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Tuesday, June 22, 2010
I am not a big onion fan, the only way I ever used to eat onions was in onion rings and lets face it there is no health benefit from eating those. You end up doing more harm than any good that could come from eating the onion when you coat it and then deep fry it. I have since found healthier ways to make onion rings at home and have been trying to incorporate them more into my diet. This week I decided to learn a little more about Onions! Aside from being a tasty addition to your meal they contain nutrients that help you ward off inflammation, fight chronic disease and regulate blood sugar.
The Basics of Onions:
Onions are separated into two main categories fresh onions and storage onions. There are tons of different varieties of onions (I'm talking hundreds people). Their flavor and strength all depend on the type of soil and time of year they grow. The easiest way to determine how strong an onion's flavor is, is to follow this tip: The thicker the layers of onion, the stronger the flavor.
Fresh onions come in spring and summer (Scallions,Maui,Vidalia,Walla Walla)
You should store them in the refrigerator
Eat them soon after harvesting.
When selecting green onions, look for ones that appear crisp yet tender & have green, fresh-looking tops.
Sweet onions should be firm and heavy with water.
Storage onions are harvested in fall and winter (Yellow,White,Red,Shallots)
They have a stronger flavor
They store longer and should be kept in a cool, dry place (not refrigerated).
When purchasing, choose ones that are clean, well shaped and tightly closed, with crisp, dry outer skins.
Avoid onions that are sprouting or have signs of mold or soft spots.
Studies have suggested that onions, which are rich in phytochemicals and the antioxidant flavonoid quercetin, may help lower the risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, and many types of cancer, particularly colon cancer.
Onions also have powerful anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antifungal and anti-parasitic properties.
One cup of raw onion contains more than 20 percent of the daily requirement of the trace mineral chromium, important for helping the body to metabolize sugar and lipids.
When cooked, onions have a slightly lower vitamin content, but the resulting chemical reactions increase the variety of beneficial sulfur compounds.
How To Use Onions: Cooked & raw onions add depth and excitement to many dishes.
Spring and red onions bring color and flavor to salads, salsa and guacamole
Sweet onions are best when eaten raw or only slightly cooked, making them perfect additions to hamburgers, sandwiches and fresh salads.
To saute onions, heat skillet over medium-high heat and add oil to coat bottom of pan. Add thinly sliced or chopped onions and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Season with salt and pepper.
To caramelize onions, first heat a saute pan over medium-high heat with 2 teaspoons of butter. Add 2 pounds of thinly sliced onions and 1/4 teaspoon sea salt. Cook, stirring constantly, for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to low and cook uncovered until onions are soft and brown, about 40 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. If pan becomes dry, add a few tablespoons of vegetable stock. Season with salt and pepper.
To prevent watery eyes when cutting an onion, chill them for an hour before chopping. This will help slow down the movement of allyl sulfate, the enzyme responsible for producing tears.
When cutting a dry onion, chop off the top and slice in half through the root. (Leaving the root intact makes chopping easier.) Remove skin and place halves flat-side down on a cutting board. Slice to make uniform half-moon slices.
To take the onion smell out of a wooden cutting board, wash it with a paste made from baking soda and a few drops of distilled vinegar. Rinse with warm water. Season the dried board with mineral oil.(www.Care2.com)
Here are some recipes for making healthier onion rings at home: