My breakfast of late has been a bowlful of pre-made grains like quinoa or buckwheat that I heat with almond milk, ground flax and spices. Come the weekend though, I am craving something a bit more hearty and this Egg Scramble with Kale and White Beans has done the trick. It was inspired by a reader when I asked for recipe suggestions for the site and, it’s a keeper. Made with only a few simple ingredients you’re likely to have on hand, this quick and easy saute is naturally gluten-free and dairy free (optional), plus it boasts many familiar flavors with an option to get creative if you see fit.
Are Whole Eggs Healthy?
Great question. I get this one a lot. Eggs are a great, easily digested protein source that most of us tend to have on hand, and we shouldn’t be scared to eat them. Current research has shown consuming dietary cholesterol has less of an impact on serum (blood) cholesterol than we once thought, which lifts the long-time stigma on consuming the yolk. Did you know the yolk happens to be the source of many health promoting nutrients like choline, biotin, antioxidants and more?
How Many Eggs Can I Eat in a Day?
To be honest, the answer varies because as we know, nutrition recommendations are not one size fits all. In general, one egg a day has not been shown to increase the risk of heart disease in healthy individuals, but if you have a history of heart disease or diabetes you many want to be a bit more moderate. This can be as simple as enjoying eggs a few times a week instead of daily.
Tip: Whisk together a whole egg with some eggs whites for more volume without sacrificing the flavor or nutrients the whole egg has to offer.
What Type of Eggs Should I Buy?
I used to be totally confused by the egg aisle, so I did some research that I’m happy to share with you. We’ve all been there, picking up carton after carton, wondering which one to buy so here’s what I know.
Eggs are an animal protein and if you know me, you know that I spend my organic dollars on animals proteins first. Why? Because animal proteins have a tendency to be more inflammatory to our bodies AND there are more variable to consider than with produce.
What is the animal being fed? What is the animal’s quality of life? How about hormones and antibiotics? These are important things to consider.
Maybe you choose your eggs based on price? Maybe it’s the natural (ish) label that draws you in? However you decide, the better you understand the information on the label, the better equipped you will be to make a decision that works for you.
Decoding Egg Labels
Hold on to your socks, this information was an eye opener for me. Remember, knowledge is power and we are never going to be perfect. That being said, if we can make healthy upgrades, let’s give it a shot.
First and foremost, it’s important to note that other than the claim “certified organic,” the U.S government does not set requirements for labels that wind up on egg cartons. Crazy, right? That means they are all pretty much bogus marketing tactics. Take natural for example. Aren’t all eggs “natural”. Either way, the natural label doesn’t have a clear definition or regulations backing it up. In short, it doesn’t mean much at all and that’s why it’s important to understand what you are reading.
This is the only egg label regulated by the government in the U.S, so let’s start here. Certified organic eggs means the hens are fed an all organic diet without antibiotics plus, they have access to the outdoors.
This is where it can become tricky. While cage-free hens don’t live in a wire cage, they do live their whole lives within a barn, usually cramped with no exposure to the outdoors. Plus, this label doesn’t guarantee quality of diet. It simply means the hens are cage-free.
While this label has some appeal, in actuality, it has very little meaning. In ideal growing situations, free-range hens are supposed to have access to the outdoors for at least 6 hours a day, but some producers still only let them roam indoors. Some sources claim the most common practice is for the hen to have about 2 square feet of room. That doesn’t sound very “free” to me.
You may see vegetarian fed and think that means healthier chickens. The thing is, chickens aren’t vegetarians. They are omnivores. This label came to be to ensure that the chickens weren’t being fed animal by-products. That is a good thing. The problem lies in the fact that strict vegetarian diet can actually cause amino acid (proteins) deficiencies which requires supplementation. If they were free to roam in the grass and eat bugs, protein deficiencies wouldn’t be an issue.
This label is similar to cage-free but with some regulation. The animals are not in a cage, but they are often kept indoors all day. Unlike many of these labels, Certified Humane requires third party inspections which are a good thing. Hens typically have ample room to nest, perch, dust-bathe, and there are requirements to prevent overcrowding.
When I think about buying eggs, it’s important to me that the chicken’s environment be as close to a natural environment as possible, and pastured eggs are pretty darn close. The chickens spend a good amount of time roaming the pastures and they have indoor access as well. By having such unrestricted access to the outdoors, they can feed on more natural options like worms, insects, and plants. They are generally happier chickens.
Are Brown Eggs Healthier?
I love debunking this food myth. Lots of people assume brown eggs are healthier because their brown, earthy color makes them appear to be more “natural” than their pearly white counterparts. In reality, the color of the egg has nothing to do with the feed or growing condition, but more to do with the types of hens laying them. In short, the color of the egg doesn’t define it’s worth!
Which Egg is the Best?
The best option is a certified organic, pastured egg. This ensures quality of diet and environment. If this is outside of your price point, opt for a cage-free, certified humane egg. Yes, better quality eggs cost more but, when compared to other animal proteins they are still inexpensive. On the high-end, a two egg serving costs $1.00 which, with some veggies and potatoes added to the meal, will still cost you less than a fast-food meal!
Egg Scramble with Kale and White Beans
Yield 2 servings
Gluten-Free and Dairy Free, this quick and easy egg scramble with kale and white beans is a great choices for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
- 3 eggs
- ½ cup milk or milk alternative
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, butter or ghee
- 1/2 cup sliced leek, greens removed, halved and sliced thinly
- 1 heaping cup curly or lacinato kale, sliced
- 1/2 cup navy or cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 tablespoon of water
- salt and pepper to taste
- In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs and milk. Set aside.
- Heat oil/butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the leeks and a pinch of salt. Cook for 2 minutes. Add the kale and white beans to the pan along with the water. Cook for a 2-3 minutes until the kale starts to wilt.
- Pour egg mixture into skillet and scramble until the eggs are set.
- Season with salt and pepper. Serve.
- Serve with freshly sliced tomatoes
- Serve with a sprinkle of fresh basil, za'atar or red pepper flakes
- Add shredded Parmesan just as the eggs begin to set