You can't beat... er... top an egg ‑ it's one of nature's powerhouse foods. Victoria and Elliot Warne serve up some fresh ways with eggs for the whole family.
"There's a meal in an egg", was the wisdom in Grandma's day and it holds especially true today with the news that eggs are even healthier than they were 20 years ago. According to the New Zealand Nutrition Foundation, eggs have 40% less saturated fat and 10% more protein now because hens are eating a better diet these days.
And let's hear it for free range eggs, they contain more omega 3 than those from caged hens.
But all eggs are great sources of important nutrients such as a range of B vitamins, vitamin D and A, as well as minerals such as selenium, phosphorous, iodine and zinc - in fact, almost everything your body needs in one oval-shaped hit.
Nutritionists now say eating up to six eggs a week is healthy for most people and even those with high cholesterol levels can eat three a week.
As far as your little ones go, OHbaby! Nutritionist Leanne Cooper says to date the evidence isn't clear as to whether early introduction of eggs in those without any risk of allergy is okay, so she says it's better to play it safe and introduce whole eggs at 12 months (assuming there's no history of allergy).
Leanne says you can offer egg yolk much earlier, as it's the egg white (albumin or protein) component that most commonly causes the immune system to react.
She says the other thing to keep in mind is that most babies are exposed to whole egg incidentally through breads made with egg, mayonnaise and other cooking that includes whole egg. Her advice is that egg yolk is fine from about a month into solids, assuming all is going well.
The best part about eggs is that most kids love them as they are number one for versatility, being equally as convenient as a fast food and as an integral part of a more elaborate dish. Elliot and Victoria of Vevo Café, in Auckland, offer recipes for new and interesting ways with eggs.
4 eggs, separated
1 cup grated tasty cheese
1/2 cup plain mashed potato
Pre-heat the oven to 190°C.
Gently melt butter in a small saucepan over a medium heat, then add flour. Cook for about 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Stir in the milk and bring to the boil, being careful the sauce mixture doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan. Remove from the heat and mix in the cheese, beat until smooth, season and set aside.
Grease four ceramic ovenproof ramekins with extra melted butter, then dust with flour.
In a large bowl, add the butter and flour mix, four egg yolks and the mashed potato. Mix until smooth.
With a hand-blender whisk egg whites in another bowl until they form soft peaks. Gently fold the whites through the base mix, adding a third at a time. This helps the mix to retain lots of air and ensures a nice rise.
Fill the ramekins three-quarters full and sprinkle with a little extra cheese.
Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden brown and serve on top of a side plate, as the ramekins will be very hot, so watch those little fingers.
Spinach and feta eggs
50ml extra virgin olive oil
700g spinach, washed
1 onion, finely diced
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
pinch of cumin powder
Toasted almonds, for garnish
Preheat oven to 200ºC.
First, bring a large pot of water to the boil and add a little salt. Drop your spinach into the pot and then straight away drain it and run it under cold water to chill it. Once it's cold drain well and chop finely. Then set aside in a large bowl.
Sauté the onion and garlic in a pot on a medium heat for 5-10 minutes or until nicely softened.
Add the cooked onion mixture to the chopped spinach and mix in the crumbled feta and cumin powder.
In four ovenproof ceramic dishes or pans spread a layer of spinach mix and crack two eggs into each dish.
Place in the oven for five minutes. Remove and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Finish by sprinkling on toasted almonds and extra feta.
For baby: Reserve some spinach mix and add scrambled egg for a great breakfast.
Grilled pumpkin, caramelised onion and spinach frittata
A quarter of a pumpkin, peeled and sliced about half a centimetre thick
500g spinach leaves, washed
3 onions sliced thinly
2 cloves of garlic sliced thinly
half a cup of grated cheese
1 x 300g jar of roast capsicum
1/2 cup of cream
1/2 cup of milk
olive oil for cooking
Preheat the oven to 165ºC.
First, turn a hot plate or small grill pan to a high heat. Oil the surface and grill the pumpkin slices until they turn a nice golden brown. They don't need to be cooked all the way through as the cooking will be finished in the frittata.
In a small pot, cook the sliced onions and garlic in olive oil on a medium heat for about 20 minutes. You want to get a little colour on the onions so their natural sweetness comes out.
Line a large loaf tin with baking paper on all sides. This will help the frittata rise and come out of the tin easily.
Mix the eggs, milk and cream with a whisk and season well. To assemble the frittata, layer it nicely, starting with half the pumpkin followed by a layer of spinach, pouring the egg mix as you go. Next spread the onions and top with the remaining spinach and grated cheese. Using raw spinach ensures that it will retain a nice green colour after cooking. Add the capsicum and last layer of pumpkin.
Pour in the remaining egg mix, being careful not to add too much so that it spills over the side. If you have some left over it will keep in the fridge for three or four days.
Place the loaf tin on a flat baking tray. This will help catch any drips and save you cleaning the bottom of the oven!
Bake the frittata for 45 minutes.
To check it is cooked through, stab a knife in the middle and look to see if any egg mix seeps out. There will be some clear juice from the vegetables but that is fine. The frittata is best made the day before so everything can set and the flavours can mix together.
When cold, tip the frittata out onto a chopping board and remove the baking paper. Cut with a bread knife into thick slices and serve cold or microwave and serve with a fresh garden salad.
For baby: Cut up small cubes of frittata - it makes a great snack that's easy to pick up with little fingers.
Prawn and spring onion egg rolls
1 stick of spring onion
1 tsp sesame seeds
8 prawn cutlets
1 carrot, cut into thin strips
small bunch of coriander, washed and roughly chopped
small red pepper, thinly sliced
Iceberg lettuce, roughly chopped
Store-bought plum sauce
Break eggs into bowl and whisk. Thinly slice the whites of the spring onion and add to the egg mixture, along with the sesame seeds, and season with salt. This is your pancake mix ready to go.
In a medium-sized non-stick frying pan heat a small amount of oil, then add enough egg mix and swirl around the pan to coat in a thin layer. When the egg has set slide onto a plate. Repeat this to make four pancakes.
Season the prawns and quickly pan fry. Remove from heat and when cool enough, cut in half down the middle.
In a bowl add the chopped carrot, coriander, red pepper and lettuce.
Lie the pancake on a flat surface, and add a good handful of salad into the middle and half-way up the pancake, then add four of the halved prawns. Gently fold up the bottom of the pancake, half-way up the salad, then fold the sides of the pancake over the centre.
Serve with plum sauce.
Individual white chocolate and rhubarb bread and butter puddings
1 loaf of stale ciabatta or any other white bread or croissant
1 cup poached rhubarb
1 cup white chocolate buttons
1 cup milk
¾ cup cream
1 cup sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 160°C. To make your custard, beat eggs, salt, milk, cream, sugar and cinnamon and set aside.
Lightly grease an ovenproof dish or individual ramekins. Slice the bread or croissants and layer in your dish with the poached rhubarb and white chocolate buttons, finishing with some rhubarb and chocolate on top.
Pour custard mix evenly over the puddings, leave to rest for half an hour for the bread to completely absorb the liquid. Bake for about 30 minutes. The puddings will rise slightly when cooked, and then deflate once cold.
Cool a little before serving with extra rhubarb and some vanilla ice cream.
Poached rhubarb: Cut the rhubarb into two centimetre lengths and place into a bowl. Make a sugar syrup using one cup of sugar, one cup of water and a dash of vanilla. Bring sugar and water to the boil. Then quickly pour over the cut rhubarb, cover and set aside. Allow rhubarb to cool in the syrup.
Elliot and Victoria Warne are parents of three rambunctious boys and owners of Titirangi café and catering business, Vevo.