Build Your Best Adult Lunch Box

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Build Your Best Adult Lunch Box

Kim Hoban, RDN, CDN, CPT

Nutritious Dietary Patterns

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

Back to school time isn’t just for the kids. The start of a new school year can provide the opportunity to get back into a routine and establish healthy habits. Packing lunches can help the whole family stay organized, eat well and save money. If you’re tired of boring brown bag sandwiches and drab deli salads, it might be time to revamp your adult lunch box. Follow these three tips to help you pack your own delicious, nutritious and satisfying lunches for that midday meal.

Keep it simple. Your lunch box doesn’t have to contain a gourmet or chef-inspired meal every day. Use things you already have on hand or get creative with leftovers. Ditch the idea that lunches even need to be recipe-driven and fill a Bento Box with snack items instead. Hard-boiled eggs, veggies, hummus and crackers, nuts and fruit all make for a perfect snack-like lunch. Better yet, enjoy brunch for lunch with an easily packable breakfast option, like this Broccoli Cheese Frittata.

Maximize nutrition. Think of lunchtime as another opportunity to fill up on nutritious foods like colorful fruits and veggies, high-quality proteins and hearty whole grains. Choose meals that include a balance of carbohydrates, protein and fats to meet your nutrient needs and give you plenty of energy to make it through the rest of your workday.

Looking for some egg-cellent choices? Try these:

Make it tasty. Building a nutritious meal is great, but don’t forget to take things up a notch by incorporating fun flavors and the “s” factor: satisfaction. Dips and dressings make for a yummy addition to salads or sandwiches, and dessert can finish things off on a sweet and satisfying note. Finding a treat like these Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies in your lunch box might stir up some childhood memories and make for an enjoyable lunch break. And, since you’ll be well nourished and satisfied, you’ll be better able to focus on your work ahead instead of feeling hungry and preoccupied with an afternoon snack!

Satisfaction, nutrition and simplicity are all important factors in creating a midday meal that even your kids will be jealous of. The possibilities are truly endless for adult lunch boxes that will inspire healthy habits, while saving time and money.

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5 Reasons Why Eggs and Instant Pots Are Meant To Be

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5 Reasons Why Eggs and Instant Pots Are Meant To Be

Dana Angelo White

Nutritious Dietary Patterns

The Egg Nutrition Center partnered with Dana Angelo White MS, RD, ATC to write this blog post. Dana’s opinions are her own.

Summer is no time to pack away the kitchen appliances. Your Instant Pot is just as useful for summer recipes as it was for heartier cooler weather fare.


From pulled pork to batches of brown rice, I am always finding new easy and fast ways to fuel a crowd of sun-drenched friends and kiddos. You will constantly find me tossing eggs in my instant pot – here are 5 of my favorite ways to prepare them.


An Egg-Cellent Match Up


Eggs are a daily staple in my kitchen. After a morning workout, I crave this complete protein source in an omelet or burrito. Hard-cooked eggs are an easy handheld snack and my family is completely obsessed with fried rice for dinner.  Eggs not only offer up high-quality protein (ahem, you get it from both the white and the yolk), they are a naturally nutrient-rich choice providing an excellent source of vitamin B12, biotin, iodine, selenium, and choline, and a good source of riboflavin and pantothenic acid. Plus, eggs are one of the only foods that naturally have vitamin D, which is critical for strong muscles and bones.

Instant Pot Eggs – 5 Ways


It doesn’t get much easier or faster than these 5 recipes.

1. Make-ahead breakfast sandwiches. Place a cracked egg and slice of Canadian bacon into ramekins and pressure cook for 6 minutes. Flip the egg mixture out of the cups and stack on a whole grain roll with baby spinach and a sprinkle of cheese. These sammies can also be made ahead, wrapped and frozen – just heat and heat.

2. Fried Rice Goals. As mentioned above, fried rice is the queen of weeknight dinners at the White Palace. Grab cooked rice, veggies and eggs and create this delightfully satisfying one-pot meal. Check out this recipe for my Instant Pot Shrimp Fried Rice featured at

3. EZ Peel Hard-Cooked Eggs. Not only is does the Instant Pot allow for cooking in bulk, pressure cooking allows for hands down the most peelable eggs you ever took a crack at. Make a dozen hard-cooked eggs in just a few minutes, then cool, peel and serve with a dusting of everything bagel seasoning.

4. Lightened Up Desserts. Confession time – I am not a very good baker! But the Instant Pot can help in that department as it is the perfect gadget for no-fail cheesecake and one of the most show-stopping desserts of all time (wait for it….) crème brulee – the egg-based custard cooks to perfection in the Instant Pot.

5. Savory Oatmeal. Finally, a little something unexpected. Oatmeal can be a sweet way to start your day, but I also love giving it a savory spin. Spinach, sun-dried tomatoes and a sprinkle of cheese take this bowl of oats straight to flavor town and there’s no better way to finish it off than by putting an egg on it!

Spinach and Sun-Dried Tomato Oatmeal

Serves: 2

  • 2 tbsp white vinegar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup uncooked rolled oats
  • 1 ¾ cups water
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • 1 cup fresh baby spinach
  • 1 tbsp Parmesan cheese
  • 2 packed-in-oil sun-dried tomatoes, drained and chopped
  1. Fill a medium sauce pan with cold water, add the vinegar. Bring to a simmer over low heat.
  2. Working one at a time, crack an egg into a small bowl, swirl the water in the pan, and then immediately pour the egg into the water. Poach for 3 minutes and then use a slotted spoon to transfer the eff to a plate lined with a paper towel. Repeat with the remaining egg. Set aside.
  3. Spray the inner pot with nonstick cooking spray. Combine the oats, water, and salt in the pot. Stir well.
  4. Cover, lock the lid and flip the steam release handle to the sealing position. Select pressure cook (high) and set the cook time for 4 minutes. When the cook time is complete, quick release the pressure.
  5. Remove the lid, add the spinach and Parmesan. Mic well.
  6. Transfer to serving bowls and top each serving with 1 tablespoon of the sun-dried tomatoes and 1 egg, Serve warm.

Nutrition Per Serving


Calories: 226; Total fat: 7g; Saturated fat: 2g; Cholesterol: 97mg; Carbohydrates: 30g; Sugars: 1g; Dietary fiber: 5g; Sugars: 1g; Protein: 11g; Sodium: 205mg

Excerpted from Healthy Instant Pot Cookbook reprinted by permission of Alpha, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © 2018 by Dana Angelo White

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Summer Picnic Picks

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Summer Picnic Picks

Kim Hoban, RDN, CDN, CPT

Nutritious Dietary Patterns

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


With summer in full swing, calendars are filling up with outdoor concert series, beach days and picnics in the park. Eggs and egg dishes might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think picnic food, but they’re actually a great option for the busy summer season, as they pack a protein punch and are super portable. We all know egg salad is delicious, especially when you switch it up with fun flavors like sriracha, dill or curry, but this summer, why not try some picnic picks that feature eggs in a totally new way? Whether you’re spending the whole day out and about or just enjoying a midday lunch date, read on for fun ways to egg-spand your picnic palate.

If you’re headed out for a long day at the beach or water park, prep some of these Spicy Black Bean Breakfast Burritos or Bacon, Egg and Mushroom Burritos in advance to fuel your adventures. Bring a burrito along for breakfast en route or to enjoy as you set up your spot in the sand.

Be the hero of a potluck picnic with friends by bringing these super simple and nutrient dense Veggie Egg Pops to snack on. Or, add some crunch to your lunch with this Cobb Salad Wrap that makes handheld eating easy and delicious. And of course, traditional deviled eggs can’t be beat when it comes to picnic fare! If you’re worried about transporting the little devils, try placing each egg into its own cupcake liner. You can also pack the empty egg white halves in one container and the deviled egg filling in a food storage bag, then fill just before serving.

Finally, don’t forget dessert! Fruit salad is a simple and seasonal way to serve up something sweet, or try these Cherry Cheesecake Bars.

No matter how you choose to enjoy eggs during the summer picnic season, remember to keep cold foods cold (below 40°F) to make sure everyone stays safe and healthy. Pack food in a well-insulated cooler with plenty of ice or ice packs. It’s easy to lose track of time when you’re having fun with family and friends, but be careful not to let food sit out more than two hours and if the temperature rises higher than 90°F, stick to an hour or less. Bring a timer or set an alarm on your cell phone to remind you when it’s time to put food away.

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Animal-Sourced Foods: How Much Do We Need?

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Animal-Sourced Foods: How Much Do We Need?

Nutritious Dietary Patterns

Healthy dietary patterns recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans can include a variety of plant-sourced and animal-sourced foods to meet nutrient needs.

Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy foods, protein foods, and oils are key to healthy dietary patterns.  Although some animal-sourced foods (such as eggs) are placed in the “Protein Food Group,” these foods are more than just protein and have unique nutrient profiles important for health, as discussed at a recent conference at the University of California, Davis.

Animal-sourced foods provide high quality protein1, meaning these foods have all the essential amino acids the body needs.  In the U.S., appropriately planned vegetarian and vegan diets can also provide sufficient protein to maintain health2.  However, both plant-sourced foods and animal-sourced foods provide more than protein.  Foods from different food groups provide a good or excellent source of various essential nutrients:

  • Brussels sprouts: vitamin C, vitamin K, and folate (B9)
  • Oranges: fiber, vitamin C, and thiamin (B1)
  • Beans: protein, fiber, iron, thiamin, folate, phosphorus, and magnesium
  • Eggs: protein, riboflavin (B2), vitamin B12, biotin (B7), pantothenic acid (B5), iodine, selenium, and choline

These examples illustrate that eating a variety of foods can help ensure intake of essential nutrients.  However, at this point, there is not a clear answer as to how much total animal-sourced foods we need for optimal health.  Each animal-sourced food is different in its composition and there is not consensus of what outcome would indicate adequacy.  Growth, anemia, or functional outcomes are possible indicators of nutrient/food adequacy.  Some indicators, such as micronutrient inadequacy, are not always immediately obvious.

Vitamin B12, a nutrient important for red blood cell formation, neurological function, and DNA synthesis, is naturally present in animal-sourced foods or may be obtained from fortified foods.  Fortified foods are readily available in the U.S., but this may not be the case throughout the world.  Choline, a nutrient critical for cell structural integrity, signaling, and neurocognitive development, can be found in small amounts in plant-sourced foods like wheat germ, soybeans, and broccoli.  A significantly greater concentration of choline can be found in beef liver, chicken liver, and eggs.  Considering approximately 90% of Americans do not consume adequate amounts of choline3, foods rich in this nutrient are a critical part of healthy dietary patterns.  Eggs also provide lutein and zeaxanthin (252 mcg/large egg), and importantly, the carotenoids in eggs are readily absorbed and utilized4.  New research is exploring the importance of lutein during early years and throughout the lifespan.

While consumption of plant-sourced foods is essential to healthy dietary patterns, plant-sourced foods are not interchangeable with animal-sourced foods.  Nutritionally, they are not the same, and research continues to show the value of nutrient-dense animal-sourced foods as part of healthy eating patterns in the U.S. and around the world.  Please see our website for additional information about egg nutrition, including information about healthy, sustainable eating patterns and eggs as part of the global solution to sustainable nutrition.

  1. Schaafsma, G., The protein digestibility-corrected amino acid score. J Nutr, 2000. 130(7): p. 1865s-7s.

  2. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture, 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 2015.

  3. Wallace, T.C. and V.L. Fulgoni, Usual Choline Intakes Are Associated with Egg and Protein Food Consumption in the United States. Nutrients, 2017. 9(8).

  4. Chung, H.Y., H.M. Rasmussen, and E.J. Johnson, Lutein bioavailability is higher from lutein-enriched eggs than from supplements and spinach in men. J Nutr, 2004. 134(8): p. 1887-93.

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Egg Farming in America

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Egg Farming in America

Roger Deffner

Nutritious Dietary Patterns

By Guest Blogger Roger Deffner, member of the Board of Directors of the American Egg Board

As an egg farmer of a 3rd generation family farm in the Northwest, it is always inspiring to see the good work that is being done beyond our farm.


At Today’s Dietitian Spring Symposium in Scottsdale, AZ, I had the privilege of speaking to a group of Registered Dietitians that are members of the Egg Nutrition Center’s Egg Enthusiast program. Our approximately 4.5 million hens along with our dedicated farm staff work very hard to produce high-quality eggs, so meeting dietitians who are educating consumers about the benefits of eating eggs really validates the work we do.

The Egg Enthusiasts I spoke to were surprised to hear that there are 336 million egg-laying hens in the U.S. that lay 257 million eggs each day. As of February 2019, the per capita consumption was 287 eggs according to The World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates Report produced by the United States Department of Agriculture. Overall, it’s a growing industry with the total annual economic activity estimated to be about $29-$30 billion, however, like all farming, it’s not without its challenges. With changing consumer demand around farming practices, the landscape is evolving rapidly.

Egg farmers are adapting with evolving consumer preferences. Most recently, hen housing has been a hot topic of conversation across the industry and amongst consumer groups. Currently, there are three prevailing options:

  1. Conventional Housing: 282 million hens

  2. Cage Free Housing: 43 million hens

  3. Organic Housing (access to outdoors): 16 million hens

However, recently there has been a large shift in demand related to farming practices. These changes are reflected across the United States in different ways depending on the state. For instance, California voted in Proposition 12 ensuring hens to be housed at 144 sq. inches as of January 1st, 2020. In Arizona, all eggs sold in the state must come from United Egg Producers (UEP) Certified farms, which has its own rigorous standards around hen care, food safety, and environmental impact. While regulations may differ slightly from state to state, a common theme is the push to move all production standards to UEP Certified Cage-Free standards.

The catch is that currently, only 18% of the total U.S. flock, or 60 million hens, are currently cage free. For the food industry to meet its aggressive cage-free commitments by 2026, we would need to transition much of the existing conventionally-housed flocks to increase the number of cage free hens to 71% of the total U.S. flock. Perhaps the most challenging part about these commitments is the investment needed to make these changes in such a short amount of time. The current estimated cost is more than $10 billion.

My hope is that we can continue to evolve as an industry and make changes in a responsible way. American egg farmers are committed to producing fresh, high-quality eggs and are dedicated to the health and well-being of their hens. Today’s hens are living longer due to better health, better nutrition and better living environments. Additionally, U.S. egg production has significantly decreased its environmental footprint in the past 50 years. Most importantly, egg farmers like me believe in consumer choice and work hard to provide the highest-quality and variety of eggs, no matter what kind of eggs you choose.

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Incorporating Eggs Into a Plant-Based Diet

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Incorporating Eggs Into a Plant-Based Diet

Natalie Rizzo, MS, RD

Nutritious Dietary Patterns

Featured article in the Spring 2019 Issue of Nutrition Close-Up; written by Natalie Rizzo, MS, RD

If you ask two different people to define “plant-based eating,” you will likely get two different responses. Because this term isn’t defined by any governing body, it’s up for interpretation.


The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) says that plant-based diets include vegetarian and vegan diets1, while U.S. News & World Report describes plant-based diets “as an approach that emphasizes minimally processed foods from plants, with modest amounts of fish, lean meat and low-fat dairy, and red meat only sparingly”2. Regardless of the definition, the common denominator among all descriptions of a plant-based diet is, well, plants!

The rise in popularity of plant-based diets is accompanied by many health benefits. Research suggests that eating mostly plants can prevent obesity3, decrease the risk of developing diabetes4, and lower mortality rates5. Plant-based diets are also associated with lower rates of heart disease6 and cancer7. The majority of these studies observed vegetarian diet patterns, which include plenty of fruits, vegetables and meatless proteins, like eggs, dairy, whole grains, nuts, seeds and soy. In other words, plants were paired with protein sources, like eggs, to make a nutritious and well rounded meal. Eggs can and should be part of a plant-based diet, and these five suggestions showcase how easy it is to incorporate the incredible egg into your plant-forward dishes.


This baked egg dish is best with whatever seasonal veggies and herbs you have on hand. Simply beat eggs, your favorite vegetables, herbs and spices in a bowl. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium high heat and pour in the egg mixture. Cook for 5-10 minutes or until eggs set and remove from heat. Try different flavor variations, like sun-dried tomato, parmesan cheese and basil for a Mediterranean flair or asparagus, radish and goat cheese for a spring twist. Both options contain protein to keep you full and an assortment of vitamins and minerals.

Stuffed Veggies

Did you know that eggs make a great addition to stuffed veggies? Peppers, tomatoes and squash make great vehicles for stuffing. Cut the veggie in half, scoop out the seeds, fill with your favorite whole grain, like rice or quinoa, and top with an egg. For an extra hit of heart-healthy fat, cut a ripe avocado in half and top with cheesy scrambled eggs for breakfast, lunch or dinner!

Put An Egg On It

Whether you’re revamping leftover veggies for a quick dinner or looking for a protein boost on your pizza, there are so many reasons to #putaneggonit. Eggs make a great addition to pasta or frozen veggies, too.

Salad Protein

The base of any good salad is vegetables, but the part that fills you up is the protein8. Next time you’re at the salad bar, load up on as many veggies as you want and top the whole thing off with a hard-boiled egg. Each egg you add will provide six grams of protein and several nutrients, including vitamin D, lutein, riboflavin and choline. Plus, eggs not only provide the carotenoid lutein, but research has found that consuming eggs can help increase absorption of carotenoids from other foods9, and adding eggs to a salad means higher absorption of vitamin E – 7 times as much10!

Snack On Eggs

Research suggests that including protein at snack time can improve appetite and hunger control, which can prevent overeating later in the day11. That makes eggs the perfect addition to your midday plans. Hard boil a batch of eggs early in the week to enjoy as a quick snack. Pair an egg with a side of fruit or veggies and a handful of nuts to get a good balance of protein, carbs and good fats.

Natalie Rizzo, MS, RD is a NYC-based media Dietitian, food and nutrition writer, national spokesperson and owner of Nutrition à la Natalie, a successful sports nutrition blog. Natalie has a Master’s of Science in Nutrition and Exercise Physiology from Columbia University.

  1. Melina V, et al. Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Vegetarian Diets. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2016;116:12:1970-1980.

  2. U.S. News. Best Plant Based Diets. 2 Jan 2019. Internet:

  3. Tonstad S, et al. Type of Vegetarian Diet, Body Weight, and Prevalence of Type 2 Diabetes. Diabetes Care. 2009; 32:5: 791-796.

  4. Ley SH, et al. Prevention and management of type 2 diabetes: dietary components and nutritional strategies. The Lancet. 2014;383:1999-2007.

  5. Orlich MJ, et al. Vegetarian Dietary Patterns and Mortality in Adventist Health. Study 2. JAMA Intern Med. 2013;173:13:1230.

  6. Crowe FL, et al. Risk of hospitalization or death from ischemic heart disease among British vegetarians and nonvegetarians: results from the EPIC-Oxford cohort study. Am J Of Clin Nutr. 2013;97:3:597-603.

  7. Huang T, et al. Cardiovascular Disease Mortality and Cancer Incidence in Vegetarians: A Meta-Analysis and Systematic Review. Ann Nutr Metab. 2012;60:4:233-240.

  8. Westerterp-Plantenga MS, et al. Dietary protein – its role in satiety, energetics, weight loss and health. Br J Nutr. 2012;108:S2:S105-S112.

  9. Kim JE, et al. Effects of egg consumption on carotenoid absorption from co-consumed, raw vegetables. Am J Clin Nutr. 2015;102:75-83.

  10. Kim JE, et. al. Egg Consumption Increases Vitamin E Absorption from Co-Consumed Raw Mixed Vegetables in Healthy Young Men. J Nutr. 2016;146:2199-2205.

  11. Ortinau LC, et al. Effects of high-protein vs. high- fat snacks on appetite control, satiety, and eating initiation in healthy women. Nutr. J. 2014; 13:97.

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Sustainable Nutrition for Women and Children: Eggs as Part of the Global Solution

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Sustainable Nutrition for Women and Children: Eggs as Part of the Global Solution

Jen Houchins, PhD, RD

Nutritious Dietary Patterns

Featured article in the Winter 2019 Issue of Nutrition Close-Up; written by Jen Houchins, PhD, RD

In the context of the global focus to end hunger and ensure access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food, a 2018 Maternal and Child Nutrition supplement explores a unique opportunity to address stunting and malnutrition through improved access to and increased consumption of eggs. As stated by Lutter, “…eggs in the context of a healthy diet may be an efficient, sustainable, and scalable approach to improve maternal and child nutrition and rural development.”1

Stunting is a significant problem in children <5 years of age in Ecuador, and the Lulun (Kichwa word for egg) Project developed, implemented, and tested a social marketing strategy that helped to re-define the community’s understanding of infant nutrition and complementary feeding within a randomized controlled intervention trial.2 This project considered culturally based norms, values, and local expectations, and the food-based intervention of one egg per day reduced stunting by nearly 50% in infants 6 to 9 months of age.3 The impact of this intervention is illustrated not only by the significant impact on growth, but also with participant feedback, “The egg is truly effective, and it is good for our children. Thank you for promoting campaigns to help people to know more about the egg.”

Despite the high potential for eggs as a nutrition intervention in women and children, egg consumption is low in many parts of the world due to cultural, access and cost barriers. Data based on nationally representative surveys conducted between 2007 and 2010 for women who had given birth in the last 3 years indicate “egg consumption was strongly related to socioeconomic status in a dose-response fashion with women in the lowest wealth quintile eating the fewest eggs and those in the highest wealth quintile eating the most.”4 Similarly, “…the poorest families in low and lower middle income countries often rely on low-quality, plant-based diets consisting primarily of starchy staples, and novel approaches are needed to improve animal source foods availability and consumption in these settings.”5

Novel approaches to help improve access and consumption of eggs in women and children is not straight forward and can vary based on local cultures. Dumas et al. piloted an intervention to establish egg production centers in rural Zambian communities to increase availability of eggs in the local food system. This program improved egg production and offers a novel approach to improving access to eggs, but “optimization… is needed to ensure that egg consumption translates to improved dietary quality, growth, and health.”5 Morris et al. separately concluded that there should be a focus on production practices that bring prices down significantly, allowing more poor households to access and consume eggs.6 A summary of key issues associated with small scale production indicates, “interdisciplinary research and development is required to ensure the long-term environmental and economic sustainability… that are a good fit with local circumstances.”7

The articles in this recent supplement illustrate that “eggs are one of our best tools to help end hunger, achieve food security, and improve nutrition.”6 However, access to eggs is not yet universal, and novel approaches are needed that address local cultures and circumstances. Importantly, sustainable nutrition includes evaluation of food and diet patterns not only in terms of health benefits, but also economic, social and environmental outcomes. We invite you to explore the recent evidence of how eggs provide an opportunity to positively impact child and maternal nutrition, and all areas of sustainable nutrition.

  1. Lutt er, C.K. and S.S. Morris. Eggs: A high potential food for improving maternal and child nutriti on. Maternal Child Nutr. 2018; 14 Suppl3:e12666.

  2. Gallegos-Riofrío, C.A., et al. The Lulun Project’s social marketing strategy in a trial to introduce eggs during complementary feeding in Ecuador. Maternal Child Nutr. 2018; 14 Suppl 3:e12700.

  3. Iannotti , L., et al. Eggs in Early Complementary Feeding and Child Growth: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Pediatrics. 2017;140(1):e20163459.

  4. Lutt er, C.K., et al. The potenti al of a simple egg to improve maternal and child nutrition. Matern Child Nutr. 2018;14 Suppl 3: 12678.

  5. Dumas, S.E., et al. Travis. Small-scale egg producti on centres increase children’s egg consumption in rural Zambia. Matern Child Nutr. 2018; 14Suppl 3:e12662.

  6. Morris, S.S., et al. An egg for everyone: Pathways to universal access to one of nature’s most nutritious foods. Matern Child Nutr. 2018; 14 Suppl3:e12679.

  7. Alders, R.G., et al. Family poultry: Multiple roles, systems, challenges, and options for sustainable contributions to household nutrition security through a planetary

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Are your 2019 Resolutions SMART Goals?

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Are Your 2019 Resolutions Smart Goals?

Nutritious Dietary Patterns


Now that we’re roughly 3 weeks into January, chances are you’re quickly realizing which of your 2019 resolutions are working out and which ones are unlikely to make it into February. It may be time to re-evaluate and re-focus some of those goals. Take a look at your goals and make sure they are “SMART” – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely.

Specific: What would you like to achieve? Be very clear about what you are aiming for. Simply saying “I want to eat better” or “I will exercise more” is too broad. Instead, try “I will meal plan every Saturday so I can grocery shop and meal prep on Sundays” or “I will run for 30 minutes in the morning every Monday, Thursday, and Saturday.”

Measurable: Once you’ve broken your goal down, think about how you will measure success. Perhaps a check-list or a calendar where you can plan and schedule will be helpful.

Achievable: Be honest with yourself and think about whether you can actually achieve your goal. Running a marathon next month may not be possible, but perhaps aiming for a 5k is more likely.

Realistic: Is your goal practical? If you have to be at work very early, waking up extra early to run may not work. Or if your Sunday schedule is already jam-packed, perhaps that’s the wrong day to pick for grocery shopping and meal prep.

Timely: By when would you like to achieve your goal? Something that can happen anytime, will likely happen at no time. But saying that you’d like to achieve your goal within a certain timeframe helps with accountability and makes it more likely that you’ll work to achieve that goal.

Now that you’ve transformed your resolutions into SMART goals, let’s get cracking!

And remember, you don’t have to wait for a new year to make goals and adopt healthy habits. You can start whenever you’re ready – whether that’s next month, next Monday, or at your next bite.

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Healthy, Sustainable Eating Patterns and the Importance of the Big Picture

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Healthy, Sustainable Eating Patterns and the Importance of the Big Picture

Mickey Rubin, PhD

Nutritious Dietary Patterns

Featured article in the Fall 2018 Issue of Nutrition Close-Up; written by Mickey Rubin, PhD

Increasingly, the conversation among health professionals in nutrition includes not only human health and well-being, but also the intersection of food, nutrition and agriculture.

This intersection is commonly referred to as sustainable nutrition, and it is a way of looking at the contribution of foods and diet patterns in terms of not only health benefits, but economic, social and environmental outcomes as well.

A new study published in the journal Lancet Planet Health aimed to quantify measures of sustainability in recommended diet patterns by assessing their environmental impact.1 The authors examined the environmental impact of the three recommended dietary patterns from the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which includes the Healthy U.S. pattern, the Healthy Mediterranean pattern, and the Healthy Vegetarian pattern that includes eggs and dairy foods – as the DGA states that most self-identified vegetarians consume eggs and dairy.2 This analysis required incorporating results from environmental science research that utilizes life cycle assessments to understand the environmental impact of producing the foods that make up the diet patterns. The researchers examined several environmental categories for each pattern, including greenhouse gas emissions, land use, water use, water eutrophication and air particle pollution.

The results of this study indicate that the Healthy Vegetarian pattern from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans had between 42-84% lower environmental burden than the Healthy U.S. and the Healthy Mediterranean patterns. The researchers report that this was due in part to the use of eggs, as well as plant-based protein sources, in the vegetarian pattern versus other sources of protein that have a comparatively higher environmental footprint.

This study clearly illustrates that the environmental impact of food production is not solely about greenhouse gases. There are a host of other important environmental factors we must understand, such as water use and land use, that contribute to a holistic understanding of the interaction of food, nutrition and the environment. We must evaluate all of these factors if we want to continue making strides to improve efficiencies in our food production system. Consider the environmental footprint of egg production as an example, in which life cycle assessment research has shown that from 1960 to 2010, one kilogram of egg production has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 71% and water use by 32%, all while producing more eggs with fewer hens that are healthier and living longer.3

It is also important to consider factors not included in this study for a comprehensive evaluation. Sustainable diets are about more than just environmental impact. In fact, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations has a broad definition of sustainable diets that is inclusive of not only nutrition and the environment, but also economics and society. These factors are known as the four domains of sustainable diets, and together they underscore that sustainable food patterns must not only be nutritionally adequate, but also economically affordable, socially acceptable, all while sparing of ecosystems and biodiversity.4

Perhaps there is no better example of a contribution to nutritionally adequate and societal aspects of sustainable diets than in a recent randomized controlled trial known as the Lulun Project. Conducted in Cotopaxi Province, Ecuador, the Lulun Project was a randomized controlled trial in which children ages 6 to 9 months received 1 egg per day for 6 months compared to a control with no intervention.5 The results indicated that early introduction of eggs significantly improved growth in young children while reducing prevalence of stunting by 47%. With undernutrition remaining a significant problem in many parts of the world, this study provides evidence that eggs can be a nutrient-rich, affordable and culturally acceptable part of the solution.

As we continue to make strides in understanding the interaction of the nutritional and environmental components of sustainable nutrition we must not lose sight of the societal and economic components of the definition. Foods may be nutrient-rich and with a low environmental burden, but must be affordable, have a positive impact on the community and be culturally acceptable for people to consume them.

  1. Blackstone NT, et al. Linking sustainability to the healthy eating patterns of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans: a modelling study. Lancet Planet Health. 2018 Aug;2(8):e344-e352.

  2. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2015 – 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 8th Edition. December 2015. Accessed September 7, 2018.

  3. Pelletier N, et al. Comparison of the environmental footprint of the egg industry in the United States in 1960 and 2010. Poult Sci. 2014 Feb;93(2):241-55.

  4. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Proceedings of the International Scientific Symposium:

  5. Biodiversity And Sustainable Diets United Against Hunger Accessed September 7, 2018.

  6. Iannotti LL, et al. Eggs in Early Complementary Feeding and Child Growth: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Pediatrics. 2017 Jul;140(1).

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