Gobbling down sugary, empty-calorie carbohydrates might be some people’s idea of breakfast, but it should be important to start the day off with good nutrition. Part of that is satisfying the need for protein. Eating high-quality protein foods, like eggs, for breakfast can help a person to feel more energized and satisfied throughout the day as compared with eating more protein at lunch or dinner.
Most people admit they don’t take the time to cook breakfast, unless you count preparing a toaster pastry, so they increasingly choose to pick up something on the way to work or school. Breakfast sandwiches with eggs are a component of a large majority of all breakfasts at quick-service restaurants. In fact, a 2011 Datassential study found that 80 percent of hot breakfast sandwiches at quick-service restaurants include eggs, says Alice Heinze, R.D., director of foodservice for the American Egg Board.
Increasingly, the public is aware of the nutrition benefits of eggs . Eggs are nutrient-dense, containing lots of nutrition in relation to their calorie count. Heinze says the 2010 Dietary Guidelines from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) also suggest Americans “eat a nutrient-dense breakfast.”
“The amount of protein in one large egg is 6 grams or 12 percent of the Recommended Daily Value and the protein in eggs is the highest-quality protein found in any food,” Heinze says. Eggs also are an excellent source of choline and selenium and a good source of vitamin D, phosphorous and riboflavin.
In addition, recent studies have shown that eggs have less cholesterol than ever before. The USDA recently found the average amount of cholesterol in a Grade A large egg is 185 milligrams, 14 percent lower than the 212 mg previously recorded. More than 40 years of research have demonstrated that most healthy adults can enjoy eggs without significantly raising their risk of heart disease, Heinze says.
Most restaurants approach breakfast as a “double barbell’ strategy, says Steve Solomon, national account director for the American Egg Board. The challenge is to balance value against premium and health against indulgence. At breakfast, guests choose the value and health perception of simple breakfast sandwiches containing eggs while others choose to increase that protein by adding premium bacon, ham, sausage, or specialty cheeses as part of a more indulgent offering.
“Items such as applewood-smoked bacon, higher-quality hams such as Black Forest and Rosemary, and cheeses such as artisan cheeses built around eggs can increase the premium aspect of these breakfast items,” Solomon says. “Competitors are raising the bar, and quality is ramping up everywhere.”
Nearly all quick-service chains have their own proprietary version of the breakfast sandwich built around eggs, but many are increasing the flavor and quality profile.
Dunkin’ Donuts Big N’ Toasty sandwich is a good example, featuring two fried eggs, cherrywood-smoked bacon, and American cheese on Texas toast. The item augments Dunkin’ Donuts’ already popular egg white flatbreads. Subway offers a variety of breakfast sandwiches featuring Black Forest ham, bacon, and steak, with eggs and cheese on flatbread or rolls. Starbucks’ Veggie & Monterey Breakfast Sandwich has vegetables, an egg, and Monterey jack cheese on an artisan roll. Its Bacon & Gouda Artisan Breakfast Sandwich has bacon, Parmesan frittata, and aged Gouda cheese on an artisan roll. Both of these sandwiches are 350 calories. McDonald’s maintains its dominance with the Egg McMuffin, featuring an egg, cheese, and Canadian bacon on an English muffin. McDonald’s also serves the McGriddle, with bacon, egg, and cheese on a pancake.
Source: QSR magazine, November 2011.