13 September 2008

Breakfast Fare-Eggs Glorious Eggs

The regular breakfast fare-eggs, bacon, pancakes etc. can have you hearing the calories/fat police coming a mile away with a whole heap of guilt-inducing condemnation. But I’ve learnt that there are so many ways to keep the ‘police’ at bay. There’s more than one way to skin a cat, as they say.

It’s so easy to just give in to fighting an internal war with ourselves when it comes to how and if we can include the foods we really love, like eggs for breakfast, in the diet. It’s like there’s a pesky whip of condemnation we beat ourselves with constantly. There’s also that ‘all or nothing” attitude, where if there is one perceived ‘bad’ thing about a food, the food gets the axe. The last I checked, food is one of the ‘feel good’ aspects of life, right up there with getting a back or foot rub, taking a relaxing soak and picnicking in the park. If you’re like me, the more ‘feel good’ things the better.

Some Egg Facts

Eggs in particular, are a notable player in many a morning breakfast rituals. All the fat (about 5g total fat, 1.5 g saturated fat, which is very little fat compared to most foods) and cholesterol, and most of the calories in eggs is found in the egg yolk. One yolk contains about 212mg cholesterol. However the egg yolk also contains tons of nutrition including Vitamin A, Vitamin E, calcium, lutein, zinc, folate, and other nutrients in smaller amounts. Some of these nutrients are also contained in the egg white which is loaded with high quality protein and very little calories, about 20 calories per egg. One whole egg is about 75 calories.

But unfortunately it's the egg's notorious cholesterol profile which has egg being a food which is both scorned and loved. If cholesterol is your concern, you can simply discard the yolk portion and that issue is resolved very easily. But you should know that your lipid profile in general has more to do with raising cholesterol levels than cholesterol itself.

Saturated fats and trans fats have been shown to be even greater contributors to raising cholesterol levels. Furthermore, some research has found that not all of the cholesterol in egg is absorbed into the blood stream due to a compound called lecithin which is also found in eggs.

Eggs are one of the most nutritious and highly available breakfast or ‘any meal’ foods, and is widely found in so many foods that mostly or even totally taking it out of the diet could be a challenge. Here's how I've been having my eggs for breakfast and eating them too.

Scrambled Eggs and Omeletes

For scrambled eggs and omelettes, I use a simple ratio of two eggs to one yolk or just allow some of the yolk to fall into the pan when I crack the egg open, discarding the rest. I like to feel like I’m actually eating scrambled eggs, and I think scrambled eggs with whites only lacks the flavor and texture that only the fat in the yolk can bring. Egg substitutes such as Egg beaters provide another option, but I never feel them to taste as real as the real thing.

Scrambled eggs and omelettes are so versatile. You can add a variety of ingredients like fresh herbs, meat pieces, vegetables, cheese etc, and make a meal of them. Eggs in general can also be a great addition to a healthy sandwich.

Fried & Boiled Eggs

Both these styles of preparing eggs allow you to easily separate egg white from egg yolk. For fried eggs , I have mine ‘over hard’, and simply separate the yolk from the egg once it is completely fried. I discard the yolks for boiled eggs, depending on how much I am having. If I'm have 7 boiled eggs in an egg salad for example, I toss out at least half of the yolks, vs. if it is only one egg eaten on its own.

Sometimes just the ‘feel’ of eggs would do just as well as the egg itself, especially for someone who is allergic or follows a vegetarian diet. In this case, a common substitute is tofu, which is also high in protein, but is low fat. Crumbled tofu sautéed with some oil, herbs, and seasonings can be a great egg replacer. To get it to more greatly resemble egg, add turmeric or curry powder to give it that 'yolk' color.

Regardless of how you use or substitute it, egg is a part of the breakfast table that is not likely to disappear anytime soon. It is still a healthful and nutritious choice.


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