Good Food, Good Health | Life
EGGS! When I was small, I went out to the chicken coop and got the eggs from under a hen. Now we don’t have that luxury we used to call a chore. We must drive to the store and choose what KIND of egg we want. Conventionally laid eggs are laid by chickens who are crammed into a cage and can’t do anything but peck at each other, eat and drink out of a single trough, and lay eggs. Then we have cage free eggs. The hens live in a barn and sometimes get outside to an enclosed run. Then we have pastured or free-range eggs. These are laid by hens that get to go outside all day and eat good stuff like grass and bugs and some nice grain. Then we have organic free-range eggs laid by hens who get fed organic grain, and all the other things birds naturally eat. Now you need to understand that all commercial eggs are raised by the tens of thousands. Some into the hundred thousand range. It helps us understand the enormity of what a caged hen and a barn hen and a free-range hen means. There is a price difference, of course.
First, we need to remember that eggs are a wonderful food. All kinds, no matter how they are raised, have vitamins D, E, and A plus Omega 3 and probably more things we don’t even know about yet. However, there is the question of how much of the good stuff is in the eggs from differently raised chickens. Obviously, chickens raised in cramped quarters are not going to have as many vitamins and omega 3 as a free-range chicken produces. It’s just like any other living creature. Its health depends upon its environment and care. This brings us to cost and flavor.
In my experiment taste-testing eggs here in the county, I really found a difference in flavor. Nothing beats a farm fresh, organic free-range egg. Nothing. My next choice at the grocery store is a certified organic egg. I choose the label that states it was certified by OTCO and raised in the Willamette Valley here in Oregon. OTCO stands for certified by Oregon Tilth Certified Organic. They are a guarantee beyond reproach you are buying a researched organic product. They are detectives turned loose on their certified farmers and worry them to death about every little thing. They are also expensive inspectors. As far as USDA certified or a brand-name certified organic product, I take those with a large grain of salt. They really don’t have the numbers of inspectors to do the job justice. I know because I almost became an inspector at one time. I would rather spend my extra dollars on “locally grown” if it means grown in this county and not in the entire West including Mexico. I’m just sayin’.
Next, we come to “natural” eggs. Save your dollars. Natural can mean anything unless it has a description of what they mean by natural. Hens naturally lay eggs. Go back to the conventional eggs. They are naturally raised also and less expensive. The cage free, free run, and pastured eggs are nice, and all contain, according to lab tests, more vitamins and omega 3 than conventionally laid eggs.
In the county, I have taste tested non-organic free-range eggs, conventional store-bought eggs, hen house nested eggs, and cage free eggs from the market. The non-organic, free range eggs tasted the best, (bought from a local egg seller.) The certified organic cage free egg came in a very close second. The hen house nested egg, from a local grower was pretty good and the conventionally raised hen eggs tasted bland in comparison, I forgot to mention the conventionally raised eggs that have omega 3, and vitamins added in the chicken feed. They taste fine…sort of but beware of the added vitamins. There is a question of taking too many vitamins that might unbalance each other if you are already taking supplements. This information is nothing to be afraid of, but vitamins and minerals are tricky and can fight or negate each other.
So how much you spend on your eggs depends upon your budget, eating habits and how much you care about the chickens who lay the eggs. If conventional eggs suit your budget, they are a fine, nutritious real food. You can get more vitamins from other good foods. However, more foods add to the grocery cart expenses too. A last thought. Vegetarian fed chicken eggs are important to me. I don’t like the idea of eating an egg from a hen that was fed other animal parts, unless she’s a free-range, pasture raised bird. Chickens can be cannibalistic. If a carton of eggs says Organic, I know I’m getting the purest food.
MUSHROOM, LEEK OR ONION AND SPINACH
Prepare two skillets of equal size by heating both with 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil. Keep one skillet warm while cooking the eggs in the other skillet.
In a bowl, beat 6 eggs, lightly. Stir in 1 tablespoon whole milk or full-fat coconut milk, 34 teaspoon dried thyme, % teaspoon sea salt, and 34 teaspoon red pepper flakes. Set aside. Put olive oil in a skillet warmed over medium heat. Add 134 cups sliced fresh mushrooms and chopped yellow onion or leeks (about % cup.) Cook while stirring for about 5 to 8 minutes. Add a 6 oz bag of baby spinach, roughly chopped, 1 clove of minced garlic and cook, stirring frequently, for about 30 seconds or until the spinach is wilted. Add the egg mixture into the skillet and cook over medium heat until the eggs are set on the bottom and the eggs on top are still moist. Loosen the eggs around the edges and place the second warm skillet over the cooking eggs, like a lid. Turn the pan over so that the second skillet is now the pan that is cooking the eggs. Remove the top skillet. Cook until the eggs are set and top with the green onions. Cut into wedges and serve directly from the warm pan.
This dish can be served for breakfast, lunch or dinner and can be made with any combination of food you have on hand. It is lovely to eat, nutritious, economical and easy to fix. Note: this recipe is an adaptation of a recipe found in the Whole30 cookbook and the process of cooking in the Joy of Cooking cookbook. Left-over frittata can be wrapped and kept in the refrigerator for another breakfast or frozen for a later date. Do not freeze over a week and use refrigerated portions within 3 days for the best flavor and quality.