Baked Eggs in a Tomato-Parmesan Sauce

I have a confession to make. I tend to avoid doling out personal information on this website, keeping as much anonymity as possible. For a while, it was because I hadn't really told anyone about this, and was still somewhat embarrassed of the fact that I was pouring the culinary chamber of my heart out to the vast black hole that is the internet. It's not exactly a common pastime for many 21-year-olds. I think, though, that a little personal divulgence is, if not necessary, beneficial. A lot of the things I make, I have chosen to make simply because they sound like they'd be good; but then, there are others that have a little bit more of a thought process behind them, a little bit more of a story. So, rather than just rambling on a little bit about the flavors and what I'd do differently next time, and then regurgitating a recipe that you can likely find elsewhere (although I am pretty proud of the many Floptimism Originals I've been coming up with lately), I'd like to start making more of a connection to my food. From time to time, at least.

This, if you hadn't already gathered, is to be one of those times. You see, here's where my confession comes in: I have high cholesterol. Now, I know most of you have never seen me before, but I'm not exactly the walking image of high cholesterol: young, active, an aspiring nutritionist who steps on a scale and just barely hits the low end of her IBW - I mean, I haven't had fast food in almost 2 years, darn it! Most people thought I was crazy for even wanting labs done at all, but, being the preventative-oriented kinda gal that I am, I wanted to know my baselines. You know, just in case. So, with my last physical, I had Daddy Floptimism sit in a room and give me words of encouragement while a nurse drew way too many viles of my blood. And, lo and behold, I have high cholesterol. High triglycerides, to be more precise.

High triglycerides, though they are a measure of fat in the body, tend to come more from a diet high in carbohydrates than one that's high in fat. When asked by Daddy Floptimism if I ate a high-carb diet, I immediately got defensive and said, "No! Of course not!" How could my diet be anything but perfect? I mean, really! But then, I thought about it. Breakfast - dairy + fruit + grain = all carbs. Midmorning snack: fruit or granola bar = all carbs. Lunch - sandwich, a salad with dried/fresh fruit, an omelet and half a bagel...carbs. Dinner - grain and, more importantly, beans when I so often at school opted for a meat-free meal = carbs. Dessert - cake, brownies, cookies, ice cream...yup, carbs. Yes, I ate veggies, too. Yes, I ate protein, too. Yes, fruits and dairy have things other than carbohydrates in them. My diet wasn't nutritionally devoid, but was it high carb? Yes, yes it was.

This news came very conveniently at the start of the New Year, so I decided, being young and active and whatnot, I would make a couple of small changes to my diet, repeat the lab work at my next physical, and see if there were improvements. I'm not high-risk; my cholesterol is not through the roof and I'm not at an age or a weight where it's an immediate concern. So, I would move little by little. I made goals for myself: (1) Eat a non-carb breakfast (ie eggs + veggies) for breakfast 1x / week (2) Eat a non/low-carb lunch 2x/week (3) Eat a non/low-carb dinner 1x/week, and (4) choose a low carb snack between lunch and dinner at least 4x/week.

What all of this labwork and goal-setting means to you is, well, you're going to be getting some delicious, filling low- and non-carb dishes from me every now and then! Now, I'm no proponent of the atkins diet - carbs are super important. I am in no way cutting out carbohydrates from my diet or advocating that anyone else should. I also should probably ethically include a disclaimer that, since I am not yet an actual dietician, if you're in a situation similar to mine, you should see a health care professional before jumping on board with me. I'm merely going to be adding to this blog an array of options for people who try to control the amount of carbohydrates they consume - whether it be for weight loss, cholesterol, diabetes, or even celiac disease, since a non-carbohydrate meal will be inherently gluten-free.

Phew! All of that, and I still haven't started telling you about this delicious recipe for eggs that I made last week. So let's get to the good stuff, shall we? When planning my low/non-carb dinner for the week, I have often been looking into my breakfast folder of saved recipes; specifically, the eggs. My egg exposure so far has been fairly limited. I like omelettes and scrambled eggs, and I'll even eat a hard boiled one, though I couldn't really be bothered to make them myself. Anything where the yolk is still really in-tact and not all mixed up with the white, and you've lost me. But, Martha Stewart knows her stuff, and I'm all about trying new things, so I decided to take the plunge and make a baked egg, separate yolk and white and all. And you know what? I am so glad that I did.

Now, for anyone who has read more than, oh I don't know, two of my blog entries, you should have noticed a trend in what makes a good recipe for me: ease of preparation, complex flavors/colors/textures, and not too much salt. This recipe has all three of those things! First, it came together in a snap. I didn't even make a huge mess that night in the kitchen, which is a double bonus. Second, the flavor was spot-on and the textures were wonderful: a sweet tomato base with rosemary mixed in so that it comes through perfectly, creamy (and fully cooked!) yolks with smooth, almost hard-boiled-like whites...really delicious, but also really simple. It would be such a perfect recipe for a big family breakfast, maybe if the in-laws or the cousins or aunts and uncles are over for a holiday and you want them to wake up to something special. But, I have to say, I thought it was pretty awesome as a dinner entree on a cold, January night. For a version that includes carbohydrates, a warm, hearty piece of crusty bread to scoop it all up with would be excellent, but even though that thought was on my mind while making this, I did not feel deprived eating it as it was.

Apparently, I enjoyed it so much that I never even considered taking a picture of it! C'est la vie. There has been a lot going on here in the Floptimism Kitchen and the Floptimism Apartment, so you will have to forgive me. Martha Stewart has some very lovely photos, however, so you can follow the link to her site and oogle at those. I promise, mine looked every bit as professional and appetizing as hers. In fact, I think I will let you head on over there for the recipe, too, seeing as how I've already written a near-novel and the only changes I made were to make an individual portion of it (very easy to do, by the way) and I used whole, peeled tomatoes and crushed them myself.

Baked Eggs in a Tomato-Parmesan Sauce, courtesy of Martha Stewart

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