At the request of some of my readers, I’m starting a new feature called “Did You Know?” These will be fun little-known nutrition and health factoids, tips, and suggestions. With the growing season in full tilt, I thought I’d start with some great tips for getting the most from your tomatoes and basil.
Did You Know?
Last month in my “Did You Know” article I discussed the importance of storing your tomatoes at room temperature…but did you know if you store them stem down they’ll last much longer than if they’re stored stem up?
To test this theory, Cook’s Illustrated placed one batch of tomatoes stem-end up and another stem-end down and stored them at room temperature. A week later, nearly all the stem-down tomatoes remained in perfect condition, while the stem-up tomatoes had shriveled and started to mold! Apparently, placing a tomato stem-end down blocks air from entering and moisture from exiting the stem “scar.”
So now you know the VERY best way to store tomatoes: stem down at room temperature!
Regarding my tip to store your fresh cut basil in a vase of water, my friend Norene emailed to say she does the same thing with mint. If she doesn’t use all the cuttings, after they’d sprouted roots in the vase, she plants them outside in pots where she says they grow quite happily!
If you have other tips to share for the “Did You Know” column, please email me. I’d love to hear from you!
The Skinny on Eggs
With the latest recall of eggs from over 40 brand names packed at 15 different plants, it seems like a good time to talk about the nutrition and safety of this incredible food.
Because of their cholesterol content and the nation’s fear of heart disease, eggs have been vilified over the last 30 years. But newer research indicates eggs don’t raise cholesterol in most people and they are a low-cost source of protein and many other important nutrients. A study at Harvard of 120,000 people found no association between egg intakes—up to 1 egg a day---and heart disease, except for those with diabetes.
Eggs are good for your eyes
Egg yolks are a rich source of lutein and zeaxanthin, antioxidants that help keep your eyes healthy and prevent macular degeneration (the most common form of blindness in older folks). Although you also find these antioxidants in greens like spinach, the form in eggs is better absorbed and utilized by the body.
Eggs are good for your waist
Studies have shown that eggs help us feel full. In a 2005 study, women who had 2 eggs for breakfast felt more full and ate significantly fewer calories at lunch than women who ate a bagel-based breakfast with the same number of calories.
Eggs are good for your brain and muscles
Yolks contain choline, a nutrient especially important for fetal brain development, healthy cell membranes, nerve-muscle communication, and reducing chronic inflammation.
Lots of you may be discarding those egg yolks and just eating the whites (which contains mostly protein), but when you do that you’re throwing away all those good nutrients mentioned above…which are contained in the yolk.
It’s okay for most of you to consume an egg ---even two on some days---unless you have diabetes or have been diagnosed with heart disease. Those folks may want to limit their egg yolk intake to 3-4 a week. The biggest heart disease risk actually comes from eating too much saturated and trans fat along with refined “white” grains. So go ahead and enjoy your eggs, just watch out for fatty, salty foods that often accompany them (bacon, hash browns, etc).
If you’d like help evaluating your diet and your risk for heart disease, please click here to contact me for an appointment.
You can check the most current egg recall list at http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/shelleggsrecall/
If in doubt, discard your eggs and ask your grocer about the source of their eggs. Trader Joe’s in MN has signs posted that their eggs come from a farmer in Wisconsin not affected by the recall.
Follow these 9 tips to avoid salmonella contamination:
1. Keep eggs refrigerated at 45 degrees F.
2. Discard cracked or dirty eggs.
3. Wash hands, cooking utensils, and food preparation surfaces with soap and water after contact with raw eggs.
4. Cook both the white and the yolk until firm and eat promptly after cooking.
5. Do not keep eggs warm or at room temperature for more than two hours.
6. Refrigerate unused or leftover egg-containing foods promptly.
7. Avoid eating raw eggs. Use pasteurized eggs in any recipe (such as Hollandaise sauce or Caesar salad dressing) that calls for raw eggs.
8. Avoid restaurant dishes made with raw or undercooked, unpasteurized eggs.
9. Young children, elderly people and those with weakened immune systems or debilitating illness are especially vulnerable to bacteria from raw or undercooked eggs.
Try this frittata for breakfast or a quick, easy dinner! It contains onions, red peppers, olives, and olive oil which contribute to heart health and cancer prevention.
Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 15 min
Serves: 4 servings
- 1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 onion, thinly sliced
- 1 roasted red pepper, drained, patted dry and diced
- 1/2 to 2/3 cup drained chopped Spanish green olives with pimiento
- 6 eggs
- Generous splash of milk
- Salt and pepper to taste (Go easy on the salt because of the olives)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Heat the extra-virgin olive oil in a small 6 to 8-inch oven-proof skillet over medium heat. Add onion to the hot oil and cook until soft and tender but not caramelized - keep the onion white. Add roasted peppers and olives and combine. Beat the eggs with milk and season lightly with salt and pepper. Pour the eggs into the skillet and keep settling them to the bottom of the pan as you would an omelet. When the eggs are firm on the bottom and set, transfer pan to the oven for about 10 minutes until top is golden brown. Cut into 4 wedges and serve from the skillet. Enjoy with sliced tomatoes and fresh fruit.
Adapted from Rachel Ray Food Network channel.