March 23, 2017 • By Seamus Mullen
EGGS, EGGS, EGGS!!
I love the incredible edible egg! There is perhaps not a single ingredient in the kitchen that is both as versatile and as nutrient dense.
The egg is really, in many ways, as close to a perfect food as they come. I love scrambling up the normal routine and having eggs for lunch or dinner. In this month’s article in Healthyish, I write about the importance of breaking out of patterns, not only when it comes to food, but also movement.
read the full essay below
Why Breakfast For Dinner Is Actually Good For You
Photo By Alex Lau
Chef Seamus Mullen explains why you should read on the floor and put eggs on your dinner plate
When you’ve been a professional cook for as long as I have, you get asked a lot about your most memorable meal. For me, it isn’t eating foraged, wild delicacies at Mugaritz in the Basque Country or an overnight pig roast in the Louisiana bayou, or the first time I had a truffle, though those were all very poignant moments. Instead, there’s one memory that always comes to mind, and that’s “backwards day” in elementary school, when we’d have breakfast for lunch. Pancakes, bacon, eggs, (fake) maple syrup, hash browns. Maybe a fruit cup. I think what I liked most about backwards day was that it broke up the routine; it scrambled our patterns. That same idea says a lot about how I’ve chosen to live my life, and it’s been a fundamental principle in my journey to get healthy.
Most of what we do every day, all day, is repetition. And while I don’t think there’s anything wrong with repetition—in the journey to becoming a professional chef, for example, you’ve got to peel potatoes over and over and over again—I also think it’s important to break out of patterns. This is particularly true when it comes to movement. Most of us tend to move in the same planes throughout the day: If you sit at a desk, you sit with your legs and hips at 90-degree angles, rarely squatting or standing. If you work in a kitchen, you spend a huge amount of time hunched over a counter or a stove. If you’re a photographer, chances are the majority of your day is split between peering through a camera at an unnatural and uncomfortable angle or editing photos in front of a screen.
I started eating salad for breakfast. Then I thought, if I could have salad for breakfast, why couldn’t I have eggs for dinner?
The problem with patterned movement is that, eventually, it becomes physically uncomfortable to do anything other than what we’re used to doing. Ask the average American to eat a full meal in a deep squat or sitting on the floor, and that person will be pretty uncomfortable, yet this is how many people in the world eat and socialize.
A few years ago, when I was learning a lot about my own health and committing to improving it, I started to focus on this idea of breaking out of habits. First, I focused on doing more yoga, integrating a standing desk, and reading and watching TV on the floor from time to time. Then I realized it might be nice to break up my patterns with food, too. I was already learning about the dangers of sugar consumption and too many refined carbs, and I was completely reconsidering my typical breakfast of pastries and fruit juice. So I started eating salad for breakfast. Then I thought, if I could have salad for breakfast, why couldn’t I have eggs for dinner? And if I was having eggs for dinner, why did I have to have them with bacon? Pretty quickly I was reliving a (much more nutritious) version of my childhood “backwards day.”
The egg is truly as close to a perfect food as they come.
My love for healthy fats and, in particular, free-range eggs, is no secret. Most Americans tend to eat far too many Omega-6 fatty acids and not enough Omega-3s. Healthy fats like pastured eggs are a very tasty way to up our Omega-3 intake. The egg is truly as close to a perfect food as they come. It’s rife with micronutrients and balanced with fats and protein, it’s versatile and delicious, and it comes in its own carrying case!
When I lived in Spain, I was amazed (and frankly super stoked!) that, while the Spaniards love their eggs, they rarely eat them for breakfast. In Spain, eggs are for dinner or perhaps lunch. A few months ago, I was playing my favorite game of “refrigerator roulette,” in which, rather than shopping for dinner, I take stock of whatever bits and pieces are floating around my kitchen and make something from that. I had eggs, frozen ground lamb, kale, feta, scallions, yogurt, za’atar spice, and some fresh herbs. I’ve been making tortilla Española, the classic Spanish omelet, for years, so, I thought, why not branch out, add some Moroccan flavors, and finish it in the oven like a frittata?
The result has become one of my favorite “eggs for dinner” recipes, though it wouldn’t be a sin to make it for lunch, brunch or even, gulp, breakfast. The zippy lemon in the za’atar and the funky feta take eggs and lamb to a new and exciting place. I’m not dogmatic about the vegetables in my recipe: I’d love for you to add whatever you have on hand or swap for the vegetables you’d prefer. If you’re feeling daring, okra is a great addition (or substitution), as are green beans. As we get into spring, you could use fresh favas, or how about peas with some pea tendrils? Improvisation is the rule when it comes to this dish.