Smorgasbord Health Column – Recipes that Pack a Punch – Breakfasts – Versatile and Nutritious Eggs by Sally Cronin


In this series I will be sharing recipes that pack a punch of nutrition and still taste delicious. By now you know that I believe in a ‘cook from scratch’ approach to preparing meals and I have followed that philosophy for over forty years. In my mid-20s I was cooking food for 110 growing children three times a day, and the focus had to be on the nutrition as well as the taste. As a nutritional therapist for the last 25 years, I have shared these recipes with my clients to ensure that they never went hungry or deficient in the essential nutrients their bodies needed to be healthy. In the previous post I shared a recipe for Meusli Porridge

Breakfasts – Versatile and Nutritious Eggs

Eggs are an excellent source of choline and selenium, and a good source of high-quality protein, Vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin B2, vitamin B12, iron, iodine, phosphorus, selenium and you can read more about the key nutrients at the end of the post.

Before I get to the various ways you can enjoy eggs for breakfast, it is important to remember to prepare this nutritious food with care. Despite the scares in the 90s about salmonella in eggs, there is a great deal more control now on the keeping of poultry and how to avoid infection. I don’t recommend eating raw eggs and I prefer mine to have been cooked through. You can read about this in more detail in this post I wrote in 2019: Salmonella in eggs

Buying the best eggs.

Most eggs on the shelves of the supermarket, particularly the cheaper multi-packs are commercially raised and fed an artificial diet of corn, wheat, soy and other grains. To get around the free range trend, farmers raise the chickens in barns uncaged but fed commercial feed with additives that play a role, in not just the nutrition of the egg, but to fulfill out expectations of how our eggs should look.

Our expectation of what an egg should look like.

When we crack open an egg we expect to see a  rich golden yellow yolk surrounded by a lovely white colour.

However, the colour is not naturally that yellow and is achieved artificially according to the purpose of the eggs and a scale between 1- 15 dependent on the requirements by the customers of the poultry farmer.

Where colour is not an issue, such as in commercial food manufacture of packaged cakes cakes, a paler yolk is acceptable. Most domestic consumers prefer a rich golden or even orange colour to their yolk and that is about 11 on the scale. Fining dining establishments to serve egg dishes where the yolk is king of the dish, would require the richest colour on the scale.

Where does the colour come from?

Chicken feed can be adjusted with colouring to ensure the right level of yellow or golden yolk for a specific consumer. The collective name for these colourants is xanthophylls or E161

The mass poultry factories where most of our eggs originate even if they are ‘free-range’ within a barn and the poor birds in cages are fed this industrial feed which bears little relation to the natural diet of a chicken.

Check the labels

I try to buy organic uncaged free range eggs from grass fed chickens rather than grain because they have a much more natural diet which includes plants such as grass and leaves, insects and seeds that they forage for. They tend to have a paler yolk but they do have more health benefits.

Genuine free range eggs from chickens with a natural diet have a different nutritional profile including the level of Omega- Fats essential to prevent inflammation in the body and the development of heart disease and some cancers. Foraging free range chicken eggs contain three to ten times the Omega- 3 than those fed corn and other grain commercial feeds.

Now time for some recipes..

There is the old joke about not being ‘able to boil and egg‘ but here are some timings that produce the different consistencies that might be helpful.

Boiled Egg with wholegrain toast (my recipe for Irish Soda Bread later in the series)

I prefer my eggs to be fairly well cooked in the centre but I am sure you have your individual preference.

Pop an egg into boiling water using a spoon or ladle so that it does not crack.

  1. Five minutes: set white and runny yolk  and you can dip your toast into the centre
  2. Six minutes: liquid yolk – a little less runny
  3. Seven minutes: almost set  (my preference)
  4. Ten minutes: hard-boiled egg ideal for making sandwiches or for salads. (drop into ice cold water immediately to stop them cooking any further.

Scrambled Egg in the Microwave

I have been using a microwave both in my catering businesses and personally since 1978 and I use everyday to save time and washing up. I enjoy scrambled eggs once or twice a week and it is quick and easy.

  1. Use a microwave safe bowl and I always use glass.
  2. Crack two eggs into the bowl and add 200gm of milk and whisk.
  3. Add a half ounce of butter and a pinch of salt.
  4. Place in the microwave with a lid (I use a plate)
  5. Microwave for two minutes and then stir the contents with a fork
  6. Microwave for another two minutes and fluff up with a fork.
  7. Chop up some chives or spring onions and sprinkle on top
  8. Serve on a piece of wholegrain lightly buttered toast or with a sourdough roll and butter
  9. Add a chopped tomato for additional Vitamin C.

Add half an Avocado

 

Avocados contain unsaturated fats and also contain phytosterols which have shown to lower the more harmful small particle cholesterol LDL (low density cholesterol) which clumps together in the arteries causing blockages. Avocados are great for heart health, skin, eye and bone health and also promote the absorption of fat soluble vitamins such as A,D,K and the Vitamin C aids your body to absorb iron and Vitamin D in the eggs.

These are just two of the egg dishes that you can prepare for breakfast and you might also enjoy poached eggs, fried eggs,  French Toast, or an omelette. All would give you a nutritional punch to start the day.

Accompany them with

  • Green Tea (protects against heart disease, cancers, cholesterol, strokes, blood pressure)
  • Fresh squeezed unsweetened orange juice (Immune System, Cancer, cholesterol, fibre, ulcers, kidney stones)

I will be sharing more egg recipes for light suppers later in the series but next week starting the day in continental style with frittata and tostada.

More information about the amazing nutrients in eggs that make them such an important addition to our diet.

PROTEINWe are made of protein and very cell in our bodies and every function requires protein to survive, thrive and repair itself. It is involved in hormone manufacture, our soft tissue, bone strength, haemoglobin that combines with iron to carry oxygen around the body and the vitality and strength of our hair and nails.  The body needs food to obtain protein and so including foods such as eggs and other protein rich foods is essential.

N.B It is easy to think that as protein is good for us that we should eat as much as we like. In fact the body can only handle around 10 to 15% of our daily intake as protein on a regular basis as the body goes into overload. Kidney’s in particular are vulnerable. This particular refers to animal based proteins.

CHOLINE: One of the few substances that can penetrate the brain membranes, raising levels of acetylcholine a neurotransmitter that may improve focus and memory. Acetylcholine is also necessary for stimulating the contraction of all muscles including the facial muscles. This may help maintain a youthful appearance. Choline also seems to help with controlling cholesterol, keeping arteries clear.

IODINE: Iodine is a trace mineral that is needed to make thyroid hormones that maintain metabolism in all the cells of the body. It is rare to be deficient in the western world but the key time to ensure that iodine levels are maintained is during pregnancy as deficiency of the mineral has been linked to miscarriages and premature births and congenital abnormalities. Children whose mothers were deficient in iodine can develop growth and mental issues and hearing loss. A moderate deficiency has also been linked to ADHD.

IRON: The main function of iron is in haemoglobin, which is the oxygen-carrying component of blood. When someone is iron deficient they suffer extreme fatigue because they are being starved of oxygen. Iron is also part of myoglobin which helps muscle cells store oxygen and it is also essential for the formation of ATP.

Dietary iron is found in two forms, haem iron and non-haem iron. (Heme in US). Haem iron, which is the most absorbable, is found only in animal flesh as it is taken from the haemoglobin and myoglobin in animal tissue. Non-haem iron is found in plant foods.

SELENIUM: A very important trace mineral that activates an antioxidant enzyme called glutathione peroxidase, which may help protect the body from cancer. It is vital for immune system function and may help prevent prostate cancer.

PHOSPHORUS: Essential for bone formation and production of red blood cells. Also needed for the production of ATP fuel for energy. Small amounts are involved in most of the chemical reactions throughout the body

VITAMIN A or RETINOL was actually the first of the fat-soluble vitamins to be identified, in the States in 1913.  It is only found in animal sources but some plants contain compounds called carotenoids, which give fruit and vegetables their red, orange and yellow colours.  The body can convert some of these carotenoids including beta-carotene into Vitamin A. Find out more about this nutrient: Vitamin A – Retinal or Beta Carotene

VITAMIN B2: RIBOFLAVIN; Also essential for metabolising carbohydrates to produce ATP, and also fats, amino acids and proteins too. It is necessary to activate Vitamin B6 and Folic Acid. It works with enzymes in the liver to eliminate toxins.

VITAMIN B12: CYANOCOLBALAMIN; Essential for the efficient working of every cell in the body especially those with a rapid turnover rate and it prevents their degeneration. It works with B6 and Folic Acid to control Homocysteine levels in the blood. It is involved in the synthesis of DNA and the proper functioning of the Nervous system by maintaining myelin surrounding the nerves. It is involved in the production of melatonin, the hormone responsible for resetting our biological clock’s rhythm when we change to a new time zone and aiding sleep patterns. It is used in the treatment of diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis, Anaemia, Low Blood Pressure, hearing disorders, asthma and allergies, infertility and cancer

VITAMIN D: CHOLECALCIFEROL; Essential for maintaining blood levels of calcium by increasing absorption from food and decreasing loss from urine. This maintains a balance preventing calcium from being removed from the stores in the bones. It also plays a role in maintaining a healthy immune system and blood cell formation. It may protect against prostate cancer. It is needed for adequate levels of insulin and may protect the body from Multiple Sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and juvenile diabetes.

VITAMIN E: TOCOPHEROL; As an antioxidant it protects cell membranes and other fat-soluble parts of the body such as LDL cholesterol from oxidative damage and blood vessels. It can be used topically for skin health and is involved in the reproductive system. It may help prevent circulatory problems that lead to heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease by preventing clots from forming. It improves the pulmonary function of the lungs and enhances the white blood cells ability to resist infection.

©Just Food for Health 1998 – 2021

I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty-three years experience working with clients in Ireland and the UK as well as being a health consultant on radio in Spain. Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago, based on my own weight loss of 154lbs. My first clinic was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Since then I have written a men’s health manual, and anti-aging programme, articles for magazines, radio programmes and posts here on Smorgasbord.

If you would like to browse my health books and fiction you can find them here: My books and reviews 2021

Thanks for joining me for this series and as always delighted to receive your feedback… keep young at heart… thanks Sally.