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Prairie Fare: Feast Your Eyes on Eggs

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Egg Muffins - NDSU Photo Egg Muffins - NDSU Photo
Eggs are one of the most versatile, economical and nutritious foods available.

By Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist

NDSU Extension Service

When I was a toddler, my aunt often picked me up and took me out to eat at our local cafe. I chose the same menu item whether we went out for breakfast, lunch or an afternoon snack.

“I’ll have trampled ‘oggs’ and totes,” I said to the waitress. I was about 2 years old at the time, and I am sure I was proud to order my own food. The waitress and my aunt grinned at each other, and they didn’t need to call in a translator to decipher my baby talk.

Before long, my plate of scrambled eggs with a side of toast arrived at our table.

“Are you having trampled ‘oggs’ today?” she would ask as we opened the door and entered the restaurant. Of course, I was.

Although I have a vague memory of these early restaurant experiences, I heard the story many times as I was growing up. When I was a teenager, the story brought vivid pink to my cheeks when it was relayed to my friends.

Eventually I learned how to pronounce my food choices a little better. I still enjoy eggs, especially the scrambled variety.

I never gave up eggs, even when the 190 milligrams of cholesterol in an average egg was a nutrition villain in my early days as a college nutrition student. More recent nutrition guidance has softened the rules about eggs.

As a result of ongoing research, we now know that the cholesterol in eggs, termed “dietary cholesterol,” does not appear to raise our blood cholesterol significantly. An egg a day is considered OK for healthy people. However, be sure to follow the advice of your health-care provider, especially if you have diabetes or another chronic disease.

If you are looking to make a dietary change, pay attention to the “trans” fat and “saturated” fat in your diet. Trans fat is the “nutrition villain” these days because it is linked to increasing our risk for heart disease more than any other food component.

The process of hydrogenation converts liquid oils to solid fats, and trans fat is formed in the process. The word “trans” refers to the chemical structure. Solid shortenings used in bakery goods and snack foods are among the greatest contributors of trans fats in our diet.

We need to minimize trans fat in our diet because it raises bad cholesterol (LDL) levels but lowers good cholesterol (HDL) levels in our blood.

Consumers are getting savvy about trans fat and they are looking for it on labels. Many foods are labeled “zero trans fat” or “trans fat free.” Be aware that trans fat may not show up on nutrition facts labels. If the amount of trans fat per serving is less than 0.5 gram, the package can say it contains “zero trans fat” due to the rounding rules allowed in food labeling laws.

Look for the terms “hydrogenated” and “partially hydrogenated” on ingredient statements located near the nutrition facts labels. These terms indicate that “trans fat” may be present, even if it doesn’t show up on the nutrition facts label.

If you learn that your favorite foods contain some trans fat, be sure to stay within the serving size listed. That will help you eat a minimal amount of trans fat.

Here’s the good news for egg lovers: Eggs do not contain trans fat. If you like fried eggs, use a nonstick pan and you will not add any calories from added fat, either. Add veggies to your eggs for a nutrition boost.

Eggs are one of the most versatile, economical and nutritious foods available. They are an excellent source of easily digested protein, and they are low in sodium unless you salt them heartily. Having a protein-rich egg in the morning, whether it is hard-cooked, poached, scrambled or otherwise cooked, helps you feel full longer throughout the morning.

Eggs also are one of the eye-healthy foods. Egg yolks get their gold-yellow color from a natural pigment in the carotenoid family. The pigment lutein literally feeds our eyes. The macula lutea (yellow spot) in the back of our eye needs nourishment from our diet. Along with eggs, foods such as spinach, kale, orange peppers, corn and several other brightly colored vegetables have been shown to reduce our risk for macular degeneration.

For more information about nutrition and eyes, be sure to visit www.ndsu.edu/boomers in April. Several eye health resources are provided on our website, and you can sign up for a free monthly e-newsletter.

Here’s a novel way to enjoy eggs. These miniature omelets made in a muffin tin will be a welcome treat in the morning. They were a big hit among taste testers when my students tried the recipe in our food lab. I almost like these more than “trampled” eggs.

Egg Muffins

15 eggs

1/2 cup milk

1/2 tsp. ground mustard

1/2 tsp. garlic salt

1 c. grated low-fat cheese

1 3/4 c. chopped vegetables of your choice (red pepper, broccoli, zucchini, mushrooms, tomatoes, onion or green onion)

Optional: diced Canadian bacon, lean ham or crumbled cooked turkey sausage

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Spray muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray. In the bottom of each muffin tin, layer diced meat (if using), cheese and 2 tablespoons of the vegetable mixture. Note: If adding meat and vegetables, add 1 tablespoon of meat and only 1 tablespoon of veggies. In a large bowl, break the eggs and add in the milk and seasoning. Whisk to combine. Pour eggs into the muffin tin until it is three-fourths full. Bake 25 to 35 minutes until muffins have risen and are slightly browned and set. Muffins will keep for several days in the refrigerator. These can be frozen, but for best results, thaw in the refrigerator overnight, then reheat for one to two minutes in a microwave oven.

Makes 15 muffins. Each muffin has 100 calories, 6 grams (g) of fat, 2 g of carbohydrate, 7 g of protein and 140 milligrams of sodium.

(Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., R.D., L.R.D., is a North Dakota State University Extension Service food and nutrition specialist and professor in the Department of Health, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences.)


NDSU Agriculture Communication – April 2, 2015

Source:Julie Garden-Robinson, (701) 231-7187, julie.garden-robinson@ndsu.edu
Editor:Rich Mattern, (701) 231-6136, richard.mattern@ndsu.edu
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