are a perfect make-ahead dish because they store and reheat well. This Sun-Dried Tomato and Kale Frittata has a pretty pop of red and green that’s perfect for a Christmas gathering or a weeknight family dinner.
  • Boiled eggs can be made in advance and refrigerated for up to one week. Use them for making egg salad or as a protein topper for salads and grain-based dishes. Cajun Herb Egg Salad packs a big punch of flavor for adding egg-citement to a packed lunch or potluck meal.
  • A soft-boiled egg adds a boost of protein to this Easy Microwave Ramen with Egg.
  • This Cobb Salad Wrap can be assembled the night before, wrapped in plastic wrap, and refrigerated until lunch the next day.
  • For breakfast, make these Spicy Black Bean Breakfast Burritos the night before and reheat in the morning.

The possibilities are endless when it comes to cost-effective, versatile, delicious, and nutritious eggs. Happy Holidays!

Jessica Ivey, RDN, LDN, is a dietitian and chef with a passion for teaching people to eat healthy for a happy and delicious life. Jessica offers approachable healthy living tips, from fast recipes to meal prep guides and ways to enjoy exercise on her website, JessicaIveyRDN.com. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram.

Holiday Eggs at Your Table

By Victoria Shanta Retelny, RDN

The Egg Nutrition Center partnered with Victoria Shanta Retelny, RDN to write this blog post. 

It’s the holiday season – time for celebrating with good food, family and friends. With plenty of seasonal celebrations and gatherings filled with indulgent dishes, there’s an opportunity to include more nutrient-dense, filling foods that are naturally lower in calories, too.  This is where eggs come into play – one large egg is just 70 calories and provides a bevy of important nutrients, such as high-quality protein, vitamins A, D, B12 and folate; iron, zinc, selenium and antioxidant carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin. Beyond the obvious holiday classic, egg nog, there are many other ways eggs can be added to your festive favorites for a delicious nutrient boost.

Protein Power Through the Holidays  

A large egg has 6 grams of high-quality protein and all 9 essential amino acids, which can help you feel full and satisfied, and possibly lead to better appetite control, making eggs a smart choice at breakfast or snack time. And since typical holiday foods feature carbohydrate-heavy foods, focusing on balancing your menu with high-quality protein sources is a good bet. With almost half of an egg’s protein in the yolk, it’s good to eat the whole egg. Try serving deviled eggs as appetizers, or adding eggs to salads, stuffing, potato casseroles, soups, and of course baked goods like pies and cakes.

Plant-forward festivities

As plant foods take center stage on many holiday tables, eggs go well with plant-based main and side dishes as they are a tasty carrier for less consumed vegetables and they can help absorb the nutrients found in plant foods, such as vitamin E and carotenoids. Plus, baking eggs into a holiday vegetable frittata or string bean casserole contributes choline, an essential nutrient for brain health and cognition, which is not found in high quantities in many foods.

Eggs are holiday time savers

Eggs are easy to plan ahead, too.  During the busy holiday season, egg dishes are a great way to go as they can be cooked ahead of time, stored in the refrigerator or freezer, and served later. Whether you are a party goer or thrower, you can easily and quickly jazz up your holiday table with eggs. Enjoy a happy and healthy holiday season!

Here are some tasty ways to add eggs to your holiday table:

Jammy Deviled-ish Eggs

Stuffed Quinoa Peppers with Eggs

Bacon, Spinach and Sweet Onion Quiche

Sun-Dried Tomato and Kale Frittata

Can Eggs be Part of a Healthy Diet in Children?

The Egg Nutrition Center partnered with Yanni Papanikolaou, MPH, PhDc to write this blog post

With children in school and on a routine schedule, there can be frustration and anxiety about what goes on to the breakfast plate for those active young, ready-to-learn brains. As someone who is immersed in nutrition research, I often get asked questions usually framed into one of two buckets: which foods should I eat and which should I avoid? At a recent gathering, parents were discussing the trials and tribulations of the morning rush and what to feed their kids and, naturally, the conversation turned to eggs with one parent questioning the need for eggs in children’s diets. With our recent ENC-sponsored research study examining the nutritional relevance of eggs in children, which was published this past May in the journal Nutrients, I gladly provided my expert opinion.