Let's Hear it for the Hens
It's spring, a time when our thoughts turn to many things. If you're a cook, it may be eggs, which traditionally have figured into the rites of spring in many Mediterranean cultures.
Eggs are easy to find, affordable, and versatile. They provide thirteen essential vitamins and minerals, and a large egg delivers about 6 grams of protein, 70 calories, and 5 grams of fat. Egg yolks are one of the few foods that are a naturally good source of Vitamin D.
The Egg Nutrition Center offers some intriguing trivia about the creators of this wonder food:
· White shelled eggs are produced by hens with white feathers and white ear lobes. Brown shelled eggs are produced by hens with red feathers and red ear lobes. There is no difference in taste or nutrition between white and brown eggs.
· An average hen lays 300 to 325 eggs a year, starting at 19 weeks of age. A lot goes into an egg. The hen must eat 4 pounds of feed to make a dozen eggs. And, she needs 24-26 hours to produce one egg, and to do so, she requires 5 ounces of food and 10 ounces of water. Thirty minutes later she starts all over again.
· A mother hen turns over her egg about fifty times per day, so the yolk won't stick to the sides of the shell.
· Occasionally, a hen will produce double-yolked eggs throughout her egg-laying career. It is rare, but not unusual, for a young hen to produce an egg with no yolk at all.
· Yolk color depends on the diet of the hen. Feed containing yellow corn or alfalfa produces medium yellow yolks while feed containing wheat or barely produces lighter color yolks. Natural yellow-orange substances such as marigold petals may be added to light colored feeds to enhance the yolk color.
· As a hen grows older she produces larger eggs.
Next time you crack an egg, think about the mother hen who laid it. And remember that if you have an egg, you have a meal. Here are a few quick and easy breakfast recipes to try.
Mini Breakfast Pizzas
Shake up the cereal habit with this highly portable, kid friendly breakfast. It's the perfect grab and go meal for a morning when you're dashing from the gym to the office, too. This recipe is an excellent source of protein, choline, and a good source of vitamin A, vitamin D, folate, calcium, and iron.
2 English muffins, split
4 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup pizza sauce
½ cup shredded Italian cheese
Arrange the muffin halves on a baking sheet and toast for about 3 minutes under the oven broiler or in a toaster oven. Remove and set aside. Heat the oven or toaster oven to 450°F. Coat a large skillet lightly with olive oil and place over medium heat. Pour in the beaten eggs. As they begin to set, gently pull them across the pan with an inverted turner, forming large soft curds. Continue cooking -- pulling, lifting and folding eggs - until thickened and no visible liquid egg remains. Do not stir constantly. Remove from the heat.
Spread the pizza sauce evenly on the toasted muffin halves. Top with the eggs and cheese, dividing evenly. Bake in the hot oven for about 5 minutes or in the toaster oven for 1 to 2 minutes, until the cheese is melted. Sprinkle with oregano and serve.
Calories: 198, Fat: 9g, Sodium 353mg, Carbohydrate: 16g, Protein: 13g
Recipe from Dave Ellis, American Egg Board, courtesy of the Egg Nutrition Center.
with an Egg Boost
For oatmeal fans who want more protein in their breakfast, adding yogurt and egg does the trick, making this somewhat like bread pudding. Although 2/3 cup of oats contains 3 grams of protein, you'll get an additional 6 grams of protein by adding the egg, and even more if you top it with yogurt.
1/3 cup milk
1/3 cup quick-cooking oats
¼ cup finely chopped apple
1 tablespoon sugar (optional)
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Dash salt (optional)
¼ cup vanilla yogurt
Beat the egg and milk in a 2-cup microwave-safe bowl until blended. Stir in the oats, apple, sugar, cinnamon and salt. Microwave on high until the liquid is absorbed and the egg is set, 1 ½ to 2 minutes. Stir and top with yogurt. Garnish with additional chopped apples if you wish.
Calories: 328, Fat: 9g, Sodium 151mg, Carbohydrate: 48g, Protein: 16g
Recipe from Mary Dunkersloot, American Egg Board, courtesy of the Egg Nutrition Center.
Stuffed Mediterranean Eggs
Serve this tasty combination for brunch as a healthy option that delivers a refreshingly savory, not sweet, taste. Use any flavor of hummus you prefer. Save the yolks to use in a vinaigrette or crumble them on top of a spinach salad. Or, mash some of the yolks into the hummus for the filling.
3 extra-large eggs
8 ounces hummus
Diced fresh or dried tarragon for garnish
Put the eggs in a large saucepan, cover with cold water, and bring just to a boil. As soon as you see large bubbles coming to the surface, remove the pan from the heat, cover, and let sit for about 10 minutes. Drain and fill the pan with cold water. Repeat once or twice, and let the eggs sit in the cold water for at least 10 minutes longer, or until they are completely cool.
Peel, cut in halves, and using a small spoon, scoop out the yolks. Refrigerate the yolks for another use. Stuff the eggs with the hummus, sprinkle with tarragon, and arrange on a plate.
Calories: 141, Fat: 7g, Sodium 338mg, Carbohydrate: 11g, Protein: 10g
Recipe courtesy of Cedar's Mediterranean Foods, Inc.