Have you ever been at the grocery store and wondered which eggs to buy? Navigating the egg section, with all of the various labels, can be downright confusing! If you love eggs, then you should know which ones are the most nutritious. The nutritive value will vary greatly depending upon what the chicken was fed and how it was raised!
Words like “Natural” and “Farm Fresh” sound great, but they really don’t tell us anything. Your conventional eggs are from chickens who spend their lives in cramped henhouses or cages and never see the light of day. They are fed a grain-based diet with additives to make them produce, and they likely have been treated with antibiotics and hormones. The following are other terms related to eggs:
- Cage Free — Sounds good, but this really just means that the chickens are not in a cage, but they could be in one giant, overfilled hen house.
- Free Range — The chickens have some access to the outdoors and this can vary greatly. It could be just one tiny door on the chicken coop or they may be getting lots of time outside. There are no guidelines as to how much time they must be outside to get this rating.
- Pastured — Chickens were allowed to roam free and eat plants and insects (their natural food) and may also have been fed some commercial feed. These eggs are higher in Vitamins A, E and Omega 3s and are lower in saturated fat and cholesterol.
- Omega 3 Enriched Eggs — These chickens have had an Omega 3 source, such as flax seed added to their diet. These eggs have five times the Omega 3 content of conventional eggs.
- Organic — These chickens were not treated with antibiotics or hormones and received organic feed.
So in order of preference, I favor Pastured, Organic, Omega 3, Free Range, Cage Free, and my last choice would be conventional eggs. I love the farmer’s markets where you can have a conversation with the farmer to know how the chickens were fed and what their living conditions are like.
Here’s a lovely way to use those eggs for a breakfast or brunch for 6:
MUSHROOM & SPINACH FRITTATA
2 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 10-ounce container of pre-sliced mushrooms
Himalayan salt & freshly ground pepper
1 to 2 garlic cloves (to taste), minced
1 6-ounce bag baby spinach, rinsed
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
2 T milk
1. Select a heavy 10- or 12-inch skillet that can go from stovetop to oven. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat, add mushrooms. Cook, stirring often, for about 3-5 minutes. Add garlic, stir for another minute. Add spinach, stir until wilted. Turn up heat and let any excess liquid evaporate from the pan. Remove from heat.
2. Beat eggs in a large bowl. Stir in salt, pepper, milk, mushroom/spinach mixture and parmesan. Heat remaining olive oil over medium-high heat in skillet. Pour in egg mixture and swirl the pan to distribute eggs and filling evenly over the surface. Tilt pan slightly with one hand while lifting up the edges of the frittata with a rubber spatula, to let the eggs run underneath during the first few minutes of cooking. Once a few layers of egg have cooked, turn the heat down to low, cover and cook 10 minutes. From time to time remove the lid and loosen the bottom of the omelet with a spatula, tilting the pan, so that the bottom is golden and doesn’t burn. The eggs should be just about set though there will be a layer on the top that is not.
3. Heat broiler. Uncover the pan and place under the broiler for 1-2 minutes, just until the top sets, and doesn’t burn. Remove from heat, shake the pan to make sure the frittata isn’t sticking and allow it to cool for at least 5 minutes. It can be a little runny in the middle if you like it that way. Loosen the edges with a spatula. Carefully slide from the pan onto a large round platter. Cut into wedges. Serve hot, warm, room temperature, or cold. I love to serve with fresh berries or small green salad on the side!