An Ode To Eggs & The Best Darn Egg's Benedict Recipe in honor of National Egg (Appreciation) Day

Today is National Egg Day, and I’d like to throw “Appreciation” into the title, since eggs have the tendency to get shunted for their cholesterol content. Coming from someone who is watching her cholesterol, I have to say that I have a bone to pick with this stigma. So, in an attempt to rectify the bad reputation eggs have acquired over the years, this post will discuss their nutritional components, touch in on some of the environmental considerations, and end with possibly the most delicious egg recipe – a healthy eggs benedict – my taste buds have ever encountered.

But before all that, I have to quickly acknowledge that this post is my 150th! I know most people only celebrate the hundreds, but I decided to give Floptimism a small gift, anyway. In honor of 150 ramblings by yours truly, I've created a recipe archive so that you can quickly find any recipe on here, by category. You can also follow Floptimism on Twitter and by email (sign up at the bottom of the site page) - no Facebook yet. Only one new-fangled technology account at a time, please!

 Now, about those eggs. They’re bad for you, right? After all, each one has a whopping 200mg in it, which is just about 2/3 of the recommended daily limit, and they also have 5 grams of fat. Five grams?! Surely I shouldn’t be eating this devilish food (pun definitely intended)!

But here’s the thing. Yes, eggs are fairly high in cholesterol – many animal products are. However, dietary cholesterol only accounts for about 15% of what makes your blood cholesterol levels go off the charts. The truth is that a diet high in saturated or trans fats is much more worrisome than one that incorporates whole eggs several times a week. With that being said, if you do struggle with high cholesterol, it is recommended that you keep your egg intake to about 2 per week (note that two is not, in fact, zero). But wait a minute – back up. What about the 5 grams of fat? Well, only 1g of those 5 is saturated, so what you really wind up with is a little package of healthy fats in that beautiful, yellow yolk. These other 4g of fat have actually been shown to help keep cholesterol levels in check, and you may know them as “heart healthy” fats for this reason.

So now that we’ve got that cleared up, let’s talk about all of the other great things stuffed into these little, white spheres. With each large egg topping out at around 70 calories, they’re packed with protein (about 7grams), Vitamin A, folate, choline, Vitamin D, and Calcium. Plus, they’re low in sodium (with almost as much Potassium in them for balance). Balance is, as it turns out, an excellent way to describe eggs. They’re also one of the most economical and versatile ingredients you can keep in stock. So don’t give up on the poor old egg – he’s been good to us for a long time. And if you’re still concerned about those cholesterol-filled yolks, ease your conscience by mixing one whole egg with several egg whites – that way, you can cut back on the fat and calories without completely eliminating all of the vitamins, minerals, and protein to keep you healthy and satiated.

Being who I am, I can’t stop with Egg Nutrition 101. You see, eggs are great sources of many important nutrients, and I eat a combination of whole eggs and egg whites several times each week. However, the eggs found in most grocery store cases…well, they’re not all that and a bag of chips. You see, happy animals make happy food, and chickens – if they had the higher brain power to experience true emotions – would not be happy in the majority of chicken farms in this country. You may be thinking, “Well, I buy Land-O-Lakes’ Cage-Free eggs…” “Cage free” sure sounds nice, but what does it mean? The unfortunate truth is that “cage-free” and “free range” are not well-regulated. More often than not chickens kept in “free range” conditions are caged in and overcrowded for the first however many weeks or months of their existence, and then a little tiny door is opened to a small grazing area…but only after they’re become accustomed to their cooped-in, messy life. Most of the chickens don’t ever go through that door, yet their eggs can still be labeled “free range.” As for “cage free,” they’re still overcrowded, and this can sometimes be even more dangerous than farms that use cages.

I’m not telling you this to make you run for PETA or stop eating meat and meat products. I’m a meat eater, and I likely always will be. I also currently buy the regular, cheap eggs, though every time I go to the Farmer’s Market or see the $3/dozen Happy Eggs in the natural section of my store, I pause to think. You see, not only does my conscience rest easier with the idea that the hens laying those eggs are treated more ethically, not fed fattening grain that messes with their health and, ultimately, ours, but I also know that those eggs are significantly healthier in terms of other nutrients. You can see it in the yolks, which are a bright orange from all of the carotene. (Naturally) bright foods are often times the healthiest for you, as they’re indicative of high levels of nutrients. And it’s true for eggs, too. They may cost double or triple, but it’s akin to choosing a block of cheddar cheese over a can of cheez-wiz. It’s still a personal choice, and a choice means that either option is acceptable if you come to it of your own volition, but it’s not paying double or triple for the same exact food.

Many chefs say that the most important step in learning to cook well has nothing to do with techniques and equipment. It’s all about surrounding yourself with the best ingredients possible – the most vibrant, the freshest, the healthiest. And as I think back on the Eggs Benedict that I made earlier this semester, I can’t begin to fathom how much more rave-worthy it would be using a farm fresh, local egg. The color, the flavor – this one, simple dish would just knock your socks off. You would have no choice but to close your eyes and savor every bite. It’s good with regular eggs – in fact, it’s really good with regular eggs – creamy and hearty without much guilt at all, but the idea of trying it with the best ingredients possible…well, it’d really take it over the top.

Healthified Eggs Benedict, courtesy of Mother Rimmy’s Kitchen
Yield: 1 serving

The Ingredients
1 egg
1 slice whole grain bread, toasted
½ tablespoon butter
¾ tablespoon whole grain flour
½ cup low-fat milk
½ teaspoon spicy brown mustard
½ teaspoon lemon juice
½ cup spinach, chopped
2 tablespoons cheese, shredded*

The Method
Poach the eggs** until the yolk is still runny, but slightly cooked. Meanwhile, in a medium sauce pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour until blended. Add ¼ cup of the milk and whisk until blended before adding the rest of the milk along with the mustard, lemon juice, and salt and pepper, to taste. Cook the mixture for 3-5 minutes, looking for it to become bubbly and thick. Finally, add the cheese and spinach and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes, ensuring a nice, thick sauce. Top the slice of toast with the poached egg and the sauce. Indulge!

*I used low-fat cheddar, but the original calls for swiss – anything would be good, really!
**This was my first time poaching an egg, and I have to say that Cookin’ Canuck has an excellent How-To post. Definitely check it out if you’re feeling a little shaky!

Still not egg-ed out, even after this monstrous post? Check out The Good Egg Project Website for even more eggy goodness!

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