When Angie Harmon enrolled her two young sons in a cooking class on eggs, she had more in mind than breakfast in bed.
A board member at Local First Arizona, Harmon believes cooking is the best way to teach Braden, 9, and Hunter, 7, the essential link between eating well and feeling well.
“I love that they have the confidence to scramble, fry or whisk eggs into banana bread. It’s a great life skill and, at the same time, helps them understand where food comes from and the importance of eating healthy to be healthy,” said Harmon, community development manager for Freeport-McMoRan in Phoenix.
The Harmon brothers are alumni of the kids cooking program at Scramble – A Breakfast & Lunch Joint that teaches quarterly cooking classes for kids ages 6-16 focused on egg recipes. The next kids cooking class is from 6-7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 20 at Scramble’s Biltmore location, 2375 E. Camelback Road in Phoenix.
On any given Sunday, the local chain restaurant cooks about 600 eggs at each of its three restaurants. Scramble chefs consider eggs the perfect protein for beginner cooks — an easier menu item for kids than steaks, seafood, chicken or pork.
“Eggs are a blank canvas, a starting point for so many different meals and a good ingredient for kids just learning to cook,” says Mike Williams, Scramble culinary director, who teaches quarterly kids cooking classes.
The high season for eggs is right now. These ancient symbols of new life are never more abundant than during Easter. But thankfully they are always in season, with an everyday practicality that trumps their brief holiday celebrity.
Why? Because eggs are a nutritious workhorse, making speedy, inexpensive, protein-packed meals. Fry and pair with bacon for a sandwich, whisk with ham and cheese into an omelet or bake with vegetables into a frittata.
Eggs in the refrigerator means dinner on the table within 30 minutes or less — no need to grab dinner from a drive-through lane. Eggs also have partially shed their bad-for-you image. For years, they were shunned because they were considered high in cholesterol. But numerous studies now show that eggs today contain less cholesterol than a decade ago. A large egg has about 185 milligrams of cholesterol, down from 215 a decade ago, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The drop is attributed to improvements in hens’ diets.
One egg has about 75 calories, slightly more than 6 grams of protein and less than 1 gram of carbohydrates. In addition, eggs deliver healthy doses of vitamins A and D, folic acid and calcium. That said, a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association this month once again urges eating eggs in moderation.
At Scramble, chefs teach kids to cook eggs like they do: Using local eggs from Hickman’s Family Farms. Local eggs are the freshest because of the short farm-to-market travel time. They recommend pairing them with as many other local ingredients as possible.
“We are a local business that cooks with as many local ingredients as we can. It’s a way to support our community, and to cook with the best possible ingredients,” says Scramble Co-owner Clay Moizo.
Other helpful tips: Briefly whisk to combine yolks and whites with a fork. Whisking too long makes for tough eggs. So does frying, scrambling or baking at high temperatures. Cook eggs low and slow. To avoid shells in eggs, crack over a wire basket.
Once students master the basics, including proper knife, cooking techniques and safety rules, they are encouraged to add their own touches. There are few limits to pairing eggs with flavors, from beans to smoked salmon, leftover chicken, chiles, diced vegetables and tofu sausage.
For Williams, teaching his students ages 6-16 to cook gives them more than the ability to get breakfast, lunch or dinner on the table. Kids maybe struggled on a math test or stumbled on the soccer field, but can finish the day with a success by cooking a frittata for their family dinner.
“It gives them a sense of accomplishment,” he says. “Cooking, for kids, is so much more than just food.”
*THIS STORY FIRST RAN in the March 2018 issue of Raising Arizona Kids magazine*
3 recipes from Scramble
Scramble – A Breakfast & Lunch Joint has Phoenix locations at 9832 N. Seventh St. and 2375 E. Camelback Road, a Scottsdale store at 6590 N. Scottsdale Road and a new Tempe location at 1120 E. Baseline Road. Scramble hosts quarterly $25 kids cooking classes from 6-7:30 p.m. on select dates. Find out more at azscramble.com
2 bagels, toasted and lightly buttered
4 slices bacon
1 tablespoon butter
4 large eggs
4 slices American cheese
Optional: sliced fruit
To prepare bacon, cook strips on medium heat in a sauté or griddle pan until crispy. Remove and place on paper towels to absorb the grease. Next, heat a large sauté pan on medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon butter to pan, and when melted, crack eggs into pan. Cook for 30 seconds.
Tilt pan and use a spatula to gently flip eggs without breaking the yolk. Cook for another 30 seconds, or until yokes are as runny or firm as desired.
To assemble sandwich, place 2 pieces of bacon and 2 eggs on each bagel. Top with 2 slices each of American cheese. Slice in half and serve with fruit. Makes 2 servings.
Ham & Cheddar Omelet
1 tablespoon butter
2 ounces or ¼ cup diced ham
2 ounces or ¼ cup cheddar cheese, plus extra for garnish
3 large eggs
Add butter to sauté or omelet pan and heat on medium high. Meanwhile, crack eggs into a bowl and whip until frothy and with no visible whites. Set aside. When butter is melted, add ham and cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently.
Pour eggs into pan and cook for 1 minute while nudging the eggs off the side of the pan with a spatula. When eggs on the pan’s bottom are firm, tilt pan slightly and use spatula to flip omelet. Cook for 20-30 seconds.
Add cheese and fold omelet over. Carefully flip omelet from pan to plate and garnish with cheese. Makes 1 serving.
2 cups turkey bacon diced into ½ inch pieces
2 cups baby kale, washed and dried
¼ cup diced zucchini
¼ cup diced bell peppers
16 large eggs
¾ cup skim milk
½ cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese, divided
¼ cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided
3 avocados, peeled and diced
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large sauté pan on medium-high heat, cook turkey bacon, kale, bell pepper and zucchini until tender, about 5-7 minutes. Pour into a 9×13-inch pan greased with canola oil spray. Meanwhile, crack eggs into large bowl and whip until yolks and whites are blended. Add eggs, skim milk and half the shredded cheese to pan.
Bake in 375-degree oven for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle remaining cheese on the frittata. Bake an additional 5 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Allow to stand for 5 minutes before cutting. Meanwhile, peel avocados and cut into quarters. Slice quarters into fans. Cut egg into equal squares and top with fanned avocado. Makes 8 servings.