Onions are favorites, any season
Root vegetables are staple foods during the winter. Carrots, onions, potatoes, beets, sweet potatoes, yams, rutabaga and cassava are popular root vegetables used in our daily diet. Stews, soups and roasts are recipes that feature these root vegetables.
Cooked and served alone root vegetables provide variety and color to a winter dinner plate. Although fresh vegetables are summertime treats, winter vegetables provide health benefits during the cold snowy months.
Onions happen to be one of the most poplar root vegetables no matter what the season. They are an excellent source of Vitamin C. Their accessibility and low cost make them favorites whatever ethnic cuisine is being featured.
Layer for layer the flavor, color and texture enhance the likeability of a variety of dishes. The onion just below the peeling is the richest in cancer preventing flavonoids. To maximize the health benefits, peel off as little of the fleshy, edible portion as possible. Even a small amount of overpeeling, the removal of more than just a thin outside layer of the onion, can result in an unwanted loss of flavonoids. For example, a red onion can lose almost 75 percent of its health benefits if it is stripped too much.
Making onions part of a daily meal plan can reduce the risk of a variety of cancers. Colon, throat, ovarian and oral cancer can be reduced by eating more onions.
Onions are best stored in a cool, dry, well ventilated place, not in plastic bags. Lack of air movement reduces storage life and nutrient quality.
To reduce crying and sniffling when cutting an onion, first put the onion in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Do not store them in the refrigerator. Then cut off the top and peel only the outer most layer. The root end has the highest concentration of sulphuric compounds that make the eyes tear. Cut the root off last.
Onions can be stored in the refrigerator only after they are peeled and cut. A whole peeled onion or chopped onions can remain in the refrigerator for seven days. Keep chopped onions in a sealed container or everything will end up smelling and tasting like onions. A plastic container will absorb the onion odor and will be very difficult to reuse without the onion flavor permeating other foods. Some people like this and store other vegetables in an old onion container to enhance the flavor of leftover foods.
One medium onion equals about 1 cup of chopped onion. Pureeing or finely chopping onions with a food processor is a devious way to add Vitamin C, fiber and flavor to foods. Meat loaf, stews, soups and sauces benefit from clandestine onion without the usual onion hater noticing the trick.
Sautéing onions on a high heat can cause onions to become bitter. Always use low or medium heat to slowly cook onions in a frying pan. Burnt onions are favorites of many discerning tastes. A few brown or even black strips of onion add texture and taste that is near nirvana for the taste buds of some people.
Root vegetables are healthy additions to winter meals. Avoid breaded and fried onion rings for they offer more calories from fat than nutrients from the onion. Life is like an onion, you peel it layer by layer and sometimes you cry. Add onions to your life for flavor and nutrition.
Bobbie Randall is a certified diabetes educator, registered, licensed dietitian. She supervises a diabetes self-management training program at Aultman-Orrville Hospital, Orrville. Contact her at email@example.com or 330–684-4776.