When you enter a grocery store, you're suddenly faced with thousands of options. You want to get the staples you need and you want the best nutrition for your family, but it's easy to get overwhelmed. How do you know what's your best choice?
"Options like brown versus vitamin-enriched white bread, or, grade A versus AA eggs can cause confusion for even savvy shoppers," says Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist Dawn Jackson Blatner, winner of the ABC television show "My Diet Is Better Than Yours." "With so many choices it's difficult to know what's what."
Blatner reveals the truth about some of the most common myths and misconceptions of grocery store staples to streamline trips and ensure you’re bringing home the most nutritious options.
Many people believe the darker the bread, the healthier it is, causing them to skip labels and grab a brown loaf on the go. The problem is, just because bread is brown doesn't mean it's whole grain. That color could be achieved through caramel coloring.
"What you see doesn't tell the whole story, so it's important to look at labels to get the facts," says Blatner. "Whole grain and sprouted grain are always good bread choices for better nutrition. It's also important to pay attention to sugar content. There are many great options available with 0 grams of sugar.”
Egg-grading systems were created by the USDA to mark interior and exterior quality of eggs. Many people ignore this system and simply choose eggs based on appearance or price. To get the best nutrition, buy from a producer that has its own quality standards that go above and beyond USDA requirements.
Blatner provides an example: "Grade A specifications for Eggland’s Best eggs are actually more strict than standard grade AA specifications for regular eggs. That means, no matter what grade you choose, they provide the highest quality egg that’s fresher and tastier. And with six times more vitamin D, 25 percent less saturated fat, more than double the Omega-3s, 10 times more vitamin E, and more than double the vitamin B12 compared to ordinary eggs, they’re also the most nutritious choice."
The produce section is one of the healthiest places in the grocery store, but the notion that the misters are there to make items look good and add water weight so they cost more at checkout is a myth. That water helps ensure fruits and vegetables stay fresh, especially items that could wilt, like lettuce.
"Give items a good shake to get rid of water weight," suggests Blatner. "And remember to always rinse fresh produce well once you're home to clean the surface of any dirt and bacteria. The mist at the store isn't meant to clean, only to help maintain freshness."
When fresh fruits aren't available, she reminds people to look for frozen alternatives, noting many frozen options are picked at the peak of freshness and flash frozen to capture high nutrient content. The best frozen varieties are those without added sauces or seasonings.
"When you know the truth, you are empowered to make smart decisions while you shop so you can get superior products with superior nutrition," says Blatner. "Then you can have fun making tasty recipes your family will devour."
Blatner offers one such recipe for inspiration:
Zesty Egg Fried Rice Lettuce Wraps
4 Eggland's Best eggs (large)
2 tablespoons Sriracha sauce
6 strips lean smoked bacon, chopped
2 cups cooked jasmine rice
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
1/3 cup sliced scallion greens
12 leaves Boston/Bibb lettuce
In a medium bowl, whisk eggs and Sriracha together until well combined.
In large non-stick skillet, over medium-high heat, cook bacon until crisp. Transfer bacon to plate, leaving drippings in the skillet. When cooled, chop bacon into small pieces.
Drizzle the egg mixture into the skillet, stirring as you drizzle. Add bacon, black pepper, rice and soy sauce to skillet and stir-fry 3-4 minutes, or until eggs are set. Stir in scallion tops.
Remove from heat. Divide the mixture among the lettuce leaves and serve immediately.