Thursday, November 1, 2007

Lewd Teens, Lutein, and the Power of Green

They came in droves. Pirates. Superheroes. Royalty.
And even a bumblebee.

Halloween around our neighborhood is always a grand event. I live on a “circle” so it is not unusual for caravans of outsiders to embark upon our neighborhood for safe, circular, trick-or-treating.
The weather cooperated, the candy-basket overflowed, and my pint-sized pooch (with an incurable barking disorder) was safely installed in an upstairs bedroom.
And so, I waited.
And while I waited, I got to thinking about the egg.
Eggs--those unsung heroes who appear most often on the Food Pyramid as the insignificant tag-alongs behind the celebrity proteins, Meat and Poultry.

For three hundred sixty-four days each year, the egg, while routinely consumed as breakfast fare, goes unnoticed (well, 363, if you count Easter tradition).
On this one, bewitching day however, it is unfairly vilified and not surprisingly, worshipped by adolescents across the nation. It will find itself smeared across car windows, clinging to vinyl siding and even tangled in the tresses of preteen girls. It will suffer relentless defamation simply because of its portability and sliminess.

In an effort to restore its good name, I pondered my own history with this delightful, edible orb. In doing so, I made a mental list of my not-so-factual knowledge of the egg.
Here is what I know:

I know that as a child, I enjoyed eggs in standard format (scrambled, fried, hard boiled…etc). On a rare occasion, we would be fortunate enough to witness grandmother beating an egg with the generous addition of sugar (and libation of choice) into creamy, frothy goodness. If we were the lucky recipients of said egg, it was undoubtedly the catalyst for a good night’s sleep.

I know that as teenager, and the babysitter for one precocious toddler named Nicholas, I witnessed a frequent, if not strange, event involving the egg. Based on the advice of her pediatrician, Nicholas’ mother, Gina, would add one raw egg to his morning bottle of milk. She claimed its purpose was to promote healthy eyes, while offering supplemental protein. She also attributed his very shiny hair to his daily consumption of eggs.

And lastly (and most insignificantly), I know that in the forty-something years I have known my father, I have never observed him eating an egg. Not one, single egg.
To this day, he not-so-lovingly refers to them as “chicken poop.”

Clearly, I would need support in making my case.
So, I headed to the bookshelf.

It was there that I retrieved my favorite life manual, more commonly known as
The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth by Jonny Bowden.
It is one of my favorite gifts bestowed upon me by my dear husband.
I spent an entire month reading this book and I consider it a must-read for anyone who eats food (um, that means you). Not only does it de-bunk old-school food myths, it also provides the reader with what she needs to know to make good, health conscious decisions about which foods to eat.
I consider it a whole foods bible.
In Chapter 8, which is dedicated to the best sources of protein,
Mr. Bowden refers to eggs as “Nature’s most perfect food.” He explains that besides being plentiful, inexpensive and easy to prepare, they are loaded with vitamins, and nutrients that help ones eyes, brain and heart. Need I say more?
He emphasizes the fact that eggs are “eye food.” They contain lutein which he calls a superstar nutrient when it comes to eye health (I guess Gina’s pediatrician knew what he was talking about). He points out that lutein, a carotenoid, is always better absorbed with some fat. He recommends eating spinach (also a good source of lutein) with eggs, to get the most bang for your buck. He states “You’ll get the maximum amount of these nutrients from two potent sources, and the fat from the egg yolks will help you absorb them.”

Which begs the question, was Dr. Seuss of that celebrated tome
Green Eggs and Ham , really onto something?
Pretend for a moment that the “Green” can be attributed, in some form, to spinach. Then it’s likely that the ham served as the source of fat necessary to boost lutein absorption.
Which means that, clearly, Dr. Seuss was one cool cat, in a hat ahead of its time.

As an avid baker, I have always appreciated eggs. But, after reading Jonny Bowden’s book, I have greater respect for them.
I did a bit of experimenting and not surprisingly, found satisfaction in simple dishes that combined spinach and eggs (my favorite, simple brunch recipe follows).
It may only be one small step in the right nutritional direction, but without this newfound knowledge, my spinach and my eggs would likely have never met.

During my lengthy consideration of the egg, as trick-or-treaters came and went, our candy supply dwindled. As it grew darker, the visitors grew taller.
Some had gruesome costumes covered in white foam, some were scantily clad ( somehow I resisted the temptation to ask “Does your mother know what you’re wearing?”), and a brazen, un-costumed few held open their pillow cases and demanded treats anyway.

For a moment, I considered setting up a lawn chair in my driveway, donning a catcher’s glove, to spare the dozens that would be stolen from refrigerator cartons and sent sailing towards windows and mailboxes.
But alas, I chose instead to curl up on the sofa with a good book.

It was riveting from the very first page.
The main character is adventurous and wise.
He calls himself Sam I Am.

Until Next Time,

Make Life Delicious
Share Your Food


My Favorite Quick & Easy Brunch Recipe
Greens, Eggs and Ham

I’m calling this a “brunch recipe” simply because some can’t stomach the thought of eating spinach early in the morning. For me, however, it makes for a great breakfast that keeps me satisfied until my late-day lunch.

Oxidation is what happens to a cut apple when it is left out in the open. Eggs which have oxidized (think overcooked, overexposed) offer fewer health benefits. Experts say that minimal processing offers maximum health benefits. With that in mind, I purchased a nifty, ceramic egg poacher that gets the job done in the microwave—in under thirty seconds. Alternatively, you may poach the eggs in simmering water on a stovetop, or in an electric egg poacher

1 ½ Cups Baby Spinach (washed and blotted dry)
2 Large Eggs (I purchase organic whenever possible)
1 Slice Canadian Bacon, Cooked and Diced
1 TBS Olive Oil
1/8 Cup Sun Dried Tomatoes (dry packed) Coarsely Chopped
Kosher Salt and Fresh Cracked Pepper To Taste
Multigrain toast (butter is optional, but strongly recommended)

Place spinach in a microwave safe bowl. Place in microwave for about ten seconds (this step can be omitted, but I think it kick-starts the wilting process). Distribute olive oil evenly over spinach. Add Canadian Bacon. Poach eggs, allowing them to remain a bit runny (you will find that runny-egg makes for a great dressing). Working quickly, place poached eggs atop spinach mixture. Pierce egg yolks with the tip of a sharp knife, allowing the yolks to run over the spinach. Season with salt and pepper and scatter sun-dried tomatoes over the top. Quickly toss and allow egg to coat spinach leaves. Serve immediately with multigrain toast.
My favorite part of this meal is sopping up the egg that remains in the bowl with the toast.



Midge said...
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Chari said...

Hi Michelle, you asked questions about blog issues on Cooking Light BB, I gave a response, but it doesn't look like you ever read it. If you need any help with your blog...I would be all to happy to help. I like your writings!

Chari (Aka surfer376 on CL BB)