How many eggs do you eat a year? For most Americans, the answer is around 280.
In Tennessee, that number may be even higher since our farmers produce upwards of 320 million eggs every year.
“Eggs are a good, easy source of protein,” says Reena Panjwani, registered dietitian-nutritionist at BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee. “Eggs contain a lot of nutrients and can be eaten at any meal.”
Eggs have a complicated reputation, Panjwani says, because of past concerns that they may raise a person’s “bad” cholesterol, or LDL.
“The dietary cholesterol in eggs doesn’t seem to raise cholesterol levels,” she says. “Foods that are high in saturated and trans fats have a higher impact than unsaturated fats. So it’s much more about the quality of a person’s overall diet.”
Cracking the egg
When it comes to the parts of the egg:
- Egg shells come in a variety of colors — white, brown, dappled, light green or blue — and those colors are determined by the chicken’s breed. Shell color doesn’t impact flavor.
- Egg whites are mostly protein and folate. They’re lower in calories and high in B vitamins, which help with healthy cell growth and function.
- Egg yolks are higher in cholesterol, protein, fat, vitamins and minerals. Yolks are rich in vitamin A, which is good for your eyes, and choline, which is good for your brain.
In general, the darker the yolk, the richer the flavor.
“Yolk color has a lot to do with how the chickens are cared for and what they’re fed,” says Panjwani. “The darker the yolk — look for deep yellow or orange — the more likely you are to be getting more of those omega-3s and antioxidant-rich carotenoids.”
Around the world with eggs
In the U.S., we typically think of eggs as breakfast food, and in Tennessee, we typically eat our eggs fried. But there are hundreds of easy ways to work eggs into any meal if you look for international inspiration. Here are 5 — all of which don’t require added meat.
1. Ajitsuke tamago: Soy-marinated eggs (Japan)
If you enjoy hard- or soft-boiled eggs, try soy-marinated eggs. Also known as “ramen eggs,” the process is easy: Simply boil, cool and peel eggs before marinating them in a solution of soy sauce and mirin (rice wine).
Marinated eggs make excellent snacks since they’re preseasoned. They’re also great for families in which some people like jammy eggs while others like hard yolks since you can just pull a few eggs out of the boiling water early; just be sure to mark the soft-boiled container since you’ll be peeling the eggs.
2. Shakshuka: Baked eggs (North Africa / Middle East)
Shakshuka is a classic dish in Northern Africa and the Middle East in which eggs are baked in sauce. The word “shakshuka” translates to “mixture,” which refers to the traditional tomato sauce the eggs are typically poached in.
Make shakshuka with leftover tomato sauce, and try adding herbs or vegetables to boost nutritional value. Once you get used to the process, you can try out any sauce from Italian ragout to Mexican ranchero. Serve shakshuka with a salad and crusty bread for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
3. Anda bhurji: Scrambled eggs (India)
Scrambled eggs are what you make of them, and Indian scrambled eggs make the most. Anda is a Hindi word that translates to “eggs,” and bhurji means “scrambled,” but it’s the spices that make this dish a standout.
Traditional versions of anda bhurji use ingredients including onion, chillies, tomatoes, ginger, turmeric, cumin and chili powder. The spices are fried to release their flavors before the beaten eggs are added and cooked. In the South of India, anda bhurji is often eaten with rice or poori (puffed, fried bread), while in the North it would be eaten with paratha (layered flatbread).
4. Tortilla de porotos verdes: Green bean fritatta (Chile)
A frittata is an ideal vehicle for vegetables because it includes all the benefits of an omelet without the work of folding, and it makes a better leftover.
This traditional Chilean take is essentially a frittata (tortilla) that’s flipped halfway through cooking, which is relatively easy since the egg mixture sets up before any maneuvering is necessary. This tortilla stars fresh green beans (porotos verdes) that are just cooked-through, which makes it an ideal dish for summer in Tennessee.
5. Huevos fritos: Fried egg (Spain)
As we established earlier, Tennesseans love fried eggs, which makes the Spanish huevos fritos a must-try. The method — frying in olive oil, basting while they cook — yields a rich, melting yolk and crispy, lacy edges.
While olive-oil fried eggs are not an everyday breakfast, they’re ideal special-occasion food, especially when paired with roasted vegetables, fresh tomatoes or a light salad.
BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee members can access wellness-related discounts on fitness products, gym memberships, healthy eating and more through Blue365®. BCBST members can also use tools and resources to help improve health and well-being by logging into BlueAccess and going to the in the Member Wellness Center under the Managing Your Health tab.