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Eggs-elent ideas to renew your love of eggs

Though I don’t have my own chickens, I love when the weather warms up and the chickens that provide me with fresh eggs start laying more.  Nothing makes me feel wealthier than an abundance of fresh eggs!  I know that if I forget to defrost something or don’t plan ahead, I can grab some eggs and whip up a quick and nutritious meal.

 

Eggs are perfectly sized powerhouses of nutrition, naturally prepackaged and preserved.  Unwashed, fresh eggs are covered by a protein covering called the bloom. This bloom seals the egg, protecting it from pathogens and helping it retain moisture,  keeping the egg fresh for months.  Once washed, though, eggs must remain chilled below 45 degrees. Commercial producers may replace the bloom with mineral oil, giving some eggs a shiny look.

 

Eggs contain a truly awesome amount of nutrition at a wonderful price. If you pay a lot for high quality eggs you’re still getting a LOT for your money.  Say you get extra fresh, pastured eggs at $6 a dozen, a price at which most people would gasp.  You are paying 50 cents for a serving of excellent protein.  Maybe you double up and pay $1 for this protein source.  That isn’t so bad compared to other sources.  What do you get for that price?  One egg contains about 5.5 g of protein, fat, most vitamins (including USEABLE vitamin D, but no C), all necessary minerals, iron, folate, choline and, if you get farm fresh eggs, more DHA and EPA and 2-10x as much Omega-3 fat than from non pastured chickens.  Vitamin D and Choline, deficient in so many of our diets and so important for our bodies, are found in only a few other foods.  And much of this nutritional treasure is found IN THE YOLK.  Eating the white without the yolk, while just FEELING inherently incomplete to me, also leaves behind so much of what is right and good about the amazing egg.

 

eggs-918437_640Like all foods, how eggs are produced greatly impacts how good they are for us.  What makes a nutritious egg starts with a nourished chicken. What should chickens eat?  Like cows and pigs, chickens are not meant to be confined to tiny cages, unable to move and eating only grains.  Chickens love grass, but they are not vegetarians. They love their greens, but they love discovering worms and bugs among the green.  Chickens that get to roam in the sunshine with access to grass and bugs produce the healthiest, yummiest eggs. What do these high quality eggs look like?

 

This is a great experiment to do for yourself or with kids! Take eggs from different sources (conventional grocery, vegetarian fed, neighbor’s, farmer’s market, etc) and crack them near or next to each other.  The first thing you’ll probably notice is the bright, jewel-toned yolk of the egg coming from a chicken that ate lots of greens.  Just like yellow butter indicates a cow that ate plenty of grass, an almost-orange egg yolk indicates a chicken diet of lots of grass and insects.  Chickens eating a mix of grass and grains (and likely fewer bugs and worms) will produce less brightly colored egg yolks.  Grain fed chicken eggs will have much lighter yolks.  It is the cartenoids in the grass (also found in abundance in carrots) that produce the bright orange color in the egg yolks, as well as a yellow fat on meat chickens and the yellow of grass fed cow butter.

 

You may also see that grass fed chicken egg yolks are firmer and and thicker.  After yolk color and consistency, pay attention to the egg whites. You may notice there are two different egg white sections.  A firmer egg white surrounds the yolk and a thinner white is closer to the shell and on the perimeter of the entire cracked egg.  This outer thin egg white repels bacteria, as it is more alkaline and does not contain any nutrients needed for bacterial growth. The thicker egg white surrounding the yolk cushions the yolk.  It also contains some protection against bacteria, as well.  The older an egg gets, the more thin white and the less thick white it has.  So compare your eggs for age using that tidbit.

 

Even if none of the visible, physical differences in eggs impress you much, the flavor will!  And while a scrambled egg is easy and fast to cook, there are many other very easy ways to add to your egg repertoire.
1.  add an egg yolk, a dash of nutmeg and stevia (or honey or maple syrup) to your milk or cream.  With a touch of vanilla, you’ve got a nutritious eggnog for a meal on the go.  Not recommended for conventionally raised eggs!
OPTION:  great with coconut milk if you’re dairy-free
OPTION:  blend to get it frothy
2.  crack one egg per muffin cup.  add green chile, green onions, mushrooms, spinach or any vegetable on top.  Bake for 20 minutes or so until yolk is to your desired consistency.
OPTION:  line muffin cup with bacon first
OPTION: scramble the eggs with the veggies and then pour in each muffin cup
OPTION:  top with any cheese.  consider feta!
3.  hard boiled eggs are a great snack or on-the-go option.  make several at a time and refrigerate so they’re ready to grab.  Already do this and it’s not so exciting?  Make Tea Eggs!  Tap cracks into the shell of a hard boiled egg and then soak the eggs in a blend of tea, soy sauce and Chinese 5 Spice.  This is also called marble eggs, as they will take on a beautiful marbled design once the sauce seeps through the cracks in the shell.
4. do you make broth?  Drop in a few eggs next time your broth is simmering and enjoy broth flavored hard boiled eggs.
5.  Dutch babies.  Basically an oven pancake that poofs up in a fun way!  You don’t have to stand there and flip it, either.

 

If you have a favorite quick-and-easy egg recipe, I’d love to hear it.  Not sure about the quality of your eggs?  Start asking around to see where friends get theirs.  More and more families are keeping chickens in their backyards. If they can’t share any of theirs, they might know of another chicken keeper who can.

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