A traditional Middle Eastern of eggs poached in tomato sauce gets an Indian spin with coconut milk, ginger and Indian spices. My Indian shakshuka with green chutney is perfect for breakfast, brunch or dinner!
Egg lovers rejoice!
Last week, the committee that advises government's Dietary Guidelines announced they are dropping the longstanding warning against eating cholesterol-rich foods. The current guidelines are to limit daily cholesterol consumption to less than 300 mg. With almost 200 mg of cholesterol in one large egg, that warning didn't leave much room to indulge in a good sunny side up and over, despite multiple studies showing eggs do not raise cholesterol.
I, for one, was happy to hear this news. Although I clearly promote a plant focused diet, when it comes to animal based protein sources, pastured eggs are one of the best. In fact, nutritionally, I would place them right behind fish. Let's take a look at some of the benefits:
- Pastured eggs, from chickens raised on their natural diet of grass, seeds, and insects, produce a yolk with over 600 mg of omega 3 fats. These fats are well known for heart health, but also have tremendous benefit for the brain. Omega 3s alleviate depression, improve cognition and have even shown efficacy in the treatment of schizophrenia.
- Eggs are the richest food source of choline, an essential vitamin that 90% of Americans are not consuming adequate amounts of. Choline is needed to build cell membranes and to produce neurotransmitters, the signaling molecule in the brain.
- An egg contains 10% daily needs of vitamin A, a critical nutrient for healthy skin and eyes.
- Eggs are a rich source iodine and selenium, two minerals crucial for thyroid health. An egg contains 20% daily needs of iodine, a key component of thyroid hormones and 30% daily needs of selenium, a mineral which helps activate thyroid hormones. One of the thyroid glands many roles is regulating metabolism, so eggs may be particularly beneficial for weight control.
- It's true, eggs raise cholesterol - but in a good way! Studies have found eggs can increase HDL cholesterol, the good kind that protects against heart disease.
- With protein and fat all in a nice little package, eggs are quite filling, especially when compared to the cereal, pastries, white toast and other breakfast items people often eat instead.
- Although eggs are an animal protein, they can actually help cut back on total intake of animal proteins. Think of it this way, it's not unusual to eat 6 ounces of chicken for dinner. But eating 6 eggs? Unless you're Gaston, that's unlikely.
I encourage you to seek out organic, pastured eggs. Bonus points for locally sourced. Because pastured chickens eat a healthier diet, their eggs contain more nutrients, especially vitamin A and omega 3 fats. Conventional production of eggs is harmful to the environment and the chickens are kept in cruel conditions. To find pastured eggs, check out your local farmers market, or if you're shopping at the grocery store, check out this post I wrote on egg labeling for guidance.
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Shakshuka, a dish of eggs poached in tomato sauce, may be my favorite way to enjoy eggs. It's a traditional Tunisian dish, now popular all over North Africa and in Israel. Traditional recipes are fantastic, especially when served with spicy harissa or hummus. But I love to use a basic recipe for inspiration and take different spins on it. I've added beans, corn and chilies to make a Mexican version, mixed in squash and pesto for an Italian flair and most recently, created this Indian spiced version!
- 1 lb fingerling potatoes
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 red onion, peeled and chopped
- 2 red bell peppers, stemmed, seeded and chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 28 ounces canned tomato puree
- 1/2 cup full fat coconut milk
- 6 eggs
- 100% whole wheat naan, toasted, for serving
- Green chutney, recipe follows, for serving
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add potatoes and cook 15 minutes until tender. Drain and set aside to cool. When cool enough to handle, cut the potatoes in half.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Heat olive oil in an oven safe, large sided skillet on medium high heat. Add onion and peppers and saute until tender and lightly golden, about 10 minutes.
- Add garlic, ginger and spices. Season with salt and pepper. Cook 1 minute until fragrant. Add tomatoes, boiled potatoes, and coconut milk. Simmer 10 minutes. Season with salt.
- Make 6 wells in the tomato sauce and crack an egg into each. Place skillet in the oven and bake 15-18 minutes until whites are set and yolks are still runny. Dollop with green chutney and serve with naan.
- 1½ packed cups cilantro
- ½ packed cup mint
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1 dried red chili or ¼ teaspoon crushed chili flakes
- Juice of 1 lime
- ¼ cup coconut cream or yogurt
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon honey
- Blend all ingredients in a food processor until they form a pesto-like sauce. Season to taste with salt.