Eggs are packed full of wonderful nutrition. Not all eggs, however, are equal when it comes to health benefit. The trick is in picking the right eggs- from the right source- and then cooking them correctly
Pasture-raised, pasture-fed chicken eggs are the best to consume. You are what you eat, and therefore you are what the chicken who lays your eggs eats. Chickens are meant to eat bugs, worms, seeds, and other such morsels found in the grass or dirt outside. This feed provides the best nutrition for the chicken and therefore produces the most nutritious eggs. Pasture fed chickens have such a diet. Their eggs have darker yolks than inside chickens and/or those fed an all grain diet without exposure to feed found out of doors. Pasture-fed chicken eggs also contain less cholesterol and more vitamin A, vitamin E, and potentially more omega-3 fatty acids than commercially raised eggs, whose chicken’s feed on mostly GM (genetically modified) grains and soybeans.
To buy eggs that simply say “free-range” does not mean that the chicken actually fed in the open range or that they stepped foot outside at all! It simply means that the chickens from that farm or coop had access to the outdoors; if they were actually allowed or able to go out is unknown.The best place to ensure you are receiving eggs from chickens that have fed from the ground, in the open air, is to buy them from a local farmer.
It is not hard to find a good egg source in Central Oregon. There are many local farmers and individuals who raise egg- laying chickens and keep them outside with a healthy diet. Some examples are Pine Mountain Ranch, Rainshadow Organics, Sand Lily Farms, and Deck Farms, among others. An easy place to buy local eggs is the farmers market, or online at Agricultural Connections or Central Oregon Locavore
Once you have purchased your local, pasture eggs, you must then take care in preparing them for consumption so you can take full benefit of their nourishment. High, direct heat on eggs will denature their proteins and oxidize their cholesterol. This means the proteins cannot be effectively utilized or used in your body and worse, the oxidized lipids can harm your intestines, lead to increases in blood cholesterol and contribute to damaged blood vessels and atherosclerosis. So, don’t scramble, poach! Soft and hard boiled eggs and other methods that use water, take lighter heat and keep a running yolk are good. Also, don’t be afraid of raw eggs. If you trust the source, you can trust the egg. Local eggs usually mean they are younger and fresher, and have less chance of developing a food borne pathogen. That said; do not consume eggs raw unless you are a healthy adult without a suppressed immune system.
National Geographic: What are the Differences between Pasture-Fed Chickens vs. Non? http://greenliving.nationalgeographic.com/nutritional-differences-between-pasturefed-chickens-vs-non-2413.html
Pasture-Raised Poultry: Kookoolan Farms. http://kookoolanfarms.com/Pasture-Raised_Poultry.html
National Chicken Council: Chiclopedia: What Consumers Need to Know. http://www.nationalchickencouncil.org/about-the-industry/chickopedia/
Staprans, I, Pan XM, Rapp JH, Feingold KR. The role of dietary oxidized cholesterol and oxidized fatty acids in the development of atherosclerosis. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2005 Nov; 49(11): 1075-82.
Sottero B, Gamba P, Gargiulo S, Leonarduzzi G, Poli G. CHolesterol oxidation products and disease: an emerging topic of interest in medicinal chemistry. CUrr Med Chem. 2009; 16(6): 685-705
Recipe: TA Poached eggs
Ingredients and directions for 1 serving:
1 thick slice tomato, not too ripe
3 thin slices avocado
1 pasture egg
Balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper to taste
Heat cast iron skillet on high heat with 1 tsp coconut oil. Once hot, place thick slice of tomato into oil and let cook 1 minute, flip tomato and cook 30 seconds. Place the tomato on a plate. Arrange the 3 slices of avocado onto the tomato, drizzle with balsamic vinegar and dash with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Heat 1-2 inches of water and a dash of vinegar in the bottom of a skillet on medium heat (this can be done while you are cooking the tomato). Once water is close to a boil, crack the egg in the middle, or deepest part of the skillet. As the egg cooks, take a slotted spoon and baste the egg by spooning the white of the egg on the yolk. Continue this until the white is cooked through. Use the slotted spoon to scoop the egg from the skillet and onto the waiting tomato with avocado.
Eat and enjoy!