by Tara Pederson

I used to work on a chicken egg farm.  It was a large production free range situation where the birds were fed soy free feed and had open coops that were moved around regularly. They had a llama guarding them from predators. She was really cute, but I wouldn’t have dared to say so to her face, because she took her job very seriously.
Before working there I would never have told you chickens are chilled out creatures. It turns out they really can be. Provide their basic needs in a pleasant enough way and they are down right fun. All they need is healthy food, clean water and comfortable shelter. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?  Under those circumstances and pretty much all birds -not to mention folks- are happy.  And produce healthier, tastier eggs as a result.
Let’s talk about some basics. One large chicken egg averages 78 calories, 5 g of fat, 6 g of protein, 187 mg of cholesterol and vitamins D, B6, A and B12.  While it’s true the daily recommended allowance for cholesterol is around 300 mg for the average person, a couple of eggs certainly doesn’t endanger a well balanced week of eating.
Quail eggs, on the other hand, average per egg around 14 calories, 1 g of fat,1.2 g protein and 76 mg of cholesterol. They are, however, pretty darn tiny and more trouble in my opinion than it’s worth for the likes of an omelette.  I say save these for garnish, toppings and the like.
On the other end of the spectrum the duck egg is a step up in size and nutritional contents from the chicken egg.  One egg averages 130 calories, 9.5 grams of fat, 9 grams of protein,  Vitamins B6, B12, A, iron, zinc and 619 mg of cholesterol. Better save those for special occasions.
 There are lots of recipes, videos and shows bemoaning the difficulties of perfecting the egg, but I say don’t stress out. It’s really not so fussy as all that.  Be sure to cook them well enough to be safe and to your liking -that’s all that really matters.  Find your preference  along the way, but generally they shouldn’t take very long and you shouldn’t have to babysit them too much.
A quick run down of your basic egg looks something like this –
Sunny side up or over easy means the whites are set but the yolk is still runny.   Medium means the center is still gooey but not runny.  Well done means the yoke is fully set and opaque.
Note,  however, a hard boiled egg’s yolk should be yellow and not have green in it.  There are lots of myths about that green yolk. The truth is it won’t hurt you.  It does not indicate anything about the freshness of the egg, it just means your egg is over cooked.  If you are not particular about that it’s perfectly fine to eat.
 A fun variation on the typical breakfast item – Egg muffins.
You’ll need: 6 eggs, salt and pepper to taste, 1/2 cup  chopped spinach, 1/3 cup crumbled cooked bacon, 1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese
*diced tomatoes and chopped parsley optional garnish*
Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Coat 6 cups of a muffin tin with cooking spray or line with paper liners.  Crack the eggs into a large bowl. Whisk to blend the eggs until smooth.  Add the spinach, bacon and cheese to the egg mixture and stir to combine.
Divide the egg mixture evenly among the muffin cups.  Bake for 15-18 minutes or until eggs are set.
Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator until ready to eat. Top with diced tomatoes and parsley if desired.