2013-05-02 / Columns

Everyday Extension

Eggs are a great source of protein
By Acacia Stuckle Extension Agent, Emmons and Kidder Counties acacia.stuckle@ndsu.edu • 701-254-4811

Did you know that eggs contain natural chemicals that are good for your eyes because of their lutein content? This natural colorant may reduce our risk for age-related macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness.

In addition, eggs are considered one of the “gold standards” in nutrition because of their digestibility. Eggs fit into your budget by costing less than 20 cents an ounce.

Eggs often receive “bad press” because of their cholesterol content. However, studies have shown that most healthy people can eat one of these items every day without affecting their blood cholesterol level. Follow the advice of a health-care provider if you are on a special diet, though.

Eggs require refrigeration at 40 F or below. The best place to store this food is not in the built-in spots in a refrigerator door. Instead, containers of these should go in the main area of the refrigerator. Usually this food retains its quality for three to five weeks beyond the sell-by date.

Eggs can serve as a nutritious meal with a few added ingredients. Here’s how to create your own omelet in seven easy steps.

(1. Crack two eggs in a small bowl. Mix well with a wire whisk or fork.

(2. Add water (or milk) and mix. Season with salt, pepper and herbs (if desired). Add 1 Tbsp. water or milk and, if desired, 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh chives or parsley. Or, sprinkle with dried herbs of choice.

(3. Heat nonstick skillet over high or medium-high heat. Add about 2 tsp. of butter or margarine and allow to melt, rotating the pan to coat the bottom with melted butter. Alternate directions: To reduce fat, omit the butter and spray the bottom of the pan with nonstick cooking spray.

(4. Add egg mixture and tilt pan to evenly coat bottom of pan with egg mixture.

(5. Pull cooked egg from edge of pan with spatula and let the uncooked egg mixture flow under the cooked portion.

(6. When the eggs are mostly set, add fillings of choice on top of half of the cooked egg mixture. Continue to heat until the cheese begins to melt. For example, add 2 to 3 Tbsp. grated cheese such as cheddar, mozzarella, pepper jack, Swiss, American, etc. or 3 to 4 Tbsp. lean protein such as canned black beans (drained and rinsed), diced ham, cooked chicken, crisp bacon or 3 to 4 Tbsp. vegetables, such as chopped onion, mushrooms, green pepper, tomatoes, salsa, spinach, green chili peppers.

(7. Fold omelet in half and slide onto plate.

Omelets allow for great creativity. Try making a “vegetarian omelet” with pepper jack cheese, green peppers, onions, tomatoes and mushrooms. How about a “southwest omelet” with black beans, cheddar cheese, green onions and salsa? Consider an “Italian omelet” with mozzarella cheese, spinach, chopped tomatoes and basil.

Here is a “baked” version of an omelet courtesy of the University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension Service. For more information about food and nutrition, see www.ndsu.edu/eatsmart or check out the Prairie Fare blog at www.prairiefare.areavoices.com.

Baked Eggs and Cheese
1 Tbsp.canola oil
6 eggs
1/2 c. nonfat milk
1/2 c. shredded cheddar
cheese (reduced fat)
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp. oregano

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put oil in a mediumsized baking dish, set a timer and heat in the oven for three minutes. In a bowl, beat eggs. Mix in remaining ingredients. Pour into hot pan. Bake 20 minutes or until eggs are firm. Serve immediately.

Note: in place of 6 eggs, 4 eggs and 4 egg whites may be used. Using this modification, each serving (1/4 of the recipe) has 160 calories, 9 grams (g) of fat, 3 g of carbohydrate, 15 g of protein, 0 g of dietary fiber and 15 percent of the daily value for calcium.

(Source; Julie Garden- Robinson, Ph.D., R.D., L.R.D., is a North Dakota State University Extension Service food and nutrition specialist and professor in the Department of Health, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences.)

For more information, contact me at 254-4811 or email acacia.stuckle@ndsu.edu.

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