© Robyn Mackenzie | Dreamstime.com
My egg odyssey began like any other morning. I was driving and flipping through radio stations when I stopped to listen to a celebrity being interviewed about their diet. I don’t know who it was, but the breakfast they described sounded amazing.
It was a poached egg, served on wheat toast, brushed with olive oil and topped with a shake of hot sauce.
After a trip to the grocery store for ingredients, I made it for breakfast the next day. Eight years later, it remains my go-to. Though I occasionally change up how I prepare it, I still begin every day with an egg, making me a veritable eggs-pert. Having tried almost every variety, there are plenty of tips I’ve picked up and one brand I’ve discovered that stands head and shoulders above the rest.
There are a lot of ways to cook an egg, but poached is my favorite. It doesn’t require butter or olive oil, making it one of the healthier preparation methods. Serious cooks poach their eggs in a pan of boiling water. But seeing as I’m not a chef and am way too lazy to put in that kind of work, I use a nifty egg-poaching pan I ordered online, which does the job in about six minutes.
A few years into my egg habit, a family member began raising chickens, and soon, I was getting free eggs by the dozen. It was a great deal and, yes, they were good. Most of the time, however, the eggs arrived straight from the coop and each one had to be scrubbed, hand-washed and dried before going into the refrigerator. Since that felt a lot like work, I resumed purchasing them from the grocery store.
When I was still getting free eggs, I often had more than I could use at any one time. The good news is that eggs can be frozen for up to a year. Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as just throwing a carton in the freezer. The most convenient way to do it is to break the eggs, beat until just blended, then pour into freezer containers. Mark the date, how many eggs, and voila, they’re ready for thawing when you need a quick and easy meal.
For the longest time, I assumed that brown eggs were better than white ones in terms of being healthier or more natural. But according to the American Egg Board, the color of shell has nothing to do with its nutritional value, flavor or quality. The color of the eggshell is determined by the breed of hen — red-feathered hens lay brown eggs and white-feathered hens lay white eggs. Color makes no difference.
Eggs have gotten a bad rap over the years due to cholesterol concerns, but according to the American Heart Association, while egg yolks are a source of cholesterol, eating one a day can be part of a heart-healthy diet. In fact, a study published in the Heart journal found that eating an egg a day can lead to a lower risk of heart disease and stroke. And, in nearly a decade of daily egg-eating, my cholesterol hasn’t budged. It continues to be at a low, healthy level.
When it comes to eggs, there’s a difference between organic and non-organic. If the eggs you buy at the store are marked organic, it means that the hens weren’t raised in cages and that they were given organic feed. In addition to not containing pesticides or fertilizers, the feed also doesn’t have any animal byproducts. This explains why, along with other eco-friendly things you can buy at the grocery store, organic eggs typically cost more than regular ones.
After eight years of poached eggs, I recently began hard-boiling them for something different. Much like making poached eggs, boiling them in a pan was too time-consuming. Fortunately, a $20 egg cooker solved the problem, leaving me only with the task of figuring out how to peel a hard-boiled egg without most of it going in the garbage. Since my cooker makes enough eggs for the week, I don’t have to worry about skipping breakfast if I’m in a hurry.
On weekends, I like to shake things up and take some extra time to have my egg scrambled. It feels a little indulgent, and though I can’t scramble a perfect egg like a celebrity chef, I like to think I do alright. If I’m cooking for a crowd, I often add some shredded cheese, sauteed mushroom, onion or other unexpected ingredients that go great with eggs to give them some pizazz.
While I’m not worried about the color of my eggs, I am concerned about where they come from. For ethical and animal welfare reasons, I prefer pasture-raised eggs. Given more space than cage-free or free-range birds, pasture-raised hens have more room to roam in the sun. According to a study published in Nutrition, that sunshine naturally enriches the hens’ eggs with vitamin D, a common vitamin vegans and people over 50 are missing. Pasture-raised eggs also taste better than conventional ones and, seriously, after nearly 3,000 eggs, I can tell the difference.
Having tried nearly every brand and kind of egg over the past eight years, I’ve learned that not all brands are created equal. Far and away the winner is Vital Farms Pasture-Raised Eggs. Best in flavor and Certified Humane, Vital Farms eggs come in several varieties including organic and non-GMO, and I am their biggest fan. Whether I poach or hard-boil them, they’re amazing. They’re even better when I follow the best method for making scrambled eggs. Period.
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