Lean Protein Spotlight: Turkey

The other day, I roasted a 15-pound turkey, but I was only serving two people. What was I thinking?

Actually it’s a simple answer.

Before Thanksgiving last year, our grocery store offered whole turkeys at $0.37 per pound if you bought $35 worth of groceries. I had to take them up on that deal, which meant that I had two turkeys in the freezer. Recently, I decided to cook one of them for guests, but they cancelled. Since I already had the turkey thawing in the fridge, I cooked it anyway. That’s the easy part: no dressing, no basting, cook until the thickest parts reach 165 degrees F. Results: a lot of food for two people.

Frozen turkeys will keep for a long time if held below zero degrees. They’re usually packed in air- and water-resistant plastic wraps that help prevent loss of quality during freezer storage. The general recommendation for freezer storage is one year, if the food has been frozen that whole time. This is a quality recommendation and not a food safety deadline.

According to the National Turkey Federation, removed bones typically reduce the weight of the turkey by 25% and my turkey was fairly true to that estimate. I weighed the bones after I cooked them down for soup and picked the meat off, and I had 3.3 pounds of “waste” (there was additional fat and moisture I couldn’t weigh) from my 15-pound turkey. We ended up with about 10 pounds of meat at around $0.50 a pound. What a deal!

The usual recommendation is to purchase one pound of turkey (on the bone) for each person served. This is geared for holiday meals with all the trimmings and to save leftovers too. With my February turkey, we had a few meals of roast turkey and then two big pots of soup. We also had lots of leftovers for sandwiches at a much better price, taste, and quality than that expensive processed turkey meat in the deli. Plus, I froze a few packages of cooked turkey for quick meals later. The recommendation for frozen cooked turkey is to eat it within three months.

The US Dietary Guidelines suggest choosing lean or low-fat meat and poultry as your protein source. Turkey is lower in fat and calories than many other foods in the protein group and can be a good choice. According to the USDA Nutrient Database, 3 ounces of whole turkey (meat only) contains 135 calories, 24 grams of protein, and only 3.26 grams of fat.

Even if you can’t get as good a price as I did, roasting your own turkey or turkey parts any time of the year can be an easy job with lots of nutritional benefits.  Why wait until Thanksgiving?

By Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS, Professor Emeritus at The Ohio State University

New Activity Ideas!

I love coming up with new activities that promote a balanced lifestyle and healthful choices! Today I want to share a few activities that make the most of the brand-new Steps of Health floor decals that just made their debut in the Nutrition Education Store.

These decals feature eight different steps that people can take to improve their health, including…

  • Move more
  • Fruit
  • Vegetables
  • Grains
  • Protein
  • Dairy
  • Sleep
  • Limit screen time

Their possible uses are endless, and these brand-new floor decals also come with a handout that details how those eight elements can help improve health. There’s even another handout that highlights some fun activities that are perfect for these materials, and that’s the handout I’d like to share today.

Enjoy!

footprints-web_1024x1024

The Path to Health:

Arrange the feet so that they appear to be a trail across the front of the room, leading from the door into the classroom.

As people enter your classroom, have them walk the trail and note what is on each footprint.

Once everyone has walked the trail and then found a seat, explain that each person can now brainstorm a few ways to implement each element of the path to good health in their own lives.

Have all the participants use a piece of paper and a pen, then divide their page into eight sections, one for each footprint. Let them give each section a title (“Move More,” “Fruit,” “Vegetables,” etc), then allow everyone some time to brainstorm while you re-create the grid of eight footprints on a whiteboard or large piece of paper that you have posted at the front of the room.

Once everyone appears to be done brainstorming on their own, bring the class back together and have people share what they wrote. Write the ideas down on your own board and encourage everyone to add ideas to their own sheets if the new options resonate with them.

Health Fair Decorations:

These decals make excellent decorations for a health fair booth. Consider using these little feet to create a path to your booth from the entrance, or arrange them in an arc around your booth so that people can make a full circuit of what you offer.

These creative materials are sure to help your booth stand out from the crowd at the next wellness fair.

Display the Path to Health:

These stickers don’t have to stay on the floor! Put together a colorful bulletin board and use these feet to join the ideas of good nutrition and regular physical activity.

You can use a grid format à la the “Path to Health” activity, or you can build a path along the center of the board and write out details/illustrate each key point along the sides of each foot.

Here’s a printable handout of these activity ideas. How will you use yours?

stepsofhealthfloordecalsactivityLooking for other fun additions to the Nutrition Education Store? There are lots! Here are a few of my favorites…

Handout Sneak Peek: Vitamin and Mineral Chart

You know what has been flying off the shelves lately?

The Vitamin and Mineral Chart. This poster highlights particular foods that are rich in certain vitamins and minerals. Since most consumers need to eat a more plant-based diet in order to avoid excess saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars while somehow managing to get enough nutrients in the calories allotted, it’s wise to have a few materials that could make that transition easier. This chart has been an eye-catching tool for inspiring and maintaining motivation, along with teaching key nutrient lessons.

As a special bonus, I want to share the printable educational handout that comes with the poster. Normally you could only access this if you had already bought the poster, but today I’m going to make an exception. The Eat Your Nutrients handout features macronutrients and micronutrients alike, highlighting the health benefits of these vital food elements.

Enjoy!

Vitamin A: Prevents eye problems. Necessary for normal vision, immune function, and reproduction.

B-Vitamins: This group includes B-1 Thiamin, B-2 Riboflavin, B-3 Niacin, B-5 Pantothenic Acid, B-6 Pyridoxine, B-7 Biotin, B-9 Folic Acid, and B-12 Choline. Necessary to metabolize carbohydrates, protein, and amino acids. Activates B-6 and folate, which is essential for red blood cell growth and maturity.

Vitamin C: Antioxidant that protects against cell damage; boosts immune systems; forms collagen in the body.

Vitamin D: Aids absorption and usage of calcium and phosphorous ; necessary for growth and calcification of bones and teeth. The best source is the sun.

Vitamin E: Acts as an antioxidant that protects cells against damage.

Vitamin K: Important for blood clotting and bone health.

Calcium: Essential in bone and teeth formation, muscle contraction, absorption of B-12, blood clotting, and growth.

Copper: Necessary for absorption, storage, and metabolism of iron; key to formation of red blood cells.

Iodine: Regulates rate of energy production and body weight. Promotes growth and health of hair, nails, skin, and teeth.

Iron: Hemoglobin and myoglobin formation, oxygen and CO2 transfer, red blood cell formation, and energy release.

Magnesium: Helps heart rhythm, muscle and nerve function, and bone strength.

Phosphorous: Helps cells to function normally. Helps your body produce energy. Key for bone growth.

Potassium: Important in maintaining normal fluid balance; helps control blood pressure; reduces risk of kidney stones.

Selenium: An essential trace element; protects cells from damage; regulates thyroid hormone.

Sodium: Primarily controls the body’s osmotic pressure, hydration, and electrical activities.

Zinc: Supports the body’s immune and nerve function; important in reproduction.

Protein: A necessary major nutrient in the diet, providing amino acids, which are necessary for growth and development.

Carbohydrate: Provides basic source of energy; stored as glycogen in all tissues of the body, especially the liver and muscles.

Fat: Also known as adipose tissue. Serves as an energy reserve.

Fiber: Aids digestion, helps regulate blood sugar and cholesterol.

And here’s a free printable copy of the handout!

Whats In Your Food Handout

Looking for more nutrition education materials? Here are some of the newest resources to hit the store!

Digital MyPlate Poster and MyPlate Food Photo Collection

Sodium Math Handout

Floor Sticker: Make Your Salad a Rainbow

Shopping with MyPlate: A Handout

Balance your cart for a balanced plate!

Shopping with My Plate:

The food you buy has a huge impact on your eating habits. Make sure that the choices you make are healthful and balanced, starting at the grocery store.

What does that mean?

Well, since MyPlate advises you to fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables at each meal, roughly half your cart should be full of fruits and vegetables in the store. Make lean protein choices, and select dairy foods that are low in saturated fat and added sugars. When it comes to grain foods, make sure that at least half of all the grains you’re eating are whole grains. Skip those processed grains whenever you can.

More Shopping Tips!

My Plate advises people to “Compare sodium content for similar foods, using the Nutrition Facts label to select brands lower in sodium.” The next time you’re in the store, grab a couple of different options for an ingredient and compare the sodium content. Choose one of the options with lower numbers.

Watch out for portion size! When you’re in the store, look at the serving size and number of servings in the food that you’d like to buy. Is it realistic? Will a sugary soda bottle really be used for 2 or 3 separate servings, or, despite what it says on the label, is the drink really going to be consumed all at once? Remember, MyPlate wants to help people enjoy food but eat less of it, counseling, “Avoid oversized portions.”

Here’s a printable MyPlate handout that you can use however you see fit!

MyPlate Shopping Handout

And here are even more MyPlate educational materials, fresh from the Nutrition Education Store!

Art of Health MyPlate Poster

Health Hopscotch Floor Sticker and Game

Salt and Sodium Poster

New MyPlate Activity Page

Here’s a brand-new My Plate activity page! This page is a perfect way to communicate the key lessons of MyPlate while keeping things light and fun. It makes an excellent icebreaker or game, and you can also use it as a prize at your next wellness fair booth!

MyPlate Activity Page:

Fill in the Blank!

Focus on choosing healthy foods and drinks from all five food groups including fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods, and _ _ _ _ _. This will help you get all the nutrients you need.

It’s wise to choose foods with less sodium, saturated fat, and added _ _ _ _ _ _.

Try to fill half your plate with fruits and _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ at each meal.

Choose mostly lean _ _ _ _ _ _ _ and dairy foods.

MyPlate Word Scramble:

Unscramble the words below to find key elements of MyPlate.

  1. IENNRSTTU _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
  2. YVTREIA _ _ _ _ _ _ _
  3. OEHLW NAGSIR _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
  4. GEHCANS _ _ _ _ _ _ _
  5. TEALHH _ _ _ _ _ _
  6. ITURF  _ _ _ _ _
  7. AABCELN _ _ _ _ _ _ _

My Plate Maze:

MyPlate Maze

MyPlate Activity Page Answers:

Fill in the Blank:

  • Focus on choosing healthy foods and drinks from all five food groups including fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods, and DAIRY. This will help you get all the nutrients you need.
  • It’s wise to choose foods with less sodium, saturated fat, and added SUGARS.
  • Try to fill half your plate with fruits and VEGETABLES at each meal.
  • Choose mostly lean PROTEIN and dairy foods.

My Plate Word Scramble:

  1. NUTRIENTS
  2. VARIETY
  3. WHOLE GRAINS
  4. CHANGES
  5. HEALTH
  6. FRUIT
  7. BALANCE

MyPlate Maze:

Maze Solution

Here’s the free printable activity page handout! How will you use your copy?

MyPlate Activity Page

And here are some of my favorite MyPlate resources, available now in the Nutrition Education Store!

MyPlate Game Poster

Poster, Handout, PowerPoint

MyPlate Education Kit

MyPlate Plates

Nutrition from A to Z

It’s time for an exclusive look at the handout that accompanies our awesome Nutrition from A to Z poster! How will you use your free copy?

A is for Apples. An apple a day may be a cliche, but cliches exist for a reason. You see, apples are naturally fat-free and are very low in sodium. They are also excellent sources of fiber, antioxidants, and vital nutrients like vitamin C. Try one today!

B is for Balance. MyPlate and the Dietary Guidelines both emphasize the importance of balance in your life. Balance your calorie intake with physical activity, and balance your plate according to MyPlate’s proportion guidelines.

C is for Cooking. When you cook at home, you control exactly what goes into your meals. Cook healthfully with plenty of fruits and vegetables, as well as whole grains, lean protein, and nonfat dairy.

D is for Dairy. MyPlate and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans advise people to choose low- or nonfat dairy when possible. The saturated fat found in dairy products is very bad for your health, especially your heart!

E is for Empty Calories. According to MyPlate, foods with empty calories are foods that contain solid fats and added sugars. They are usually calorie-dense, but these calories are very nutrient-light. Avoid foods with empty calories whenever you can — they just aren’t good for you.

F is for Fruit. MyPlate’s fruit group contains everything from stone fruits to berries to tropical rarities. Follow MyPlate’s advice and fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables at every meal.

G is for Grains. MyPlate advises people to make at least half the grains they eat whole grains, every day. In a rut? Try a new whole grain like amaranth, bulgur, or quinoa!

H is for Healthy Eating Patterns. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans insist that healthy eating patterns should meet nutrient needs at a reasonable calorie level. Stick to nutrient-dense foods whenever you can.

I is for Include Seafood. Did you know that most people should consume at least 8 ounces of cooked seafood per week? That’s what MyPlate suggests. Just remember to keep seafood preparations lean and sidestep breaded or fried options.

J is for Juice. If you do drink juice, be sure to choose options that are 100% fruit or vegetables. Juice is a hiding place for a surprising amount of added sugars. Don’t fall into the trap! Choose 100% juice instead.

K is for Kids. Did you know that kids need at least 60 minutes of exercise every day? The Dietary Guidelines for Americans posts that number as the minimum for most children, so get out there and play!

L is for Lean. When you go to get your servings from the protein food group, stick to lean options. Try beans, peas, white meat poultry, or lean cuts of beef or pork.

M is for MyPlate. Follow the plate! At each meal, half your plate should be filled with fruits and vegetables, with the rest divided equally between protein and grains. Add a bit of dairy too, and remember to keep things balanced!

N is for Nutrients. Most Americans aren’t getting enough nutrients. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, people should replace foods that are made mostly of empty calories with nutrient-dense foods. Nutrients of concern in American diets include calcium, potassium, vitamin D and dietary fiber.

O is for Orange. Oranges are a nutrient powerhouse. They are full of vitamin C, antioxidants, and fiber. Eating oranges may also help lower your blood pressure and cholesterol. Try one today!

P is for Protein. MyPlate’s protein group is filled with meat, nuts, poultry, seeds, seafood, eggs, beans, and peas. Eat a wide variety of lean options daily.

Q is for Quality of Life. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, “Achieving and sustaining appropriate body weight across the lifespan is vital to maintaining good health and quality of life” (2010, page 8).

R is for Reduced Risk. MyPlate claims that eating fruits and vegetables will reduce your risk of heart disease. That’s just one more reason to fill half your plate with fruits and veggies at each meal.

S is for Sodium. Most people are consuming way too much sodium. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans advise people to keep sodium consumption below 2300 mg per day. People who are African American, are over 51, or who have hypertension, diabetes, or kidney disease should all consume less than 1500 mg of sodium per day.

T is for Tomato. Tomatoes are filled with key nutrients to improve your health. They are excellent sources of vitamins A, C, and K, and also contain fiber and several B vitamins.

U is for Unique. Did you know that beans and peas are unique foods? MyPlate counts them as both a vegetable and a protein, so tally them where you need them the most!

V is for Variety. While portion sizes should stay small, it is important to eat a variety of fresh and healthful foods. Don’t fall into the rut of eating the same foods over and over — you could be missing out on nutrients! Look for new and nutritious foods to try each day.

W is for Water. One of MyPlate’s key consumer messages is to replace sugary drinks like soda and sport beverages with water. Water is essential to health, and many people don’t drink enough of it.

X is for eXplanation. Do you want more details about healthful eating and balanced nutrition? Visit www.ChooseMyPlate.gov for more information about MyPlate. Or, drop by www.health.gov/dietaryguidelines for a closer look at the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Y is for Yogurt. Yogurt is a great source of calcium, but make sure that it doesn’t overload you with sugar and fat. Stick to low- or nonfat options, and check sugar content to make sure it isn’t too high.

Z is for Zone. Keep foods out of the danger zone. Food that has been sitting out at 40-140 degrees F for more than 2 hours is no longer safe to eat.

Like what you see? Here’s the free handout! Normally you can only get this when you get the Nutrition from A to Z poster, but we’re making an exception for you today!

Nutrition from A to Z Handout

But wait, there’s more! Check out these great nutrition education posters that will help you look your very best, right now!

Nutrition Poster Set

Whole Grain Poster

12 Lessons of Wellness and Weight Control Posters

4 Breakfast Options for Everyone

Mornings are busy. That’s just how it is. But does that busyness mean that a healthful breakfast is impossible?

It doesn’t.

Yes, it might be impossible to sit down to a multi-course, elaborate breakfast each and every morning, but there are a surprising number of simple, balanced, and healthful breakfasts that can please the whole family. Let’s take a look at some top contenders.

BurritoBreakfast Option #1: Make Breakfast Burritos

Breakfast burritos are infinitely adaptable, easy to travel with, and great vehicles for healthful ingredients. Scramble some eggs or egg whites, add drained and rinsed canned beans and some salsa and you’ve got a great base for endless innovation. Sauté some peppers and onions to roll into the burritos, or bulk them up with cubes of sweet potato. You could also add nonfat plain Greek yogurt for a creamy tang. Plus, with a few basic ingredients, everyone can mix and match, ensuring a breakfast that can please a crowd without having to make at least 3 totally different entrees.

By prepping the ingredients the night before, you can make it even easier to make the burritos for breakfast. Just reheat everything while you scramble the eggs. You could even make and assemble breakfast burritos as a family and then freeze a bunch for later. All you’d need to do is reheat and go!

Here are some great ingredients that you can use in breakfast burritos. Which will you pick?

  • Scrambled eggs or egg whites
  • Scrambled tofu
  • Hot sauce
  • Salsa or pico de gallo
  • Drained and rinsed pinto or black beans
  • Cooked lentils
  • Shredded chicken
  • Sautéed peppers and onions
  • Brown rice
  • Cilantro
  • Tomatoes
  • Cubed sweet potatoes or potatoes

ParfaitBreakfast Option #2: Make Parfaits

You’ll minimize cleanup and maximize options with simple breakfast parfaits. And the best part is, everything is infinitely adaptable. Simply layer some granola, nonfat yogurt, and fruit in a glass and you’re good to go. Plus, you can make these in travel mugs if everyone really needs to get out the door in a hurry.

Here are a few fun combinations…

  • Strawberries, nonfat vanilla yogurt, and granola
  • Oranges, fortified soy yogurt, and oat cereal
  • Raspberries and blueberries, nonfat plain Greek yogurt, and granola
  • Apples, nonfat plain yogurt with cinnamon, and oat cereal

With protein, calcium, and fiber — not to mention vitamins — these parfaits are nutrient powerhouses.

OatmealBreakfast Option #3: Make Oatmeal

Oatmeal doesn’t deserve it’s blah reputation. With a myriad of toppings, it is infinitely adaptable, and quick-cooking varieties come together speedily, which makes them winners for the morning routine.

If you make a big pot of oatmeal, everyone can top it with whatever they wish. Or you can make different types throughout the week.

Since I’m such a big fan of oatmeal, I’ve made quite a few variations. Here are some of my favorite free recipes…

Smoothie1Breakfast Option #4: Smoothies for Everyone

Here’s another option that can be varied infinitely. Try a few different combinations to find out which ones are best for your family. All you need is…

  • Liquid
    • Skim milk
    • Calcium-fortified soy milk
    • Orange juice
    • Water
    • Nut milk
    • Green tea
  • Fruit
    • Strawberries
    • Blueberries
    • Pineapple
    • Mango
    • Cherries
    • Oranges
    • Apples
    • Banana
  • Smoothie2Ice
  • Extras
    • Nonfat plain Greek yogurt
    • Low-fat light vanilla yogurt
    • Peanut butter
    • Cocoa powder
    • Ground flaxseed
    • Cinnamon
    • Oats
    • Silken tofu

You can assemble these in the blender the night before, put the blender in the fridge overnight, then whirr everything together in the morning.

Oh, and for more smoothie inspiration, check out the free smoothie recipe collection.

Whew!

That was a lot of information about breakfast. Which options will your clients love? Which will you try? For a great recipe to help everyone get off on the right foot, try this Sunrise Smoothie, excerpted from our top-selling Home Run Meals Cookbook. The handout is free, it’s here, and it’s yours. Get your copy today!

Sunrise Smoothie Handout

If you like what you see in the handout, consider getting a copy of the Home Run Cooking Book. I wrote this book as the perfect introduction to healthful cooking, and included all of my favorite meals that have been home-runs for family and friends alike. This book walks its readers through grocery shopping, meal planning, proper knife use and safety, food safety, cooking with moist or dry heat, cooking basics, measuring basics, etc. Then it features a wide variety of guaranteed-hit recipes that have been rigorously tested and beautifully photographed, from breakfast to lunch to dinner, and even snacks and dessert! Get your book today!

Home Run Cooking

There are tons of other cooking resources in the Nutrition Education Store. Here are some of our newest bestsellers…

Learn to Cook Workbook

Kitchen Math and Measuring DVD

Portion Control Tearpad

Shopping Presentation

Smart Consumer: Everything You Need to Know About Eggs

I think we’ve all been there. Standing at the egg display in the local grocery store wondering which one to pick…

IMGP9498The options are many. Do you want large eggs or medium? Are some really more nutritious than others? Or what about the low-cholesterol egg substitutes? Choices, choices, choices.

I spoke with representatives from both the American Egg Board and the Ohio Poultry Association, and they helped me answer some of these questions. Together, we sorted through the misinformation, myths, and personal anecdotes about eggs.

Here’s what I learned…

Consumers have many choices when it comes to purchasing eggs. These options can be based on usage, nutrient needs, and personal values. When it comes time to choose what kinds of eggs you want to buy, keep these ideas in mind…

Due to changes in farming and feeding, today’s eggs contain more vitamin D and are lower in cholesterol than before. In 2011, the USDA re-evaluated the nutrients found in eggs. Now they show that one large egg contains 75 calories as well as 41 IU of vitamin D (64% more than in the 2002 data analysis) and 185 milligrams of dietary cholesterol (this is down from the earlier level of 220 milligrams.) Eggs are good sources (a little over 6 grams) of high-quality protein.

In an effort to reduce cholesterol, calories, and fat, some people are using just egg whites. This can be done by separating the whites from the yolks once you crack an egg open. You can also buy an egg substitute. Some egg products come in milk carton-style packages and are just egg whites. Others contain added ingredients that make them look and taste like whole eggs. But think about what you really want from these options. Yes, all of the fat and cholesterol in an egg can be found in the yolk, and of the 75 calories in a large egg, 54 of them come from the yolk. But remember that the yolk is a good source of vitamin D and two carotenoids — lutein and  zeaxanthin. These carotenoids help protect against macular degeneration as we age.

Eggs can come in different colors!Usually, an egg is packaged the day it is laid and is in the store within three days after that. The date the egg is packed is provided on the carton in the “Julian date”. This is a three-digit code for the day of the year. For example February 1 would be 032 and December 31 would be 365.* Sell-by dates or expiration dates are not federally required, but, if listed, they cannot be longer than 45 days after packing. If refrigerated, eggs will keep in the refrigerator for 4-6 weeks after you buy them, which is right about 5 weeks. I go into more detail about this in the post How Old is that Egg?

The size of an egg is determined by the weight per dozen. All sizes of eggs work for scrambling, hard-cooked, or poaching. In fact, I like the medium eggs for these purposes, since they are slightly smaller but just as pretty. If you’re baking, it’s best to go for the large eggs. Most recipes are designed with this size egg in mind.

Now, what about those eggs that claim to be higher in certain nutrients or lower in cholesterol? If a product label indicates a nutrient difference from the standard, then these claims need to be documented through research. Yes, it is possible to slightly alter the nutrients in the eggs through the chicken’s feed. For example: if a chicken is fed food that is high in flax seed, then the resulting eggs can be higher in vitamin D. But, you’re going to pay for a higher price for these eggs due to the higher cost of the feed. Whether you buy eggs with more vitamin D is a personal choice.  The same goes for organic, free-range and cage-free eggs. The USDA nutrient analysis shows that these eggs are all nutritionally the same as traditionally farmed eggs, but the circumstances in which the chickens are kept may vary.

Even though it makes shopping more difficult, I think we’re lucky to have all of these choices. Which eggs will you pick?

By Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS, Professor Emeritus at The Ohio State University

*Except on a leap year, of course!

NEVER-BEFORE-SEEN Materials

NEVER-BEFORE-SEEN Materials

Want to help your clients become smart consumers? Try some of these great new products from the Nutrition Education Store!

Nutrition Poster Value Set

Portion Control Handout Tearpad

Personalizing MyPlate DVD

Thank you for scrolling! Here’s a free egg handout — I hope you enjoy it!

Free Egg Handout

How Old Is That Egg?

If you open up almost any refrigerator, you’re likely to find some eggs. But how old are they?

If you’re like most people, eggs can hang out in your refrigerator for a while. At what point are they unsafe to eat?

Food safety specialists and the folks at the American Egg Board assert that eggs can keep in the refrigerator at below 40 degrees for 4-6 weeks after purchase.

Important DatesSo what does the code on the carton mean?

The code on the carton is a “Julian date” and it’s the date the egg was packed into the carton.

Let’s look at an example. I recently found a package of eggs in my refrigerator that had the code of 281. Checking the “Julian date” calculator on the web, I learned that that the egg was packed on the 281st day of the year — that’s October 8. The use-by date is November 21, which is 45 days after the “Julian date.” That’s right on target at 5 weeks.

Okay, so now that we’ve talked about when eggs are good, let’s review how to keep them in the best shape. I’m talking about storing them — should you put eggs in the door or the carton?

The general consensus these days is to keep eggs in their carton and put the carton in the coldest part of the refrigerator. Skip those little shelves on refrigerator doors. With the door opening and closing throughout the day, the eggs stored in the door are subjected to temperature changes, which can cause quality loss. Storing the eggs in the original carton also helps eggs keep their moisture.

Oddly-Shaped Older EggsBut what if you don’t have the carton? How well can you tell the age of your eggs?

For many years, I believed that the age of an egg could be estimated by the size of the air cell inside. The theory was that an egg evaporates as it ages. Since the shells are porous, moisture and carbon dioxide escape and air enters the shell. This makes the air cell larger, and with more air inside, the egg floats. That’s a good theory… but, it’s not always reliable.*

According to a representative of the American Egg Board, just because an egg floats does not necessarily mean that it’s old. Instead, it may just be that the chicken laid the egg with a large air cell in the first place.

Therefore, you can’t always tell the age of an egg by putting it in a bowl of water.

On the other hand, evaporation is the premise used in the recommendation for using a “slightly older” (7-10 days) egg for hard-cooking. An egg that’s a bit older allows for easier peeling. As the egg ages, it “looses” the egg membrane’s connection to the shell, which in turn makes it easier to peel.

So, to tell the age of an egg, we need to look at what else happens when an egg ages.

When cracked open, an older egg will appear flatter. It will spread out more and the yolk membrane will be weaker and easier to break. These eggs won’t look as good when served sunny-side up, but when the appearance isn’t important, they’ll still work fine.

Older EggAn “older egg” (I’m talking about eggs that are near that 45-day “use by” date) may also not look great for when it comes to hard-cooking eggs because that air cell is more prominent. See the photos here — those are oddly-shaped hard-cooked eggs.

According to the American Egg Board, a properly-handled egg rarely spoils or becomes unsafe if it’s stored properly, no matter how long it is kept.

That said, as an egg ages, it dries out and the quality diminishes. The American Egg Board recommends throwing out eggs after 4-6 weeks.

You’ll know right away if an egg has spoiled because it will have a very unpleasant sulfur stench. Once you open the shell, you will be able to smell it. This is pretty rare, but very memorable.

So there you have it. A guide to the age of eggs.

By Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS, Professor Emeritus at The Ohio State University

*Note: The Egghead Quiz has been changed to reflect this new information.

BRAND-NEW Nutrition Education Materials

BRAND-NEW Nutrition Education Materials

Have you seen the latest and greatest from the Nutrition Education Store? There are over 70 TOTALLY-NEW materials for you to try. For great shopping resources like the post above, try…

Supermarket Shopping DVD

Beverage Better Poster

Healthy Cooking and Shopping Workbook

PLUS there are wonderful new designs in the Displays by Design category. These resources will help you coordinate displays at health fairs or job sites. There are lots of great banners, stickers, posters, handouts, and bulletin board kits in each display, all of which will make your job a snap!

Displays by Design

Cool Beans

Yes, we all know that beans are the musical fruit. But did you also know that they’re magical?

I mean, not magic magical, but beans are an inexpensive, tasty, and nutritious powerhouse! Today I want to introduce you to the joys of beans. And we’ll even talk strategies for making them less musical too.

14% of the U.S. population is eating beans on any given day. Pinto beans are the most popular bean, closely followed by navy, black, Great Northern, and garbanzo beans. These versatile legumes even fit into two distinct MyPlate groups — vegetables and protein. Did you know that beans can be considered a healthful protein food or a fantastic vegetable option? Fit them on your plate wherever they can do the most good.

BEANSSo, why eat beans? In a word: nutrients. They’re full of them! Beans are great sources of…

  • Folate
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Plant protein
  • Polyphenols
  • Potassium
  • Resistant starch
  • Soluble fiber
  • Total fiber
  • Zinc

According to MyPlate, many Americans don’t get nearly enough folate or potassium in their diets. Beans are a great way to correct this issue. Plus, a recent study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has revealed that beans “are among the only plant foods that provide significant amounts of the indispensable amino acid lysine.”

What does this mean for your health? Well, a diet rich in beans can…

  • Reduce your LDL cholesterol levels.
  • Reduce your risk of heart disease.
  • Decrease your risk of diabetes.
  • Help you manage your weight.
  • Improve the health of your colon.
  • Be rich in vital nutrients.

But wait, there’s more! Beans are wonderfully inexpensive and deliciously versatile. Did you know that canned beans cost only 4 cents per ounce, while dried beans average 11 cents per ounce? Just to compare, Angus Beef costs 31 cents per ounce!

Let’s take that bean and beef comparison one step further. What do you notice about the chart below?

Bean and Beef Comparison

A single serving of kidney beans has 20.5 fewer grams of fat, 6.5 more grams of fiber, and 48% fewer calories than lean ground beef! This means that beans are as great a bet for your health as they are for your wallet.

So, how can you make beans a part of your life?

Well, when it comes to canned beans, it’s as easy as draining and rinsing them, then tossing them into your next salad or batch of chili.

Dried beans require a little bit more effort. There are a few tried-and-true approaches, which I’ve outlined below…

  • Overnight: Cover your beans with several inches of water and let them soak in a large pot overnight. Then, when you want to cook them, drain and rinse the beans, cover with a few inches of fresh water and bring the whole shebang to a boil. Let everything boil for a few minutes, then reduce to a simmer and cook for a few hours, until beans are tender.
  • Quick: For a quicker method that skips the overnight soak, bring beans to a boil in a large pot. Boil for 2-3 minutes, then turn off the heat and let them soak for an hour. Bring everything to a boil once more and then simmer for a few hours, until beans are tender.

A good soaking ratio for dried beans is 5 to 1 — 5 parts water to 1 part dried beans. Let’s look at an example. If you have 2 cups of dried beans, soak them in 10 cups of water. The cooking ratio for soaked beans is 1 part broth or water to 1 part beans.

Now the exact cooking time for dried beans varies based on…

  • Age of the beans
  • Altitude
  • Bean variety
  • Water hardness

Chicken Tostada SaladPhew! That was a lot of information about beans. It’s time to get practical. Here are some great (and free!) recipes for canned and cooked beans alike.

Oh and yes, sometimes eating too many beans at once will give you gas. Start introducing beans to your diet gradually in order to reduce your risk of musical side effects. Drink plenty of water while you eat beans and be sure to rinse canned beans well. These steps will further reduce your risk of any digestive discomfort so that you can eat beans without fear.

So what are you waiting for? Get our there and enjoy beans!

Here’s a free handout with a great bean recipe to help you get started…

Bean Recipe Handout

For More Information:

  1. Dry Beans. http://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/crops/vegetables-pulses/dry-beans.aspx#.VDxOWudN3U4
  2. Nutritional and Health Benefits of Dried Beans. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24871476
  3. Beans and Peas are Unique Foods. http://www.choosemyplate.gov/food-groups/vegetables-beans-peas.html
  4. The World’s Healthiest Foods: Black Beans. http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=2
  5. Cost of groceries. Peapod.com

Even More Bean Resources:

Protein Bulletin Board Kit

MyPlate on a Budget Brochure

Mediterranean Meals Poster