Tuesday, 27 November 2012

How to poach an egg and other egg-cellent ideas (yes, that just happened)

I know….it has been a long while since my last blog. To be completely honest, since uni finished for the year, I have had a massive case of the blahs which has seen me thinking a lot, but doing very little. Do you ever have periods like that? Anyway, I seem to be coming out the other side of it, especially with a 2 month South America trip on the horizon (i.e. this Thursday! Whoop whoop). So for my first post back, I thought I would try something practical and talk about the humble egg – nature’s multi-vitamin!

At least once a week I am asked a question regarding eggs, such as “how many eggs can I have?” or “won’t they increase my cholesterol and increase my chance of heart disease?”. To that I say “as many as you want as long as they are organic, free-range and pasture-raised” and “no and no”. While I could talk all day about cholesterol and why eggs are not a cause for concern, this information is not vital to your egg-poaching-ability. What I have recently realised is that many people do not know how to poach an egg, or at least without it turning into a big watery-eggy mess or sticking to the pan. This is nothing to be ashamed of - I know that I never used to poach eggs as the whole experience was just painful, so I tended to stick to the trusty omelette, boiled or scrambled eggs.

Firstly, why should you bother poaching an egg? Helpful dot point time:
  • Because they are delicious and less stick-to-panny than fried and scrambled eggs
  • Because they are just a little bit fancy – who needs to go to a café when you can whip up some poachies at home?
  • Because eggs are nutritional powerhouses! This really should be number one on the list, but unless you are a nutrition geek like me, you probably care more about taste than nutrition. That’s all good peeps! Seriously, eggs are nature’s multi-vitamin/superfood.  One egg yolk provides 13 essential nutrients! Wowsers! Let’s do a list within this list (getting tricky now, aren’t we?) of the amazing accomplishments of the humble egg:
  1. Rich source of protein – one egg contains around 7g of protein. These little babies can be an especially good source of protein for those of you who choose not to eat meat. Note – without the yolk, the protein in eggs is not as well absorbed. Eating just the egg white and tossing the yolk is, in my opinion, blasphemy (from a nutrition and a sustainability standpoint). Don’t do it!
  2. They are a fantastic source of vitamin B12 – just 2 a day would just about give you your recommended intake! B12 is essential for central nervous system health, DNA, bone cell activity and metabolism. Some symptoms of B12 deficiency include fatigue, nerve degeneration and constipation. Other great sources of B12 are animal foods including meat, fish and poultry, however if you from the vegetarian camp, eggs may be a great choice for you. Fun fact: vitamin B12 is easily destroyed by microwaving – just another reason to cook your food old-school.
  3. Folate – 2 eggs will give you one quarter of your recommended daily intake! Pair that with some leafy greens and mushrooms sautéed with coconut oil, shallots and Italian herbs (and some pate if you really want to up the ante) and you have got one delicious and nutritious meal! Folate is also used in new cell synthesis and is therefore especially important in the prevention of neural tube defects, so if you are preggers – definitely have at least 2 of these babies each day (much better than a dodgy synthetic supplement – tastier too!
  4. Pasture-raised egg yolks (not whites) are especially rich in fat soluble vitamins A, E, D and K. Vitamin A promotes vision, skin health, and reproduction and can act as an anti-oxidant. Vitamin D is a super-vitamin with more and more functions being realised each day, some of which include bone health, immune function and hormone function. Vitamin E chiefly functions as an anti-oxidant, and vitamin K plays a role in bone health and blood clotting.
  5. One of the best sources of choline. Haven’t heard of it? Choline is important for the synthesis of neurotransmitters, cell membranes, lipid (AKA fat) transport and can aid in detoxification. This is another one that is essential during pregnancy as it supports the structure and function of the brain and spinal cord during foetal development.
  6. Eggs are also rich in iodine (important for thyroid health and foetal development), selenium (an important anti-oxidant and thyroid-health nutrient), and omega 3 fatty acids (especially those that are pasture-raised – not the crappy supermarket kind…even if it does say organic or free-range. My favourites are “Egganic” and “Ox Hill”). 
So which nutrient is not found in eggs? Vitamin C! So again, pair your eggs with some dark leafy greens to get your dose of C, which will also help you to absorb the iron in the greens and the eggs. Isn’t it amazing what we can accomplish just by eating real, fresh food? Who would have thought! Ha!

Poached eggs and greens (and reds)

OK so here we are again at the end of a long rant and I still have not achieved what I set out to do. How do we get a perfectly poached egg? Well, firstly you need a few materials:
  • Eggs (duh) – poaching 2 at a time works best but I have done up to 4.
  • A saucepan with about 2-3 inches of boiling water
  • A splash or 2 of white vinegar
  • A slotted spoon and dinner spoon
And this is what you do:
  1. After your water has boiled (vinegar should be in there already – this stops the egg from sticking), turn the heat down to low
  2. When the water stops bubbling, take your dinner spoon and create a “whirlpool” with the water by stirring quickly but smoothly around the perimeter of the saucepan.
  3. When your whirlpool is to your liking, quickly crack your eggs into the centre (what is that called – the “eye”?? of the whirlpool? I completely just made that up but hopefully you get the gist). The purpose of the whirlpool is to force the white to stay compactly around the yolk in order to get that café-egg result.
  4. After around 3-5mins, take your slotted spoon and gently scoop out your egg/s. If the yolk is still too wobbly for your liking or if the white is still clear, gently place the egg/s back into the saucepan and cook a little while longer. If done to your liking, serve onto a plate and enjoy!
Some of my favourite things to enjoy with poached eggs include bacon (that’s a given), sautéed greens (as mentioned above), or served on top of some left-over marvellous mince. What about if you don’t like eggs? Well, I doubt you would have made it this far into the post!

Poached eggs, marvellous mince and home-made sauerkraut 
So hopefully I have:

a) convinced you that eggs will not kill you – in fact they may even help you to love longer (I have no scientific research on hand to back this up right now – but lack of evidence is not necessarily evidence against!)! At the very least it will at some serious nutrition (and flavour) into your diet

b) taught you how to poach an egg old-school (i.e. without those unnecessarily expensive plastic egg poaching thingies which are probably leaching toxins into your little morsels of goodness anyway)

c) allowed you to procrastinate from what other activity you were about to do.

Do you have any other egg-cellent (sorry) ideas? Do share!