Nutrition, recipes, Secret Ingredient

The Secret Ingredient is…Eggs

Fans of J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit may remember the scene in the underground cavern where Gollum challenges Bilbo Baggins to stump him with a riddle.  One riddle he tries describes a golden treasure inside a box with no door.  The answer is an egg:  the golden yolk hides inside the smooth egg shell.  Until recently, eggs were criticized for their high cholesterol content and eating whole eggs was discouraged.  While it’s true they do contain a large portion of the daily recommendation for cholesterol (one large egg contains around 200mg), new research has shown healthy adults can eat an egg a day without increasing their chances of developing heart disease.  This is good news as, despite their humble appearance, eggs are nutritionally speaking…well…incredible.

Just like soy, eggs are an inexpensive source of high quality protein.  One egg contains about 7g of protein, half of which is in the albumen or egg white.  All of an egg’s fat is found in the yolk, along with a number of vitamins and minerals.  Eggs are good sources of B vitamins—specifically B12 and riboflavin (Vitamin B2)—which help the body use fat, protein and carbohydrates for energy.  Riboflavin is also necessary for healthy skin, hair and nails, while B12 is used in creating red blood cells.  Eggs also contain choline, a nutrient that may help improve memory, and are natural source of Vitamin D—essential for healthy teeth and bones (many dairy products have Vitamin D added in).

Phew, there certainly is a lot bundled into that small package.  Know what else is impressive?  One egg is only 75 calories.  Oh, and the idea that the quality or freshness of an egg can be determined by the color of the shell is a myth.  Brown eggs are just as fresh and nutritious as white eggs (and vice versa).  The shell’s color is determined by the breed of chicken that laid the egg:  chickens with brown feathers typically lay eggs with brown shells, while white eggs are laid by chickens with white feathers.

Scrambled, hard boiled or mixed with veggies in an omelet—what’s your favorite egg-based dish?

 Individual Zucchini Frittatas

(Recipe adapted from Gourmet Magazine)

2 tbsp olive oil, divided
3 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and cut into thin 1/8” slices
¼ tsp salt and ¼ tsp black pepper
9 eggs, beaten
½ cup scallions, sliced
2/3 cup parmesan cheese, divided
½ cup sundried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped

Notes: -You will need a muffin tin for this recipe.


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Heat a sauté pan on moderately high heat; add 1½ tbsp olive oil to pan and then add zucchini slices; season with salt and pepper. Cook zucchini, stirring occasionally, until tender (about 5 minutes). Meanwhile, whisk together eggs, scallions, ½ cup parmesan cheese, and sundried tomatoes in a bowl. With remaining ½ tbsp olive oil grease 6 muffin cups of a muffin tin.

When zucchini is finished cooking, add to egg mixture; stir to combine. Pour the mixture into a greased muffin tin and bake about 10-15 minutes; sprinkle remaining parmesan on top of each frittata and broil until cheese is melted and golden, about 1-2 minutes. Run a knife along the edges of the muffin cups to loosen the frittata.

Yield:  6 frittatas


CALORIES: 255 calories
SODIUM: 400 mg
FIBER: 2 g
FAT: 18 g Sat Fat: 5 g

(Post content reviewed by MGH Nutrition Department. Photo credit: Alessandro Paiva)
Heart Health, Nutrition, recipes, Secret Ingredient

The Secret Ingredient Is…Quinoa

Cooking Utensils
Photo Credit: Päivi Rytivaara

Whole grains have gained a lot of attention lately.  They have been shown to promote heart health and are good sources of fiber, vitamins and minerals.  One of the key recommendations of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans updated earlier this year was replacing at least half of our refined grains with whole grains.  Oatmeal, barley, buckwheat and corn are all pretty common; examples of less common whole grains include amaranth and bulgur.  Another whole grain that has been steadily increasing in popularity is quinoa.  

Although considered a grain product, quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is actually a seed native to South America.  While it has been appearing more and more in steadily in American supermarkets recently, quinoa has been grown and harvested for thousands of years—it was once was a staple food for the Incas.  Quinoa is high in protein, with 9 grams in each cup (cooked).  It’s also a complete protein, meaning it has all the essential amino acids the body needs to function but can’t produce on its own (meat, dairy products and soy are also complete proteins).  And, because it doesn’t contain gluten, a protein found in many grain products, quinoa is ideal for someone on a gluten free diet.  

In addition to being high in protein, quinoa is also a good source of iron and folate, and vitamin B2 (riboflavin) which the body uses when converting food into energy.  Quinoa is also a good source of magnesium, a mineral necessary for many of the body’s day to day functions from repairing cells to maintaining a regular heart beat.  

Quinoa is easy to prepare, usually simmered in hot water like rice, and cooks quickly—ready to serve in 12-15 minutes (compare this to 30+ minute cook time for brown rice).  Just remember to rinse your quinoa well before cooking to remove the seeds’ bitter coating. 

Looking to try a new side dish?  Try this quinoa salad recipe recommended by one of our nutritionists: 

 Orange Quinoa Salad
(Recipe adapted from Cooking Light)

1-1/3 cup quinoa, uncooked
2-3/4 cup water
¼ cup orange juice
2 tbsp olive oil
1-1/2 tbsp reduced fat (2%) buttermilk
2 tsp honey
½ tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
1 cup scallions, sliced
1 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
3 tbsp pumpkin seeds (or pepitas)

Place uncooked quinoa in a large skillet and cook 4 minutes on medium heat, stirring frequently. Next, place quinoa in a sieve and rinse under cold water. Repeat rinsing procedure a second time (this removes quinoa’s natural bitter coating). Combine quinoa and 2-3/4 cups of water together in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Once the quinoa boils, cover and reduce heat; cook for about 20 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed. Meanwhile, whisk orange juice, olive oil, buttermilk, honey, salt and pepper together in a bowl and set aside. When quinoa is cooked through, remove from heat and let cool. Toss quinoa with orange juice mixture, scallions, cranberries, parsley and pumpkin seeds and serve room temperature.

Yield: (10 servings; 1/2 cup each)

CALORIES: 185 calories
SODIUM: 155 g
Iron: 2 g
FIBER: 3 g
FAT: 6 g Sat Fat: 1.0 g

(Post content reviewed by MGH Nutrition Department)