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?

Cover Slide Image

Back to Breakfast –Getting Ready for the School Day

puzzleIt’s hard to believe it is time to get ready for fall and plan a new back to school routine.  While adjusting to the new morning schedule don’t forget the most important meal of the day, breakfast. Multiple scientific studies demonstrate the cognitive benefits of eating breakfast, such as improved memory recall time, improved grades and higher test scores1, 2.  It’s essential to remind clients that not only should they and their families be eating breakfast but it should be balanced and provide a quality source of protein for sustained energy. Eggs are the perfect choice for breakfast.  The protein in eggs provides steady and sustained energy because it does not cause a surge in blood sugar or insulin levels, which can lead to a rebound effect of energy “crash” as blood sugar levels drop3.

Kids know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. In one study, a majority of children surveyed agreed that eating breakfast helped them pay attention and stay energized throughout the day4.  Eggs are a great breakfast option for kids, they satisfy children’s finicky taste buds and are quick and easy to prepare, often taking less time to cook than people think. The American Egg Board recently released a Back to School Breakfast tool kit that can be useful in educating patients on the importance of fueling up the kids for a day of learning. The kit also provides quick and healthy recipe ideas. To spark kid’s interest in breakfast, serve them this fun play on an egg sandwich for a filling nutritious breakfast, and don’t forget to pair eggs with the company they deserve: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy.

We wanted to share this fun breakfast treat today, since it is Friday. There is nothing wrong with having the occasional treat because, as often promoted on Nutrition Unscrambled, variety and overall diet are most important for health.  If the kids like this recipe so well that it becomes a typical breakfast, you can easily make some modifications. Add favorite veggies to boost vitamins and minerals and consider using a whole wheat tortilla or flatbread. Also, you can choose other lean proteins and lower-fat cheese for the recipe.

Egg, Sausage, & Cheese Breakfast Puzzle

Serves: 1

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 45-75 seconds


1 Egg, beaten
1 Tbsp. milk
2 Tbsp. fully-cooked breakfast sausage crumbles or 1 fully-cooked breakfast sausage link or patty, chopped
2 Tbsp. finely shredded Cheddar cheese
1 thin flatbread or tortilla


Step 1: Beat egg and milk in 2-cup cereal bowl until blended. ADD sausage
Step 2: Microwave on high 30 seconds; push cooked edges toward center. Microwave until egg is almost set, about 15 to 45 seconds longer
Step 3: Top with cheese. Place on flatbread and fold over. Cut out center of sandwich, using a 2 to 2 ½ inch cookie cutter. Cut remaining sandwich into 4 or 5 pieces. Solve the puzzle and enjoy!

Nutrition Information:

Per serving

Excellent Source: Protein, Folate and Choline

Good Source: Vitamin D, Calcium and Iron

Calories: 317; Total Fat: 18 g; Saturated fat: 7 g; Polyunsaturated fat: 2 g; Monounsaturated fat: 6 g; Cholesterol: 209 mg; Sodium: 601 mg; Carbohydrates: 22 g; Dietary Fiber: 1 g; Protein: 18 g; Vitamin A: 447 IU; Vitamin D: 44.5 IU; Folate: 105.5 mcg; Calcium: 172 mg; Iron: 2.8 mg; Choline: 153.4 mg

1)       Pollitt E, et al. Fasting and cognition in well- and undernourished school children: a review of three experimental studies. AJCN 1998; 67:779S-784S.
2)       Rampersaud G, et al. Breakfast habits, nutritional status, body weight, and academic performance in children and adolescents. JADA 2005; 105:743-760.
3)       Layman DK. Protein quantity and quality at levels above the RDA improves adult weight loss. JACN 2004; 23(6): 631S-636S.
4)      Reddan J, et al. Children’s perceived benefits and barriers in relation to eating breakfast in schools with or without Universal School Breakfast. J Nutr Educ Behav 2002 34(1):47-52.



The BEST Reasons to Eat Breakfast

Today’s post comes from Neva Cochran, MS, RDN, LD. Cochran is a nutrition communications consultant, appearing regularly in national and local media to discuss nutrition topics. Cochran is a long-standing nutrition contributor for Woman’s World Magazine, as well as a member of ENC’s Health Professional Advisor panel.

School’s out for the summer, so what better time to teach children the importance of good nutrition and prepare them for a great school year? Breakfast, in particular, plays a key role in keeping kids fit for school. Here are my four BEST reasons for kicking off every day with breakfast.

B – Brainpower. The brain requires glucose to function properly so including carbohydrate-rich foods at breakfast will supply the fuel it needs. Great choices include fruit, whole grain bread and cereal, milk or yogurt. A number of studies have shown that eating breakfast improves cognitive ability, memory, attention span and academic performance in children. For instance, research at Arkansas Children’s Nutrition Center found children who ate breakfast had significantly more correct answers on math problems than those who skipped it.


E – Energy. Not only does the brain need energy to function, but the body does too. A recent Swiss study showed kids who ate breakfast almost daily had better motor skills. Both carbohydrate and protein play a role in physical fitness. Carbohydrates fuel the muscles while protein helps maintain, build and repair them. Eggs are an excellent source of high quality protein and 13 other essential vitamins and minerals that promote growth and health in kids. Scramble an egg in the microwave and layer on an English muffin with a slice of low fat cheese for a quick, protein-packed breakfast.

S – Satiety. Eating breakfast keeps you feeling full and satisfied so that you don’t have an energy dip mid-morning when hunger pangs can set in. In a just-released study, participants had greater satiety, less hunger and ate less the rest of the day after an egg breakfast vs. a cereal or croissant meal. Scrambling eggs with veggies and pairing with whole-grain toast provides both protein and fiber. Or mix Greek yogurt with berries and a high-fiber cereal for another high protein and fiber meal.0111-01_A

T- Taste. Taste is the primary factor that most people consider when choosing the foods that they buy and eat. Creating great tasting meals, that are also nutrient-rich, makes eating them a win-win proposition. To help children make good choices, get them involved in the planning, purchasing and preparing of meals. Summer is a perfect time to do this activity. For recipes, articles, videos and ideas for fun and healthy eating for children, check out the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Kids Eat Right website. The Incredible Egg website has Kid-Friendly recipes, too.

The Benefits of Snacking Mindfully


Some people trying to lose weight view snacking as a taboo, believing it is something they must cut out in order to achieve their weight loss goals. However, if a snack is carefully planned, it is a great way to pre-empt hunger, add beneficial nutrients and fuel the body to recover from physical activity and exercise1.

When planning snacks, keep in mind that 10 to 35 percent daily food intake should be lean protein2. It is unlikely that a person will fulfill this requirement just with regular meals, so it’s important to supplement meals with high-quality sources of protein when snacking, such as low fat yogurt, low fat cheese, or an egg.

Among the various functions that protein plays in keeping people fit and healthy, one of the most important ones is tissue formation. Besides this, protein can help in strengthening the immune system. Protein can also aid in developing strong muscles, joints, and bones. Another advantage of consuming protein is the satiety it provides, thus curbing the urge to binge eat later in the day3.

To ensure you or your clients have balanced and mindful snacks, encourage preparation of snacks in advance (this helps avoid vending machine and drive-thru). Inexpensive and loaded with nutrients, eggs are one of the best ways to start a snack with high-quality protein. Try hard-boiling a dozen at the start of the week and taking one in a small container each day for an easy on-the-go snack (see below for tips on hard-boiling and peeling). Be sure to give eggs the company they deserve even at snack time – enjoy a hard-boiled egg with a serving of whole grain crackers and a few cherry tomatoes for an extra dose of powerful antioxidants.

Basic Hard-Boiled Eggs


Step 1-place eggs in saucepan large enough to hold them in single layer. ADD cold water to cover eggs by 1 inch.

Step 2- Heat over high heat just to boiling. REMOVE from burner. COVER pan.

Step 3- DRAIN immediately and serve warm. OR, cool completely under cold running water of in bowl of ice water, then REFRIGERATE

 Tips for hard-boiling

  • For easier peeling, use eggs that are 7 to 10 days old.
  • Banish the greenish ring. This harmless but unsightly discoloration that sometimes forms around hard-boiled yolks results from a reaction between sulfur in the egg white and iron in the yolk. It occurs when eggs have been cooked for too long or at too high a temperature. Our method – cooking eggs in hot, not boiling, water, then cooling immediately – minimizes this.
  • Hard-boiled eggs are easiest to peel right after cooling. Cooling causes the egg to contract slightly in the shell.


1.       Snacks: How they fit into your weight-loss plan. (2012, May 25). 
         Retrieved June 3, 2013,

Stay Informed, Stay Certified: Continuing Education Available from the Egg Nutrition Center

In an effort to keep health professionals updated on the latest in credible nutrition research, the Egg Nutrition Center (ENC) provides easy access to valuable continuing education opportunities. In fact, ENC is currently showcasing the two outstanding webinars highlighted below:

Dietary Patterns for Cardiometabolic Health: Unscrambling the Guidance
David Katz, MD

Bringing together two hot topics in today’s food and nutrition environment, this webinar takes a step back to assess the impact of food patterns on cardiometabolic health as well as the prevention of diseases and chronic conditions that health professionals commonly see in their patients. Dr. David Katz, a board-certified specialist in preventative medicine and public health, clinical instructor of medicine at the Yale School of Medicine, and founding director of Yale University’s Prevention Research Center, takes viewers through the latest research on the health effects of the diet’s macronutrient content as well as the trends in consumption in the recent past. Dr. Katz clearly translates science into practical dietary guidance that health professionals can use with clients and patients.

This webinar is approved by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) for 1 CPEU.


Building a Better Breakfast with High-Quality Protein and Produce
Neva Cochran, MS, RDN, LD
While health professionals are well aware of the importance of breakfast, research continues to build on the benefits of fueling in the morning, which include boosts in nutrient adequacy of the diet, satiety and improvement in various markers of health. In this webinar, award-winning registered dietitian nutritionist Neva Cochran discusses the latest research on the health outcomes associated with eating breakfast. She also provides simple suggestions to help patients and clients create a daily nutrient-rich breakfast that combines high-quality protein with fruits and vegetables.

This webinar is approved by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) for 1 CPEU.

For more information and useful resources on these and other topics, check out ENC’s Patient/Client Education Materials.