The Low Carb Luxury Newsletter: 
Volume III / Number 05: March 15, 2002: Page 2
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                   Eggs: The Start of Something Great
From Lora's Desk With Easter right around the corner, we think this is an eggcellent time to talk about the real nutrition behind one of the basic staples of the low carb diet — EGGS!

Most of you already know the basics — that eggs are one of nature's most nutrient dense foods. One large egg contains only 71 calories, yet offer up a healthy 6 grams of protein and only 1/2 gram of carbohydrate! And they provide many of the essential vitamins and minerals you need! But let's talk about that protein... here's something you may not know...

Eggs are a source of protein so high in quality that it forms the standard for measuring the protein quality of other foods!

Eggs have a biological value (efficacy with which protein is used for growth) of 93.7%. Comparable values are 84.5% for milk, 76% for fish, and 74.3% for beef. Eggs really are the best protein money can buy!

And here a few other egg facts:
  • Eggs are an excellent source of the B Vitamin folate. Research has shown that neural tube defects in babies are reduced when women have an adequate folate intake before becoming pregnant and in the first few weeks of pregnancy.

  • Eggs yolks provide carotenoids (lutein and zeaxanthin) which may reduce the risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.

  • Eggs are among the few food sources of Vitamin D and Vitamin K.

  • Eggs are an excellent source of choline, an essential nutrient which plays a role in brain development and memory. One large egg provides almost half the daily choline recommendation.

  • Eggs remain one of the world's most delicious, nutritious, and affordable "fast foods".

  • Eggs contain almost every essential vitamin and mineral needed by humans (Sorry, no vitamin C in eggs. Chickens, unlike humans, can produce their own vitamin C and don't need to get it from the diet.)
    Egg Basics
USDA Egg Carton Labeling:

If you have a carton that shows a USDA grade shield, did you know that you can determine the date the eggs were packed?

USDA Label About one-third of the nation's table eggs are packed under USDA's voluntary grading service. This service provides consumers qualified third-party assurance that the eggs they buy are the grade marked on the carton at the time the eggs are packed and that the plant processing equipment, facilities, sanitation, and operating procedures are continuously monitored by a USDA grader. And in most cases, eggs graded by USDA (eggs identified with the USDA grade shield) cost the same as eggs without the USDA grade shield... so look for it!

USDA Carton Stamping tells When and Where the Eggs are Packed:

USDA Label When the USDA grade shield is present on the carton, the carton must also be labeled with the date and location of where the eggs were packed. You can also use this information to learn more about the eggs you're buying. This information is typically stamped onto one end of each carton of eggs. An example of a date and location code is shown in the picture at left.

These cartons are marked to identify the company and location where the eggs were packed, and the date that the eggs were washed, graded, and placed into the cartons. In addition, most packers also provide a code date that indicates the last date the eggs should be sold at retail, (or used by you, the consumer.) Let's look at what they mean:
  1. CODE DATES:
    Egg processors typically print dates commonly called "Code Dates" on cartons for purposes of rotating stock or controlling inventory. "EXP", "Sell By", "Best if Used Before" are examples of terminology used for code dating. Use of code dates on USDA graded eggs is optional, however, if they are used, certain rules must be followed.

    If an expiration date is used, it must be printed in month/day format and preceded by the appropriate prefix. "EXP", "Sell By", "Not to be sold after the date at the end of the carton" are examples of expiration dates. Expiration dates can be no more than 30 days from the day the eggs were packed into the carton.

    Another type of code dating used indicates the recommended maximum length of time that the consumer can expect eggs to maintain their quality when stored under ideal conditions. Terminology such as "Use by", Use before", "Best before" indicates a period that the eggs should be consumed before overall quality diminishes. Code dating using these terms may not exceed 45 days including the day the eggs were packed into the carton.

    The expiration date in this example is "Aug 25".

  2. PLANT NUMBER:
    USDA assigns a plant number to each official plant where eggs are packed under USDA's grading service. This number is always preceded by the letter "P" and must be stamped or pre-printed on each carton. The plant number in this example is "P1380."

  3. PACK DATE:
    The day of the year that the eggs are processed and placed into the carton must also be shown on each carton with the USDA grade shield. The number is a three-digit code that represents the consecutive day of the year. For example, January 1 is shown as "001" and December 31 as "365." Typically, eggs are packed within 1 to 7 days of being laid. The pack date in this example is "218", meaning that the eggs were packed on the 218th day of the year, or in this example, August 5. If your carton shows a USDA grade shield, you can determine the date that the eggs were packed from the carton date code.

Buying and Storing Tips

Only buy refrigerated eggs with clean, unbroken shells.

It is best not to wash eggs before storing or using them. Washing is a routine part of commercial egg processing and the eggs do not need to be rewashed.

At home, keep raw eggs in their original carton on an inside shelf in the refrigerator (40F). For best quality, use within 4 to 5 weeks of the pack date or 3 to 4 weeks of purchase.

Use hard-cooked eggs within 1 week of cooking.

Keep hard-cooked eggs (in the shell or peeled) in the refrigerator (40 F). Use within 1 week after cooking.

Allow no more than 2 hours at room temperature for eggs, egg mixtures, and cooked egg dishes.

Store eggs in their carton on an inside refrigerator shelf, not on the door.

Most eggs sold today are infertile; roosters are not housed with the laying hens. Shell color depends on the breed of the hen. Yolk color depends on the feed the hen consumes. There is no nutritional difference between fertile and infertile eggs, brown- and white-shelled eggs, or pale or dark egg yolks.


How to Separate Eggs:

    Egg Separating
If you're anything like my husband, you can't separate an egg to save your life... (you're not reading this, are you Rich?)   Well, help is here. Let's take it by steps:
  • To separate an egg, crack the egg on the edge of a bowl and open it up over a smaller bowl, holding the larger half-shell beneath the smaller one. Carefully let the yolk settle into the lower shell. As you do this, the white will spill out into the bowl below.

    Egg Separating
  • Transferring the yolk to the smaller half of the shell, let the rest of the white spill into the bowl.

  • Transfer the yolk one more time, then place the yolk into a separate bowl.

  • It's a good idea to separate eggs one at a time into a small bowl and then transfer the separated egg into a larger bowl. This way, if some shell or yolk should fall into the white, it is easier to remove it. This is important, because if you're going to whip the whites the fat from the yolk will prevent proper aeration.

  • If you have a lot of eggs to separate, try this: Simply pour the cracked egg into your hand and let the white slip between your fingers into the bowl. The yolk remains behind.
                 

                                                                                                  Lora




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