Eggs to the rescue
A ‘cracking’ idea for solving those daily dinner dilemmas.
They’re versatile, they pack a whopping nutritional punch and they’ve come to Claire Turnbull’s rescue on numerous occasions. Eggs make tasty, healthy and filling meals, and there’s been many a time Healthy Food Guide nutritionist Turnbull has cracked open a few to solve her dinner dilemmas.
“They’re a great solution for busy people because they make very quick, easy and nutritious meals,” says Turnbull. “They are cheap and easily accessible and while a lot of people have this idea you’ve got to have meat for dinner, there is absolutely nothing wrong with having eggs, especially if you have next-to-no time. Whipping up an omelette with lots of veges is quicker and cheaper than going out to get a takeaway, and much better for you.
“Eggs have saved me many times, especially when my three-year-old son is really hungry and needs to eat straight away.”
Not only do we tend to think of eggs as breakfast food, but many of us still subscribe to the outdated belief that eggs are bad for us because they can raise levels of unhealthy cholesterol in the blood.
“We used to think foods containing dietary cholesterol, like eggs, affected blood cholesterol,” says Turnbull. “But that was an assumed link, and more extensive research has shown us dietary cholesterol actually has very little impact on blood cholesterol. It’s saturated fat that has that negative effect.
“For the average healthy Kiwi, it is absolutely fine to enjoy eggs every day.”
There are some who do have to watch their intake including those hyper-responsive to dietary cholesterol and an increased risk of heart disease. The New Zealand Heart Foundation says based on current evidence, Kiwis with increased risk of heart disease – such as those with type 2 diabetes – can eat up to six eggs a week.
One of the great benefits of eggs is that they are rich in protein, which can help with weight management, says Turnbull.
“Protein-rich foods help you to feel satisfied and full, so if you have eggs for breakfast you can hold out for longer before you feel the need to eat again. You’re not munching on a lamington at 10 o’clock because you’re hungry.”
As well as protein, eggs contain a variety of essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, including selenium, folate, calcium, zinc, iron, iodine, phosphorus, biotin and vitamins A, B5, B12, D and E.
While the healthiest way to eat them is to add little or no fat – such as boiling or poaching – there’s nothing wrong with having eggs fried in butter as long as it’s not every day, or you eat a lot of food fried in butter, Turnbull says.
“You have to balance out how you have your eggs with what the rest of your diet is like,” she says. “I fry my eggs in butter because I don’t have them like that every day and I hardly have butter anywhere else.
“If you eat your eggs fried with a plate full of sausages and bacon then it’s not the healthiest of meals. But if you have an omelette with lots of vegetables then that is much better for you.”
Some of her top suggestions for enjoying eggs include:
• Making omelettes. These can easily be adapted for one person or for six. They are a great way to use up leftovers and work well with all kinds of vegetables. “I make one with grated courgette, lemon zest, a bit of feta cheese and chopped mint, which is delicious,” says Turnbull. “I also make what we call pizza omelette for my little boy. I put in all sorts of vegetables and even bits of pineapple, then I put in a swirl of tomato paste and cut it into wedges. He loves it.”
• Boiling a bunch of eggs and keeping them in the fridge ready to go as a snack – not forgetting to mark the shells so you can tell the boiled eggs from the raw ones.
• Adding sliced or chopped boiled eggs to salads. “I’ll make my husband a tuna pasta salad to take for lunch, and chop a couple of eggs over the top. Adding egg to a salad is a great way of getting additional protein.”
• Having poached eggs with corn fritters. “We have tomatoes on the side, and the fritters are nice dipped into the eggs.”
• Making egg fried vegetables. “A friend whose dad owned a Chinese restaurant showed me how to make egg fried rice and I do it with extra eggs, so they are the protein source rather than meat. You can then add lots of vegetables.”
• Adding herbs, spring onions, spinach, peas or corn to scrambled eggs. “Mushrooms also go very well with eggs.”
• Making a very thin, crepe-like omelette and using it as a wrap.