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How do you like your eggs? Perfectly cooked!

Hi Readers!  Today we have one of our Registered Dietitian Advisors, Serena Ball, blogging.  Enjoy!

~ Marcia

I love eggs. I adore eating eat them. And as a registered dietitian and mom of three, I feel great about feeding them to my children. Most of all, I love how easy it is to cook a perfect egg.

Since my kitchen is often full of chaos, I count it as a small victory when perfectly cooked eggs emerge from the fray. Cooking perfectly creamy, satiny scrambled eggs is simple, as long as they are patiently cooked low (heat) and slow. The trick to a perfectly poached egg is a tablespoon of vinegar in the poaching water. Even custardy egg en cocottes (baked eggs) are now easy thanks to Julia Child’s video. However, preparing the perfect hardboiled egg has always eluded me; until now.

Thanks to my recent placement on the Egg Nutrition Center’s Registered Dietitian Advisory board, I was sent a press release containing simple instructions for perfect Easter eggs. Reading it was an “Ah-Ha Moment!” Finally, the elusive trick to perfectly cooked hardboiled egg: Don’t boil them! After years of boiling my eggs five minutes, then three minutes then one minute, I learned the secret to a hardboiled egg is to only bring the water to a boil and then immediately cover it and turn off the heat. (Boiling them will leave a green ring around the yolk and make whites tough.) In fact, the Incredible Egg folks don’t even call them hardboiled eggs, they call them hard-cooked eggs. Here are the three steps to perfect hard-cooked eggs:

  1. Place eggs in a single layer in a pan; add cold water to cover eggs by 1 inch. (Eggs that have sat in your refrigerator for a week – instead of fresh from the store – are easier to peel in the end.)
  2. Over high heat, bring to a full rolling boil where large bubbles break the surface of the water. (No, it’s not true that a ‘watched pot never boils;’ so go ahead and keep your eye on it.) Immediately remove from heat, cover pan, and set the timer for 15 minutes for large eggs (longer for extra large eggs).
  3. Use kitchen tongs or a slotted spoon to remove eggs and place in a bowl of ice cold water to chill. Crack, peel and eat or place in the refrigerator to enjoy later.

If you prefer not to sit and watch the pot boil, you can try this ingenious (but time-consuming) recipe for Slow Cooker Hardboiled eggs.

Or, if you like recipes in say, 140 characters or less, try this reci-tweet) for hard-cooked eggs: “To hard-cook eggs, just bring to boil, turn off heat & keep in covered pot for 15 min. Then cool in ice water” For more reci-tweets and helpful egg tips, join me, @TspCurry and @IncredibleEggs for a Twitter Party on April 20 at 8:00 p.m. CT.

Lastly, here’s a photo of one of my kids enjoying a favorite egg recipe from my own childhood. Here’s the recipe for silky smooth Egg Custard.

Serena Ball, MS, RD is Partner at Teaspoon Communications and the egg cook for her husband and three children in Chicago.

 

 

 

Health and Nutrition Down Under

I recently returned from a vacation in Sydney, Australia where as a dietitian/foodie I enjoyed studying the many culinary similarities we share with people so far away. I was drawn to articles in almost all publications from the most local community newsletter to the biggest city newspaper that discussed nutrition and it’s relation to health. It definitely seems Australians are as interested in fitness and health as Americans seem to be, although there seems to be less regulation on claims that foods and advertisements can make about their products.

Supermarkets seem to be screaming with products that claim to be packed with nutrients that insure health, although I’m not sure how a consumer can know which claims have scientific substantiation and which are marketing. I purchased eggs which were not refrigerated because I’m assuming they vaccinate their hens to prevent the growth of Salmonella. The variety of eggs available is dumbfounding. There were many free range eggs and others that were caged but the ones that I purchased were from a producer called “Happy Hens” egg farm. I found it interesting that these eggs specify that they are naturally grain fed eggs and are locally produced in Victoria and carry the National Heart Foundation approved check or tick “because they are a nutritious food”.  I can’t imagine how anyone has the time or interest to weigh the pros and cons of all those issues before choosing which eggs to purchase. I suspect that most consumers like me looked at the price and at $4.75/doz decided these lowest cost eggs were the best choice. I wonder if this is an example of getting what we wish for.

Do we really want the burden of deciphering an arm’s length of different claims on all our food before we purchase the most basic pantry items? I’m also wondering how consumers can prioritize which nutrition claims are the most important and which are less important for health?

~Marcia

Childhood Nutrition Myths and Facts

Hi Readers –  As you may have noticed, we have changed our blog name to Nutrition Unscrambled. Enjoy!

I was recently made aware of a blog called Raise Healthy Eaters. The site looks very good, and it offers a number of excellent tips on healthy eating for kids. A recent post discussed various nutritional myths, many of which were aimed at the micronutrient needs of children.

If you’re interested in learning more about healthy eating for children, this blog is worth checking out. And while we’re on the topic of healthy eating for children, a couple of recent studies you should be aware of are:

Krebs NF, Gao D, Gralla J, et al. Efficacy and safety of a high protein, low carbohydrate diet for weight loss in severely obese adolescents. J Pediatr 2010.

The study demonstrated that severely obese adolescents who followed a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet had significantly lower body mass index (BMI) after 13 weeks and were also able to maintain weight loss after six months versus those who followed a low-fat diet. The obese adolescents who followed the high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet also experienced greater fat mass loss and reductions in triglyceride levels.

 Leidy HJ, Racki EM. The addition of a protein-rich breakfast and its effect on acute appetite control and food intake in ‘breakfast skipping’ adolescents. Int J Obs 2010.

These researchers examined the impact of a protein-rich breakfast on adolescents who traditionally skipped breakfast. When the study participants ate a protein-rich breakfast the researchers observed that the teens were less hungry and ate approximately 130 fewer calories at lunch.

It continues to amaze me that nearly one in three American children are overweight or obese,  which increases their risk for developing chronic diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and cancer. More and more research is suggesting that the high carbohydrate eating practices that have been so prevalent in the U.S. for many years may be exacerbating the problem. Newer studies suggesting the benefits of higher protein/lower carb diets, such as those cited above are provocative, and worth considering.

Free Range, Organic, Conventional and Everything In Between

Some many choices, so little time to research the facts. That’s often the conundrum the average shopper finds themselves in these days. We all want the best for our families, but what does “best” really mean? With respect to eggs, producers offer variety to consumers in the form of organic eggs and cage free eggs, among other choices. But is one type of egg really healthier than another? A quick primer on these issues may help:

To be considered organic, eggs must meet a set of national standards developed by the National Organic Standard Board. Organic eggs are produced by hens given feed without pesticides, herbicides, or commercial fertilizers. The use of hormones or antibiotics is also prohibited in birds that provide organic eggs. The rub is that commercial egg producers do not use hormones or antibiotics routinely anyway. So non-organic eggs are pretty much as “untainted” as their organic cousins. Further, non-organic eggs are every bit as nutritious as organic eggs.

Cage free eggs come from hens living in indoor floor facilities. These hens do not necessarily have access to the outdoors. While some folks prefer eggs produced by cage free birds because they feel these hens live more humanely, the fact of the matter is that modern cages are designed with the bird’s welfare in mind. In the hen house, birds are more readily protected from the elements, from diseases, and from natural and unnatural predators. The diet of the caged bird is also more well controlled, leading to the production of eggs of unmatched nutritional quality. Research has continually shown that the eggs produced by caged hens are at least as nutritious, if not more so, than eggs from birds that eat a less controlled diet. And, it should be pointed out that mortality rates are higher in hens living in cage free environments.

– Mitch

Give Eggs the Company they Deserve

When observing focus groups around the country which included physicians, nurses, dietitians and personal trainers it was interesting to see how these health professionals viewed eggs and dietary cholesterol.  Most health professionals felt eggs were a healthy food choice especially compared to available alternatives. In fact, it was often heard that eggs got a bad rap and they did not feel that the food deserved to be the icon of indulgence. What we heard is that eggs offered many valuable nutrients lacking in their patient’s diets and suggested an egg is a better choice than sweetened cereals, breakfast bars or donuts. What concerned most health professionals were what other foods people choose to eat with eggs. They generally agreed that eggs need to choose new friends and could be considered healthy if they weren’t accompanied by the saturated fat and sodium found in other breakfast foods. This striking misperception is often exemplified in restaurant menus that list egg white omelets accompanied by high fat and high sodium bacon or sausage with white toast as the healthy choice, giving the impression that egg yolks are the unhealthy element.

In fact, scientific research has shown that the egg yolk supplies about 40% of the high quality protein in an egg important for muscle building and retaining muscle especially when aging or losing weight. The yolk is also known as a naturally good source of vitamin D, lutein and choline, all nutrients that are needed for health. What makes eggs especially healthy is that they can be a great vehicle for eating vegetables and whole grains that supply many other important nutrients making an egg breakfast done right a great way to start the day. To me, the recent research that showed eating eggs at breakfast did indeed keep one satisfied for longer than an isocaloric bagel breakfast confirmed that eggs at breakfast is the healthiest choice to make.

~ Marcia