By Lindsey Foss, Iowa Food & Family Project
Tucked inside a familiar oval shell, you’ll find a powerhouse of nutrition. At around 70 calories each, the fragile egg delivers a whopping 6 grams of satisfying protein plus a long list of key vitamins and minerals. The high-quality protein found in eggs is so nearly perfect that it is often the standard by which all other food proteins are judged. Tasty tip: All chicken eggs, no matter the color of the shell, provide identical nutrients.
Eggs are incredibly versatile and tasty, too. Breakfast? Check. Lunch? Of course. Dinner? Why not? There’s no reason to stop at the three squares…eggs make an impressive showing in appetizers, beverages and enough delicious desserts to make your head spin. From the savory goodness of scrambled, over-easy and deviled to creamy custards, light-as-air merengue, moist cakes and chewy cookies, it’s hard to “beat” the humble egg! Hold on, there’s more — each one of those little gems costs as little as $0.17 per serving, providing more than 35 grams of protein per dollar spent.
Iowa's egg farmers care for nearly 59 million laying hens that provide nearly 16 billion eggs each year, the most of any state in the nation. You’ll find Iowa eggs topping Casey’s breakfast pizza and on store shelves like your local Hy-Vee.
Most eggs reach the supermarket shelves within a few days of leaving the laying house. Properly handled and stored, eggs rarely spoil and can keep for at least four to five weeks beyond the pack date on the carton. Tasty tip: Keep eggs in their original carton and stored on the inside shelf in your refrigerator. The carton helps keep them from picking up odors and flavors from other foods and prevent moisture loss.
Freshness doesn’t have any great effect on nutritional quality of the egg or its functional cooking properties in recipes. Appearance can change a bit as fresher eggs hold their shape while poaching or frying while older eggs tend to spread out. However, if you want easy-to-peel hardboiled eggs, use eggs that are at least a week old.
Cook ‘Em Right
Proper cooking and handling are essential to enjoying the health benefits of eggs. They should be cooked until the whites are set (completely coagulated and firm) and the yolks begin to thicken (no longer runny, but not hard). Cook scrambled eggs and omelets until firm throughout with no visible liquid egg remaining. For egg-containing dishes (like sauces, casseroles, etc.), cook until an internal temperature of 160° F or above has been reached. Tasty tip: Add a few spoonsful of cottage cheese to your egg scramble for a delightful dash of low-fat creaminess.
- There are 20 times the number of chickens in Iowa as there are people
- Those hens produce nearly 16 billion eggs a year which is:
- More eggs than the second and third largest egg-producing states combined
- Enough eggs to feed the WORLD an egg a day for 2 days, each person in the U.S. an egg a day for 47 days and circle the earth 21.39 times
- A hen lays one egg every 24 to 26 hours
- Most eggs are laid between 7 a.m. and 11 a.m.
- More than 146,000 eggs-on-a-stick were handed out at the great Iowa State Fair last year!
Deliciously nutritious, locally produced and very affordable, get crackin’ with these Iowa Food & Family-approved recipes.