Monday, December 22, 2008

Gimme a Dozen

When I began getting fit and losing weight, it was due to getting more than a little bit addicted to lifting weights, the elliptical machine, and riding my bike. But the other piece of the puzzle was changing the way I ate, from a mostly vegetarian rice-or-pasta-based high-carbohydrate diet to a more protein-intensive eating plan. And while in my mind, my heavy workouts mean that I can have the occasional doughnut, I try to keep my grains whole and my percentage of calories from protein above 30 percent.

And one of my favorite forms of protein is the egg. They're tasty, easy to cook, cheap, and full of nutrition. Turns out that dietary cholesterol actually doesn't raise human blood bad cholesterol levels as much as eating a bunch of saturated and trans fats, so the butter you cook those eggs in is far worse for you than the egg itself.

My fondest desire is to get a free supply of eggs going in my own yard, but given that I have a hard time keeping houseplants alive, this probably isn't feasible. Barring complimentary eggs from my own chickens, my next favorite type of eggs are are farmer-direct eggs that appear in the spring at my local farmers' markets. With a yolk that's as orange as a sunset, these eggs have a much more vibrant flavor than battery eggs. Unfortunately, at $4/dozen they are only an occasional indulgence. Also an occasional indulgence are turkey eggs. About 75 percent larger than hen eggs, turkey eggs don't have the gamy taste that I don't care for in duck eggs. A soft-boiled turkey egg atop a mound of baby spinach with just a splash of olive oil and lemon juice makes for a great lunch. The creamy yolk blends with the dressing, making it richer and more satisfying.

My egg affection is why I was so glad to read that "Extreme Eggs" are on the list of Food & Wine's list of trendsetting ingredients for 2009. According to the piece, Whole Foods locations in the Northeast will start selling ostrich eggs along with duck, quail, pheasant, and emu eggs at its "egg bars" this spring. Yes, Whole Foods is not my fave place to shop, but this is a great indication that variety eggs are going mainstream.

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