Saturday, May 23, 2015

Quick and Easy Eggs!

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I am always looking for new creative protein sources.. cold cuts can get boring and you always worry about additives, nuts are not allowed at school, and beans are not all that high in protein. Eggs are my favorite go-to for quick breakfasts, lunches and dinners. This might mean scrambled eggs or “Egg in a basket” for breakfast, hard-boiled eggs or egg salad for lunch, or quiche or frittata for dinner. (No, not all of these on the same day!). Eggs contain about 6 grams of high quality protein and are rich sources of vitamins and choline, a key nutrient for brain development and cell membranes.

It can be tricky to choose which eggs to buy. You might see “natural”, “free range” or “organic” on an egg carton, but how can you tell which is best for your family (and the chickens!)?My most important agenda item is health, so I always look to make sure the eggs are omega-3 enriched.   What this means is that the farmer uses special feed for the chickens so that the eggs contain higher levels of DHA, an important omega-3 fat typically found in fish. Next, I try to support farmers who use humane practices.  Finding eggs that are “Certified Humane” or “Animal Welfare Approved” AND pasture-raised helps guarantee that the chickens were raised humanely. Yes, the eggs will cost more but they will taste better and generally be more nutritious too!

What do all those labels mean?
  • Conventional practice: Chickens can be forced to endure some pretty harsh conditions, and buying regular eggs (without any fancy labels) encourages these practices. The chickens are kept in tiny cages (often less than a letter-sized sheet of paper) and unable to move. They are often fed animal by-products. Generally their beaks are cut to reduce pecking and they are subjected to starvation to regulate the egg cycle. 
  • Cage-Free: Chickens are uncaged inside barns, but do not generally have access to the outdoors. These chickens will have a little more space, but are still potentially subjected to practices like beak cutting and starvation.
  • Free-Range or Free-Roaming: Typically, chickens are uncaged inside barns and have some degree of outdoor access, but this access can be quite limited. These chickens are still potentially subjected to practices like beak cutting and starvation.
  • Pasture-Raised: Typically, pasture-raised hens are kept outdoors for most of the year, and are kept indoors at night for protection. However, the term is unregulated so you still have to look for a quality company.
  • Certified Organic: Typically, chickens are kept uncaged inside barns, and are required to have outdoor access, but the amount of outdoor access can be quite limited. They are fed an organic, all-vegetarian diet free of antibiotics and pesticides. These chickens are still potentially subjected to practices like beak cutting and starvation.
  • Vegetarian-Fed: This means that the chickens were not fed animal by-products.
  • Omega-3 Enriched: This means that the chickens are fed a special diet including lots of flaxseed, which increases the content of the essential fatty acid DHA in the eggs.
  • Natural, Pasteurized and Farm Fresh: These claims are unregulated and meaningless
To find good brands in your area, check out this great review by Cornucopia.org which grades farm conditions with ratings from 5 (pasture-fed well-managed farms) to 1 (industrial-scale operations without meaningful outdoor access). Even with the best intentions, most of the brands I used to buy are in the lowest category, including Eggland’s Best, Land-O-Lakes and 4-Grain. Companies like Whole Foods 365 Organic, Trader Joe’s, Wild Harvest and Wegman’s  didn’t even score a 1. Look for the best quality eggs at farmer’s markets, food cooperatives and/or independently owned natural and grocery stores. For me,there are no 4-star or 5-star options close by, so I have had to content myself with 3-star rated Born Free or Pete and Gerry’s.

So next time you are struggling for ideas, just make a batch of hard-boiled eggs. I keep pre-made hard-boiled eggs in the refrigerator for quick kid-friendly snacks and lunch in a pinch!


Easy Quick Egg Salad
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon mustard
  • Salt and pepper
1.       Place eggs in a pot and add enough water to cover eggs by at least one inch
2.       Bring the water to a boil
3.       Remove pot from heat and let the eggs sit in the hot water for 11 minutes
4.       Remove eggs from hot water and place in a bowl filled with ice until cooled
5.       Peel the cooled eggs and mash
6.       Mix together mayonnaise and mustard; combine with the eggs
7.       Add salt and pepper to taste

Curried Vegetable Egg Salad
  • 6 eggs
  • 3 Tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 3 Tablespoons plain yogurt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 cup diced vegetables, carrot, celery or bell pepper
  • 2 Tbsp chives
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • Salt and pepper
1.       Place eggs in a pot and add enough water to cover eggs by at least one inch
2.       Bring the water to a boil
3.       Remove pot from heat and let the eggs sit in the hot water for 11 minutes
4.       Remove eggs from hot water and place in a bowl filled with ice until cooled
5.       Peel the cooled eggs and mash
6.       Mix together mayonnaise, yogurt, lemon juice, lemon zest and curry powder
7.       Combine vegetables, eggs and mayo mixture and stir
8.       Add salt and pepper to taste

And for your enjoyment, here is my failed attempt at creating a "beautiful" star-shaped egg with one of those Japanese egg molds! This is where you take a boiling hot egg and peel it as fast as you can (while burning your fingers), then you smash the hot egg into an egg mold:

Voila! Beautiful, no? Look at those pointy ends, and nice smooth shape! :)


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