(Family Features) Eggs are for everyone, including babies and toddlers, according to the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee that released its Scientific Report outlining nutritional recommendations for Americans. For the first time, this committee, comprised of leading doctors and nutrition scientists, included nutritional guidance for younger children.
The committee recommends eggs as a first food for babies and toddlers since they provide eight essential nutrients that can help build a healthy foundation for life at a time when every bite counts.
Eggs provide nutrition for children and moms-to-be, as well. However, the report found most pregnant women and kids need more choline – an essential nutrient critical for brain health – in their diets.
According to research published in the “Journal of the American College of Nutrition,” 92% of pregnant women do not get enough choline in their diets. Choosing foods high in choline, like eggs, can help pregnant women consume enough of this essential nutrient, helping a baby’s brain and spinal cord develop properly. Just two eggs provide more than half of the recommended daily amount of choline.
At only 70 calories, one egg contains 6 grams of high-quality protein and all nine essential amino acids. Eggs are also a source of vitamin B12, biotin (B7), iodine, selenium, high-quality protein, riboflavin (B2) and pantothenic acid (B5). Additionally, eggs contain lutein and zeaxanthin that can help protect your eyes from harmful blue light that comes from electronic devices.
Lots of parents worry about possible food allergies in their little ones. The committee recommends introducing eggs when your baby is ready for first foods, which may help reduce the chances of developing an egg allergy.
In Your Kitchen
Eggs are a nutritional powerhouse that contribute to health and well-being at every age, and there are plenty of ways to enjoy eggs beyond the basic boiled, scrambled or sunny-side-up. In fact, eggs work well in meals all day long. Toss hard-boiled eggs in a salad, top a sweet potato with an egg for lunch or try a spinach and mushroom frittata for dinner.
Baby-friendly Savory Egg Veggie Pancakes pack in nutrients from whatever vegetables you have on hand and offer a savory twist on classic pancakes. You can add extra toppings like avocado or Greek yogurt for a variety of new textures and flavors.
Another simple way to introduce eggs as a first food is a soft and fluffy egg casserole. You can also incorporate veggies for some added nutrition, since eggs can help you better absorb the nutrients found in vegetables, such as vitamin E and carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin.
You can adapt a Veggie Egg Casserole to your child's development and motor skills by cutting small squares or making a simple mash.
Find more kid-friendly recipes and advice about introducing eggs to your youngest family members at EggNutritionCenter.org.
Veggie Egg Casserole
Recipe developed by Stacey Mattinson, RD
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 1/2 sweet onion
- 1 red, yellow or orange bell pepper
- 1 head broccoli florets
- 2 teaspoons canola, avocado or olive oil
- 1 dozen eggs
- 2 cups low-fat cottage cheese
- 1 cup shredded cheese
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 tablespoon flour
- salt, to taste
- pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease 9-by-13-inch pan with nonstick cooking spray.
- Chop onion and bell pepper to age-appropriate sizes. Pick apart broccoli florets into small pieces and remove most of stems.
- Heat medium-sized frying pan over medium heat. Add oil and swirl around pan. Add onions and cook 3-4 minutes until they start to soften. Add broccoli and bell pepper. Mix with onions and add salt and pepper, to taste. Cook 1-2 minutes then cover with lid to steam another 2-3 minutes until broccoli is bright green. Remove veggies from stovetop.
- In large mixing bowl, beat eggs. Add cottage cheese, shredded cheese, baking powder and flour. Add veggies and salt and pepper, to taste. Transfer to prepared pan and bake 40 minutes.
Savory Egg Veggie Pancakes
Recipe developed by Min Kwon, RD
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
- 1/2 teaspoon oil or butter
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon milk or breastmilk
- 3 tablespoons cooked or raw vegetables, chopped or grated
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 1 teaspoon ground flaxseeds
- 1/4 teaspoon herbs or spices, such as cinnamon, curry powder, cumin, oregano, turmeric, etc.
- In 6-inch nonstick pan, heat butter or oil over medium-low heat, tilting pan to coat bottom.
- In bowl, beat egg and milk until blended. Add vegetables, flour, flaxseeds and herbs; stir to combine. Pour mixture into heated pan, spread evenly (don’t stir) and cook batter 1 minute, or until bottom starts to set.
- Flip and cook other side until lightly browned. Remove from pan. Once cooled, slice into desired shapes and serve.
Source: American Egg Board
(Family Features) With a lot of parents facing the challenge of keeping housebound kids happy and healthy, this is the perfect time to teach kids the basics of nutrition and eating right.
Consider these simple suggestions from Melanie Marcus, MA, RD, health and nutrition communications manager for Dole Food Company.
- Healthy Snack Time Taste Tests – Sometimes it feels like kids can snack all day long on easy-to-grab crackers, chips or cookies. Next time they reach into the snack pantry, try incorporating a taste test or food critic activity to encourage something different and more nutritious.
- Purposeful Playtime – Many households have a play kitchen or some kind of play food. Use this as an opportunity to act out how to create a healthy kitchen with activities like making salad, setting the table, peeling bananas and washing dishes. This can help young children become more independent, learn what to expect and grow into little helpers at family mealtime.
- Sensory Activity – One idea that can work for school and at home is making a sensory box. Simply place a fruit or two inside a tissue box and have children put their hands inside then try to guess which fruit it is by feeling it.
- Recipes for Fun – If you’re preparing a meal, it could be a good time to teach children of reading age how to review a recipe. Evaluating ingredients to learn how food transforms from raw to cooked or how a dish is created can help kids learn kitchen skills. For example, try this fun, fruity recipe for Kids with Almond Toast.
- Food Groups Focus – Get kids involved in making dinner by setting a rule that each food group must be represented. Give them a warmup activity by asking which food groups are found in family favorites like chicken soup, lasagna or meatloaf. Asking kids to guess which ingredients are used in these dishes and identifying which food group each ingredient belongs to can help them understand dietary balance. Find more at-home tips in the free, downloadable Healthy Eating Toolkit from the nonprofit organization Action for Healthy Kids.
- Reading Time – From food labels to children’s books to cookbooks, there are plenty of reading materials to choose from that reinforce healthy eating habits. Exposing children to fruits and vegetables outside the kitchen is a subtle way to show that nutritious ingredients are part of everyday life.
- Explain the Bathroom Routine – Make sure to wash hands and explain that this is a way of washing away germs to stay healthy. Also explain why brushing teeth is important by reminding children that food can get stuck in teeth and cause cavities.
“Kids” with Almond Toast
Total time: 10 minutes
- 4 slices whole-grain bread
- 6 tablespoons unsalted almond butter
- 2 teaspoons honey (optional)
- 1 DOLE® Banana, peeled
- 2 Dole Strawberries, trimmed and halved
- 4 chunks (1 1/2 inches) fresh Dole Tropical Gold Pineapple
- 2 Dole Blackberries
- 2 teaspoons toasted flaxseed (optional)
- Toast bread slices. Spread with almond butter and drizzle with honey, if desired.
- To make “kids”: Cut eight slices and 32 matchsticks from banana. Arrange one strawberry half and one pineapple chunk on two slices toast; arrange remaining strawberry halves and blackberries on remaining slices. Place one banana slice “head” at top of each piece of fruit and arrange four banana matchsticks around each “kid” for arms and legs. Sprinkle flaxseed along bottom edges of toast under kids’ feet, if desired.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images (mother and daughter)