Nutrition Unscrambled

Celebrate Memorial Day With Eggs!

By Marcia Greenblum, MS, RD
May 25th, 2011

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


I’m a registered dietitian, director at a supermarket chain and mom to a high-energy 16-month old. So, I understand the challenges some moms face while trying eat well despite their hectic lifestyle. Most of us have good intentions. We want to make healthy, delicious meals for our families–but, some days, our busy lives get in the way.

One thing I remind myself to do is allow ample time to re-charge and enjoy life along the way. Memorial Day is just around the corner and I’m looking forward to the long holiday weekend. I plan to take full advantage of the extra time and the chance to kick back and relax. At some point over the weekend, I’m going to cook, but I want to keep it simple. I plan to make this quick and easy appetizer. It’s one of my favorite recipes to take to a party or serve when I’m hosting. You can literally mix everything in a single bowl and dump it into the pan to bake!

I feel great about serving this for three reasons. One: it’s DELICIOUS and I always get requests for the recipe. Two: it contains spinach—a superfood packed with lutein and beta carotene for eye health, antioxidant vitamins C and E, iron and B vitamins like folic acid, thiamine, riboflavin and B6. Three: it contains eggs as a source of perfect protein and 13 essential nutrients. You may also be surprised to learn eggs are 14 percent lower in cholesterol than once thought.

Give these Cheesy Spinach Squares a try and enjoy your holiday!

Cheesy Spinach Squares
Prep time: 10 minutes   Cook Time:  45 minutes    Makes: 20 squares
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed to remove excess liquid
3 large eggs
1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
1 (4-ounce) can sliced mushrooms, drained
1 cup skim milk
1 (16-ounce) package 2% sharp cheddar cheese shreds
½  tsp salt
1 cup flour
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp baking soda
nonstick cooking spray
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a  9” x  13” glass baking dish by spraying all sides lightly with cooking spray. In a large mixing bowl, add spinach, eggs, onion, mushrooms, milk and cheese. Stir.  Sprinkle in salt, flour, onion powder, baking soda and stir until combined thoroughly.  Pour mixture into prepared baking dish and spread evenly. Bake for 45 minutes or until top is golden brown. Slice into squares and serve warm or at room temperature. Within 2 hours, store any leftover squares in the refrigerator for 1-2 days. Squares re-heat easily in the microwave.

Karen Buch RD, LDN

IFIC’s 2011 Food & Health Survey

By Mitch Kanter, Ph.D.
May 23rd, 2011

The International Food Information Council (IFIC) 2011 Food and Health Survey was recently published. The survey is produced yearly, and it contains a wealth of information on the buying habits and attitudes of consumers toward food, health, and food safety. This year’s survey was conducted during March and April 2011, involving 1000 consumer responses.

 Of particular interest was the participants’ response to the importance of cost when making food purchasing decisions. Seventy nine percent of those queried said that the cost of food greatly impacts their buying decisions. This represented a 15% increase over the response to the same question in 2006. Issues such as taste, convenience, and healthfulness still greatly impact buying decisions, but it was the large jump in the cost of food as a deciding factor in purchasing decisions that caught my eye.

 Undoubtedly the economy has had a huge impact on shopping habits, as this response clearly points out. 

In these trying times, the search for good tasting, healthy, and affordable foods becomes an even bigger and more important challenge. At only $0.14 per egg, with 7 grams of high quality protein and only 70 kcals, the egg is a great staple food to consider for any meal occasion.

Crab & Asparagus Frittata

By Marcia Greenblum, MS, RD
May 19th, 2011

This week as the weather on the east coast gets warmer and school lets out, it’s time for coming out from our shelters and reuniting with the people who you share either a street address, an end of the year school celebration or just catching up with friends. I plan to join some neighbors this weekend at their open house/barbeque and have been asked to bring something to share.

 Usually I bring some vegetable dish because they are generally in short supply when the focus at the barbeque is the much loved hot dog/hamburger. However, this year I’m thinking it may be more appreciated if I brought some alternative to the high fat meats. Although we always think of eggs as a breakfast food too often accompanied by high fat sausage or bacon, I think an attractive frittata Crab & Asparagus Frittata  that can be cut into wedges makes the perfect food to compliment the usual potato salads and beans that are ubiquitous at outdoor barbeques.

 This is a great time of year to capitalize on the availability of asparagus, loaded with fiber and vitamin C to balance the 13 other vitamins and minerals in the eggs.

 My favorite recipe is a crab and asparagus frittata which makes an attractive dish, incorporates a Maryland favorite- crab which is a low calorie, low fat, tasty source of protein. This recipe adds a vegetable such as red pepper and green onions, rich in vitamin A and C, for a delicious and nutrient dense alternative to the plain old hot dog/hamburger fare that others will be eating.  At 224 calories per serving, I’m happy to offer this to my neighbors as a healthier change of pace to the usual barbeque fare.

Lutein, Zeaxanthin and Eye Health

By Mitch Kanter, Ph.D.
May 16th, 2011

 A recent article in the Miami Herald on the health benefits of lutein and zeaxanthin caught my eye (pun intended). Lutein and zeaxanthin are carotenoids that can impact, among other things, visual health by decreasing the risk of macular degeneration, an age-related eye condition. The article points out that green leafy vegetables, including spinach, kale, mustard greens, and broccoli, as well as eggs and oily fish are good sources of these nutrients. What the article fails to point out, however, is that a good amount of research exists indicating that the lutein and zeaxanthin in eggs are more bioavailable than they are when they come from plant sources. This is probably due to the lipid matrix of the egg yolk, which facilitates absorption of the fat soluble carotenoids.  And nutrient bioavailability is an important consideration for human health. It doesn’t much matter if a food is high in a given nutrient if that nutrient is inaccessible to the body upon consumption.

The amount of lutein and zeathanthin in eggs is variable, and is largely dependent on the feed that the hen consumes. Some egg producers fortify the hens’ diet with marigold extract (an excellent source of these carotenoids) or purified lutein in an effort to raise the content of these vitamins in eggs. As a consumer you can get a rough idea of the lutein content of an egg by observing the color of the egg yolk. Lutein imparts an orange-yellow color to the yolk. Yolks from hens not supplemented with additional carotenoids tend to have a more yellow color.  

For more information on lutein and zeaxanthin and their impact on eye health, the articles below are recommended. With an aging population comes a rise in age-related health conditions such as macular degeneration.  So you’re likely to hear more and more about these carotenoids in the future.

-          Vishwanathan R, Goodrow-Kotyla EF, Wooten BR, Wilson TA, Nicolosi RJ. Consumption of 2 and 4 egg yolks/d for 5 wk increases macular pigment concentrations in older adults with low macular pigment taking cholesterol-lowering statins. Am J Clin Nutr 2009;90:1272-9.

-          Moeller SM, Jacques PF, Blumberg JB. The potential role of dietary xanthophylls in cataract and age-related macular degeneration. J Am Coll Nutr 2000;19:522S-527S.

D.C. Area Dietetic Association Meeting

By Marcia Greenblum, MS, RD
May 13th, 2011

Just when you feel you’ve been to enough meetings one last meeting makes it all worthwhile. Last weekend I attended the DCMADA (DC Metro Area Dietetic Association) 2011 annual meeting held in Bethesda, Maryland. The obvious benefit of networking with colleagues and visiting sponsor’s table top presentations needs no further discussion. However, the opportunities for learning from an impressive lineup of speakers may not be so obvious.

Despite the fact that I am not currently employed in a clinical setting I found the presentation from Leigh-Anne Wooten about her experiences getting order writing privileges for dietitians at Georgetown University Hospital gave me a picture of how the appreciation for RD professionalism has increased and how strong willed characters can move mountains when they believe in their cause.

On a very different note, Dr. Patsy Brannon from Cornell University who served on the IOM committee to determine a DRI for vitamin D gave a riveting discussion about the research that was considered in making the new vitamin recommendations that were released this past fall. Dr. Brannon explained the obstacles for establishing appropriate level of intake for vitamin D which are unique to this hormone because it is endogenously produced, yet conditionally dependent on varying levels of sun exposure. She presented a slide which got my attention when she pointed out that an egg is one of the few natural sources of vitamin D.

Unfortunately, she did not have the most recent nutrient data for eggs which found a large egg provides 41IU of vitamin D making a good source. I did speak with her after her presentation and promised to share this USDA data with her.

Later in the day, there was a very interesting presentation from Ellen Karlin, a registered dietitian who counsels patients with allergies in her practice at the Comprehensive Asthma and Allergy Center in Owings Mills, MD. She offered insights into how difficult it is for patients who cannot control or get accurate information about the ingredients in foods in their environments. She did discuss the latest recommendations about allergies, which suggests that no food should be avoided after weaning at 4-6 months unless there is documented evidence of allergic reaction. This contradicts the old wisdom which in the case of eggs were not generally considered safe to include in an infant’s diet until 1-2yrs.

I also learned a lot from speakers who participated in panel discussions about Nutrition and Food Policy as well as communication differences between generations in the workplace. I’m very glad I took the opportunity to spend my Saturday learning from others in my profession who practice so differently than where I’m currently employed.

Eat like an RD

By Marcia Greenblum, MS, RD
May 9th, 2011

Today I’m going to let you in on a secret about my personal nutrition philosophy and my personal program to stay healthy. It hasn’t changed radically over the many years that my interest in nutrition intensified.  As a child my mother would explain to me that every sore throat or cold I suffered was due to my not eating correctly. I was brought up thinking it was my responsibility to eat a healthy diet or suffer the consequences. We didn’t eat many sweets because we ate satisfying meals. Quantities were not limited but, no one requested seconds or ate snacks all day long, you ate only at mealtimes and enjoyed both the food and the company. My family always returned to the table after dinner dishes were washed to have tea. A strange practice for non-British New Yorkers, but one that I think is worth keeping. I still can’t sleep well without a cup of tea.

This is not to say that I did not eat processed foods or have my share of ice cream like the rest of the neighborhood. What I did do which I have tried to do with my own family is to consider food in relation to health and balance it with enjoyment. I learned to prepare foods that I thought were healthy in a way that my family and I would enjoy them. As I learned more about nutrition, I realized how much is still unknown about the effect food has on individual health and I became more accepting of other’s dietary patterns. Throughout the years I participated in many food fads including every weight loss diet that was popular and went from a high carbohydrate focused diet pattern to a high protein diet pattern always including as many vegetables and fruits as possible. I avoid fried foods and sweets with a focus on protein and vegetables whenever there’s a choice. I eat eggs, walnuts and almonds to keep from feeling hungry and plan ahead so I’m never stuck eating from vending machines or fast food outlets where my choices are limited. I also try to get some exercise in everyday if possible including walking or lifting weights. Somehow this has worked for me since I’m still the same size I was in college and I feel good most of the time.

Eight Ideas for Making Family Mealtime a Success

By Marcia Greenblum, MS, RD
May 4th, 2011

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


It’s after 6 pm; you just walked in and have a hungry family to feed. Many American families solve the nightly dinner dilemma by grabbing drive-through, eating pizza or fending for themselves before splitting up to spend the evening doing homework, answering e-mails, or watching television. Most families recognize the family meal to be important they just need some help making it work. I have found preplanning and keeping the refrigerator or freezer stocked with ready- to cook food is one important strategy.

 The importance of the family meal is not a new idea.  A 2000 White House Report by the Council of Economic Advisors, found that children who eat with an adult five times in a week are less likely to be involved in high risk behaviors such as smoking, taking drugs and using alcohol.

 Food historian Margaret Visser considers eating together to be so important she writes in her book The Rituals of Dinner: the Origins, Evolution, Eccentricities and Meaning of Table Manners that one definition of family is “those who eat together.”

 Keep in mind perfection is not the goal -the real goal is spending time together and reconnecting. It won’t be a surprise to any of us to hear time constraints, and “picky eaters” are common obstacles to the family meal. To make family meals happen turn off the television, cell phones and computers. Reducing screen time and eating family meals has a secondary benefit of reducing the risk of obesity

 Here are some meal planning ideas I suggest for busy families:

  • Preplan meals and cook on the weekend so you have a ready-to-heat meal during the week.
  • Buy something pre-made a rotisserie chicken for example then balance the meal with a side dish, and a salad.
  • You can do the same with fast food too,  buy a sandwich or burger on the way  home and serve it with a fruit plate and cooked frozen or fresh vegetables.
  • Keep ingredients for “emergency meals” on hand, have eggs for a quick omelet, frozen meat, poultry, or fish and an assortment of vegetables canned, fresh or frozen.
  • To keep the meal balanced always serve a fruit or vegetable or both with every menu.
  • Involve the whole family in meal planning, ask children to grade vegetables, A-F, to determine those they like.
  • For the picky eaters always serve something you know they will eat that might be bread and butter or pasta and cheese. If you know the vegetable won’t be popular put out a bunch of grapes or a bowl of sliced fruit.
  • For ideas on incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your menu visit the For the Love of Food Project at
  • If dinner doesn’t work try breakfast as the family meal. To make breakfast successful preplan the night before, have the ingredients for scrambled eggs and toast ready to go and serve with a fruit salad, a sliced grapefruit or frozen fruit defrosted in the refrigerator overnight or try the recipe for my family’s favorite called Blueberry Puff below

 Once dinner is on the table sit down, and ignore the dishes or laundry until after the meal. Mealtime presents a good way to catch up, but sometimes that’s easier said then done. To find out how the day went ask everyone to list their high and low points as a conversation starter. To keep meals pleasant don’t focus on who is eating what, focus on basic manners and good behavior. Then enjoy your meal and your family.

 Blueberry Puff

I prepare this when I want a hot breakfast but don’t have time to flip pancakes or tend eggs. If extra servings are needed, don’t double the recipe, make two separate batches instead.

 Makes 2 servings

 1 tablespoon butter or olive oil

2 large eggs

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

 Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place the butter or oil  in a 1-quart baking dish and put it in the hot oven  for 1 to 2 minutes, until the butter melts and the dish is hot. Remove the hot dish from the oven and swirl the butter or oil so that it evenly coats the bottom of the sides of the dish.

 In a medium bowl, combine the eggs, milk, and flour and beat well, using a wire whisk or a fork, Pour the batter into the warm dish and scatter the fruit over the top.

 Bake for 20 minutes, or until puffy and golden brown around the edges. Serve immediately with maple syrup.

 Nutrients per serving using butter: 287 calories, 12.4 g fat, 6.0 g saturated fat, cholesterol 206 mg,137 mg sodium, 32.3 g carbohydrate, 1.7 g fiber.

Refueling After Exercise

By Mitch Kanter, Ph.D.
May 2nd, 2011

In a recent blog post, I mentioned the growing acknowledgement of the importance of protein for physical performance. Much research published in recent years suggests that protein, long downplayed as a key nutrient for better performance, may play a larger role than previously thought.

 But what about post-exercise? What should an active person consume after a hard workout to re-load and replenish, to minimize tissue damage, and to restore energy stores for the next workout? Once again, newer research is pointing to protein (as a part of a carbohydrate/protein blend of nutrients) as a key to recovery.  Much of the research performed in the 1970s through the 1990s pointed to carbohydrate as the principle nutrient for exercise recovery, and I don’t mean to minimize the benefits of carbs for active folks. However, many studies now indicate that a mixture of carbs and proteins (some say a 3:1 mixture of carb:protein is best, though the exact ratio is still open to debate) can more quickly convert an individual from the catabolic (or tissue breakdown) state that occurs during exercise to an anabolic (or tissue build-up and repair) state that is preferred during exercise recovery.  High protein shakes and products of that nature are preferred by many athletes after a hard workout. They are convenient and they will provide carbs and protein. But one shouldn’t forget “real” food either. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, chocolate milk and hard-cooked eggs are starting to gain favor with athletes as well. Products like these taste great, they’re familiar to most folks, and they deliver additional micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) that can aid in tissue recovery.

Some food for thought whether you’re a seasoned athlete or a new exerciser seeking to make fitness gains while minimizing risk of injury and overuse.



Nutrition Unscrambled  is written by nutrition experts with the Egg Nutrition Center, which is funded by the American Egg Board. It is monitored and maintained by the public relations agency of record. The mission of the Egg Nutrition Center is to be a credible source of nutrition and health science information and the acknowledged leader in research and education related to eggs. For more information, click here.

About the Bloggers

Mitch Kanter, Ph.D. is the Executive Director of the Egg Nutrition Center. For more information about
Mitch, click here.
Marcia Greenblum, MS, RD is the Senior Director, Nutrition Education at the Egg Nutrition Center. For more information about Marcia, click here.
Anna Shlachter, MS, RD, LDN is the Program Manager, Nutrition Research and Communications at the Egg Nutrition Center. For more information about Anna, click here.

Upcoming ENC Activities


All information provided within this blog is for informational and educational purposes only and it is not to be construed as medical advice or instruction. Please consult your physician or a qualified health professional on any matters regarding your health or before making changes to your diet or health behaviors.