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Get the Yellow Out

June 04, 1997|MARY CARROLL | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES; Carroll is the author of the "No Cholesterol (No Kidding!) Cookbook" (Rodale Press, 1991)

A friend worked for many years as an egg cook for a large restaurant. When he got interested in healthful cooking, some of his enthusiasm for eggs went away. "High cholesterol, high fat," he'd moan to me.

But egg whites contain no cholesterol or fat and they piqued his interest. A new challenge: Could he create an omelet without egg yolks as fluffy as a traditional one?

One afternoon he proudly served a successful egg white omelet. He'd beaten the whites just to the soft-peak stage, blended in a small amount of fresh spinach and created a light and fluffy omelet without a speck of yolk. To adjust the lighter color, he finished the omelet by briefly browning it under the broiler.

When I tried making my first egg white omelet, he reminded me of the basic rules: Keep the egg whites at soft-peak stage--beating them too stiff can result in flatter omelets; make the filling ahead of time because egg white omelets don't wait well; and if you want a more golden color, add a sprinkle of turmeric to the beaten egg whites or broil the folded omelet briefly before serving.

Here's his basic recipe, as well as three omelet fillings. The lack of cholesterol and very low amount of fat make it an option for almost any diet.

SPINACH-EGG WHITE OMELET

1/2 cup chopped spinach

1 teaspoon water

6 egg whites

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 teaspoon olive oil

Filling of choice

Cook spinach with water in tightly lidded medium saucepan over medium heat until spinach is wilted, about 2 minutes.

Beat egg whites in large bowl until foamy and mounding in soft peaks. Fold in salt and pepper.

Brush 10-inch nonstick skillet with oil and heat over medium-high heat until drop of water sizzles when flicked on pan's surface. Fold spinach into egg whites.

Pour egg white mixture into skillet and cook, stirring, until whites begin to set, about 1 minute. Add choice of filling to half of omelet, then fold other half over filling. Serve immediately.

4 servings. Each serving without filling:

36 calories; 375 mg sodium; 0 cholesterol; 1 gram fat; 1 gram carbohydrates; 5 grams protein; 0.06 gram fiber.

CURRIED-VEGETABLE OMELET FILLING

Add spiciness with a sprinkle of cayenne pepper or a dash of hot sauce.

1 teaspoon safflower oil

1 tablespoon apple juice, more if needed

2 tablespoons minced green onions

1/2 cup thinly sliced zucchini or yellow summer squash

1/4 cup seeded and diced red bell pepper

1/4 cup thinly sliced mushrooms

1 teaspoon curry powder

Heat oil and juice in 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add green onions and cook, stirring, 1 minute.

Add zucchini, bell pepper, mushrooms and curry powder and cook, covered, until vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Add more apple juice as needed to prevent scorching.

4 servings. Each serving:

22 calories; 2 mg sodium; 0 cholesterol; 1 gram fat; 3 grams carbohydrates; 0 protein; 0.17 gram fiber.

SPICY TEX-MEX OMELET FILLING

1/4 cup diced mild green chiles

1/4 cup diced tomatoes

1/4 cup minced green onions

1/4 cup prepared medium-hot salsa

1/4 cup shredded reduced-fat Monterey Jack cheese

1/3 cup reduced-calorie sour cream

To make this filling even lower in fat, substitute plain nonfat yogurt for the low-fat sour cream.

Combine chiles, tomatoes, green onions, salsa, cheese and sour cream.

4 servings. Each serving:

52 calories; 142 mg sodium; 5 mg cholesterol; 1 gram fat; 6 grams carbohydrates; 4 grams protein; 0.33 gram fiber.

LOW-FAT CHEESY OMELET FILLING

1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese

1/4 cup shredded reduced-calorie Swiss cheese

1/4 cup finely chopped tomatoes

1 tablespoon minced parsley

1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed

Combine ricotta cheese, Swiss cheese, tomatoes, parsley, garlic and dill weed in bowl.

4 servings. Each serving:

98 calories; 133 mg sodium; 20 mg cholesterol; 5 grams fat; 4 grams carbohydrates; 9 grams protein; 0.11 gram fiber.

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