I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives. I like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him. ~Abraham Lincoln
Photo Credit: Delish.com
You know what you should have for breakfast? Eggs. You know what you should have as a snack? A hard boiled egg. You should be eating eggs regularly. Yup, you. Unless you have 1) allergies, 2) diet restrictions (e.g. you're vegan), or 3) disease restrictions (e.g. diabetes). Eggs are little powerhouses of goodness - they are a nearly perfect protein and packed with other nutrients. They are also cheap compared to other protein sources.
Eggs are a nutritional powerhouse. The protein in eggs are such high quality that all other proteins are measured against them. They contain 18 out of the 20 amino acids, and all the essential amino acids (essential means that your body can't synthesize them - they can only come from your diet) which makes them a complete protein. 43% of the protein is in the yolk, while 57% is in the whites. Eggs are also one of the best sources of choline, which is tough to find elsewhere but important for brain health and reduces inflammation. Eggs also contain all vitamins except for Vitamin C (though not necessarily in significant amounts). And what about the common knock of eggs being bad for your cholesterol? Research has not shown a connection between moderate egg consumption (1 per day) and high cholesterol levels. One extra-large egg contains 7g of protein (14% RDA), choline (30% RDA), and only 80 calories.
What are the best eggs? Egg quality is affected by freshness and chicken health. Most eggs consumed in the U.S. are chicken eggs. You want to eat eggs from the healthiest, happiest hens. Makes sense, yes? Factory chickens that are sick, dosed up on antibiotics, can't move (let alone exercise) because they are smushed in a cage with nine others getting pooped on from chickens above them, pooping on chickens below them, and eating only grain are not going to make the best quality eggs. Go to the farmer's market where you can ask the farmer how her chickens live. The best eggs come from hens that can spend their days outdoors, poking around for bugs in grass. These girls produce healthy eggs with more Omega-3's. Chickens weren't meant to be vegetarians! Find a producer you can trust, and buy eggs that were recently laid. They're the tastiest and most nutritious. Eggs are a cheap protein. Pay up for the best ones. You're worth it.
So what do all those labels mean - cage free, pastured, organic? Pretty much nothing. There are no standards, except for certified organic. The only thing I trust that to mean is that the chickens eat organic grain. The best thing to do is talk to the farmers at the market about the way their hens are raised. Ask if you can visit their farms or see some pictures.
How can one distinguish egg quality? When you have a healthy, fresh egg, you'll notice right away when you try to crack it. Thwack! That egg is hard to crack because the shell is strong. The chicken had adequate calcium to make that egg. She ran around in open air and ate bugs for protein. Then when you open it, the egg stays tight and contained instead of spreading out all over the place. You notice a bright yolk that sits up high above the white. It's trying to say hello. The whites are tight and thick instead of runny, and you can notice the two layers of whites - a tighter white that's surrounded by a paler white. The highest quality are Grade AA, then Grade A and finally B. B and below usually goes to restaurants and food service.
How should eggs be stored? Eggs are porous and can dry out, so they should be stored in your refrigerator. Preferably in the cardboard carton if they are going to be kept for a while.
Are some egg colors better than others? An egg derives its color solely from pigmentation. If they come from a brown hen, the eggs are brown. If they come from a white hen, the eggs are white. Besides color, there are no nutritional differences. Certain breeds of chickens produce different colors - for example, Platine Bleues produce blue eggs, which I personally think are richer. Try different types as you come across them and let me know what you think!
How is an egg made? Eggs begin their journeys inside a hen, and take about 26 hours to be made. Eggs don't need to be fertilized. The hen creates a yolk as part of ovulation, and it is released into her oviduct. If it is going to be fertilized, that is where it happens. In either case, as the yolk travels down the oviduct, a membrane than the whites are created around it. Then at the bottom of the oviduct, the hard calcium shell is created.
Fun fact - most hens lay their eggs in the morning before noon. None are laid after 3pm.
Tip: Want to eat more eggs? Hard boil a dozen and leave them in the refrigerator for a fast breakfast or snack.
Acknowlegement to Aliza Holtz for a great deal of egg knowledge
What I ate: 2 slices toast + hazelnut butter, 4 clementines, 1 apple, 32 oz. chicken rice soup, 3 green tea mochi ice creams, bacon ranch popcorn, 1 dark Chocalive truffle, sauteed shrimp + brussell sprouts, 1 cup quinoa, 2 squares dark chocolate, 16 oz water + blackstrap molasses + apple cider vinegar, 50 oz. water + Vitamin C
Exercise: jogged 4 miles