Eggs can save the day when extra people show up for brunch or lunch, provide a nutritious breakfast in minutes, or dress up drab sandwiches. If you have a dozen eggs in the refrigerator, you can whip up plenty of meals in a snap, from egg salad sandwiches and deviled eggs, to fried egg and cheese on a biscuit.
Eggs Are a Power Snack
Eggs are full of protein and provide vitamins A, D, E, B6 and B12, along with calcium, iron and potassium. At under a hundred calories an egg, that's an impressive array of nutrients per calorie.
Unfortunately, most of the nutrients are in the yolk, which also contains the egg's cholesterol. This means you can't just eat the egg whites and hope to get the nutritional value. Since egg's cholesterol is from unsaturated fats, people who are on a low-cholesterol diet may need to worry about the fat content.
Cooking with Eggs
Eggs are one of the most utilized foods. They can act as a binder or riser in baked goods, add shine to bread products, protein and flavor to sandwiches, salads, soups and rice dishes, and can be eaten as the center focus of the meal. There are numerous ways to prepare them including:
- Hard and soft boiling
Add a little sugar and cream of tarter and eggs can become meringue cookies. Slide some fried eggs, tomato and bacon between two slices of bread and you have an instant and delicious lunch. Or, if the whole crowd is hanging out at your place to watch a game, hold off on the standard pizza in favor of eggs and ham, cheese, spinach, broccoli and onions. Let everyone make their own omelet and you might start a fad for drop-in omelet parties.
To test a raw egg for freshness, cover it with water. If the egg remains on the bottom, it's fresh. If it floats, it's getting old. That doesn't necessarily mean it's bad, just that the egg has been around long enough for air to seep through the shell. A floating egg can be tested for edibility by cracking it open and sniffing - a spoiled egg will be very obvious to the nose.
Eggs also have plenty of iron and zinc, and they can help you feel full and maintain a healthy weight. So go ahead and crack open an egg or two for breakfast or toss them into a salad. Whether you cook often or only occassionally, keep eggs in the house; they can be transformed into anything from French toast to egg drop soup with just a little imagination.
A staple of many breakfast meals, fried eggs can be served with toast, pancakes, a variety of meats, or simply by themselves for a quick start to the day. While it may seem there is no particular secret or skill involved in preparing this morning menu item, there are actually several methods of preparation.
Standard versions involve cooking the eggs in melted butter or oil until prepared according to individual tastes. Some cooks prefer to flip the eggs once the yolk has firmed slightly, a method that is generally referred to as "over easy." The eggs may also be partially steamed rather than completely fried. Depending on the method of frying (using butter, oil, cooking spray, etc.), this may be a healthier way to cook them.
Tips for Cooking
Very fresh eggs are the best for frying because they will retain their shape and present the most pleasing appearance. To help keep them from spreading, open the eggs as close to the bottom of the pan as possible. Nonstick pans reduce the need for added butter, and fried eggs can also be blotted after cooking to help reduce the fat content. Adding a sprinkle of salt to the pan can also help keep them from sticking. For most people, a broken yolk in a fried egg is undesirable, making the selection and cooking methods all the more important for a pleasing result.
While the degree of firmness is up to an individual's tastes, it is often better to err on the side of overcooking because of the potential for salmonella in undercooked eggs. Properly prepared, however, fried eggs are both nutritious and delicious.