The Egg Nutrition Center partnered with Jessica Ivey, RDN, LDN to write this blog post.
Crave-worthy comfort foods and hearty, rich dishes may not be especially nutrient-rich, but with a few upgrades, you can enjoy your favorite fare with more nutrition in each bite.
Include a source of high-quality protein.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) recommend including a variety of protein options, such as seafood, skinless poultry, lean pork, such as pork tenderloin or center-cut pork chops, and lean beef, like sirloin steaks or roast and 90% lean ground beef. Eggs are also a high-quality protein source, providing 6 grams of protein per large egg and all nine essential amino acids, for only 70 calories. Vegetarian sources of protein, such as soy products, legumes, nuts, and seeds can also be included regularly. Diets rich in high-quality protein have been shown to help people feel full and satisfied after eating, control their appetite and manage their body weight. Additionally, eating meals with 20-30 grams of protein helps promote muscle protein synthesis, and supports the maintenance of healthy muscle with aging. Eggs can be enjoyed throughout the day! While eggs are traditionally viewed as a go-to breakfast food, they also make great snacks or a delicious protein option in balanced lunches and dinners. One of my favorite easy dinner recipes on a busy night is a family favorite pizza, and I love this Hawaiian Scrambled Egg Pizza for added protein.
Incorporate a hefty helping of vegetables.
Eggs make it easy to follow a plant-based diet because they pair well with vegetables, which are foods Americans often don’t eat enough of.1 But don’t forget the yolks folks. Nearly half of an egg’s protein and most of its vitamins and minerals – including those essential for supporting our brains and bodies — are found in the yolk. Eggs and vegetables are a perfect pairing because vegetables are a source of many of the nutrients lacking in the typical American diet, including vitamin A, C, folate, fiber, magnesium, and potassium.1 Incorporating more vegetables into comforting dishes you already enjoy is a great way to boost the nutritional value of the meal and adding eggs can help you better absorb the nutrients found in vegetables, such as vitamin E and carotenoids.2,3 One of my favorite comforting classics is spaghetti, and I love the idea of trading half the pasta for zucchini noodles in this Pasta Carbonara with Mixed Noodles.
Choose whole grains.
Whole grains are foods made from the entire grain kernel, which is made up of the bran, endosperm, and germ, and they thus retain more nutrients than refined grains. Whole grains are an important source of dietary fiber, iron, and folate, and the Dietary Guidelines recommend that we make at least half our grains whole to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.1 Eggs are also recommended for healthy adults as part of a heart-healthy diet according to the American Heart Association. Examples of whole grains include whole-wheat bread, brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, and quinoa. These Stuffed Peppers with Quinoa and Eggs fit into a heart-healthy diet and would be a nutrient-packed alternative to traditional stuffed peppers with white rice and beef.
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.