Category Archives: eggs


All About Eggs, Mira Dessy, The Ingredient Guru

All About Eggs

Nutrition from eggs

For the purposes of this article, we are discussing eggs from chickens. Duck is becoming easier to source and can be a preferred source for those allergic to chicken eggs.  It is, however, important to note that the nutritional support from duck, turkey, goose, quail, or any other type of egg can vary slightly from those of chicken.

A favorite food for many people, eggs are easy to prepare and highly versatile. They can be used for any meal of the day, as a quick protein snack, or incorporated into other foods.  At approximately 70 calories each, they are a great source of protein, providing approximately 6g of protein. They are also a good source of beneficial nutrients such as lutein and zeaxanthin as well as iron, choline, selenium, biotin,  B12, and B2.  

Top Health Benefits

In addition to being a great source of protein, eggs provide other health benefits.

  • A good source of cholesterol, which the body needs to make hormones, consuming eggs does not raise blood levels for cholesterol. And pastured or free-range are even better as they can help reduce triglycerides
  • Most people don’t get enough choline in their diet. Yet it is vital for liver function as well as nerves and muscle tissue. As listed above, eggs are a good source of choline
  • Supportive for eye health due to high levels of lutein and zeaxanthin

Allergy symptoms

For a small percentage of the population, eggs are a source of allergic reaction. Approximately 2% of all children have an allergy to eggs. Nearly 70%, however, tend to grow out of the condition by age 16. For those allergic to chicken eggs, there may also be a response to other eggs as well. An allergenic response can include:

  • Asthmatic symptoms or wheezing
  • Diarrhea
  • Digestive upset, cramps, nausea, or bloating
  • Hives
  • Nasal congestion, sneezing, a runny nose, or post-nasal drip
  • Skin irritation or rash

In severe cases of true food allergy, there can be an anaphylactic reaction which might include low blood pressure, faintness, dizziness, or restricted airways.  If you suspect an anaphylactic reaction seek medical care immediately.  For those with a true food allergy, it is important to monitor your reactions as the response can get worse with repeated exposures. 

It is important to be aware that the influenza vaccine is made using a small amount of egg protein and therefore may not be safe for those with this type of true food allergy.

On the label

Eggs are used in a wide variety of ways. In addition to homemade goods such as omelets or quiche, they are also used as a binder for baked goods, meatloaf, and other foods. However, a wide variety of prepared and packaged foods may also contain eggs as one of their ingredients.  These can include mayonnaise, crackers (such as matzo), noodles, pasta, dressings, sauces, and other condiments.

Because eggs are one of the seven most common food allergens (the others are corn, wheat/gluten, soy, fish, dairy, and nuts) labeling laws require that manufacturers disclose on the label if their product contains eggs.  

Names that appear on the food label that can indicate the presence of eggs include:

  • Anything starting with “ova” or “ovo,” such as ovalbumin or ovoglobulin
  • Albumin
  • Globulin
  • Lecithin
  • Livetin
  • Lysozyme
  • Vitellin

Food intolerance

In addition to true food allergies, there is a possibility for people to develop a sensitivity to eggs due to intestinal impermeability, or leaky gut. Testing is the best way to determine if there is any kind of delayed hypersensitivity or food intolerance. If there is a food sensitivity or intolerance, avoiding eggs for a period of time while adding supportive protocols for the gut is helpful.  The period of time required to avoid eggs can vary depending on the individual, the severity of the intolerance, and compliance with dietary changes.  

If you suspect sensitivity issues using a food journal can help to identify when you eat eggs, or any other items that you suspect an intolerance to, and your physical response. This can then be followed up with a visit to a professional for nutritional support.  If you suspect a true food allergy, working with an allergist or immunologist is recommended.

 

 

Sources

Food Storage Tips

There’s nothing worse than having to throw out food because it’s gone fuzzy or mushy. It’s even worse when it’s something that you purchased organic because that means you paid an even higher price for it.  With proper food storage habits you can make sure that your food lasts as long as possible.

It’s easy to wind up with an abundance of fresh produce for a number of reasons:

  • it was on sale
  • you’ve just visited the farmer’s market and it looked inviting
  • you have a CSA share and have limited control over how many tomatoes they give you (when tomatoes are in season of course)
  • you have a home garden and discovered the awesome power of a single zucchini seed.  

Whatever the reason for having a bountiful supply of fresh food (or even dairy, eggs, and foods of that nature which can also spoil), it’s important to know how long it can be stored for.  It’s also a great idea to understand proper food storage.   After all, knowing which things go in the refrigerator, what has to be wrapped, and the best way to wrap it, can be the difference between eating what you paid for or creating expensive compost.

Buying organic

As you go through this infographic below keep in mind that there are a significant number of items which need to be purchased organically.

  • The Dirty Dozen:those 12 fruits and vegetables which need to be purchased organically in order to avoid pesticide residues) – This list changes annually, be sure to revisit it every year  
  • Dairy products: All dairy should be organic in order to avoid the artificial hormones (rBGH), antibiotics, and pesticide and GMO-laden feed that is part of conventional dairy  
  • Eggs:  Whenever possible eggs should be sourced from someone who has free range or pastured hens, in order to produce the healthiest egg.  Farmer’s markets can be a great source for this, or ask around.  Many more people are beginning to raise chickens at home for the eggs.  When it’s prime season, at one egg per chicken per day, they may have extras to sell

Storage

One final note, I really don’t like to wrap food in plastic.  Plastics, containers and wraps, are comprised of chemical compounds that are hormone disrupting.  For more information about why plastic, and especially BPA, are harmful for you watch my interview with Lara Adler.  For storage if you must wrap use plastic, place wax paper over the food first and then wrap over that.  If at all possible try using glass or steel containers. 


Source: Fix.com

Pasteurize Eggs With Radio Frequency

  Eggs are a wonderful part of a balanced nutritional plan.  Despite all of the kerfuffle about the cholesterol in eggs, it’s a healthy food which provides protein and choline.  Each egg delivers a whopping 6 grams of protein while choline is an essential nutrient.   Part of the b vitamin family it is responsible for supporting methylation as well as overall nervous system health.

However eggs can also be an infection vector especially for salmonella.  I was shocked recently when I gave a talk to discover, chatting with attendees afterwards, that not one of them was aware of the huge recall involving nearly half a billion eggs back in 2010.  I have a couple of articles about that time frame from my blog here and here.

According to the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service, “Pasteurized eggs or egg products shall be substituted for raw eggs in the preparation of Foods such as Caesar salad, hollandaise or Béarnaise sauce, mayonnaise, meringue, eggnog, ice cream, egg-fortified beverages and recipes in which more than one egg is broken and the eggs are combined.”  This ruling is for susceptible populations such as the elderly in care home situations, children in preschools, or those who are ill, immuno-compromised, or in hospitals or other health facilities.

Currently in order to pasteurized “raw” eggs they are bathed in hot water for one hour.   In a new process, The Agricultural Research Service (ARS) claims that pasteurizing eggs through radio frequency (heating the egg) followed by a water bath to cool it off will be sufficient to kill salmonella.

Given that salmonella comes from the hen laying the eggs doesn’t it make more sense to treat the hens so they don’t get salmonella?  Unfortunately in this country we prefer to treat the outbreak and the affected ill population.  But it doesn’t have to be this way.  Below is a graphic from the presentation I gave at the Weston A. Price Foundation Regional Conference last weekend.

Screenshot 2014-04-03 14.52.29

 

As you can see from the graphic above, reducing salmonella at the source not only creates a healthier poultry industry, it reduces health care costs.  I’m not sure how much it costs to treat salmonella poisoning for 80,000 people.  And the truth is that may not be an accurate number as no one knows how many cases went unreported.

So while industry may pat themselves on the back for adding another systematic process to food production I have a few issues with this:

  1. I do not consider these eggs to be raw.  Raw means raw, not heated, not radio treated and heated.  True they are marked ‘pasteurized’ but they are not raw.
  2. We are focusing on the wrong side of the equation.  We should be removing salmonella at it’s source.
  3. We are missing an opportunity to reduce health care costs and save lives by changing how we raise poultry (and in Denmark they do it without antibiotics)

The government wars that even undercooked eggs (such as over easy or soft cooked) can be a potential vector for disease.  If you choose to eat raw eggs you may want to consider getting to know your egg farmer and not purchasing from large, confined, commercial egg operations.

photo:  Phichet9707

4 Health Benefits Of Eating Eggs

egg

Many of us believe that eggs aren’t good for our health, thanks to their high cholesterol content, plus loads of fat, making them not an ideal choice for the health and figure conscious. The fat-free craze also meant an egg-free diet. This became prevalent in the 90s, when eggs were put to the sideline and instead, chemically-processed substitutes were served. However nothing beats the taste and the health benefits when you serve real, fresh and organic eggs.

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Egg Cooking Methods That Can’t Be Beat

January is National Egg Month.  Apart from being delicious and versatile, eggs are also nutritious, and an essential part of a balanced diet. Containing up to six grams of protein, eggs are a wonder food that can give much-needed energy in the morning.  Eggs also provide a great source of choline which is anti-inflammatory.  For the best, healthiest option, choose eggs from pastured, free roaming chickens.

Eggs used to have a bad rep for increasing the body’s cholesterol levels, and contributing to heart disease. These misconceptions are actually far from the truth.  Cholesterol levels are raised by saturated fats, not dietary cholesterol. Eggs contain up to five grams of polyunsaturated fat, which improves blood cholesterol levels.

According to modern research, moderate consumption of eggs has no negative effect on the cholesterol levels of healthy people. Studies have also found that eating two eggs per day may improve a person’s lipid profile. Adding credence to this, a Harvard study found no direct link between reasonable egg consumption and heart disease.

The catch here is that the egg has to be cooked in a healthy manner. All those health benefits may be negated, for example, if you fry an egg to a solid crisp in heaps of shortening. Below are some healthy ways to cook eggs. Who says you can’t have your healthy eggs and eat ‘em too?

Classic Poached Egg

Poaching eggs is a healthier alternative to frying. At its most basic, poaching involves sliding an egg into a pan or Dutch oven filled with hot water. The result is a soft, slightly delicate, egg dish. (Imagine a hard-boiled egg, but fluffier.)

The great thing about poached eggs – and all egg cooking methods, actually – is its versatility. You can eat poached eggs on their own, over a hot bowl of steaming oatmeal, or as topping on a salad.

Hard-boiling

Making hard-boiled eggs seems simple enough: Boil water, drop egg in, wait a bit, crack open hard-boiled egg, enjoy. The truth is, there are some subtleties to boiling eggs. For starters, you can’t actually see the egg, which means you can’t judge to doneness of the egg visually. Speaking of doneness, hard-boiled isn’t the only way to go. You can also make soft-boiled eggs. Proper timing is key.

Hard-boiling is one of the healthiest cooking methods for eggs. You don’t use oil, or any other ingredients. Just don’t season with too much salt while eating. And beware of salmonella; be sure to cook the egg fully.

Scrambling

Scrambling is another cooking method with a lot of healthy options. At its most basic, a scrambled egg is just that – a beaten egg, lightly fried. You can add cream or milk to fluff it up. To add a bit of flavor, why not experiment with some spices?

Frying: Yay or nay?

Frying is probably the first thing that comes to mind when cooking eggs. And for good reason – fried eggs are delicious! Unlike most cooking methods listed here, frying gives the egg a mix of appetizing textures – from a moist yolk, to the crisp edges.

The challenge to this is to use healthy fats when making fried eggs.  Coconut oil, olive oil, and ghee are all tasty, good for you choices.  Just as with scrambled eggs, go easy on the seasoning.

photo: Kai Hendry 

 Marc Webster is a writer who specializes in health and wellness topics. He is also works at All Time Medical, a medical supply company which sells wheelchairs, rollators and various other elderly mobility aids. He also has a huge passion for cooking and is continually exploring the versatility of egg in different dishes.

Breakfast casserole

Crockpot Breakfast Casserole

Overnight breakfast success

I love using my crockpot for all different kind of recipes.  And really, there’s no reason not to. Crockpots are simple to use easy to clean up, and an energy-efficient way to cook. But as great as they are for dinners and snacks, breakfast is where a crock pot really rocks.
 
There’s nothing better than coming downstairs to a nice hot breakfast, ready and waiting. But you didn’t have to cook it. Because you made it in the crockpot. After all, if you’re willing to leave it on all day to make dinner, why not leave it on overnight to make breakfast? Especially when you’re cooking for a crowd. After all if you’ve got a house full of guests that’s the time you don’t want to be stuck in the kitchen cooking anyway. So let your crockpot do all the work and you’ll look like a kitchen star.
 
This casserole is a family favorite. While it takes a little bit of prep time it’s delicious and totally worth it. 
 
Sweet potato crockpot breakfast casserole
Print
Ingredients
  1. Slow Cooker Breakfast Casserole
  2. 2 large sweet potatoes, washed and shredded
  3. 1 onion, chopped
  4. 1 bell pepper, chopped
  5. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  6. 3 tablespoon coconut oil
  7. 1 pound cooked meat - organic and preservative free
  8. 1 cup shredded cheese - we prefer white cheddar
  9. 1 dozen organic eggs
  10. 1 cup whole organic milk
  11. 1 teaspoon herbs of choice - suggestions include oregano, basil, chives, thyme, but you can use whatever you prefer
  12. 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  13. 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
Instructions
  1. Grease inside of crock
  2. In a pan saute potatoes in 2 tablespoons coconut oil until starting to brown, remove and set aside
  3. In remaining 1 tablespoon of coconut oil saute onion, peppers and garlic until warmed through and starting to soften
  4. Layer in the crock 1/3 potatoes, 1/3 vegetables, 1/3 meat, 1/3 cheese, repeat layers, top layer will be cheese
  5. Mix together eggs, milk, herbs, salt and pepper
  6. Gently pour egg mixture over layers in crock
  7. Cook on low 8-10 hours (or overnight) until eggs are set
Notes
  1. Delicious served with a little salsa on top
The Ingredient Guru, Mira Dessy https://www.theingredientguru.com/
For more great crockpot recipes:

World Egg Day

free range eggs | photo: Fir0002

October 8 is World Egg Day.  Over the years eggs have gotten a bad rap.  We’ve been told that we shouldn’t eat them, or we should eat them but throw out the yolks, now they’re okay to eat (avoiding problems with suppliers that is).  I think a lot of people are still very confused about eggs and whether they are okay to eat.

Eggs are a great food.  Yes they have cholesterol in them, but it’s a healthy cholesterol and something that our body knows how to process.  A single egg also contains six grams of protein for only about 70 calories.  That’s quite a nutritional package.  They also provide brain boosting choline as well as lutein which can be helpful in protecting against cataracts and macular degeneration.

Just as important, eggs are delicious, versatile, and easy to prepare.  In honor of World Egg Day here’s a recipe for a Breakfast Quiche Muffins modified from the excellent Crustless Quiche recipe by Jeffrey Smith.

Breakfast Quiche Muffins

4 slices preservative free bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 cup mushrooms, diced and sauteed
2 spring onions, diced
4 eggs
1 cup organic cottage cheese
1 cup shredded organic cheddar cheese
1/4 cup brown rice flour (can use whole wheat if GF is not a concern)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
generous pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
Grease two muffin tins and set aside
Beat together eggs, cottage cheese and 1/2 cup cheddar cheese
blend in bacon, mushrooms, and spring onions
In a separate bowl whisk together dry ingredients before adding to mixture
Spoon mixture into muffin cups
Top with remaining shredded cheese
Bake until tops are golden and quiches are slightly firm when touched 15-20 mins
Remove from oven and cool in the tins for 5 minutes before serving

Notes:

  • These can be frozen and reheated at 400 degrees F for 5-7 minutes
  • It is possible to use other vegetables
  • Add 1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs for added flavor

Eggs Again

egg | photo: Kacper “Kangel” Aniotek

A recent article brought to light the fact that eggs are still not being appropriately monitored and companies are free to do what they wish.  Unfortunately egg producers are apparently not required to tell the federal government when they find salmonella, nor are they required to share the names of companies under which they sell their eggs.  There’s no egg recall currently underway but I believe it may not be long until there is.

I find it exceedingly strange that one agency, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is responsible for overseeing the health of chickens, the FDA is responsible for whole eggs, the USDA is responsible for eggs if they are transported or broken (sold as liquid), and then the FDA is responsible again for eggs sold in retail environments.  It’s enough to make anyone’s head spin.

I have several thoughts that come to mind about this whole situation:

  1. Monitoring:  For years food manufacturers in all different areas of the industry have claimed that they are perfectly capable of monitoring themselves and that the industry does not require government legislation because the industry is so good as self-monitoring.  Obviously this (and other examples) prove that line of thinking to be fallacious.
  2. Consistency:  While I confess to not always being a fan of how the government does business with regards to food and/or nutrition, I believe this situation highlights the need for one agency that oversees all aspects of food.  Bouncing back and forth between agencies leaves too many gaps in the system.  Gaps that manufacturers are only too willing to take advantage of, leaving the consumers as the ones at risk.
  3. Oversight:  On the one hand there is too much transparency to certain parts of the system and too much secrecy regarding others.  Federal agents tell egg producers when they’re coming to visit?  Or allow the producers to suggest dates that might be convenient for them?  How is that helpful?  I think we’re all smart enough to know that you don’t warn someone that you’re coming if you want to check and make sure they’re doing what they are supposed to.  And if, in spite of these pre-arranged visits, the inspectors find problems they don’t tell the public and there are no sanctions?  Then why bother to go in the first place?  And how does this in any way protect the consumer?
  4. Location:  With the vast majority of egg farms located in Iowa this type of situation once again highlights how far removed we are from our food.  I believe it is very important for consumers to consider shopping a little closer to home.  Get to know your local farmer, farmer’s market, or join a CSA. Pay attention to where your food comes from.  Does this mean that you won’t be affected by illness or other disease?  Honestly no, but I believe your chances will be reduced.  The vast majority of people I know who are farming in more of a small-holding are more conscientious about the quality of their product.  I believe they are not as overwhelmed by the demands of large scale farming which leads to many practices which in turn can make the food chain more susceptible to problems.

We all need to become informed consumers.  We need to be aware of these problems and we need to start paying attention to our food.  I spend what many consider to be far too much time looking at information about food, health and nutrition on a daily basis.  I also spend a lot of time letting people know how I feel and what I think.  I do this because I believe it’s important.  

Until the manufacturers and the government know that we, as consumers, are not willing to idly sit by and let them make poor decisions about our food that affect our health, they will continue to do what they’ve always done — support the manufacturer over the consumer.  Marion Nestle has written a wonderful book about this which has many eye-opening passages in it that show how consumers are, in some ways, seen as product of the industry rather than a valued customer.
It goes back to something I’ve said a number of times, not only do we need to become informed, we need to vote; with our voices and with our wallets.  I’m thrilled to see more products in the store that are labeled from local sources or that are made without artificial colors and preservatives.  These changes are happening because people are speaking up.  These ideas are being implemented because at the end of the day the manufacturers want your money.  And while I believe they would far rather have an uninformed, apathetic consumer on the other end of their production line, they will change if they have to in order to get your business and your dollars.
So while it seems like a long way from eggs to artificial colors, the process and the end result is the same.    Read the labels, know what’s in your food, and be willing to speak out about how you feel.
Superfoods

Superfoods Trending Down

According to a recent news article, superfoods are trending down.  Not all superfoods, just the ones that have been the media darlings, acai, goji berries and the like.  I actually like this trend because as I wrote previously (back in 2008 I might add) we don’t need to import superfoods. Bringing them to your table from other countries that adds to the environmental impact of sourcing them. We would do better to utilize those that are readily available.  It’s more sustainable, eco-friendly, and also easier on your wallet.

What are superfoods

While there isn’t a true definition for a superfood, it’s generally accepted that they are foods with high levels of vitamins, minerals, and/or antioxidants. Eating them is supposed to be beneficial due to their increased nutrient values. To take advantage of their health benefits, choose local, or domestic, options.

Domestic superfoods

Berries– with lots of fiber and antioxidants they’re great and easy to add to the diet in cereal, yogurt, salads, plain, anytime.
 
Eggs – high in protein (1 egg provides 6 g) with lutein and zeaxanthin (good for your eyes) eggs are nourishing, versatile and satisfying.
 
Nuts – raw and unsalted are the best. Soaked nuts are optimal for good nutrition. Providing monosaturated fats they are a great heart-healthy choice.  Add them to foods such as cereals or baked good or take some along for healthy nutrition boosting snack.
 
Broccoli – yes, it is a super food.  With an amazing nutritional punch, it provides not only fiber and a wide range of vitamins, but it also has sulforaphane which is a potent cancer-fighting detoxifier.
 
Beans – with a hefty dose of fiber and iron beans are an all-around good for you food.  Soups, stews, and dips are a great way to add them to your meals.
 
Beta-carotenes – okay so this isn’t a food but rather a group of foods.  Found in orange foods (think sweet potatoes, winter squashes, carrots, etc) and dark leafy greens (the chlorophyll hides the color) like kale, spinach, collards, and more betacarotene is a powerful antioxidant that supports immune system health, reproductive health, and it’s very good for your eyes.
 
So while imported superfoods may be trending down I’m rooting for an overall upward trend in the concept of nourishing foods.
 

The Egg Saga Continues





















If you have access to the internet it’s pretty much a given at this point that you know about the enormous egg recall.  You may even have heard that the salmonella contamination actually went back as far as 2008.


Obviously this issue raised a lot of questions about sanitary practices, animal health management, and even about FDA/USDA oversight or lack thereof.  I’m sure a lot more people are either not eating eggs or considering raising their own chickens.  And I talked with a number of people who wondered how price the cost of eggs was going to go once the full recall was in effect.  Especially if you are buying free range, organic eggs you are already paying a premium.  One person even jokingly asked me if I thought there would be a bailout of the egg producer since, “We’ve already bailed out everyone else who made huge mistakes and [hurt] the consumer in search of profits.”


I confess I wondered what was going to happen with all those recalled eggs.  Hundreds of millions of eggs were recalled.  That’s a lot of money.  Well, it turns out those eggs are not going to be destroyed or flushed down the drain or disposed of.  Stephen Jannise of Distribution Software Advice has written an article that explains how all those eggs are going to remain in the food chain.  They’re going to be sent to “breakage plants” where they will be pasteurized to “clean up” the pathogenic bacteria and then it will be turned into egg product such as egg beaters or the “scrambled” eggs that appear in many buffet breakfasts.  Stephen does an excellent job explaining the recall (there’s also a good graphic showing the egg distribution) and I encourage you to read the article.


The FDA is now considering requiring that all eggs be pasteurized before they are sold.  I’m not a big fan of this.  First of all, when pasteurizing an egg, even though it’s not cooked, the proteins begin to bind together.  Secondly, although there are no studies that I can find I know that pasteurization can have a negative effect on dairy.  Furthermore, I agree with the tone of the article linked to above.  The FDA, instead of looking at the enormous supply chain, overcrowding, unsanitary, inhumane conditions, and the lack of oversight wants to over-regulate it and require pasteurization.  I see that as a problem.


More importantly I’m not convinced that there won’t be a problem with the pasteurization process, meaning some contamination might still make it through. I wonder how much of this liquid egg product will wind up in the food chain for use in baked goods and other commercial applications.  


At this point I believe the safest thing is to only get fresh eggs from sources you trust, not to eat liquid egg products, and to avoid scrambled eggs from commercial establishments.


photo:  Stephen Depolo