What Egg-xact-ly?

And I thought choosing between over easy and scrambled was hard.  How about what kind of eggs to buy? Have you noticed all the labels on those cartons?  What do they all mean?  In other words, not egg – xact – ly so straightforward. Well, perhaps I can illuminate a bit on this quintessential breakfast ingredient and help you make the healthiest choice for you and your family. And, don't miss the delicious easy recipe (great for a crowd for brunch!) and an egg cracking trick at the end, too!

Tap here to learn which type of eggs are the healthiest to eat. Learn a neat egg-cracking tip, too, and a delicious, healthy recipe as well.  The Health-Minded.com

Egg Labeling

First, here are several labeling terms to help distinguish among the many egg labels and a bit about each:

Commercial eggs:  These eggs, found in most large grocery store chains, come from hens fed soy and grains mostly.  The living conditions can be less than ideal and disease can set in.  The hens could or could not be given hormones or antibiotics.  Check the labeling.

Brown or green eggs:  These colored eggs can be found with pastured eggs frequently.  They do not carry extra nutriton. The color of the eggs is determined by the hen's breed.

Organic eggs:  Hens are fed organic feed and not given antibiotics or hormones.  The hens are not necessarily roaming freely, though.  They could be cooped up (pardon the pun) in very tight quarters.

Free range eggs: Hens are able to move about freely, not caged, indoors and out but outside can be just as crowded as inside.  This term can be a loose one and mean many things.  Try to clarify if possible so that you know what you are buying.

Cage free eggs:  The chickens are not caged but not outside either.

Omega-3 eggs:  Hens are fed fish oil and flax seed to increase the omega-3 levels in the eggs.  Some studies claims these eggs contain seven times the omega-3 than regular eggs.

Pasteurized eggs:  These eggs have been exposed to high temperatures to ward off microorganisms that could cause infection.

Pastured eggs:  These eggs are not to be confused with pasteurized eggs in the above definition.  The hens are “out to pasture” moving freely indoors and out and eating what they want, bugs and the like.

It is important to note that you must not assume favorable hen living conditions with the labeling.  For example, even though the label of the eggs may say certified organic or from uncaged or free-range hens, this does not equate with access to the outdoors or to pasture with lots of room to move about.

Which are the Healthiest Eggs to Eat?

Other than showing concern for the well-being of our feathered friends, why is eating eggs from hens that are free to roam in pasture make such a difference in the value of the egg or make it healthier to eat?  A 2007 Mother Earth study that compared store brand supermarket eggs to pastured eggs said the pastured eggs may have the following benefits:
  • 5 times more vitamin D
  • 2/3 more vitamin A
  • 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
  • 3 times more vitamin E
  • 7 times more beta carotene
So, allowing the hens to roam in pasture eating what they like apparently creates a more healthy egg. Thus, nutritionally speaking, overall, pastured eggs are the best choice.  And the taste? It is markedly better.  My family and I have been eating pastured eggs for years now and can taste the difference immediately when we order eggs at restaurants.  The yolks are a bright yellow and the taste is superior! 

Where to Find Pastured Eggs

Even a year ago, pastured eggs could not be found in most large grocery store chains, making it inconvenient for some to purchase them.  However, many stores are carrying them because of demand.  Farmers' markets almost always have sellers as well that carry them, but they may cost more.  How much more depends on where you live.  Besides perusing your local farmers' markets, you can check out the Eat Wild and Local Harvest websites to look for pastured eggs in your area that you can easily order from or pick up regularly.

Look here for the easiest and most delicious brunch recipe you can make for yourself or a big crowd that will sure to please! And, learn a fun egg cooking trick, too! The Health-Minded.com

Eggs for One . . . Or a Crowd

This method of cooking eggs is so easy, filling and delicious! Treat yourself one morning (or treat others, too, by multiplying the recipe) and share for a brunch or even a light dinner.

Baked Eggs in Tomato Sauce with Oregano Pita Crisps
One Serving (or multiply as needed)

  • 1 pastured egg 
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce of choice 
  • 1/2 teaspoon Parmesan Reggiano
  • 1 teaspoon fresh basil, minced
  • smidgen of olive oil
  • 1 small whole wheat pita bread cut into quarters
  • 1 teaspoon butter with a drizzle of olive oil over it
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh minced or dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon of fresh garlic, minced
single ramekin

Now do this

For eggs . . .
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Coat ramekin with olive oil.
  • Pour tomato sauce into ramekin,
  • Crack egg and gently slide egg on top of tomato sauce.
  • Sprinkle with fresh Parmesan Reggiano.
  • Sprinkle with fresh herbs of choice.
  • Sprinkle with salt and pepper
  • Bake for 10-15 minutes or until egg white is firm but yolk is soft.  Do not overcook.
For pita crisps . . . 
  • Mash butter, olive oil and garlic together.
  • Sprinkle with a tiny bit of salt.
  • Sprinkle with oregano.
  • Spread mixture over whole wheat pita bread and place on foil or small cookie sheet.
  • Bake while egg ramekin is baking until golden brown and bubbly.
  • Serve with egg ramekin.

Make a Crack at It

If you cook a lot with eggs or just want to look like you do . . .  you may want to master this:  cracking an egg with one hand.  Watch this for some great tips.

Do you have a favorite way to eat eggs and do you eat pastured eggs as well?

photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/bitzcelt/2388261888/">bitzcelt</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/">cc</a>

Video source:  YouTube, foodwishes.com, Chef John