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Why you should choose pasture-raised eggs (plus, 3 delicious ways to make them)


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When you pick up cage-free eggs in the dairy aisle, you probably feel like you’ve done your due diligence as a conscious shopper. Healthy? Ethical? Amazing on an avocado sandwich? Check, check, and check…right?

Not exactly. Did you know that the majority of cage-free hens are still confined to a barn and only have about 1 square foot of space? Meanwhile, most free-range chickens only get about 2 square feet of limited outdoor access. (Oh, and both are fed a diet of commercial corn and soy.)

Luckily, there’s a fourth option. Vital Farms, the company with the super cute packaging you’ve probably seen in Whole Foods, is bringing pasture-raised eggs onto the scene in a big way.

As a practice, Vital Farms gives each chicken more than 108 square feet of sunny pasture free of pesticides and herbicides to roam year-round, allowing them to naturally supplement their diet by foraging in the grass. Plus, each hen gets high-quality feed specially created for their nutrition needs.

That means you now have an option for guilt-free eggs (other than installing a chicken coop in your yard). And good thing too, because some reports suggest that pasture-raised eggs are even more nutrition-packed than other kinds.

“Eggs are rich in B vitamins, vitamin A, omega-3 fatty acids (anti-inflammatory), vitamin D, antioxidants, and iodine,” according to Cassy Joy Garcia, author of Fed & Fit, a guide for Paleo recipes and fitness advice. “When sourcing eggs, pasture-raised eggs (like those by Vital Farms) are going to have higher concentrations of those wonderful healing nutrients and a lower concentration of the inflammation-linked Omega-6 fatty acid.”

So we tapped Garcia to share three egg-focused recipes you can eat anytime—even for dinner—so you can get in all of the smart (and ethically sourced) vitamins and minerals you need to power you through boot camp to bedtime.

“Whether hard-boiled for a healthy, convenient, nutrient- dense snack or baked up fresh for a nourishing dinner, eggs are a fabulous superfood,” she says.

Read on for three egg-focused recipes that you’ll want to bookmark ASAP.

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Photo: Cassy Joy Garcia
Photo: Cassy Joy Garcia

Sausage & Tomato Frittata

“I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve made this frittata. It’s one of those meals that calls for ingredients I always seem to have on hand,” explains Garcia. “It makes for the very best refrigerated leftovers.”

Serves 4-6

Notes
Leftovers will keep refrigerated for up to four days. To reheat, either place the frittata in a preheated 350º F oven for 20 minutes, microwave for about 2 minutes, or heat it up on the stovetop in a frying pan over medium heat for about 10 minutes.

Ingredients
1 pound bulk breakfast sausage or ground pork
1 dozen large eggs, lightly beaten (Vital Farms recommended)
3 or 4 medium tomatoes, sliced into ¼-inch rounds
1½ tsp fennel seeds
½ tsp fine sea salt
¼ tsp ground black pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.

2. In a large ovenproof sauté pan over medium heat, brown the sausage for 10 to 15 minutes, or until crispy and brown. Drain off the excess grease, then pour the eggs over the sausage and stir the mixture together over medium heat until the eggs just start to set, after about 4 minutes.

3. Lay the tomato slices evenly over the top of the eggs. Sprinkle the top of the tomatoes with the fennel seeds, salt, and pepper.

4. Transfer the frittata to the oven and bake for 25 minutes, or until the middle of the frittata doesn’t jiggle when the pan is shaken. Let cool for 5 minutes, then serve warm.

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Photo: Cassy Joe Garcia
Photo: Cassy Joe Garcia

 Spaghetti Squash & Dill Egg Cups

Whether you’re using these these as a photogenic party snacks or grab-and-go morning fuel, they’ll check all your nutrition boxes. Plus, they reheat well, so you can make a batch and munch all week.

Serves: 4–6 

Notes
Pre-roast the spaghetti squash the day before to save yourself some time. A silicone muffin pan is recommended to prevent sticking. Egg cups will keep up to five days in the refrigerator, and can be reheated in a 350° F oven for 10 minutes or microwaved for 1 minute.

Ingredients
1 medium spaghetti squash
12 large eggs (Vital Farms recommended)
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp fine sea salt
½ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp dried dill weed

1. Preheat the oven to 375° F.

2. Using a sharp knife and working carefully, pierce the spaghetti squash 4 to 5 times though the flesh and into the center. Place the squash on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 1 hour, or until the squash gives when gently poked with a large spoon or your hand in an oven mitt. Remove the squash from the oven and let cool for at least 30 minutes, or until it’s cool enough to handle.

2. Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scrape out and dispose of the seeds using a large spoon. Scrape the spaghetti squash flesh into a large mixing bowl.

3. Add the olive oil, salt, garlic powder, and pepper to the squash and stir to combine.

4. Preheat the oven to 350° F and grease the wells of a 12-well muffin pan or line the wells with parchment paper or silicone cupcake liners. Place about a ¼ cup of the squash mixture into each greased muffin cup. Using your fingers, press some of the squash mixture along the bottom and all the way up the side walls of each well, then crack an egg into each well. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the egg whites are cooked through.

5. Let cool for 5 minutes, then use a knife to pry out each egg cup. Sprinkle the tops with the dill and enjoy!

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Photo: Cassy Joy Garcia
Photo: Cassy Joy Garcia

Sweet Potato Hash Egg Casserole

“This dish is ideal if you’ve got a houseful of visitors or if you need a post-workout morning carbohydrate,” notes Garcia. “Serve alongside some fresh berries and avocado for a complete meal!”

Serves: 4–6

Notes
Leftovers will keep for up to five days in the refrigerator. To reheat, you can either place a serving in a preheated 350° F oven for 10 minutes or microwave for 1 minute.

Ingredients
½ medium white onion, chopped
2 pounds sweet potatoes (about 4), peeled and shredded
1 Tbsp salted butter, ghee, or coconut oil
½ pound kale, de-stemmed and finely chopped
Juice of 1 lime (about 2 Tbsp)
1 tsp fine sea salt
½ tsp ground black pepper
12 large eggs (Vital Farms recommended)
1 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish

1. In a large frying pan over high heat, cook the sausage for 10 to 15 minutes, breaking it up into small crumbles with a spatula, until brown and crispy. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the sausage to a large mixing bowl, leaving the grease behind.

2. Add the onion to the sausage grease and cook over medium heat until translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the sweet potatoes, stir, cover, and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring often. When the sweet potatoes are cooked and softened, add the kale, stir, and cook for an additional 5 minutes, or until wilted.

3. Preheat the oven to 350° F.

4. Transfer the sweet potato mixture to the sausage bowl. Add the lime juice, salt, and pepper and stir to combine. Transfer this mixture to a 13-by-9-inch baking dish.

5. Create 12 wells in the sweet potato hash. Crack an egg into each well. Bake the casserole for 30 minutes for slightly runny eggs or 35 to 40 minutes for more well-done eggs. Let cool for 5 minutes, then top with fresh cilantro.

Learn all about the ways pasture-raised eggs make a difference at vitalfarms.com

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