Vegetable of the Month – Onions
One of my top nutritional interests is eating for health and disease prevention. In article after article and book after book, I read about the health benefits of onions. Onions, especially raw, seem to be a somewhat polarizing vegetable. Either people love them, or hate them. I did not like them at all as a child. However, as an adult, I have come to appreciate the flavor, texture and health benefits of the onion.
This month, I have decided to devote the Vegetable of the Month Blog to the onion. In the mid-west, there are very few seasonal vegetables available in the month of March. However, onions are available year round at the super market and are easy to keep on hand in your pantry. No matter the month or season of the year, you will find many great recipes that include fresh, cooked, roasted or grilled onions.
Onions are a bulb vegetable belonging to the Allium family (this family also includes garlic, leeks, shallots and chives) and contain powerful phyto-chemicals called allium and allyl disulphide. The sulfur containing compounds which are responsible for their strong odor are also responsible for many of their wonderful health benefits. These compounds are protective against cancers (especially cancers of the digestive system), heart disease and help regulate blood sugar levels. They help reduce cholesterol production, have anti-bacterial, viral and fungal properties and have anti-inflammatory properties. Additionally, onions are high in a flavonoid compound called quercetin. This substance protects the body against oxidative stress. Most of this protective compound is contained in the outer most layers of the onion, so peel back and discard as little of the outer layer as possible to maximize the quercetin content.
Like most vegetables, they are low in calories, fat and cholesterol and high in fiber. Onions are not commonly known for their vitamin C content but they do contain almost 20% of your recommended daily value for the day in a one cup serving.
The recommendation is to consume about a half of a medium raw onion each day or ½ a cup. This is likely a challenge for most of us. If you do not currently eat much raw onion, aim to eat some raw onions several times a week and gradually work up to ½ a cup. In addition, add as many cooked, roasted or grilled onions as you can to your diet. A serving of raw or cooked onions still count as a vegetable serving. You will not only improve your health but you will be adding great taste to your dishes.
I love that all three Mama Jess Pasta Sauces contain both organic onions and garlic. A pasta sauce would just not be as delicious without the flavor of onions and garlic. It is a great way to incorporate garlic and onions into your children’s diet without them even knowing they are eating them.
This month, I am sharing a delicious recipe for Baby Greens Salad with Quinoa. The salad contains chopped raw onion on the salad, as well as in the dressing. You can eat it as a main dish or as a side to an entrée. The quinoa not only adds texture but it is an excellent plant based source of a complete protein. If you like, top the salad with grilled chicken or salmon. You will get several servings of vegetables, as well as increase your weekly consumption of the wonderful onion! Like I frequently tell my children, ‘Try it! Your body will love it!’ Enjoy!
Until next month!
eat your veggies,
Kelly Van Stone