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Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Incredible Egg

Excellent Ingredient of the Week
Farm fresh eggs! This is what Wikipedia says:
Eggs are laid by females of many different species, including birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish, and have probably been eaten by mankind for millennia. Bird and reptile eggs consist of a protective eggshell, albumen (egg white), and vitellus (egg yolk), contained within various thin membranes. Popular choices for egg consumption are chicken, duck, quail, roe, and caviar, but the egg most often consumed by humans is the chicken egg, by a wide margin.

Egg yolks and whole eggs store significant amounts of protein and choline, and are widely used in cookery. Due to their protein content, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) categorizes eggs as Meats within the Food Guide Pyramid. Despite the nutritional value of eggs, there are some potential health issues arising from egg quality, storage, and individual allergies. Chickens and other egg-laying creatures are widely kept throughout the world, and mass production of chicken eggs is a global industry. There are issues of regional variation in demand and expectation, as well as current debates concerning methods of mass production, with the European Union planning to ban battery farming of chickens from 2012.

Weird egg facts:
  • To tell if an egg is raw or hard-boiled, spin it. Because the liquids have set into a solid, a hard-boiled egg will easily spin. The moving liquids in a raw egg will cause it to wobble.
  • Double-yolked eggs are often produced by young hens whose egg production cycles are not yet completely synchronized. They’re often produced too, by hens which are old enough to produce Extra Large-sized eggs. Genetics is also a factor. Occasionally a hen will produce double-yolked eggs throughout her egg-laying career. It’s rare, but not unusual, for a young hen to produce an egg with no yolk at all.
  • An egg roll can be any one of three very different things: 1) an Asian specialty, usually served as an appetizer, in which a savory filling is wrapped in an egg-rich dough and then deep-fat fried, 2) an annual Easter event held in many places, including the White House lawn and 3) an elongated hard-boiled egg made for the foodservice industry. When the long egg roll is sliced with a special slicer, every piece is a pretty center cut.
  • It is said that an egg will stand on its end during the spring (vernal) equinox (about March 21), one of the two times of the year when the sun crosses the equator and day and night are of equal length everywhere. Depending on the shape of the egg, you may be able to stand it on its end other days of the year as well.
  • Long before the days of refrigeration, the ancient Chinese stored eggs up to several years by immersing them in a variety of such imaginative mixtures as salt and wet clay; cooked rice, salt and lime; or salt and wood ashes mixed with a tea infusion. The treated eggs bore little similarity to fresh eggs, some exhibiting greenish-gray yolks and albumen resembling brown jelly. Today, eggs preserved in this manner are enjoyed in China as a delicacy.
  • You really can have egg on your face. As egg white tends to be drying, it has long been used as a facial. Egg yolks are used in shampoos and conditioners and, sometimes, soaps. Cholesterol, lecithin and some of the egg’s fatty acids are used in skin care products, such as revitalizers, make-up foundations and even lipstick.

Nutrition Nuggets:
  • The egg has a high nutrient density because it provides a wide range of nutrients in proportion to its calorie count (about 70 calories per Large egg). Nutrient-dense foods help you get the nutrients you need without excess calories.
    A Large-sized egg supplies 12.6% of the Daily Reference Value (DRV) for protein. A little over half of the egg’s protein is in the white and the rest is in the yolk. The egg’s protein is the highest quality protein of any food. One egg of any size equals one ounce of lean meat, poultry, fish or seafood in the food groups.
  • High-quality protein, like the protein in eggs, can benefit people of all ages in many ways, including forming muscle tissue, building muscle strength, repairing muscles after exercise and warding off the loss of muscle tissue as we age.
  • High-quality protein also helps in weight management. Eating more high-quality protein foods, such as eggs, and fewer carbohydrates helps preserve lean muscle tissue and increase fat loss during weight loss. Research has shown that, compared to bagel eaters, when overweight and obese people ate a breakfast including eggs, the egg eaters’ appetites were satisfied longer and they ate fewer calories the rest of the day. Studies have also shown that those who eat more protein foods lose slightly more weight and maintain better blood lipid and glucose levels than those who eat a high-carbohydrate diet.
  • Egg yolks are an excellent and important source of choline. A Large egg yolk contains 125 mg of choline and provides 23% of a pregnant woman’s daily needs. Choline intake during pregnancy may be a key factor in the development of infants’ memory functions and, later in life, choline may improve memory capacity.
  • The yolk gets its color from the yellow-orange plant pigments called lutein and zeaxanthin. Lutein and zeaxanthin have been shown to reduce the risks of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in those 65 and older. Research has shown that, due to the egg yolk’s fat content, the yolk’s lutein and zeaxanthin may be more easily absorbed by the body than the lutein and zeaxanthin from other sources. A Large egg yolk contains 166 mcg of lutein and zeaxanthin.
    Incredibly, eggs are also a good source of vitamin B12 (10.8 % of the DRV) and riboflavin (14% of the RDI) and supply varying amounts of many other nutrients, including a wide variety of other vitamins and minerals. The yolk contains a higher percentage of the eggs’ vitamins than the white, including all of the eggs’ vitamins A, D and E. Egg yolks are one of the few foods that naturally contain vitamin D.

So I say less is more, poach it, scramble it, enjoy it!