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Eggs: Alimentary Angels or Victual Villains?

Island Epicure

For years we’ve heard that we should not eat eggs, or at least should toss out the yolks and make our omelets with whites only. White omelets? If I ever make one, it will be as a curiosity, not with the expectation of high-quality nourishment. The first Island Epicure column I ever wrote featured an imaginary conversation with a hen. She explained that an egg contains every nutrient needed to create new life. An egg’s high quality, complete protein is the Big P all other proteins are measured against. Most of the nutrients are in the yolk.

As for fat, an egg yolk contains enough methionine to emulsify its own fat plus an entire cupful of oil to make mayonnaise. For a price, you can get eggs high in Omega 3 fat. Besides, eggs taste great, and hold other ingredients together. Think Egg Fu Yung. Think quiche, custards, waffles, muffins, and pancakes.

Do I hear "BUT. . .cholesterol?"

True, some past scientific studies showed that if you eat too many eggs, your cholesterol count will rise. Not to worry: a new 3-month study by researchers at the University of Connecticut has shown that the cholesterol in eggs is the large-particle kind. Large cholesterol particles don’t cling to artery walls. It’s the little tiny particles, clumping together and sticking to artery walls that cause blockage. Eggs, it turns out, make our arteries safer, according to U of C research.

BUT . . .inflammation?

At this writing, that seems a real downside to eating eggs by the bowlful. On a normal range of 0 to 100 on the inflammation index, eggs clock in at a whopping 360. Milk products, vegetables, and fruits, and most seafoods, hover at or close to 0. The answer is to combine eggs with non-inflammatory ingredients like dairy products. A quiche or custard, combining eggs, milk and vegetables, would hit you with an inflammatory index number under 100 per serving. Cheese on your omelet or fritata reduces its inflammation possibility.

Conclusion: Eggs used in cooking, if not alimentary angels at least won’t act as victual villains unless you’re allergic to them. With a nod to the famously healthy and delicious dishes of the Mediterranean region, my Recipe of the Day, influenced by my mother’s Danish Omelet and a Greek Spanakopita, is a naked quiche. Omitting the crust cuts the fat and carbohydrate contents, important if you’re trying to lose weight or are diabetic.

My husband and chief taste tester gives this dish five stars.

Crustless Spinach Quiche
4 servings

10 ounces spinach
4 eggs
1 ½ cups half and half cream or whole milk
Dash each: salt, black pepper, and cayenne
½ pound crumbled Greek feta
½ cup grated Jarlsberg or Swiss cheese
2 Tablespoons butter, divided
2 green onions, chopped

Wash the spinach. Cook it in the water that clings to the leaves. One tablespoon of butter melted in the bottom of the pan will keep leaves from sticking. Drain the spinach and chop it.

Whip the eggs with the seasonings. Mix the milk with the eggs.

Mix the cheeses. Reserve.

Heat the pan. Spray it with olive or canola oil. Melt the other tablespoon of butter in the pan.

Add in this order: onions, cheeses, egg mixture.

Reduce heat to low. Cover. Cook 15 to 20 minutes, until the mixture solidifies. Don’t overcook or it will begin to separate into liquids and solids.

Leftover quiche may be refrigerated and served later at room temperature or cold as an appetizer or lunch dish.

Danish Omelette
2 servings

3 eggs, beaten with
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups milk
Optional garnish:
2 Tablespoons minced fresh parsley
Cooking oil spray or 1 Tablespoon butter or oil

Heat heavy skillet. Spray with cooking oil or melt butter in pan. Pour egg mixture in. At once, reduce heat to low. Cover pan. Cook until mixture congeals, about 20 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley. Serve hot. This comes out as a delicious, smooth main dish custard.

Complete a menu featuring either of the above dishes with a tossed salad or a French Salade aux Tomates.

Salade Aux Tomates
4 servings

4 large red or dark green lettuce leaves
4 ripe plum tomatoes or small ripe red-on-vine tomatoes
4 Tablespoons minced fresh parsley

Arrange ingredients in order given on four individual salad plates. Present with Vinaigrette or your favorite salad dressing.