In case you missed it, my previous post covered the nutritional ins and outs of eating eggs and why I choose to include them as part of my diet. Today, I’m detailing how to choose and prepare them healthfully and consciously, and sharing my favorite egg-centered recipe - a bright, spicy Roasted Eggplant Shakshuka.
Keep it whole-some.
Part of why I love eggs so much is their versatility - they can be fried, scrambled, baked, boiled, and poached (am I missing one?). I really wouldn't worry too much about how you're preparing them, as long as you’re eating the whole egg. Yes, you should absolutely be eating that yolk. I cringe when I see well-meaning people ordering or preparing only egg whites, thinking they are making a positive choice for their health.
The egg white does contain most of the protein, but the vast majority of the vitamins and minerals are contained within the yolk. The yolk also contains fat and cholesterol, which we now know are two very important nutrients for our brains and bodies. This type of healthy dietary fat will not make you fat, but instead boosts the metabolism and aids in weight loss and/or management (among a long list of other benefits).
How to choose a healthy and humane egg.
When it comes to purchasing eggs, there's a lot of marketing lingo out there - organic, natural, free-range, non-gmo, vegetarian-fed, etc. - making it more confusing than ever to choose your best and healthiest option. My view is that healthy chickens yield healthy eggs, which in turn provides you with nourishing food that will improve your health. Unhealthy and unhappy chickens who are unable to engage in their natural behaviors, roam freely, and eat their native diets are going to yield eggs with decreased nutritional value.
For this reason, I always try to source my eggs from a local farmer who I know allows them to roam freely in the sunshine and eat a nourishing, natural diet. If you know your farmer personally and have the chance to tour their farm and facility, there’s no question that you’re getting the highest quality food (not mention supporting the planet, humane treatment of animals, and local small business). If you’re located in South Florida, my favorite spot to pick up farm fresh eggs is Celis Produce.
If you’re unable to find a local farmer, there are wholesome options at many grocery stores. As I mentioned, there’s tons of marketing lingo and much of it actually tells you little to nothing about the health of the chickens or eggs. There’s really only one label I look for when purchasing eggs: pasture-raised. Pasture-raised chickens are able to roam freely, engage in their natural behaviors, and eata nutrient-rich diet. Labels such as “cage-free” and “free range” are loosely regulated and don’t tell you much about the treatment, living conditions, or diet of the animals, which are important factors to the animals’ health.
Why you may choose to not eat eggs.
Though I choose to include eggs in my diet and often recommend them to clients, I don’t want to only give you one side of the story. Many people choose to not eat eggs, and there’s a few main reasons I thought I’d highlight for you.
- Eggs leave an acidic residue in the body. Some of you may be familiar with the alkaline vs. acidic pH scale that plays a critical role in determining your internal health state. Basically, you want your body to be as alkaline as possible, and this is largely achieved by eating alkaline foods. All plant-based, whole foods are alkaline, and all animal by-products are acidic (eggs included). Personally, I just make sure to balance out the acidity of the eggs by eating them alongside highly alkaline foods, such as greens.
- Eggs are a common allergen. There’s a handful of foods that are considered to be common allergens - dairy, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, gluten, shellfish, and eggs. Egg allergies usually go undetected, but if you notice that you feel tired, sluggish, bloated or experience headaches or digestive upset after eating eggs, you may be mildly allergic. If you suspect you may have an allergy, look into having a food allergy test done (they’re actually really cool and informative!).
- For ethical, animal-rights, and personal issues, many people refrain from eating eggs and all animal products.
Now that I've hopefully answered all your egg-related questions, let's get to the fun part: food. I’m super excited to share this recipe with you guys today; it’s been a favorite of mine for years. Shakshuka is perfect for serving at brunch, but also doubles as a nourishing lunch or dinner. The dish originated in Northern Africa, and has become a staple in Israeli culture. It’s a one-skillet recipe of fresh tomato sauce, bright and flavorful spices, and baked eggs. The spices used always vary from region to region, so feel free to add in any personal favorites. In true Solful Health style, I strayed slightly from more traditional recipes to add in a few extra veggies. The roasted eggplant and sautéed spinach complement the spicy tomato sauce to perfection.
If you don’t have a cast-iron skillet, you can modify with any oven-safe skillet or transfer the ingredients to a deep-sided dish when it comes time to bake.
ROASTED EGGPLANT SHAKSHUKA
Yields 4 servings