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Prairie Fare: Have You Enjoyed an Egg Lately?

Eggs are among nature’s most nutritious foods.

By Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist

NDSU Extension Service

When I was young, my family often purchased eggs from a local farmer. He knew that I really liked brown eggs.

I think he enjoyed seeing me run to the door and open the cartons. I grinned broadly when the cartons were populated with brown eggs.

I thought brown eggs tasted better in my favorite dish: scrambled eggs.

A few weeks ago, my neighbor gave me a carton of eggs purchased from 10- and 11-year-old entrepreneurial brothers. They manage a small chicken coop with a flock of exotic chickens, with help from their parents, of course.

I felt a wave of nostalgia when I opened the carton and noted that most of the eggs were brown.

I wanted to meet the farmers and the chickens, so my 13-year-old daughter, husband, neighbor and I went out to the farm. We admired the fluffy chicks basking in the warmth of a heated pen. Brown, black, white and multicolored chickens clucked and hopped around in their protective enclosure nearby.

The boy quickly climbed the ladder, opened the chicken coop door and collected five eggs. When I climbed up, I saw a large hen in the corner of the pen. She was not budging from her spot. I figured she was hovering over some eggs.

The hen looked at me a little defiantly. Trust me: I didn’t pick her up and move her off the eggs. Her beak looked quite strong, and I was thinking I should have worn protective glasses.

She hopped off the eggs as I descended the ladder. My daughter climbed up and excitedly announced, “Look, Mom. Four eggs!”

Eggs are among nature’s most nutritious foods, with 6 grams of high-quality protein and 13 essential nutrients in one 70-calorie egg. The egg whites and egg yolks provide the protein.

Eggs are among the few natural sources of vitamin D, which plays a role in building and maintaining our bones strength. Vitamin D also helps maintain the health of our immune system.

Besides that, eggs are a fairly low-cost source of protein.

You may have seen eggs labeled “high-omega.” The type of feed influences the nutritional makeup of the eggs. “High-omega” eggs are from chickens fed a diet that usually includes flax seeds, which provide omega-3 fatty acids. Many of us shortchange ourselves on omega-3 fats.

Keep in mind that specialty eggs usually cost more.

Some people choose to discard egg yolks because of the cholesterol content. If you toss the egg yolks, you are discarding 40 percent of the protein and many of the nutrients.

The yellowish-gold yolks provide lutein and xeaxanthin, which are eye-healthy pigments. Lutein and xeaxanthin have been shown to reduce our risk for cataracts and macular degeneration, which can lead to vision loss.

Several studies have shown that having eggs for breakfast can help tame our appetite and promote weight loss. The protein in eggs helps people feel satisfied.

In a study reported in the International Journal of Obesity, eggs were linked to weight loss. The research participants consumed a calorie-controlled breakfast that included either a bagel or eggs. Those who consumed eggs reduced their body mass index, lost more weight and felt more energetic.

Other researchers reported that having a turkey sausage and egg breakfast sandwich helped the female participants tame their appetites more than a low-protein pancake breakfast. Other researchers have shown that having an egg in the morning can push back hunger all day.

Eggs are popular among athletes, and researchers have shown that having eggs after workouts can promote muscle repair and growth.

What about those brown eggs that intrigued me as a kid? The only difference between brown eggs and white eggs is the color of the shells. The breed of chicken determines the shell color.

For safety, the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that we store fresh eggs in the refrigerator at 40 F and that we cook eggs thoroughly. Eggs may contain salmonella bacteria transferred from the chicken to the egg. If you have a recipe that calls for raw eggs without a heating process, be sure to use pasteurized eggs.

All this writing about eggs has made me hungry for a couple of scrambled eggs or maybe this easy-to-make one-pan meal.

Broccoli Cheese Frittata

3 c. chopped broccoli

1/4 c. diced carrots

1/4 c. water

8 eggs

1/4 c. nonfat milk

1/4 tsp. salt (or less to taste)

1/8 tsp. pepper

1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese

1 Tbsp. chopped green onion

Combine broccoli, carrots and water in a nonstick skillet. Cook over medium heat until tender, stirring occasionally to break up broccoli (about 10 minutes). Drain well and set aside. Beat eggs, milk, salt and pepper. Add cooked broccoli and carrots, cheese and green onion. Coat skillet with cooking spray and heat until hot. Pour in egg mixture and cook over low to medium heat until eggs are almost set, eight to 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Cover and let stand until eggs are completely set. Cut into wedges.

Makes four servings. Each serving has 230 calories, 15 grams (g) fat, 18 g protein, 7 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber and 420 milligrams 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 - Feb. 23, 2017

Source:Julie Garden-Robinson, 701-231-7187, julie.garden-robinson@ndsu.edu
Editor:Ellen Crawford, 701-231-5391, ellen.crawford@ndsu.edu
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