EGGS-zactly right anytime

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Eggs — the wonderful protein — are cheap, easy to prepare and versatile. They can be poached, boiled, coddled, baked or fried. Fold them into an omelet or bake them in a casserole. Breakfast, lunch, dinner or snack, eggs are a perfect addition to anyone’s diet. 

Here are some tips/facts about eggs:

• Eggs are an important source of protein, vitamins, antioxidants and essential amino acids.

• Each egg contains six grams of protein, 4.5 grams of fat, (1.5 grams saturated /2 grams mono-unsaturated fat).

• A large egg contains 185mg cholesterol (in the yolk).  To eliminate cholesterol, replace each whole egg with two egg whites, although recent studies have shown the cholesterol in eggs does not always affect cholesterol in our blood.

• Fertile eggs are no more nutritious than non-fertile eggs.

• Eggs are very economical at a cost of about 18 cents each.

• Keep eggs in the carton and place on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator. Eggs can be kept four to five weeks after the date on the carton.

• To crack: tap egg firmly on flat surface like the kitchen counter since hitting eggs on the edge of a bowl drives bits of shell into the eggs.          

• Cracked/shelled eggs can be frozen, in an airtight container, for up to 1 year.

• Egg substitute or egg product can be purchased chilled or frozen. These are pasteurized, flavored, egg whites with added color. They do not contain cholesterol.

• The color of the shell means nothing – it is actually associated with breed of chicken. All eggs are nutritionally identical.

• Food safety concerns: assume all eggs are infected with salmonella

• Cook all eggs to 160 degrees

• Wash all countertops, utensils with hot soapy water

•  Never use the same utensils for raw eggs and ready to eat foods without washing

•  Never allow anyone to eat products containing raw eggs, e.g. cookie dough, uncooked eggnog, protein drinks made with raw eggs, etc. 

• Cook eggs on low to medium heat for best results.

• Do not add salt to eggs prior to cooking as it may cause watery eggs.

This time of year many families like to dye or color eggs. Be sure to follow food safety guidelines when using boiled eggs. 

Colored eggs must be refrigerated promptly after the color dries. If using real eggs for an Easter egg hunt make sure the eggs are not out of the refrigerator for more than 2 hours — or simply discard the eggs when the hunt is complete. 

For those who are concerned about using the egg dyeing kits many families purchase to color eggs, the American Egg Board has pointers about how to dye eggs naturally — using items found in most pantries.

Simmer uncooked eggs in water for up to 20 minutes with 1 tablespoon of white vinegar per cup of water and one of the following materials. Fresh beets or cranberries, frozen raspberries for pinkish red; yellow onion skins for orange; ground turmeric for yellow; spinach leaves for pale green; yellow delicious apple peels for green-gold;canned blueberries or red cabbage leaves for blue; and strong brewed coffee for beige to brown.

Boiled eggs sometime have a green ring around the yolk caused by the sulfur in the egg white reacting with the iron in the yolk. This chemical reaction is exaggerated when eggs are cooked too long or at too high a temperature or cooled too slowly. 

Avoid the green ring by following these directions: Place eggs in a single layer in a saucepan and cover with 1 inch of cold water. Cover, bring to a boil and immediately remove from heat. Let stand 11-13 minutes. Remove eggs from water. Chill by immersing eggs in ice water before peeling.