Eggs In Some Way Every Day

Nancy Berkoff, RD, EdD

Puffy French omelettes, savory Italian frittatas, spicy Chinese egg foo yung, airy Spanish tortillas- all feature Mother Nature’s almost perfect creation, the egg. Without it, where would quiche, strata, soufflé or egg salad be? Unfortunately, no one seems to be able to agree how many eggs are okay for an individual to eat.

In the ongoing battle of cholesterol versus man, the humble egg yolk is constantly under attack. The yolk is Mother Nature’s cruel joke, as it is packed with health-giving fat-soluble vitamins and artery-clogging saturated fat, the infamous cholesterol.

The jury is still out on the importance of limiting dietary cholesterol versus lowering total fat intake. Some authorities feel that the key to heart health is to lower all fat in the diet while others feel that the accent need only be on the lowering of overall dietary saturated fats. On the other hand, some people who follow high protein weight loss diets, which include a lot of eggs, may sometimes see a decrease in body cholesterol. Go figure!

Current popular diets make egg decisions difficult to make as well. High protein diets say “bring on the omelets,” while high carbohydrate diets say, “better back off.”

Many Americans seem to be heeding the “eggs are a good thing” clarions call, as egg consumption and egg prices have been on the rise this year. At the same time, many Americans seem to want their eggs, but don’t want their cholesterol, too. According to the USDA, egg products (such as egg substitutes and liquid egg whites) account for over twenty-five per cent of all egg use in the country.

Egg substitutes have several roles to play in order to give a successful performance. They must lend the same moisture, mouth feel, texture and color as egg yolks do while leaving the saturated fat by the way side. This is often accomplished in various ways by pasteurized egg whites, with vegetable oil, cellulose gums, beta-carotene, nonfat milk, salt and emulsifiers and stabilizers added for texture and color.

You can create your own egg substitute by separating yolks and egg whites, and mixing the egg whites with a small amount of food coloring, if you like. Special care needs to be taken while separating eggs that are going to be stored, as bacterial growth can happen very easily. You’ll need to find a hollandaise-loving neighbor for all those egg yolks. The up side of commercial egg substitutes includes the convenience of an almost whole egg-like product and pasteurization. Pasteurization eliminates some of the danger from salmonella contamination and extends shelf life. Egg substitutes can be easily poured and are more convenient than cracking and separating eggs. The down side is that egg substitutes are more egg-spensive than shell eggs and are often fairly high in sodium, used as a preservative.

Most commercial egg substitutes are egg- and dairy -based. There are several products on the market that are plant-based, especially suitable for vegan vegetarians and for people with an allergy to eggs or dairy.

Professional chefs can replace eggs in recipes with soft or silk tofu, mashed beans, mashed potatoes and fruit purees. You will have to match the substitute with the menu item. For example, tofu can be scrambled with chopped vegetables and herbs to create a dish close to scrambled eggs- use it as an entrée or as a filling for breakfast burritos. Fruit purees, such as banana and apple, can be used to replace some of the egg in baking recipes and pureed or mashed beans can be used as a thickener, instead of eggs, in soups and dips.

Take Out the Eggs

Some menu items will never miss the whole egg. For example, cheese strata (a multi-layered, baked cheese sandwich over which a savory custard sauce is poured) can be transformed into a lower-fat, whole egg-less product. Alternate layers of thinly sliced bread with thinly sliced tomatoes, mushrooms, onions and low-fat cheese (such as skim milk mozzarella). Create a sauce with heated non- or low-fat milk, beaten egg substitute, white pepper, crushed garlic and a hint of nutmeg.

Pour the sauce over the strata and bake until bubbly. Sweet or savory quiche fillings can be made from a base of heated low-fat milk and egg substitute. Beat the two ingredients together and add sweet ingredients (chopped dried, fresh or canned fruit, sugar or syrup, orange or lemon zest, cinnamon, ginger, etc.) or savory ingredients (diced onions, peppers, garlic, tomatoes, mushrooms, low-fat sausage, ground pepper, basil, thyme, oregano, etc.), pour into an unbaked shell and bake until golden brown.

Yolk-less Baking

Egg yolk-less baking presents more of a challenge, as most baking formulas are a balance of fat and fluid. Quick breads, such as carrot cake or zucchini bread, muffins and sponge cakes do well without yolks, as they have other sources of moisture and leavening. Try banana bread or zucchini bread using egg whites, mashed banana or zucchini and thawed orange juice concentrate to replace the whole eggs. Lemon pie filling (made with sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest and egg substitute) tastes and look rich without the fat from the yolk.

Many breakfast items can go yolk-less. Baked or griddled French toast can be made with egg substitutes rather than whole eggs. Add some chopped dried fruit, such as raisins or dates to replace some of the texture lost with the yolk. You can have a three-egg omelet “your way,” which can be any combination of one or two egg whites with one whole egg, three egg yolks, etc.

Add chopped veggies for color and texture. The same mixture can be used to create a morning scramble or as a filling for breakfast burritos. Layer this mixture with cooked hash browns and bake until crispy for a morning casserole. As an alternate to egg substitutes, soft tofu may be used instead.

If you would like to try to one-up Mother Nature, are some tried and true formulas for replacing eggs (each formula is the equivalent of one large egg)

  • 1 Tablespoon nonfat dry milk powder, 2 large egg whites, 3 drops of egg shade: sprinkle milk powder over egg whites, beat until smooth; add egg shade and beat until blended.
  • 2 ounces soft tofu, 2 drops egg shade- mash or blend and use in stir fries, as “scrambled eggs” or in baking
  • 1 Tablespoon flour, 2 teaspoons water, one teaspoon vegetable oil, 2 drops egg shade: blend all ingredients until well-combined and use as egg sub in baking and sauces.
  • One-quarter cup of mashed bananas or applesauce or pureed beans or mashed potatoes or pureed fruit can be substituted for one egg, depending on the use (for example, banana or fruit can be subbed for eggs in baking, potatoes or beans in soups or casseroles, etc.).
  • Two egg whites per whole egg

With many years in health care and education, Nancy would love for readers to ask food and nutrition-related questions:


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