“I’m vegetarian, and I don’t eat eggs. I do eat eggs in things, but not on their own.”
You can imagine why it was confusing for people to wrap their heads around my diet when I was a kid. Especially in a world that was not quite as Whole Foods-culture obsessed as it is now.
We were definitely not vegan. Every week (I think it was on Friday) we would have our milk delivered to our house. Talking about this almost makes me feel like I’m usurping memories from the 1950’s, but they’re definitely firmly rooted in the 80’s in Steveston. The Avalon man! I can still remember what he looked like. Every week our cleaned glass bottles would be set outside, then replaced by the Avalon man. I also have a very distinct memory of peeling back the cap on the bottle, and using a chopstick to pierce through the thick layer of cream that would plug up the top. Yes, I was raised full fat and homo.
My mom also made her own yogurt. And without the options of deli meats, I was shipped off to school with a lot of cheese sandwiches.
Summation: my upbringing was full of dairy, and very un-vegan.
But eggs. Eggs were a sticky point.
I imagine it’s a bit of an odd one to navigate for a lot of people. I kind of think of eggs as creatures, even though I understand the fact that they’re not fertilized.
So in our household, we never ate eggs on their own, but we would eat things that had eggs as an ingredient.
I believe the justification, and my mom may correct me on this, is that eggs are really hard to avoid. They are in everything. Also, my mom loved to bake, and baking without eggs is…challenging, as I experienced with my vegan pie on Thanksgiving.
I remember my first omelet quite vividly. I was 22 and we were backpacking through Europe. I still considered myself vegetarian at this point, even though I’d dallied in fried chicken in moments saturated in alcohol. Eating in Europe was…challenging at times, but mostly delicious. By the end of the three-month trip, I was probably about ten pounds heavier. Five of which could probably be attributed to Italy alone. But by about the one-month mark, as we began making our way through France, I was running into some roadblocks. Menus often had nothing for me. We arrived in Bordeaux on a Sunday morning. Everything was shut: stores, museums, attractions. Nice timing team. As a nice alternative, we decided to splurge on a three-course-meal on a patio in a nice open square. Once again, my dietary restrictions struck. I gave in, and ordered an omelet. Not a bad place to begin my full-on Ovo-lacto vegetarianism.
Now, eggs are a major staple of my diet. They are a big part of brunch, one of my favorite social/meal experiences in regular life. Mine: soft poached, so I can slice them open on top of my hashbrowns, and have the yolk ooze out. I had that this morning at Sunset Grill. It was delightful. In a pinch, I love a couple hardboiled eggs. My friend Gordon one time made me the most divine scrambled eggs with butter.
But when it comes to eggs, there’s one thing I’m a bit of a stickler for. I call it: Happy Eggs.
This idea was first brought to my attention by, of course, my mom. I had moved out into my first apartment, and for some reason we were discussing groceries. She basically pleaded with me to spend the extra money to buy free-range, free-roaming etc. eggs. She said she would go so far as to give me $5/month to cover part of the difference of the upgrade. I laughed at her like she was being ridiculous, but the idea has always stuck with me. Now as I get older, and my hippie tendencies grow, the idea of the ethical egg is one I’m pretty passionate about.
Basically, the happy egg, or ethical egg, comes from chickens who are allowed to walk around, and live a happy life, as opposed to stuck in cages in the darkness and misery. While it was once tempting to buy the cheapest eggs from Safeway, it now makes me cringe. I hope you will consider supporting happy egg producers, whether by choosing the slightly pricier carton at the grocery store, or supporting egg farmers at your local farmers market.
I will now descend from my soapbox, and talk about my tasty egg recipe.
The other day a craving for quiche hit me hard. I don’t know where it came from, but I acted upon it.
I looked around for a few recipes, and found a great one that I adapted from the Whole Foods app on my phone.
It was easy, fast, healthy, and super delicious. All these elements combined with happy eggs = happy Julia.
Broccoli and Onion Quiche (Julia’s Gluten and Dairy-Free adaption)
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 large onion, diced
- 3 cups broccoli florets, cut into small pieces
- 4 happy eggs
- 1 cup Silk Unsweetened Almond Milk (original recipe uses regular milk)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon oregano
- 1/4 cup brown rice flour
- sprinkle of paprika
**the original recipe also included cheese. I thought mine tasted fantastic without it (and was healthier) but I’m sure cheese would be super yummy.
Preheat over to 350 degrees. Spray a 9-inch square baking dish with cooking spray.
Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add onion and cook until softened, stirring frequently, for about three minutes. Add the broccoli and cook for an additional five minutes. Transfer the veg into the prepared pan.
In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, salt, pepper, oregano and brown rice flour. Pour it evenly into the pan over the veg. Sprinkle some paprika over the top…a bit more if you like it spicier.
Bake until set, about 35 minutes.
I ate it fresh out of the over (impatient, as always) and it was quite delicious. Even better, was the leftovers I ate today. Served cold, so so yummy.
And healthy! This recipe serves four, with nice large servings.
Here’s some nutritional calculations per serving I was able to come up with for my variation:
Fat: 5.4 grams
Protein: 8.9 grams
Cholesterol: 216 mg
My challenge for my next quiche, which is a bit of a rollover from last week’s adventure at Apple Fest, is to make a traditional quiche with a crust. Pie crust. My gluten-free nemesis.
There were many baby steps that took me out of my vegetarianism, one big ‘ol dose of disease to force me in another direction, and now similar small tentative steps to reincorporate things I love into my diet. Thankfully, I’m always game for a good adventure, culinary or otherwise.
I wish you happy quiche making, and many happy eggs.