Should You Be Eating Eggs? Egg Whites?

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Image: Thrive Market

This is a question that has been seriously weighing on me ever since I had a lengthy conversation with one of my boyfriend’s best friends. His father is a cardiologist, which prompted him to become vegan – out of the thousands of patients he has seen over the course of his practice, none were vegan. This friend told me about Dr. Greger, a vegan zealot and the founder of Nutrition Facts. Dr. Greger basically claims that you can drastically cut down on most major causes of death by going vegan. I’ve never been a fan of one-size-fits-all diets. I’ve also heard time and time again that cholesterol isn’t increased by eating cholesterol, but by eating refined and processed grains, sugar, or drinking soda or juice, because these are converted into sugar and then the liver converts them into fat, including cholesterol (Dr. Lipman, in fact, recommends you not only eat eggs, but that you eat the whole egg!). Dr. Hyman’s Paleo-Vegan approach speaks to me to a greater degree and it’s the diet I follow for the most part. I don’t believe in encouraging people to cut out entire food groups unless it involves sugar or processed food.

All of this contradicting information, however, can be confounding so I asked a nutritionist that I greatly respect and have written about before, Tanya Zuckerbrot, MS, RD and founder of F-Factor for her insight:

“I am all for eggs – eggs are a great source of protein, and rather nutritious (full of vitamins and minerals),” says Zuckerbrot. “Egg yolks are a great source of vitamin A, lutein, and zeanxanthin. Vitamin A promotes healthy cell grown and skin. Lutein and zeanxanthin make eggs promote eye health – they’re antioxidants that have been shown to decrease the risk of developing macular degeneration and cataracts. Eggs also contain B vitamins, riboflavin, folate and vitamin E.”

Calorie-wise one egg has 7g protein and about 80 calories (about 3/4 of which are in the yolk), which is why Zuckerbrot says that from a diet standpoint, egg whites rule. “For people trying to lose or maintain their weight, opt for egg whites over whole eggs. Egg whites are a lean protein, whole eggs are a medium-fat protein. Egg whites only eliminates the cholesterol and fat, but still provides the protein, and significantly cuts the calories.”

F-Factor Dieters have eggs for breakfast. Women, Zuckerbrot says, should have 4 egg whites, men 6 egg whites. At breakfast, from eggs alone, women get 16g protein, men get 24g protein. Tip: Make it a full mean by cooking eggs with non starchy veggies like tomatoes, onions, peppers and mushrooms and pairing with high-fiber crackers and a serving of fruit.

Below are three healthy, filling recipes Zuckerbrot recommends!

Spinach, Feta and Egg White Minis

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Ingredients (Serves 6):

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) liquid egg whites
  • ½ cup reduced-fat milk
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese

Preparations: 

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a 12 cup muffin tin with nonstick spray.
  2. Defrost frozen spinach, squeeze dry.
  3. Whisk together the egg substitute, milk, pepper, and salt in a large bowl until thoroughly blended. Stir in the spinach and feta.
  4. Fill prepared muffin cups almost to the top with the egg mixture and bake until they puff up and just begin to set in the center, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  5. Using a rubber spatula, loosen the frittatas from the muffin cups.
  6. Enjoy fresh from the oven, or wrap individually and store in fridge for up to 3 days.

Simple Shakshuka

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Ingredients (Serves 6):

  • 1/4 cup scallions, finely chopped
  • 1 media green or red bell pepper, diced
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 2 (14 oz) cans diced tomatoes (or 4 cups ripe tomatoes, diced)
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped (optional, for garnish)
 Preparations: 
  1. Finely chop scallions (green tips only). De-seed and dice bell pepper.
  2. Coat a large skillet with nonstick cooking spray and place over medium heat. Add chopped scallions and peppers and cook until softened.
  3. Add the crushed tomatoes and tomato paste and stir until blended. Stir in the crushed red pepper and paprika and allow mixture to cook over medium heat for 7 minutes, until it starts reducing. Add salt and pepper to taste. If you prefer a spicier shakshuka, add additional crushed red pepper flakes.
  4. Crack eggs individually into the mixture, spacing them evenly around the pan. Cover and allow to cook for 10-15 minutes, or until the eggs are cooked “over easy”.
  5. Garnish chopped parsley and serve with high-fiber carbohydrates of your choice.

All-Mighty Avocado Toast

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Ingredients (Serves 3): 

Avocado Mash:

  • 1 large hard boiled egg, cooled and peeled
  • Egg whites from 2 large hard boiled eggs, cooled and peeled (yolk discarded)
  • 1/2 avocado, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 of a small lime, juiced
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Carbohydrate Base – Use either:

Garnishes:

  • 1 beefsteak tomato, sliced
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Lemon or lime wedges

Preparations: 

  1. Lightly toast your carbohydrate base (toast or crackers), set aside.
  2. Prepare mash: Quarter/ halve the hard boiled eggs, discarding the yolk from 2 of the eggs (and keeping the yolk from 1). Place the hard boiled egg whites and remaining yolk in a small bowl, along with the sliced avocado, dijon mustard, lime juice, and salt and pepper. Mash with the back of a fork until fully combined and desired consistency is achieved.
  3. Take toast of choice (2 slices of Healthy Joy Bakes Omega Power Bread or 3 GG crackers) and top each with beefsteak tomato slice. Spoon avocado mixture atop tomato and sprinkle with red pepper flakes.
  4. If using Healthy Joy Bakes Omega Power Bread, cut into each thirds when serving (2 small pieces per serving). If using GG crackers, serve 1 cracker per serving. Plate alongside lemon wedge. Serve immediately and eat the same day you prepare it.

Kathy Siegel, MS, RDN, CDN and nutrition communication consultant also recommends eggs to her clients and below she shares two of her favorites! 

Nordic Eggs Benedict

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Ingredients (Serves 2):
  • 1-5.3 ounce container Icelandic Provisions plain skyr
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • ¾ teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • 4 large organic eggs
  • 2 whole grain English muffins, sliced in half
  • ½ cup baby spinach
  • 4 tomato slices
  • 2 ounces smoked salmon
  • 1 tablespoon dill, chopped
Preparations: 
  1. In a small bowl, add Icelandic Provisions plain skyr, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, turmeric, paprika, and sea salt. Whisk together until emulsified. Set aside.
  2. Break the eggs (one at a time) in a strainer.. Gently tap the strainer so the watery egg white falls through. Once the water is strained out, the egg whites will be ready for poaching.
  3. Place each egg in a ramekin and set aside.
  4. In a medium size saucepan, bring 4 inches of water to a boil.
  5. When the water reaches a boil, turn off the heat and slide the eggs into the water. Let them cook until egg whites are slightly firm and the yolks are runny, about 2 minutes.
  6. Use a slotted spoon to remove the eggs. Place them on a clean plate and set aside.
Assemble:
  1. Toast the English muffins.
  2. Place the spinach, a tomato slice, ¼ of the smoked salmon and a poached egg on one half of the English muffin.
  3. Pour ¼ of the skyr mixture over each egg, and sprinkle some dill on top before serving.
  4. Repeat the process for the other three halves English muffins, and serve immediately. 
Baked Freekeh & Sunny Side Up Eggs
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Ingredients (Serves 6): 
  • 2 ½ cups water
  • 1 cup freekeh
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup diced cherry or grape tomatoes
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
  • 6 large eggs
Preparations: 
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Boil water and add 1 cup of freekeh. Lower heat to medium-low and cover pot with a lid. Let the freekeh simmer for about 20 minutes or until water is absorbed. Remove from stove and set aside.
  • In a large saute pan, add 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and garlic, and sauté until lightly brown.
  • Add the mushrooms and sauté for 3-5 minutes until mushrooms are soft and lightly browned. Add tomatoes, salt, pepper, basil, parsley, and Parmesan cheese, and stir well. Remove from the stove and combine with cooked Freekeh.
  • Lightly grease a baking dish with 1 teaspoon olive oil, and transfer the Freekeh mixture into the baking dish.
  • Make six indentations where you would crack the eggs. Crack an egg into each indentation then place in the oven for 20-35 minutes until the egg whites are set but the yolks are still yellow.
  • Serve warm.

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