Eggs provide us with a lot of protein and is low in calories, so it's a great choice when eating eggs as a protein in your meal or as an added protein source. You'll notice at the grocery store that there are a lot of different egg labels and gradings. What do they mean? Today, I'll discuss egg grades. In the future, I'll go over other labels like what cage-free and omega-3 eggs mean.
When shopping for eggs, you'll see cartons labelled with Grade AA and Grade A. Egg grading gives us an idea of the egg's quality to help us make the best decision for the kind of eggs we need. Grading of exterior/interior egg quality and for size and weight is voluntary and completed by the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture). If companies want their eggs graded, they will pay the USDA to grade for them. Once graded, you'll see the grade integrated into a USDA shield symbol. IF companies do not pay for this service, eggs will be monitored for quality by the state and will just be labeled as "Grade A."
Grade AA are the highest quality of eggs and the freshest ones you'll find in a grocery store. The yolk is firm, centered, and has a height, and the egg whites will be thick and won't spread too far from the yolk. Presentation-wise, Grade AA eggs are ideal for eggs needed for presentation such as sunny-side up eggs, eggs benedict, or making boiled eggs with perfectly centered egg yolks when cut in half. Per USDA, getting a carton of Grade AA eggs must contain at least 87% Grade AA eggs, meaning egg packers are allowed to fill 13% of the carton with Grades A or B eggs. So in a carton of a 12 Grade AA eggs, 1 or 2 eggs may be of a lower grade. In terms of appearance, shells of Grade AA eggs should be spotless, no blood spots, and free of dirt.
Grade A eggs are similar to Grade AA based on the exterior shell, but it's not as fresh, so the egg whites and yolks will be thinner, more watery, and will spread more. Grade A eggs will be a better option when preparing or using eggs for dishes where the appearance does not matter. It's good for baking and scrambling.
Grade B eggs are not sold in grocery stores, although they may be in some of your egg cartons since 13% of the eggs are allowed to be of a lesser grade and quality. They are the least fresh, may have defects on the shell (stains, spots, etc), the egg shape may be abnormal, the yolk and whites are watery and spreads out greatly, and are sold primarily to mass producers who need liquid and dried eggs.
Selecting Egg Grades
Now that you know the differences between the grades, think about what you are using your eggs for. If you're just cooking for yourself, making scrambled eggs, or needing eggs for baking, Grade A would be a great choice. If presentation matters in your cooking like if you're using it for food photography or making sunny-side up eggs or eggs benedict, go for Grade AA.
Making a green smoothie is an easy way to get fruits and vegetables into your body. If you want to learn about the power of greens, see my previous blog by clicking here. It's a quick fix when you're on the go, when you want something nutritious to drink on your way to work, when caring for yourself or others while they're sick, or when you just want to get rid of leftover greens and fruits.
Smoothie's Basic Ingredients
A typical green smoothie will contain the following ingredients for one smoothie serving:
It takes a few tries to find a smoothie you really love since everyone's taste buds are a bit different. So don't get discouraged! Here are some tips while you're experimenting to find a smoothie that matches you.
Beginner's Green Smoothie Recipe
If you're apprehensive about making/trying a green smoothie or just need a recipe to get started, here's a recipe from the Minimalist Baker I use often. You can definitely make it your own by using any alternatives you already have in your kitchen or leave out ingredients you absolutely dislike.
Nutrition Education: When Smoothies are Needed for Nourishment
Smoothies provide a quick and easy way to nourish our bodies. They're especially useful in the life cycle and for specific circumstances.
Jane the Dietitian
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Happy National Nutrition Month! It's an exciting month (especially for dietitians) since it's an opportunity to highlight the wonderful effects food has on our bodies. On that note, I want to focus on greens today such as spinach, kale, and chard.
Greens add a mean punch to your meal. Its dark, green color provides specific nutrients to your body. It gives us fiber to aid our digestive health, it's high in vitamin A which helps enhance your night vision, and contains cancer-fighting phytochemicals. Dark green leafy vegetables are also linked to slowing cognitive decline as you age.
Greens are easy and affordable to add to your daily meals. You can add them raw to salads, sandwiches, and wraps, throw them into your soup, add them to your morning smoothies, mix it in with your omelets or scrambled eggs, and it can be easily sautéed in a pan which makes a great veggie side dish. If you're on a time crunch or want to eliminate prep work, you can purchase pre-washed, pre-packaged greens at the grocery store.
How to Sauté Greens
I will be showing you how to sauté your greens today! In my video, I use spinach, but you can apply this method to other greens like kale and chard.
See the video below for a demo.
So you're finally headed home. If you're anything like me, you're hungry and you want to have a nice dinner with little to no prepping, especially after a long day at work. A quick fix would be grabbing fast food or going out to a restaurant for a meal. But how often have you done that lately? What if I told you a quick grocery store haul and a 5-minute prep is all you need for tonight's dinner. AND there will be plenty of leftovers to give you dinner for the next few nights? Let's talk tacos.
Tacos are so versatile since you can pretty much put whatever you want in them. It's also a great way to clean out your fridge if you have leftover veggies and protein. Everyone seems to love tacos nowadays, but I honestly don't think they love tacos like us Texans love tacos.
Grocery Haul - GAME PLAN
Depending on how flexible your work schedule is, going to the grocery store during your lunch break or between 4:00-4:45pm would be most ideal since there will be less people at the store so you can get through the grocery line quicker. The plan is to purchase as much pre-made/pre-washed items as possible to save yourself time from prepping. IF you get off work at 5:00pm or later, here's your game plan:
Once you've survived the hustle and bustle of the grocery store and made it home safely, it's assembly time!
I wouldn't be a dietitian if I didn't get into the nutrient content of what you're eating, right? Let's talk about tortillas today.
There's a reason I suggested corn tortillas over flour tortillas. To keep it consistent, I compared only Mission brand tortillas. Here's a quick table:
Corn tortillas are amazingly low in sodium which is not the case with its flour counterpart. Getting pre-made foods at the grocery store is convenient, but sodium will most likely be high for those products. Using corn tortillas will help balance your sodium consumption during dinner.
Why is sodium a concern? Americans consume an average of 3,400 milligrams (mg) of sodium per day, but the daily recommendation of sodium is 2,300 mg which is equivalent to 1 teaspoon of salt. If you have high blood pressure (hypertension), it is recommended to keep sodium under 1,500 mg per day. Keeping sodium in check in your diet can help maintain your heart health and keep blood pressure in check.
With the corn tortilla's additional benefits of lower calories, fat, and carbohydrates, you're free to load on heart-healthy fats from the avocado in the guacamole, enjoy the antioxidant power of lycopene found in the salsa's tomatoes, and feel fullness from the chicken. If you added corn or black beans to them, you're getting some good fiber in which will help with your digestion and promote a healthy gut!
Jane the Dietitian
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My husband and I have been together for almost 8 years now. Overtime, we've become one (sounds cheesy, I know). And as one, we can definitively say we love chicken wings. Like really love chicken wings. In our younger years before cooking and adulting, we heated up precooked, frozen wings. We then evolved to baking them from scratch in the oven. Now we air-fry them since it gives us crispy wings without added oils!
I'm not going to preach what you shouldn't eat at the Super Bowl gathering but just suggest what you can add to your plate or bowl to give your body some extra TLC. Two ways to give your body love at a Super Bowl party is to mix in buffalo cauliflower "wings" with regular wings and provide black bean dip for your chips.
Cauliflower is a rich source of potassium which helps regulate your blood pressure. So while you're eating hot dogs, nachos, and pizza, your salt consumption will increase quickly. Adding foods like cauliflower "wings" introduces potassium which helps counterbalance your sodium intake. It's also a good source of insoluble fiber. So while you're jumping up and down to cheer on your favorite team tomorrow, the fiber will be working hard to move your food through your digestive tract.
Black beans are a legume high in soluble fiber which makes a good balance to any cholesterol-rich foods like cheeseburgers and deviled eggs. The fiber will bind to the cholesterol and reduce the amount of cholesterol floating in your bloodstream. Wonderful!
If making cauliflower wings and black bean dip is too much of a hassle or you're wanting more nutrition power on game day, give that lonely veggie plate some attention. Celery, carrots, and broccoli are all natural sources of potassium and fiber. Your body will thank you!
Happy Game Day!
Jane the Dietitian
If you enjoyed this post, please follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Want to talk to me? Email me at email@example.com.
Jane Pelcher, RDN
I am a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist focused on helping everyone love nutrition through cooking! My blogs provide new home cooks with basic cooking skills and grocery shopping tips. Most importantly, I strive to teach the nutrition behind the foods you cook to help you understand how specific foods can better your health and prevent chronic diseases. I hope you embark on this journey with me!