When’s the last time you’ve stopped to hail the almighty egg? These nutritious and delicious capsules of goodness are Island Grown School’s (IGS) Harvest of the Month for March and they’re personally one of my favorites. I start each day with a farm-fresh egg that has been laid by my very own chickens. Here on Martha’s Vineyard keeping chickens is almost as common as keeping a dog or cat as a pet. It’s a way of life and one I’m grateful for–the difference in quality between a store-bought egg and a local egg is exceptional.
First off a store-bought egg might be months old! It’s pretty alarming but true. Eggs can have a long shelf life and may still be safe to eat but it’s not too appetizing to think about how long ago they were laid. Farm fresh eggs on the other hand are usually only days old when sold to you, meaning their more nutritious, as they lose some of their value as time passes by.
When it comes to food shopping some items are created equal, but eggs are one of those foods that’s worth paying extra for. Locally grown farm eggs can cost about $6 a dozen, but at about 50 cents per egg they are one of the most affordable sources of Island grown food, not to mention one of the most protein-rich.
In fact eggs have 6 grams of high-quality protein, making them a protein-packed breakfast that can help sustain your mental and physical energy throughout the day. Unlike other breakfast foods like cereal or yogurt, eggs only contain one ingredient – “eggs.” They don’t contain sugar or carbs either. That means you can eat a well-rounded breakfast during the week without feeling too round yourself.
On top of the benefits that protein and choline provide, eggs are also packed with omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin a, riboflavin, vitamin B12, phosphorus and selenium. Eggs are considered a ‘complete’ source of protein as they contain all nine essential amino acids; the ones we can’t synthesize in our bodies and must get from our diet.
Remember not to skip the yolk! Over the years many people have shied away from eating egg yolks for fear of their high cholesterol. We now know that the cholesterol found in food has much less of an effect on our blood cholesterol than the amount of saturated fat we eat–so embrace the yolk!
Egg yolks also contain choline, which promotes normal cell activity, liver function, and the transportation of nutrients throughout the body. It’s also key in the development of an infant’s memory functions, so moms shouldn’t miss out on its vital nourishments when pregnant or breastfeeding. You’ll find that the yolk of a farm-fresh egg is typically richer in color and taste while store-bought egg yolks are usually medium yellow. Not only do farm egg yolks have a deeper color, but their yolk is also creamier and doesn’t break as easily when cooked.
Hungry for eggs yet? If you’re on Martha’s Vineyard you can buy fresh pasture-raised eggs from your local farm stand or at Cronig’s Market and the Scottish Bakery. In season you can also find eggs at one of our local farms including the Farm Institute, Morning Glory Farm, Black Water Farm, Ghost Island Farm, The Grey Barn, Mermaid Farm, North Tabor Farm and more. Check out this interactive map of local farms on Martha’s Vineyard and their offerings.
If you’re in need of some recipe inspiration read below for some tasty recipes from some of a couple of our talented local chefs and friends. Remember, you don’t need to limit your eggs to just breakfast, eggs make a great lunch or dinner option as well.
Try this Shakshuka recipe from local chef Jamie Hamlin of V. Jaime Hamlin Catering and Party Design. She recommends it as a great for brunch option.
*Makes 4 generous portions
1/2 tsp cumin seeds( NOT powdered cumin)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 sliced onions
2 red peppers, sliced into strips
2 yellow peppers, sliced into strips
4 tsp sugar
2 fresh bay leaves
1 can crushed tomatoes
1/2 tsp saffron threads (reconstitute in a little hot water first)
pinch of cayenne
2 tbsp chopped parsley & 2 tbsp chopped cilantro (save some for garnish)
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 or so cups of water ( to keep the consistency saucy)
8 eggs (organic are best)
In a large frying pan dry toast the cumin seeds until fragrant, 1–2 minutes.
Add olive oil and onions, saute 5 minutes or so.
Add both red & yellow pepper strips, sugar and chopped herbs, saute another 5 minutes.
Add tomatoes, cayenne, saffron, salt and pepper.
Cook all together for 5–8 minutes adding water to keep the consistency “saucy” and remove bay leaves before adding eggs. Taste for seasoning.
Make 8 indentations in the sauce – break the eggs into them, cover and cook on simmer for 10 minutes or so or until the eggs are just set. Sprinkle with cilantro to serve.
Have fun with this Spinach, Mushroom and Onion Frittata from private chef Gavin Smith of Food Minded Fellow. He recommends eating it for any meal of the day (or even a late night snack). He loves frittatas for their versatility, plus they can be prepared for immediate consumption the days before for an easy meal on the go.
8-10 Large farm fresh eggs
1/2 cup red bell pepper (julienned)
1/2 cup onion (julienned)
1/2 cup mushrooms (sliced)
2-3 cups raw spinach
3 Tablespoons whole milk
1/2 Cup cheddar sliced thin or grated
1 tbsp olive oil
Preheat oven to 375 degrees (°F).
Beat eggs and milk together.
Add dd oil to a large deep skillet.
Soften onions and red pepper over medium heat, 2 minutes.
Add mushrooms and stir until softened.
Add spinach and salt and stir until spinach is wilted.
Pour egg and milk mixture over all ingredients evenly (do not mix or stir).
Evenly distribute cheese over the top of the egg mixture.
Place in the oven and cook until edges of the frittata start to brown, 10–12 minutes.
Let cool slightly then cut and serve.
Hungry for more? Check out this simple Avocado Egg Salad recipe from IGS’s chef Gabrielle Chronister.