When you’re calorie counting, knowing small wins to reduce your intake can really help get through a tough day. Using salt in your coffee is a good example of this. Another is knowing what foods are cheap on calories to add bulk and flavour.
I’ve been blogging about my escapades with the 5:2 diet recently, and a part of this is heavy dieting on two non-consecutive days a week (called fasting days, but the wife and I call them diet days). On these diet days you reduce your calorie intake to a pathetic 500kcal for women, 600kcal for men. If you’ve ever counted calories, you know how tough that is. To give you an example – an average greasy kebab can have anywhere from 1000-1500kcal. The Wetherspoons large breakfast is 1493kcal. Yes – that’s one-thousand-four-hundred-and-ninety-three calories just for breakfast! And you’re only allowed 500-600kcal for the entire day, including drinks!
I’ll be bringing up this point of easy wins, calorie cheap foods, and areas to focus on more in future blogs. Today I’m looking at eggs (I’m having a VERY eggy day today!) Eggs in themselves aren’t overly calorific – somewhere around 78kcal per large egg (boiled). But a very interesting fact is that almost all them calories are concentrated into the yolk. This is likely why the yolk tastes so darn nice! The white of a large egg is just a paltry 17kcal. That’s crazy cheap.
Now this doesn’t come without warning – the yolk does contain most of the flavour. So you need to be cautious not to waste all your spare calories on just trying to make the egg whites taste good. Thankfully, eggs are stupidly versatile and go with almost anything. As this is a diet day meal for me, I want the most bulk for the least calories with the most flavour. Not much to ask, huh? Well this is where bell peppers, spring onions, and tons of herbs come to the rescue. These really are some of my hero foods. They bring so much to the table (pun intended), while leaving the calories firmly in your pocket for later. All in all, these are under 80 calorie scrambled egg whites. (Or should that be ‘egg white scrambled eggs’?)
I was specifically making this meal to be had at work, so my method of delivery was also a consideration. We only have a microwave at my workplace, so it’s either use that or bring the eggs pre-cooked. Reheating or cold eggs have the texture of old boots, so using the microwave it is! Without meaning to, this also brings the whole process in at under 5 minutes. Can’t argue with that as an unexpected bonus.
Although totally unnecessary, this masala dabba is excellent for safe transportation across the horrible London Underground network at 7am!
Under 80 Calorie Scrambled Egg Whites
- 3 Large eggs white only
- 1 Tbsp red bell pepper finely diced
- 1 Tbsp chives chopped
- 1 Tbsp spring onions finely sliced/diced
- 20 g Ham slices
- Separate the yolks from the white, then lightly fluff the white with a fork.
- Mix in the rest of the ingredients and season with salt and pepper.
- Place in a microwave-proof bowl or jug and microwave on full power for approx. 1 minute 30 seconds. Remove the eggs every 20 seconds or so to stir.
- Serve once there is no liquid egg remaining.
So a few Whys to be asking…
Why do the eggs fluff up when they’re heated? I believe this is to do with the amount of water they contain, coupled with the protein structure that the eggs form when heated. Essentially, the water in the eggs heats up, that water turns to steam and rises through the eggs out the top, and as it does so it takes it’s heat through the eggs along with it. Now as this heat travels up, it changes the structure of the proteins (I’m calling these proteins but could be totally wrong btw – please correct me if so!) so they lock up tightly. This locking up traps the air that is rising with the steam, creating the bubble-like texture of baked eggs and also giving it it’s characteristic rise.
Why do spring onions and bell peppers contain so few calories? Probably our friend water at play again. Fats give many foods their flavours, including meats and fish (it’s not the only flavour player, but a pretty significant one). Vegetables tend not to have many fats in them, which is in part why they’re popularly considered bland or boring, and also why we like to add plenty of fat to them to bring out their flavours. Some veg overcome this with zing or spice, like chilies and horseradish. Spring onions employ this as well, although it’s the sulphur in them that gives their zing (not capsaicin that give chilies their heat!). The bell pepper is slightly sweet and contains sugars, which gives them their almost fruity flavour.
Why does the yolk contain most of the calories in eggs? The yolk is ‘egg’ part of the animal, and the part that would eventually form into a chick (had it been fertilised). The yolk is a protective surrounding that protects the chick as it grows. As you can imagine then, most of the fat and nutrients go to the yolk, and with it most of the calories (and flavour).