The Egg Project – Handsome Brook Farm Organic Pasture Raised


HandsomeBrookFarm-OrganicPastureRaisedEggs-FryPoached

Handsome Brook Farm Organic Pasture Raised

In my recent trip to Whole Foods looking for some top-quality pastured soy-free eggs, I stumbled across Handsome Brook Farm Eggs. Handsome Brook Farm only does one kind of eggs, as far as I can tell, and they try to keep them at the highest quality possible. I was quite impressed with their literature, and what they do for their hens while they’re producing. These look like they’ll be about as good as you can get, without growing them yourself! Here is a summary of what I can see, and why I like what I see:

HandsomeBrookFarm-OrganicPastureRaisedEggs-Packaging

  1. They only raise these eggs. I like this a lot because I find that quality is often the result of intense focus. The more focused a producer can be, the higher capacity for quality they are liable to have. And, of course, realized quality is bound by capacity, right? In other words, you have to focus on your product to produce something of value!
  2. They are 100% pastured, and their feed is grain-supplemented with organic grains. I am not excited that they’re being given grain supplements for their feed, but I recognize that without any bug-attractions, there is going to be a shortage of bugs pretty quickly when you unleash chickens on a field. Good bug attractions would be: cattle, horses, pigs, etc. to create something that the bugs would want to come to the farm and eat. That, of course, brings tons of bugs around to feed the chickens! Anyway, back from my digression, I recognize that without a mulch-disciplinary farm, there won’t be any cattle to attract bugs, and so the chickens simply won’t have enough bugs to feed on. They’ll need their feed supplemented somehow. And since it’s 100% grain, I know that there’s no soy, which is a huge win! In my egg-book, soy is worse than grains.
  3. They’ve taken the time to earn all of the various certifications that there are for top-quality eggs. Now, if you’re buying from your local farmer, this may be a detractor, since those certifications are expensive, and you can personally inspect the farmer’s operations. But if you’re buying commercial (which is what the Egg Project focuses on), then you’ll need to know that someone is inspecting the farm; even if it’s not actually you. Also, the fact that they have more than one certification means that they’re proud of their work (at least, that’s what I hope it means…) and proud farmers produce better products.

Bright Orange Yolks, Thick Viscous Whites?

HandsomeBrookFarm-OrganicPastureRaisedEggs-CrackedEgg

The viscosity of the whites was noticeable. I was quite impressed with how thick and viscous the egg whites were. This indicates that the hens were given an ample source of protein for the egg-production process, and it means that the protein in the whites will be abundant for anyone eating it. This is good.
The egg yolk was not as impressive as the egg whites. It was most certainly better than the “Cage Free Organic” eggs that I occasionally buy from Trader Joe’s, which has a dull yellow egg, the same as most basic commercial egg operations. This egg had a bright yellow color, verging on orange. This indicates that the chickens are eating some grass. Based on the color of the yolk and the viscosity of the egg whites.
My guess is that the “supplementary feed” that the chickens are getting actually turns out to be their primary source of calories, but the feed is scattered in grass, and the hens are hunting it and pecking it up as though it’s bugs. This is why there’s some color in the yolks, because there is some grass in their diets. Unfortunately, as we well know from our own human-food experiments, grains are addictive, so unless the farmer is highly perceptive and is only giving the hens just enough supplemental feed to fill out their dietary needs after they’ve been hunting bugs and grass all day, they’ll just choose all the grains being given to them instead of hunting for bugs. Of course, this is just my guess.

HandsomeBrookFarm-OrganicPastureRaisedEggs-FryPoached-Inside

Strangely, the yolk showed more of the bright orange coloring after being cooked than before. This is a new concept for me, and something I’ll have to begin to research to understand better. I really don’t have enough experience with this in order to be able to render an updated guess on their nutrition based on my thoughts above.
My piqued interest aside: the flavor of the yolk was as exceptional as the cooked coloring would suggest. I was pleased with a well rounded flavor, not the dry, boring flavor that I am more used to from other commercial options. This is a tasty egg, and I enjoyed eating it!

HandsomeBrookFarm-OrganicPastureRaisedEggs-InsidePackaging

Further reading:

The critique over with, here is what I use as a base for evaluation of my eggs.

  1. Pastured, Cage-Free hens
  2. No hormones or antibiotics
  3. Certified Organic
  4. Certified Humane
  5. Sustainable farm raised
  6. Soy-Free Feed

This is a striking 6-checks! I don’t really expect to see this, ever. It’s possible that I should add a seventh category, though I honestly don’t expect anyone ever to be able to complete it. If I did, it would either be: “No supplemental feed” or “Grain-free feed”. If I used “Grain-Free Feed” then there is a chance that some farmers out there would qualify, though again that would be a surprise. It’s perfectly possible to supplement chicken feed with alfalfa (particularly because many farmers use alfalfa as a rotation crop for their fields), as well as pea-shoots, and any other rotational nitrogen-producing crop. But since that’s expensive, and few farmers are even aware of the idea of “premium” feed for chickens, I don’t expect to be seeing that any time soon. When I encounter it, I’ll add that category at that time.

What’s For Breakfast? Paleo Chocolate-Bar Omelet


ChocolateCoconutPlatanosMadurosOmelet

UPC’s Paleo Chocolate Bar Omelet

I’m a very playful guy. I love to run, jump, spin… There are few things in the world that are more gratifying to me than attempting something, and failing. Don’t ask me why, I don’t really have a good answer; though I am certain that it’s related to my “muchness” as Johnny Depp so adroitly described Alice’s childlike wonder and fearlessness in Alice In Wonderland. But landing flat on my butt in green grass under a blue sky after an awesome attempt at something both exciting and stupid is precisely what I envision when I think of “what would I rather be doing right now?” Except when I’m blogging, of course. This, much to my surprise and delight, has not turned out to be me, rubbing my butt as I stand up off the grass and attempt to figure out how to do it right the next time.

My playfulness translates in to the kitchen as well. I like to play with ingredients, experiment, and actually just being playful in general. I’m a very playful guy, and I can’t think of a time in my life when I didn’t want to spend time being playful. Being playful in the kitchen is somewhat more challenging; there are rules in there, sharp instruments and objects, dangerous surfaces… But my playfulness will not be overcome!
I’ve been spending a lot of time experimenting with cocoa nibs recently. They’re a touchy flavor, and so I’ve been hesitant with them for a long time. Now I look back and wonder “what took me so long?” As touchy a flavor as they are in the raw, they turn out to be amazingly adept at blending their savory chocolate goodness with just about anything I’ve managed to throw their way!

UPC’s Paleo Chocolate Bar Omelet; What you’ll need:

  • 4 eggs (Use the good stuff if possible)
  • 2 tablespoons Cocoa Nibs
  • 2 tablespoons Shredded Coconut
  • 1 Baked Sweet Plantain, chopped (prepare your Baked Maduros ahead of time)
  • 3 tablespoons Coconut Oil

Serves: 2
Prep and Cook time: 40 minutes

1. In a pot, add 2 tablespoons of coconut oil, the cocoa nibs, and the chopped maduros. Cook on medium-low heat, covered, for 10 minutes, stirring regularly.

2. Add the shredded coconut to the pot, and continue to cook while you make the omelet. Continue to stir regularly.

3. Heat up the remaining tablespoon of coconut oil in an omelet pan on medium-high heat.

4. Pour the eggs in to the pan and cook, covered, for 2-3 minutes.

5. When the eggs are about 2/3 cooked, or about 2-3 minutes after adding them to the omelet pan, pour the cocoa nibs, shredded coconut, and sweet plantain mixture on to one side of the omelet. Continue to cook, covered, until the omelet is fully cooked through.

6. Serve, and enjoy!

The Egg Project – Pete and Gerry’s Heirloom Ameraucana Eggs


PeteAndGerrysEggs-FryPoachedEgg

UPC’s The Egg Project

My wife recently asked me to reconsider an analysis of the eggs that are available commercially. I’ve spent more than a few lines on my blog griping about the food that chickens are fed, and how I’m generally dissatisfied with both the chicken and egg quality available, mostly again based on the food that their given. When we went Paleo 3+ years ago, I did an exhaustive analysis of the commercially available eggs, and concluded that I could either not eat the eggs, or eat eggs from soy-fed chickens. At that time, I didn’t have any soy-free egg source available to me. Thankfully, the market is constantly changing, and there are now some reliable sources of pastured eggs which give us some really high quality protein and fats! So I decided to accept my wife’s request, and share with you all the results of my re-analysis of the commercially available eggs in the market place. Here are my basics:

1. Chickens are omnivores, like all birds. “The early bird get’s the worm” should be an important part of our understanding of what chickens should be eating. A chicken which has no live animal protein source in it’s diet is not a healthy bird. I am putting that in bold to be perfectly clear about my stance on this. When you see “All vegetarian feed” on chicken and egg labels, that is not a good thing! Chickens need to feed on bugs, just like every other bird!

2. Just like all other animals, soy and whole grains are not quality feed for chickens. They do better with it than cows, but it’s still not quality feed. So in order to satisfy me that the eggs I am getting are truly top-quality, I need to see that the chickens are being fed no soy, and no grains. There are plenty of other commercially available (not as cheap, obviously) food sources to supplement the bugs, beetles, worms, and grubs that they can forage in a farm-yard. Good examples: sprouts, non-grain seeds, berries and nuts, possibly even an apple from time to time.

3. Cage free is an absolute requirement for me. While there may be no option with regards to food, and I’ll simply have to make some “allowances” and just report to you all my findings, I will not make any allowances on Cage Free. There are options available, and there’s no need for cages at all. Chickens will roost naturally, and don’t need to be kept on their roost forcibly.

Pete and Gerry’s Heirloom Eggs; Ameruacana Eggs

PeteAndGerrysEggs-InPackage

I found Pete and Gerry’s eggs while looking around at the options in Whole Foods Market. Pete and Gerry’s has several different options on the shelves, and I ended up purchasing two of them. Today’s post looks at one of their options that they call Pete and Gerry’s Heirloom Eggs. These are very interesting eggs! As you can see from the picture above, the coloring of the eggs is slightly green, which was fascinating considering the current egg market, which is dominated by either completely white or completely brown eggs. These greenish eggs really caught my attention, and I am very glad that they did. Variability like that in eggs indicates to me that the farmers raising those eggs have some appreciation for their animals and the product of their farm. This is a good thing!

Bright Orange Yolks, Thick Viscous Whites

PeteAndGerrysEggs

This is a huge indicator that the chickens were given regular access to pasture. The carotene in the grass that they eat while searching for bugs and seeds comes out in the bright orange color that you can see in this egg. It’s a huge sign that the animal is a healthy animal, and that it has ample room to roam as needed to get both proper exercise and proper nutrition (bugs and grass).
It’s hard to actually “see” the viscosity of the egg whites. I will do the best I can to show that when I show my eggs; but I am not sure how yet… In the mean time, I suppose I’ll just have to say that I was satisfied with the viscosity of the eggs. It wasn’t strikingly thick, but it also wasn’t thin and runny, like most commercial eggs are. So I found this to be a satisfying level of thickness and viscosity.

PeteAndGerrysEggs-FryPoachedEgg-Inside

As you can see from the cooked picture, that coloring perpetuates through the cooking of the egg, and the end result is both a delicious egg, and a really stunningly good looking one! In fact, this is one of the best tasting eggs that I’ve had since I was a child, and lived in rural Vermont where there were only farm-raised eggs available.

PeteAndGerrysEggs-FryPoachedEggs

Further reading:

The critique over with, here is what I use as a base for evaluation of my eggs.

  1. Pastured, Cage-Free hens
  2. No hormones or antibiotics
  3. Certified Organic
  4. Certified Humane
  5. Sustainable farm raised
  6. Soy-Free Feed

These eggs get a shining check-mark for each of the first 5 of my criteria. Checking out their site thoroughly, I can’t find anywhere which promises soy-free feed. As I stated above in the critique of the eggs, the eggs were delicious, and the yolks were a bright orange, which indicates that they eat plenty of grass. Further, the whites were thick and viscous, so the chickens clearly had some live protein in their diet.

What’s For Breakfast? Mushroom And Tomato Omelet with Bacon


MushroomTomatoOmeletAndBacon

UPC’s Mushroom And Tomato Omelet with Vermont Smoke And Cure Bacon!

I know that some of you have been enjoying my Diet And Workout posts, where I am sharing with you everything I am doing to reach my goals this summer. They’re tough goals, and I am really excited by the prospect of trying to meet them both! Well, my wife has been increasing her workout activities as well. We both love to workout regularly, and we can often be seen out together doing various different workouts. We’ve both been careful about how we increase our workouts, and are monitoring our body’s needs carefully. So it came as no surprise to either of us that our bodies have been craving more protein, and we have been more than happy to oblige!! Today’s breakfast comes from that increased need.

Mushroom and Tomato Omelet and Bacon; What you’ll need:

  • 4 Eggs, whipped (I use a fork)
  • Salt and pepper mixed in with the eggs
  • 2 tablespoons Coconut oil
  • 2 cups Mushrooms, chopped (I used a new mixed organic mushrooms that I picked up in the frozen section of Whole Foods)
  • 1 cup Tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 lb Bacon (Vermont Smoke and Cure!!)

Serves 2
Prep and Cook Time: 30 minutes

1. Start the bacon in a pan, covered, on medium heat.

2. In a small cook pot, heat up the mushrooms with 1 tablespoon coconut oil on medium heat.

3. Heat up an omelet pan (needs to have curved sides) with the remaining 1 tablespoon coconut oil to medium-high temperature.

4. Once the omelet pan is hot, pour the mixed eggs in to the omelet pan. Swirl the mixture in the pan so that the omelet has a relatively uniform thickness.

5. Turn the heat down on the omelet pan immediately to medium heat, and cook covered for 3-5 minutes.

6. Using a spatula, move the omelet around in the pan carefully, making sure that it doesn’t stick to the bottom.

7. After about 5 minutes of cook time, spread the mushrooms and tomatoes across the top  of the omelet.

8. Fold the omelet in the pan, then slide it out onto a dish.

9. Add the bacon to the plate, and serve!

MushroomTomatoOmeletAndBacon1

Questions:

  • What are your favorite omelet ingredients?
  • Do you prefer them cooked, or raw?
  • How much are you willing to branch out, stretch yourself, with your omelet ingredients?
  • Do you like your omelet ingredients spilling out, like in my picture, of do you prefer the omelet to completely contain your ingredients?

What’s For Breakfast? Hot & Cold Salad – Scrambled Eggs


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I don’t know what it is about eggs, but I’ve been on a huge kick with them over the past week or so. Maybe it’s the increased training I’ve been doing in pursuit of my training goals? If so, then it would make sense that my body would be asking for increased protein intake, to help the body repair muscle damage from my training. I’ve been having a great couple of weeks so far, and my training is feeling fantastic!
Maybe it’s a summer thing? I’m not sure… But I’ve been all-over eggs! And recently even that hasn’t been enough. I’ve started to supplement my breakfast eggs with some smoked salmon! I know, I know. I’m going back to the increased training. See, running is no new thing to me, and even speed training shouldn’t increase my body’s protein needs so dramatically. But I’ve been doing more heavy things too; I’ve hit the gym at least once per week, which is a bit more often than I used to do. I’ve also been doing more push ups, sit ups, and pull ups than I used to do – 2-3 times per week now, where once per week was common for me previously. Anyway, my body has been celebrating my protein intake. And I’ve been giving it what it wants!

The Breakfast Hot & Cold Salad; What you’ll need:

  • The Hot:
  • 4 Eggs
  • Ham, chopped
  • Zuccini, chopped
  • Leeks, Sliced
  • Ginger, finely chopped
  • The Cold:
  • Leafy Greens (I used Arugula for this meal, but usually Spring Mix)
  • Cucumber, chopped
  • Sun-Dried Tomato Halves

First, add the chopped zucchini to a pan with some coconut oil and turn the heat on high, while you chop and add the other ingredients. As the pan heats up, and the zucchini, and whatever else you’ve added begins to sizzle, turn the heat down to medium, or about 5 out of 10 while you finish chopping and adding the remainder of the ingredients. I like this a lot with the ham – there’s something delicious about cooked ham in eggs. Perhaps it’s part of why bacon and eggs go so well together? A question for another time, perhaps…

Once the Hot portion is cooking, you can turn your attention to prepping the Cold portion of the salad. We’ve all made a salad before, but I’ve got a few hints and tricks on this one. I really like the extra flavor that a sun-dried tomato adds to a dish. And that flavor is only increased by heating them up a bit. The trick is this: keep the sun-dried tomatoes out of the salad until the end of your prep, so that you can have them closest to the hot portion of your meal. The flavor will be much better as the sun-dried tomato soaks in the heat from the hot portion of the salad!

With the Cold portion done, turn your attention back to the Hot portion. These vegetables (and the ham) should be ready for the eggs after no more than 5 minutes, or so, of cook time. If your prep of the Cold salad took that long or longer, you can stir it, and add the eggs immediately. I’ve mentioned my preference for mixing the eggs in the pan, but that’s just my style. If you prefer to mix the eggs ahead of time, that’s fine too. Mix the eggs in thoroughly, stirring the eggs constantly until they’re fully scrambled.

Serving

As I mentioned above, there is a trick to the order of the salad. Add the greens first, along with the cucumber. If you’re going to add other green ingredients, like avocado or green onions, add these at this point as well. The “Cold” portion of the salad should be well mixed, though you’re leaving out the sun-dried tomatoes for now. Next, add the eggs. Spread them across the top of the salad, like I have in my picture. I find that eating them this way is actually more enjoyable for me than fully mixing them before eating. Last, add the sun-dried tomatoes. These are technically a “Cold” portion of the salad. But as I have mentioned, these are best when they’re heated up slightly, and the best way to do that is by having them right on top of the steaming hot eggs!

Questions:

  • What’s your favorite summer breakfast?
  • Is it a different breakfast than your winter breakfast?
  • Have you noticed any changes in your dietary urges recently? Like me needing more protein?
  • Why do you think your needs are changing? OR, if they’re not, why not?

What’s For Breakfast? Sweet Potato Eggs


SweetPotatoEggs

As a quick reminder: I was published last week!!! The recipe book that I was published in is a compilation of many of the best of Paleo’s chef-bloggers, and I am honored to be counted as one of their members! I’ve been through the recipes in the book, and likely will feature some of them here on this blog. As for my recipes in the book, they are some of my finest work, all entirely UPC home creations, and will be the same simple delightful foods that you all have come to expect from me! I highly recommend picking up a copy, as soon as possible, and working your way through this book. As I said above, it is filled, front to back, with some of the best work of the best chef-bloggers the Paleo world has to offer, and it’s just too good a book to miss out on!
Pick up your copy here.

I’ll be running a reminder of the Fat-Burning Chef recipe book all week, and then I’ll move on from it. I cannot recommend it highly enough, but for those of you who already have it, I will continue on with my regularly scheduled program.I was able to run to the ferry again this morning. The summer heat has held off, strangely, in favor of one of the wettest Junes on record, already the 6th wettest in NJ. And it’s the 17th. Is it possible that another rainstorm will push this year over the edge, and close the gap between being 6th and being 1st? Yes it is. Probable, maybe not – there’s a reason the top years have held their spots, though the record is held by 2003 right now, which isn’t that long ago… Perhaps we’ll see a new record this year after all! And if that means I can keep running to the ferry, then I’ll be just fine with that!

Sweet Potato Eggs, What you’ll need:

  • 1 large Sweet Potato, diced (Organic, of course)
  • 1 inch Ginger, diced
  • 3-4 Crimini Mushrooms, diced
  • 3 tablespoons Coconut Oil
  • 4 Eggs
  • Arugula for the salad bedding

Serves: 2
Prep and Cook time: 25 minutes

Add the sweet potato and 1 tablespoon of coconut oil to a pan on high. You’ll want to dice the sweet potato as finely as you can stand before adding it to the pan. The finer you dice it, the better the flavor and texture of the eggs will be. This recipe will work with large chunks of sweet potato, but it will end up eating more like home-fries than an omelet or scrambled eggs. As soon as the pan is sizzling, turn the heat down to medium-low, or about 3 out of 10. We want to cook the potato, but not to burn it.

While the potato is cooking, start dicing the ginger and mushrooms. These can be added to the pan as they’re finished, and in no particular order. As with the mushrooms, get these as small as your patience permits, but there is no need to be concerned with getting them microscopic. Just well diced is going to be fine – smaller pieces are more easily bound by the eggs, so whether you’re making omelets or scrambled, they will taste the best if you manage to get them cut down to fairly well diced pieces.

Add the second tablespoon of coconut oil after the ingredients are all in the pan, and stir the potato regularly, especially as you add the mushroom and ginger to the pan. As the potato starts to show the signs of being cooked, go ahead and add the eggs right on top of the potatoes, ginger, and mushrooms. As I have mentioned plenty of times before, I prefer to crack the eggs directly in to the pan when I’m making scrambled eggs. I’ve never really narrowed down why I like to do it that way, but that’s my preference. What that means is that I often spend the first 30-60 seconds of cooking spicing my eggs with the salt and pepper that I will be adding.

I turn the heat up to high after spicing the eggs, so that the pan is heating up while I’m mixing the eggs and filling together. And the rest is just scrambled eggs. You all know how to do this, right? Not quite… Here’s one final trick that I use when making scrambled eggs. Just as the eggs start to “take their shape,” I add the final tablespoon of coconut oil to the pan. You don’t want to do this too early, or the oil will just be absorbed and used up by the eggs. This is perfect to be done near the end of the cooking process, when the eggs are mostly done, and you’re still waiting for the perfect coloring. I like my eggs well-done, so I like them lightly browned on the outside. And this last little bit of coconut oil is as much for taste and texture as it is for the cooking. It makes the final product delicious!

Questions:

  • Do you prefer your flavored (like those above, with ingredients added) eggs scrambled, or as an omelet? It’s obvious what my answer is… My wife prefers her eggs as an omelet. Oh, and “Frittata” is not an acceptable answer here! That’s a separate dish entirely.
  • Which ingredients are your favorite additives?
  • Do you prefer to cook your eggs in bacon fat, butter, coconut oil, or olive oil? And why?

What’s For Breakfast? Slab Bacon and Eggs!


SlabBaconAndEggs

This Vermont Smoke And Cure slab bacon is so good I just can’t keep my paws off of it! There’s just something special about how this stuff is put together, and I can’t get enough! I had a slab of it sitting in the fridge since Tuesday night, and it’s been tantalizing me and my wife. But we’ve had a really busy week, and haven’t had the time to spend cooking it up. Until this morning… Somehow, the universe has conspired to force my hand. And thank the heavens for doing so!! Slab bacon for breakfast was probably even better than when we had the slab bacon for desert!

SlabBaconAndEggs2By now, you all know how I make my eggs. So I’ll just give you a real quick synopsis of how I made these eggs, and then move on to other business and some links I would like to share.

How I did these eggs:

These are celery and crimini mushroom eggs, cooked in the bacon grease of the slab bacon. Here’s how I did it: I started the slab bacon at just below medium (about 4 out of 10) and covered it to let it cook slowly and thoroughly. While it was quietly sizzling away I sliced up the celery and mushrooms, turning the bacon occasionally to give the slab even heat. As I finished with slicing the mushrooms and celery, there was enough bacon grease in the bacon pan to start cooking the celery and mushrooms for the eggs. So I poured off the bacon grease, comfortable in my knowledge that the slab bacon would produce all the grease I would be needing, and more. Cooking the celery and mushrooms, and then the scrambled eggs with the celery and mushrooms took all of 10 minutes, at most. So the eggs were finished before the slab bacon, but not too long before. And then breakfast was served!

The Links I Want to Share:

These are some posts that I encountered on marksdailyapple.com, a Paleo/Primal blog which I generally read everything he has to say (I commute for a significant length of time, so reading is something I do a lot of). This week, Mark has posted a couple of seriously great articles which I need to share with you.
The first article is a blog post Mark found on the Diet Heart Publishing blog, which puts the lie to the “Low Fat Heart-Healthy Diet” in an extraordinary way! It’s a long article, and worth every single second you spend reading it! I read it twice, just to make sure that I had fully digested the information on the post, and have shared it with everyone I speak with regularly. I think it should be absolutely foundational to anyone’s understanding of dietary guidance, regardless of your eventual consciously chosen diet.
The second article is a guest-post from a Poultry farmer about the Chicken available commercially.
It validates some of the gripes that I’ve been sharing with you all intermittently, as well as gives us quite a bit of further context on the subject so that we can be well informed in our buying choices. I highly recommend you read it!

  1. Illustrated History of Heart Disease 1825-2015
  2. What You Should Know About Poultry Production Claims

Questions:

  • Which blogs do you read the most often?
  • Which ones most often have articles which you cannot help but share?
  • Have you had any recently?
  • Share them with us too!