Onions are members of the ALLIUM family – along with garlic and leeks. Onions have been around for many thousands of years – records go back to show they originated in Asia and were used extensively by the ancient Egyptians.

Onions contain many health promoting substances: Chromium, which helps cells respond to insulin, Vitamins C and B6, flavinoids, anti inflammatory and anti bacterial compounds. The sulphur compounds are what give the alliums their odour – and their health benefits!

Onions and garlic have been shown to help regulate blood sugar imbalances through the action of chromium. Many western people are marginally depleted in chromium, as consumption of refined sugar and flour, plus lack of exercise, reduces chromium in the body. The cardio vascular system is affected by onions – they help reduce cholesterol and blood pressure. Onions have been linked to reduced incidence of colon cancer, and their anti bacterial properties combined with their Vit C make them ideal for warding off winter colds and bugs!

Onion basics

Store at room temperature, away from bright light, and well ventilated – e.g. in a string bag or mesh storage tray. Keep away from potatoes to store for longer.

Preparing onions – the sulphur compounds contain volatile substances that make many peoples eyes water! Try chilling the onions first to slow down the release of these substances, or cutting them under water. Use a sharp knife. Prepare them quickly. Remember though that the most pungent onions contain the most beneficial substances.

Chopped raw onion combined with tomatoes, avocado and lemon juice makes a quick and delicious guacamole salsa.

Add chopped salad onions to rice to liven it up!

Sauteed onions can be added to any vegetable dish.

Try a classic Italian salad – sliced onion and tomato, topped with mozzarella cheese and drizzled with olive oil.

Onion Recipes

  • 5 Spice Onion Soup
  • 2 Onions – cut in half and thinly sliced
  • 6 cloves garlic, sliced. Salt and pepper to taste.
  • Stock: 1 medium onion, finely chopped.
  • 1 litre water made up with stock powder / cubes
  • small piece fresh ginger, sliced; 1 tpsn caraway seeds
  • 6 whole cloves; I cinnamon stick; half tspn fennel seeds
  • mushrooms – 6 shitake, or fresh.
  • 1 tbspn soy sauce; 1 tbspn molasses

Make the stock up by sautéing the chopped onion in a little water/stock until translucent. Add the rest of the ingredients, and simmer for 20 minutes, uncovered. Remove the mushrooms, then strain the stock.

Whilst the stock is simmering, saute the sliced onions in a little oil, butter or stock according to your taste, for about 15 minutes or until translucent. Add garlic and saute for another minute.

Add the mushrooms saved from the stock. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Tips: Saute the onions slowly for max taste. The thinner they are sliced, the better. Vary the spices.

Vegetarian Stir Fry

  • 1 medium onion cut in half, and sliced medium thick
  • 1 tbspn vegetable stock 
  • 4  medium cloves garlic
  • 1 small piece ginger – chopped
  • 1 red pepper chopped; 6 mushrooms, chopped
  • 125 gm chopped cabbage
  • 125 gm tofu or tempeh
  • 2 tbspn soy sauce; 1 tbspn vinegar; chopped fresh coriander; sesame seeds, salt and pepper.

Prepare all ingredients to stir fry. Healthy stir fry by using stock rather than oil. Add onion first, then pepper and mushrooms. Stir fry  for 2 minutes, then add garlic and ginger. After a further 2 minutes, add the rest of ingredients and cook for another 2 minutes. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Tips: this is an infinitely variable recipe! Use any veg, replace tofu with chicken pieces, quorn chunks or nuts; vary the spices. Use nut oil or olive oil to add flavour.

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