Monday, March 19, 2012

Monday Meet Whole Foods: Eggs!

I'm changing the name of my Monday series to be Meet Whole Foods! The purpose of this series is to introduce you to whole foods and their health benefits and give you ideas about how to include more whole foods into your family's diet.
For today's whole food, I'll be talking about EGGS!
What are Eggs? 
Eggs are laid by females of many types of animals, fish, and birds. But the eggs we buy in the store were most likely laid by chickens. Eggs have a yellow yoke surrounded by a translucent or milky white substance and a hard outer shell. The outer shell can be various colors depending on the species that laid it. Chicken eggs usually range in color from brown to white, but there are a few species that lay shades of blue or green.

How do I use them?
Eggs can be hard boiled, soft boiled, fried, scrambled, poached, coddled, or pickled. Eggs can be used in many types of dishes, desserts and baked goods including omelettes, crepes, pancakes, custards, quiche and breads.

How do I protect against salmonella?
It's not recommended that eggs be eaten raw, as there is a risk of salmonella poisoning. In addition, eggs should be handled, used and stored carefully to protect against salmonella. As a precaution, do not use previously cracked eggs. Soft boiling or cooking eggs sunny-side up contain a risk for salmonella, whereas hard cooking, scrambling or frying them does not. Sanitize your hands and any surfaces that have come in contact with raw eggs.

How healthy are they?
Eggs are a good inexpensive source of high-quality protein. Protein is important in order to form the building blocks that make up the structure of our bodies. Eggs also are the richest food source of choline which helps boost brain health and memory development, reduces inflammation, is important for nervous system and cardiovascular health. Experts in the past have told people with cholesterol problems to avoid eating eggs because of the high cholesterol in the egg yolk. Apparently, this is still in debate. Studies have been shown recently that eating one or two eggs a day does not negatively effect cholesterol levels and may even help improve cholesterol level. Proteins found in eggs help reduce the risk of a heart attack or stroke because they help inhibit blood clots. Eggs are also healthy for our eyes, reducing the risk of age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.

As you can see, there are many benefits to eating eggs and it is my opinion that the benefits outweigh the harm done by them. From what I've read, the healthiest kinds of eggs to eat are the omega-3-rich eggs. These eggs are produced by hens with a diet rich in flax seed. The eggs contain higher quantities of the important omega-3 essential fatty acids that our body needs. I personally don't eat omega-3-rich eggs. I choose to get my omega-3 sources directly from sources like flax seed, walnuts, fish, soybeans, winter squash.

What about "growing" your own?
I love to use fresh eggs in my cooking! There really is a difference in taste and quality. We had chickens for a little while and it was so much fun to gather the eggs and use them. We found out a little while ago that our zoning laws did not allow us to raise chickens and we had to sell them. So check with your city zoning if you're interested in raising them where you live. They are easy to raise and make fun pets (and chores!) for the kids. We have also had ducks and got a few duck eggs. I think they were my favorite. Ducks have wonderful personalities and are so fun for the kids. They don't lay as many eggs as chickens, which is one of the reasons why chicken eggs are so much more common. But they are great.

Where can I buy them?
Chicken eggs are widely available in grocery stores. They are relatively inexpensive ($1-$2/dozen) and easy to find. Omega-3-rich eggs are also found in grocery stores, but they will be more expensive and harder to find. If you can't raise chickens or ducks but still want fresh eggs, you may be able to find a place to buy them. They will be more expensive ($3-$4/dozen), but the taste is great.

Got a Recipe?
This week I'll be sharing some of my favorite recipes using eggs. If you have a favorite recipe with eggs, please feel free to leave a comment or send me an e-mail!

Information from this post came from: wikipedia, and whfoods

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