Joy Bauer Shares Her Favorite Protein-Rich Dinners for Heart Health—Here's How to Make Them

The dietitian weighs in on her recommended foods for a heart-healthy diet, her favorite dinners to support heart health and more.

a photo of Joy Bauer
Photo: Lucy Schaeffer

Joy Bauer, M.S., RDN, CDN, is here to debunk a major heart-health misconception. The nutrition and wellness expert, author and partner with the Incredible Egg shared two delicious dinner recipes with EatingWell that are certified by the American Heart Association, meaning they're lower in saturated fat and sodium—two nutrients people with heart conditions need to be conscious of—but they're still packed with delicious flavor and highlight a key ingredient: eggs.

Yes, eggs can be a part of a heart-healthy diet, and Bauer is here to explain how. While egg prices are notably high right now, they're often more affordable than other protein sources, especially those typically served at dinnertime, like meat or fish. Plus, they cook quickly, can be used at any meal and they're a complete protein source, meaning they contain nine essential amino acids.

Read to learn more about the health benefits of eggs, Bauer's tips on how she makes these Stuffed Quinoa Peppers with Eggs and Mexican Rice & Bean Baked Eggs and how you can meal-prep parts of these recipes ahead of time.

EatingWell: What are some foods that you recommend to support heart health?

Bauer: Vegetables, vegetables, vegetables. The more color, the better. I think there's a big push to eat more plant-based foods at least a few times each week and try to shelve the marbled meat. This is also a great time to talk about eggs because there's this old way of thinking that people have been so fearful of egg yolks, and it's so old-fashioned and antiquated at this point. The American Heart Association has actually endorsed and included eggs as part of a heart-healthy diet, so it's really nice to be able to set the story straight. People are still tossing the yolks and doing things with the whites only, which is heartbreaking.

Egg yolks are packed with most of the health-promoting nutrients. First, the yolks have choline, which is a nutrient that actually helps keep our brain sharp. It enhances cognitive function, and just one large egg has about 30% of our daily needs for choline. The second thing it has is B vitamins, and B vitamins do a slew of different tasks and roles within the body to help us function optimally. One of the main things that they do is that they're involved in energy production, and the egg yolk has quite a few B vitamins—it's not just B12. The yolk also has biotin, which helps keep our nails strong, and it also has vitamin D, lutein and zeaxanthin. So that's my hard sell to everybody to feel really good about enjoying the whole egg!

EatingWell: Could you talk more about the delicious dishes in front of you: the Stuffed Quinoa Peppers with Eggs and the Mexican Rice & Bean Baked Eggs?

Bauer: Both of these recipes are American Heart Association heart-checked recipes, meaning they're officially heart-healthy recipes. The [rice and bean baked eggs] is this ultimate flavorful, protein-rich entree. And it's so simple to make: I just sautéed onions with jalapeños … I love fire in my house, but if I'm serving guests I'll leave it mild. Then you just really build it, so there's black beans in here, but you can swap in edamame or white beans to add more plant-based protein and fiber. I add corn in here for the gorgeous color, and also for some fiber and antioxidants because everybody likes corn. And it's just canned corn—this is such a fuss-free recipe—and cooked long-grain or short-grain brown rice. After you have all of your layers, you make these little divots and very carefully crack your eggs in and nestle them between all of the yumminess. Then I'll just bake it off in the oven until the eggs are exactly how you want. I like it super runny, but as long as they're cooked, you can take it out whenever you want. Top it with a lime-infused nonfat Greek yogurt, or you can use sour cream. I put some lime zest in here as well. I love cooking in the skillet because it's such a pretty presentation.

For the second recipe, I love using peppers as a vehicle for yumminess. I made this quinoa concoction with eggplant, tomatoes and all sorts of seasonings. If you want to make this easier, you can buy quinoa that's already cooked and seasoned, and all you do is fill it in jumbo, extra-large peppers. You need large peppers for this because if the peppers are too small, when you crack the eggs on top, they're going to slide off. So extra-large peppers, lots of color, quinoa halfway through and then very carefully crack the egg over the top. And then I put in a little bit of feta because everything's better with feta. I put it in the oven until the eggs are cooked and the feta is slightly browned, and you take it out and you have a feast. If you want a little heat, you can put crushed red pepper on top. It's so good and so filling.

EatingWell: Do you have any tips for meal-prepping certain parts of these meals for families with busier days?

Bauer: Both of these recipes can come together lickety-split if you cook your brown rice [and quinoa] before. A lot of people will cook rice or quinoa for the week, or you can pick it up already done, but you're always going to pay a little bit more if you get it precooked. So I would say just make it at home because it's so easy, it's just about boiling it over the stove. And then the recipes come together so incredibly fast. Even with the yogurt or sour cream with the lime juice and zest, it's three ingredients that you can make in under a minute, but I made this last night and put it in the refrigerator. These are things that you can absolutely make ahead.

What you can also do, for people that really want to prep ahead, you could cook and soften your peppers beforehand, put them in the fridge, and when it's time for dinner, take out your peppers and leave them out to room temperature. Then put the eggs on, then put them in the oven and your prep just became 10 minutes.

Stuffed Quinoa Peppers with Eggs

a recipe photo of one of Joy Bauer's recipes
Joy Bauer

Recipe adapted from the Incredible Egg and the American Egg Board. View the full nutrition breakdown for this recipe.

Active: 20 minutes

Total: 55 minutes

Servings: 4


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ medium onion, chopped
  • ¾ cup chopped eggplant
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • ½ cup chopped fresh tomatoes
  • ¾ cup cooked quinoa
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, divided
  • 2 large red bell peppers, halved
  • 4 large eggs
  • ¼ cup finely crumbled fat-free feta cheese


Step 1

Preheat oven to 400°F. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, eggplant, garlic, paprika, oregano, salt and pepper; cook, stirring often, until the eggplant starts to soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in tomatoes; cook, stirring occasionally, until the eggplant and tomatoes are tender, about 2 minutes.

Step 2

Remove from heat and stir in quinoa and 1 tablespoon parsley. Spoon the quinoa and vegetable mixture evenly into bell pepper halves. Arrange in a greased baking dish. Cover with foil. Bake until the peppers are tender-crisp, about 20 minutes.

Step 3

Remove the foil. Crack 1 egg into each stuffed pepper and sprinkle with feta. Bake, uncovered, until the peppers are tender and the egg whites are set, or until desired doneness, 20 to 22 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon parsley.

Up next: Joy Bauer's Anti-Inflammatory Sippable Soup is Perfect for Cold and Flu Season

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