Anti-Inflammatory Anti-oxidant Fighting Benefits of Breakfast Salads
Recently on a trip to Toronto I stumbled across the concept of a breakfast salad and decided to try my hand at it. It didn’t hurt that Organic Girl dropped me a note and asked if I could come up with a recipe to celebrate their new line of greens, I was more than happy to accept the challenge.
Starting your day with a salad is a great idea. Your body will love the rich nutrients from the greens, but there is a secret to maximizing your nutrient intake when consuming greens. Some nutrients and antioxidants are fat-soluble, which means you must eat them with fat to properly absorb them. Yup, and one of the best fats to add is eggs. Eggs are a phenomenal source of fat, protein, and other nutrients, including choline and the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin. According to the latest research a simple way to enhance your nutrient absorption is to add whole eggs to your salad (hard-boiled, soft-boiled or, preferably, poached). When men added 1.5 to 3 eggs to their salads, they increased their absorption of lutein and zeaxanthin by four to five-fold.1 Other carotenoids, including beta-carotene and lutein, increased three to eight-fold compared to the no-egg salad.
The researchers noted:
“…co-consuming cooked whole eggs is an effective way to enhance carotenoid absorption from other carotenoid-rich foods such as a raw mixed-vegetable salad.”
So the bottom line is that putting an egg on your greens will super charge your nutrient intake!
But which egg you use is just as important as how you cook it. Testing has confirmed that true free-range eggs are far more nutritious than commercially raised eggs, likely due to the differences in diet between free-ranging, pastured hens and commercially farmed hens.
In one egg-testing project, Mother Earth News compared the official US Department of Agriculture (USDA) nutrient data for commercial eggs with eggs from hens raised on pasture and found that the latter typically contains:
- 2/3 times more vitamin A
- 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
- 3 times more vitamin E
- 7 times more beta-carotene (1)”
But to make this breakfast an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory bonanza we decided to take it one step further and super charged our recipe by adding Turmeric (Curcumin) and black pepper. If you know anything about turmeric you know it is the rock star of super foods! It is one of the most researched spices in the world and for good reason.
Turmeric Dramatically Increases The Antioxidant Capacity of The Body. Oxidative damage is believed to be one of the mechanisms behind ageing and many diseases. The main reason antioxidants are so beneficial, is that they protect our bodies from free radicals.
Curcumin happens to be a potent antioxidant that can neutralize free radicals due to its chemical structure. But Curcumin also boosts the activity of the body’s own antioxidant enzymes. In that way, Curcumin delivers a one-two punch against free radicals. It blocks them directly, then stimulates the body’s own antioxidant mechanisms (2).
Turmeric (Curcumin) is a natural anti-inflammatory compound
It is now believed that chronic, low-level inflammation plays a major role in almost every chronic, Western disease. This includes heart disease, cancer, metabolic syndrome, Alzheimer’s and various degenerative conditions . Therefore, anything that can help fight chronic inflammation is of potential importance in preventing and even treating these diseases. It turns out that Curcumin is strongly anti-inflammatory, it is so powerful that it matches the effectiveness of some anti-inflammatory drugs. Curcumin actually targets multiple steps in the inflammatory pathway, at the molecular level. Curcumin blocks NF-kB, a molecule that travels into the nuclei of cells and turns on genes related to inflammation. NF-kB is believed to play a major role in many chronic diseases . Without getting into the gory details (inflammation is extremely complicated), the key takeaway here is that curcumin is a bioactive substance that fights inflammation at the molecular level. In several studies, its potency has compared favorably to anti-inflammatory pharmaceutical drugs… except without the side effects (2).
And guess what, adding black pepper to turmeric, just a dash will increase your absorption by 400%! Given all that information this breakfast salad sounds like the perfect way to start your day!
- 2 organic free range eggs
- 1 cup Organic Girl Pepper Greens
- 1 Heirloom tomato (if in season)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Garnish with Organic Girl Pea Shoots
Hollandaise Turmeric Pepper Sauce (Recipe Adapted from Tyler Florence):
- 4 organic free range egg yolks
- 1 1/2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 cup organic butter, melted (1 stick)
- Pinch cayenne or to taste
- Pinch salt
- 1/3- 1/2 teaspoon wild turmeric
- Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
Step 1: Whisk the egg yolks and lemon juice together in a stainless steel bowl until the mixture is thickened and doubled in volume. Place the bowl over a saucepan containing barely simmering water (or use a double boiler,). The water should not touch the bottom of the bowl. Continue to whisk rapidly. Be careful not to let the eggs get too hot or they will scramble. Slowly drizzle in the melted butter and continue to whisk until the sauce is thickened and doubled in volume. Remove from heat, whisk in turmeric, cayenne pepper, black pepper and salt. Put the sauce on the side until you are ready to plate.
Step 2: Place about 1/2 – 1 cup of Organic Girl Pepper Greens on a plate and cut up your heirloom tomatoes, if in season if not any tomato will do and set on the side.
Step 3: Poach your eggs following the directions below.
How to make the perfect poached egg
According to Alton Brown the perfect poached egg has more to do with your stirring method, specifically the whirlpool method than anything although I suspect the cracking method plays a role as well.
Heat the water: Add enough water to come 1 inch up the side of a narrow, deep 2-quart saucier. Add 1 teaspoon kosher salt and 2 teaspoons white vinegar and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Meanwhile, crack 1 very fresh cold large egg into a custard cup or small ramekin. Use the handle of a spatula or spoon to quickly stir the water in one direction until it’s all smoothly spinning around.
TIP: Use this whirlpool method when poaching a single serving (one or two eggs). For bigger batches, heat the water, salt and vinegar in a 12-inch nonstick skillet and do not stir.
Add the egg: Carefully drop the egg into the center of the whirlpool. The swirling water will help prevent the white from “feathering,” or spreading out in the pan.
Let it poach: Turn off the heat, cover the pan and set your timer for 5 minutes. Don’t peek, poke, stir or accost the egg in any way.
Lift it out: Remove the egg with a slotted spoon and serve immediately. Alternatively, move the egg to an ice bath and refrigerate up to 8 hours. Reheat in warm water just before serving.”
Step 4: While waiting for your eggs to finish cooking you want to reheat your hollandaise sauce using the same cooking method – if you let it sit too long it will get super thick.
Step 5: Put the eggs on the greens, cover with hollandaise sauce, add heirloom tomatoes, salt and black pepper and garnish with pea sprouts.
You are going to fall in love with this recipe. Organic Girl has come up with 2 new varieties of salad mixes that are perfect in this recipe. The spicy mix in the pepper greens adds just the right zip to your salad and the added benefit of the nutrients in arugula and mustard greens make it that much better. The pea sprout mix well I can’t say enough about pea sprouts per serving they contain 26% protein, yup pretty amazing and sprouts in general have the highest concentration of nutrition per calorie of any food! I think Organic Girl hit a home run with these mixes!
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