Life

Nutrition with Jane McClenaghan: Eggs are not just for Easter, you know

Over the years eggs have taken a hit in the nutritional stakes but now, I am glad to say, they're very much back on the menu

IF YOU have been off chocolate for lent, you will be eagerly anticipating munching your way through at least one chocolate Easter egg this Sunday.

Whether chocolate, painted, rolled or hunted, eggs are synonymous with Easter celebrations as a symbol of new life, fertility and rebirth. The tradition of painting eggs pre-dates Christianity as a symbol of spring and new life dating back 2500 years.

Eggs and cholesterol

Over the years eggs have taken a hit in the nutritional stakes. Accused of contributing to high cholesterol, many of us avoided them for health reasons for years. Now, I am glad to say, eggs are back on the menu and according to the NHS, "There is no recommended limit on how many eggs people should eat."

Although eggs do contain some cholesterol, we now know that cholesterol in our diet does not contribute to elevated cholesterol in our body. A better way of reducing cholesterol is to rebalance the type of fat in our diet and adopt a Mediterranean-style diet by increasing our intake of vegetables, legumes, olive oil, oily fish, nuts, seeds, with a few eggs a week.

Eggs-cellent nutrition

Eggs are an economical source of good nutrition. They are a complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids, with around half the protein content contained in the white of the egg. Depending on where they are sourced, eggs can also provide some omega 3 fats.

The yellow yolk is packed with fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E and K as well as some B6, B12, folate, zinc, iron, selenium and copper.

How do you eat yours?

Eggs are an economical ingredient for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Boiled, poached or scrambled, or used as the base for an omelette or frittata, they can feed hungry bellies with good nutrition.

Try my recipe for spinach and red pepper mini muffins over Easter as a quick and handy lunch or snack. I recommend choosing free-range, organic eggs where possible. Although the nutrition of organic eggs is the same, the hens are fed organic feed, are free to roam and are exposed to less antibiotics and hormones.

Recipe of the week

SPINACH AND RED PEPPER MINI MUFFINS

(Serves 4-6)

Olive oil for greasing

1 red onion, finely chopped

1 red pepper, finely chopped

100g spinach, finely chopped

A big handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped

250g cottage cheese

5 or 6 eggs

30g mature cheddar

Method

Grease a muffin tin (or use a silicon one). Pre-heat your oven to 180C/160C fan/gas mark 4. Place the chopped onion, pepper, spinach and parsley in a small bowl and mix well together. Stir in the cottage cheese and season well.

In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs. Put a spoonful of the vegetable and cottage cheese mixture into each muffin hole. Pour the egg mixture over the top and add a little grated cheddar to each. Place in the oven for about 15minutes until the eggs are set. Serve hot or cold.

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