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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2010 DGA Consumer Tool and Icon

My Plate
I’ve had the opportunity to think about the new USDA MyPlate icon. I saw it a couple of weeks ago and again when it was released to the public. At first I didn’t appreciate how it would succeed in committing people who eat on the run to consider the message of balance and portion control. However, I now appreciate that a change was needed and using a plate may actually help people to reflect on their eating habits.

Like the Food Guide Pyramid which morphed into the MyPyramid, the shape did not instruct one on how to construct a meal. The pyramid focused on the concept of a daily intake which resonated only within the dietetics world. A public communication tool should relate to nutrition on a meal basis which is why a plate is more appropriate. My concern is that we have stopped eating on plates.  Perhaps seeing our meals laid out, so we get a visual of portion adequacy, will help us to tame the out of control eating patterns we’ve developed. Too many times our meals are consumed in a cup or from a bag while in a car or at a desk.

When I asked Dr. Robert Post who directed the MyPlate.gov launch, how the public would be able to use this plate concept when they eat on the run, his response was that it is meant to be a reminder. An icon which reminds people that foods need to fit into a meal pattern and when accompanied by a relevant message which doesn’t grow stale, it can educate. He also pointed out that the icon is just a tool which directs one to the website where there is a wealth of information waiting to be accessed. In my humble opinion, this is a great improvement and a major step in the right direction. It will be interesting to see how well the tool communicates the desired messages.

To learn more about the new MyPlate icon:

National Egg Salad Week

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One would think I’d be tired of eggs by now but, the funny thing is I’m not. In fact, I kind of tired of chicken but because eggs are so versatile, they can be used in so many ways without repeating the same preparation. I love to read recipes that aren’t too complicated and suggest ways to use leftovers in creatively. One such list of recipes can be found athttp://www.dietsinreview.com/diet_column/04/5-ways-to-use-leftover-easter-eggs/ which offers suggestions about ways to use the leftover eggs from Easter egg celebrations. How brilliant that every Easter is followed by National Egg Salad Week! Even better, that this works for the leftover eggs from Passover as well.

How do you like your eggs? Perfectly cooked!

Hi Readers!  Today we have one of our Registered Dietitian Advisors, Serena Ball, blogging.  Enjoy!

~ Marcia

I love eggs. I adore eating eat them. And as a registered dietitian and mom of three, I feel great about feeding them to my children. Most of all, I love how easy it is to cook a perfect egg.

Since my kitchen is often full of chaos, I count it as a small victory when perfectly cooked eggs emerge from the fray. Cooking perfectly creamy, satiny scrambled eggs is simple, as long as they are patiently cooked low (heat) and slow. The trick to a perfectly poached egg is a tablespoon of vinegar in the poaching water. Even custardy egg en cocottes (baked eggs) are now easy thanks to Julia Child’s video. However, preparing the perfect hardboiled egg has always eluded me; until now.

Thanks to my recent placement on the Egg Nutrition Center’s Registered Dietitian Advisory board, I was sent a press release containing simple instructions for perfect Easter eggs. Reading it was an “Ah-Ha Moment!” Finally, the elusive trick to perfectly cooked hardboiled egg: Don’t boil them! After years of boiling my eggs five minutes, then three minutes then one minute, I learned the secret to a hardboiled egg is to only bring the water to a boil and then immediately cover it and turn off the heat. (Boiling them will leave a green ring around the yolk and make whites tough.) In fact, the Incredible Egg folks don’t even call them hardboiled eggs, they call them hard-cooked eggs. Here are the three steps to perfect hard-cooked eggs:

  1. Place eggs in a single layer in a pan; add cold water to cover eggs by 1 inch. (Eggs that have sat in your refrigerator for a week – instead of fresh from the store – are easier to peel in the end.)
  2. Over high heat, bring to a full rolling boil where large bubbles break the surface of the water. (No, it’s not true that a ‘watched pot never boils;’ so go ahead and keep your eye on it.) Immediately remove from heat, cover pan, and set the timer for 15 minutes for large eggs (longer for extra large eggs).
  3. Use kitchen tongs or a slotted spoon to remove eggs and place in a bowl of ice cold water to chill. Crack, peel and eat or place in the refrigerator to enjoy later.

If you prefer not to sit and watch the pot boil, you can try this ingenious (but time-consuming) recipe for Slow Cooker Hardboiled eggs.

Or, if you like recipes in say, 140 characters or less, try this reci-tweet) for hard-cooked eggs: “To hard-cook eggs, just bring to boil, turn off heat & keep in covered pot for 15 min. Then cool in ice water” For more reci-tweets and helpful egg tips, join me, @TspCurry and @IncredibleEggs for a Twitter Party on April 20 at 8:00 p.m. CT.

Lastly, here’s a photo of one of my kids enjoying a favorite egg recipe from my own childhood. Here’s the recipe for silky smooth Egg Custard.

Serena Ball, MS, RD is Partner at Teaspoon Communications and the egg cook for her husband and three children in Chicago.

 

 

 

Health and Nutrition Down Under

I recently returned from a vacation in Sydney, Australia where as a dietitian/foodie I enjoyed studying the many culinary similarities we share with people so far away. I was drawn to articles in almost all publications from the most local community newsletter to the biggest city newspaper that discussed nutrition and it’s relation to health. It definitely seems Australians are as interested in fitness and health as Americans seem to be, although there seems to be less regulation on claims that foods and advertisements can make about their products.

Supermarkets seem to be screaming with products that claim to be packed with nutrients that insure health, although I’m not sure how a consumer can know which claims have scientific substantiation and which are marketing. I purchased eggs which were not refrigerated because I’m assuming they vaccinate their hens to prevent the growth of Salmonella. The variety of eggs available is dumbfounding. There were many free range eggs and others that were caged but the ones that I purchased were from a producer called “Happy Hens” egg farm. I found it interesting that these eggs specify that they are naturally grain fed eggs and are locally produced in Victoria and carry the National Heart Foundation approved check or tick “because they are a nutritious food”.  I can’t imagine how anyone has the time or interest to weigh the pros and cons of all those issues before choosing which eggs to purchase. I suspect that most consumers like me looked at the price and at $4.75/doz decided these lowest cost eggs were the best choice. I wonder if this is an example of getting what we wish for.

Do we really want the burden of deciphering an arm’s length of different claims on all our food before we purchase the most basic pantry items? I’m also wondering how consumers can prioritize which nutrition claims are the most important and which are less important for health?

~Marcia

Free Range, Organic, Conventional and Everything In Between

Some many choices, so little time to research the facts. That’s often the conundrum the average shopper finds themselves in these days. We all want the best for our families, but what does “best” really mean? With respect to eggs, producers offer variety to consumers in the form of organic eggs and cage free eggs, among other choices. But is one type of egg really healthier than another? A quick primer on these issues may help:

To be considered organic, eggs must meet a set of national standards developed by the National Organic Standard Board. Organic eggs are produced by hens given feed without pesticides, herbicides, or commercial fertilizers. The use of hormones or antibiotics is also prohibited in birds that provide organic eggs. The rub is that commercial egg producers do not use hormones or antibiotics routinely anyway. So non-organic eggs are pretty much as “untainted” as their organic cousins. Further, non-organic eggs are every bit as nutritious as organic eggs.

Cage free eggs come from hens living in indoor floor facilities. These hens do not necessarily have access to the outdoors. While some folks prefer eggs produced by cage free birds because they feel these hens live more humanely, the fact of the matter is that modern cages are designed with the bird’s welfare in mind. In the hen house, birds are more readily protected from the elements, from diseases, and from natural and unnatural predators. The diet of the caged bird is also more well controlled, leading to the production of eggs of unmatched nutritional quality. Research has continually shown that the eggs produced by caged hens are at least as nutritious, if not more so, than eggs from birds that eat a less controlled diet. And, it should be pointed out that mortality rates are higher in hens living in cage free environments.

– Mitch