Monday, June 20, 2011

Eggs: The Delicious, Nutritious Perfect Protein

The chickens are making a racket out there this morning. Not only is the rooster crowing, but all the hens are cackling. What do chickens have to cackle about at 5:30 a.m?

Seventy chickens can make a lot of noise. They also lay a lot of eggs, and here on 2 Pond Farm, we’ve been eating them (and selling them).

With fresh asparagus to harvest every day, I’ve taken to making quiches. For the onion flavor, I clip tufts of onion grass in the yard, rinse it thoroughly, and snip bits in with the sliced asparagus. Paired with a salad of fresh greens, quiche makes a wonderful spring meal.

One night for dinner I used snow peas from the garden in a pea salad. You know the type, with hard-boiled eggs, onions, celery and mayonnaise? I served that over a bed of garden greens. And that was our meal. So good, and most of it from our property.

For breakfast a few Sundays ago I made Strawberry Brunch Soufflé. The strawberries were starting to accumulate and, yes, I could have frozen them, but I preferred to eat them. Something there is about eating in season. Anyway, I’d never made a soufflé before. Even with substituting some of the white flour with wheat flour, it rose splendidly. Spread some sliced, slightly sweetened strawberries over the top and serve with a dollop of yogurt.

But don’t eggs raise your cholesterol? That outdated scare continues to prevent many people from enjoying what many experts call the “perfect protein.”

According to the USDA Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, yolks contain most of the nutrients of eggs. The yolk contains 100 percent of the carotenoids, essential fatty acids, vitamins A, E, D, and K. The white does not contain 100 percent of any nutrient.

The yolk contains more than 90 percent of the calcium, iron, phosphorus, zinc, thiamin, B6, folate, and B12, and 89 percent of the pantothenic acid. The white does not contain more than 90% of any nutrient, but contains over 80 percent of the magnesium, sodium, and niacin.

The yolk contains between 50 percent and 80 percent of the copper, manganese, and selenium, while the white contains between 50 percent and 80 percent of the potassium, riboflavin, and protein.

So eggs — whole eggs — pack a powerful nutritional punch.

Eggs can also help with weight loss, writes Margaret Furtado, a dietitian with John Hopkins Medicine.

“Eggs also help you feel full, because your body produces a hormone called PYY when you eat high-protein foods,” writes Furtado in a recent YahooHealth article. “PYY tells your brain you’re no longer hungry, so if you’re trying to lose some pounds, opting for a high-protein snack like a boiled egg can really help you feel full (and it’s only 75 calories).”

Furtado says she prefers organic eggs high in omega 3 fatty acids (the healthy fats), from chickens raised without hormones or chemicals. Omega 3s are good for your heart.

We like to keep hard-boiled eggs in the fridge for quick high-protein snacking. On mornings when I have no time to cook breakfast, I often grab one or two hard-boiled eggs and a piece of fruit. The fruit is a nice counter-flavor to the egg, complements the nutrition, and cleans the egg from your teeth and gums.

The husband’s favorite egg dish to cook is egg foo young. It also contains lots of vegetables, including bean sprouts, onions, celery and peas. With a bit of rice (I eat brown, he eats white), it’s a meal in itself.

The husband found a video online where this “drunken chef” demonstrates how to make the dish. The husband says I shouldn’t watch the video because the drunken chef’s language and manner are pretty crude. But the chef must know his stuff, because the husband’s egg foo young comes out perfect every time.

The problem is, every time he makes it, he has to watch the video first. Does he truly forget how? Or does he just like watching the video?

I have several egg cookbooks, which contain many main-meal ideas, variations on deviled eggs and lots of desserts.

Lately, my source for recipes has been the “Simply in Season” cookbook. That’s where I got my quiche and soufflé recipes. It’s divided by the seasons. So just flip to the Spring chapter, and you’ll find recipes for greens, asparagus, strawberries, peas … all those first-of-the-season foods.

Well, the chickens have finally quieted down. Bon appétit!

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