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Something Different
Week of: April , 2009
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Contact: Glen Weldon, (202) 328-7744

Make Green Eggs the Italian Way

By Dana Jacobi
for the American Institute for Cancer Research

Back when households relied on kitchen medicine to treat both minor gripes and serious ailments, herbs and spices were an important part of grandma’s remedies. Medical doctors used them, too, although during the rise of conventional medicine they moved away from accepting their benefits. Now, based on results of scientific analysis and reliable medical studies, we know the substances in herbs and spices do, indeed, have valid powers.

One question always comes up when I talk about the proven activity of the multitude of phytochemicals found in herbs, which range from carotene in parsley to a host of antioxidants and antibacterials in green herbs like thyme, rosemary and basil. How much real benefit do we get when the dishes we eat call for such small quantities of these ingredients?

Modern research indicates that phytochemicals in herbs and spices are concentrated enough to be able to provide health benefits if we eat them regularly. One example is ground cinnamon. Consuming one half to one teaspoon a day of ground cinnamon has been shown to exert a positive effect on stabilizing blood sugar. Another example is turmeric. In India, eating turmeric every day may be related to the lower rate of Alzheimer’s disease there.

To gain their benefits, I frequently double or triple the amount of fresh herbs called for in a recipe. Also, I find ways to include them in dishes, from soups and tomato sauce to salads and dips. Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and Latin American cooking are good sources when you are looking for recipes using herbs in abundance.

Herbs and eggs go together particularly well. This can be as simple as mixing a tablespoon of chopped parsley into the filling for deviled eggs, or making green scrambled eggs by including chopped parsley, dill or basil. Frittatas are ideal for using a lavish amount of fresh herbs. This frittata includes the green-egg trio plus onions and scallions, also rich in beneficial phtyochemicals and with flavors that compliment the herbs perfectly.

Spring Herb Frittata

Spring Herb Frittata

  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1/4 cup chopped basil leaves
  • 1/3 cup chopped dill
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup chopped scallions
  • 1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • Generous pinch ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion

In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs and whites until well combined. Mix in the basil, dill, parsley, scallions, cheese, salt and pepper.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Spread the onions over the bottom of the pan and cook until they are translucent, 2 minutes, reducing the heat to medium if necessary to avoid browning.

Increase the heat to medium-high and add the remaining oil, drizzling it around the edge of the pan and gently swirling the pan to coat the lower sides. Pour in the egg mixture. As the egg sets, keep running a spatula around the edges to keep the frittata loose. Also lift the edge of the cooked egg so uncooked egg can run underneath. When the bottom of the frittata is just browned, cover with lid and cook until frittata begins to set, about 5 minutes. Slide it onto a serving plate. (See note)

Cool the frittata for 10 minutes, cut it into wedges, and serve warm. Or let it cool before cutting and serve at room temperature.

Makes 4 servings.

Per serving: 175 calories, 12 g total fat (3 g saturated fat),
3 g carbohydrate, 13 g protein, 1 g dietary fiber, 500 mg sodium.

Note: If you prefer, preheat the broiler and cook the frittata in a skillet that can go under the broiler. When it is set, slide the pan under the broiler to cook the top, 1 to 2 minutes, watching carefully so it does not burn.

Something Different is written by Dana Jacobi, author of 12 Best Foods Cookbook and contributor to AICR’s New American Plate Cookbook: Recipes for a Healthy Weight and a Healthy Life.


Our Mission: The American Institute for Cancer Research champions the latest and most authoritative scientific research from around the world on cancer prevention and survival through diet, weight and physical activity, so that we can help people make informed lifestyle choices to reduce their cancer risk.

We have contributed over $105 million for innovative research conducted at universities, hospitals and research centers across the country. Find evidence-based tools and information for lowering cancer risk, including AICR’s Recommendations for Cancer Prevention, at www.aicr.org.

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