When we hear the word "super food" many of us might think of things like spirulina, royal jelly, bee pollen, and acai. But the humble egg, as ubiquitous as it may be, is actually quite the nutritional powerhouse. When eggs are sourced from pasture-raised chickens, they are not only rich in protein, but also in the fat soluble vitamins A and D: nutrients in which many people are deficient. Pasture-raised eggs contain choline and omega-3 fatty acids, both of which are nutrients important for brain health. In addition, eggs are rich in sulphur-containing proteins that are necessary for cell membrane integrity.
Eggs also contain cholesterol, which is actually a good thing! For decades the mainstream medical world had advised against consuming dietary cholesterol; only just recently has it come around to acknowledging that dietary cholesterol plays a key role in health, particularly in hormonal health, fertility, and mental health. For ages, traditional cultures across the globe have been consuming wild caught and pasture-raised eggs (as well as other cholesterol-containing foods), without experiencing the epidemic rates of heart disease that we see in our modern western society. Increasingly, scientific evidence is linking heart disease to the consumption of highly inflammatory foods such as sugar and refined flours, as well as modern industrial vegetable oils like soybean oil and corn oil. These modern industrial foods have never been a part of traditional diets; since they have entered the modern diet we can see a proportional acceleration in chronic inflammatory disease (for more information on traditional diets, I highly recommend the book Full Moon Feast by Jessica Prentice).
Not all eggs are created equal however. It is essential that eggs come from hens that have been allowed to roam freely on a farm, foraging bugs and grasses as nature intended. This is important not only from an ethical and environmental standpoint, but also in terms of nutritional content. When chickens are allowed to roam freely and eat their natural diet, which includes bugs and grasses, this translates into eggs that are richer in nutrients such as Vitamin A and omega-3 fatty acids. You can even visually see this nutritional discrepancy between factory-farmed eggs and pasture-raised eggs: the pastured eggs will have a much richer orange color, while the factory-farmed egg yolks will have a more pale yellow hue. Factory farmed eggs will also contain synthetic growth hormones and antibiotics, unlike eggs from truly pasture-raised chickens.
So from an ethical, environmental, and nutritional standpoint it's important to really know where your eggs are coming from. Buying them directly from the farmer's market or at a farm stand is a good way to go. And yes, pasture-raised eggs will usually cost more than factory-farmed eggs. But the extra dollars go towards not only supporting more ethically and environmentally responsible farming practices, but also getting you a much more nutrient dense food. If we think of it that way, we are paying a little more for a superfood that contains Vitamins A, D, and E, choline, and omega-3 fatty acids. Factory farmed eggs, both literally and nutritionally, pale in comparison.
When combined with plenty of veggies, pasture-raised eggs make a wonderfully nutrient dense breakfast. Unlike carbohydrate-based breakfasts like cereals and breads, protein-based breakfasts do a much better job at keeping the blood sugar balanced throughout the day. One of my favorite ways to get veggies and protein in a one-dish breakfast is the veggie frittata. It can also be eaten for lunch or dinner, and leftovers will keep for a couple days. Here's my favorite frittata recipe:
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil or ghee, plus extra for greasing pan
1 yellow onion, diced
1 head broccoli, cut into small florets
10 pieces of kale, sliced into thin ribbons
2 red or yellow potatoes, peeled and diced (use sweet potato if avoiding nightshades)
10 pasture-raised eggs
1 cup raw cheddar cheese or feta (optional)
1 tsp. unrefined salt
fresh cracked pepper
1.)Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2.)Over low heat, in a medium sized frying pan, saute the onion, broccoli, kale, and potatoes in olive oil or ghee. Saute until onions are translucent and veggies are tender, about ten minutes. Remove pan from heat.
3.) Place sauteed veggie mix into a 9X12 inch pan that has been greased with ghee or olive oil.
4.)In a medium bowl, beat eggs with 1 tsp. unrefined salt and a couple grindings of fresh cracked pepper. Pour the egg mixture over the veggies.
5.) Bake at 375 degrees for about about 30 minutes, or until the middle is set.
Here's another egg recipe that is great for springtime celebrations, as it is so colorful. It utilizes beets- another humble super food that from a Chinese Medicine standpoint nourishes the blood and benefits the liver.
Beet Marinated Hard-Boiled Eggs
1.) Hard boil 4-6 eggs for 12 minutes, then peel the eggs under cool running water (this makes the shells come off easier). Set the peeled hard boiled eggs aside.
2.) In a large pot, place 4 peeled and thickly sliced beets and 3 cups water. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 20-25 minutes, until beets are tender but not mushy. Remove the beets from the water, saving the beet water (this is your natural dye!).
3.) Once the beet water has cooled down, add to it: 1 Tbsp. raw honey or unrefined sugar, 1 Tbsp. sea salt, and 1 cup raw apple cider vinegar. Mix everything well. Place the beets, the peeled hard-boiled eggs and the beet water marinade in a large covered glass container (you can also eat the beets separately if you prefer, and just add the beet water to the eggs). Place container in the fridge and let the eggs marinate in the beet water mixture for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours to allow the eggs to get dyed pink. Serve the hard boiled eggs halved (you can also make them into deviled eggs if you like).
I am a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist with a Heart-centered practice in the Santa Cruz mountains. See my About page for more about me and the work I do.