Forget about the apple – an onion a day may keep cancer away. According to Cornell University food scientists, onions are another super food. Packed with anti-cancer chemicals, onions contain antioxidants that can prevent cancer by blocking free radicals from damaging cell DNA and inhibiting the cancer process from starting.
Before you run out and purchase a bushel of onions, it’s important to note that not all onions are created equal when it comes to fighting the Big C – shallots, red, and yellow onions contain higher anti-cancer chemicals. Research also indicates that cutting onions and allowing them sit for a minimum of 5 minutes before cooking or consuming enhances the onion’s health benefits.
All about Onions
- Appearance: Shallots have sectional cloves similar to garlic. In fact, they look like large cloves of garlic that have been covered in onion skin. The outer layer is a pinkish brown color; once peeled they resemble red onions.
- Flavor: Shallots are on the sweeter side and have a mild flavor.
- When Shopping: Ensure there aren’t any white or green sprouts forming at the top of the shallot. A sprouting shallot is past its prime.
- Storage: Store shallots in a cool, dry place such as the pantry.
- Cooking: Shallots can be consumed raw or cooked. If cooking, keep in mind they have a faster cooking time than other onions.
- Appearance: Deep purple outer layer with white and pink flesh.
- Flavor: Red onions have a mild to sweet flavor.
- When Shopping: Look for onions that have a smooth and firm skin. Avoid onions that are soft and have dark spots or areas of mold.
- Storage: Store in a cool, dry place with plenty of ventilation. Do not store in plastic bags or a refrigerator.
- Cooking: Red onions can be consumed raw or cooked. If cooking, the red color washes out, but the flavor remains.
- Appearance: Yellow onions have a yellow-brown outer layer with bright white flesh.
- Flavor: Yellow onions have a strong, pungent smell and flavor. Slightly astringent, they become sweeter the longer they are cooked.
- When Shopping: Look for firm, baseball sized onions that have a fairly tough outer skin. Avoid onions that are soft, moist, and have dark blemishes or areas of mold.
- Storage: Store in a cool, dry place that has good ventilation.
- Cooking: Yellow onions are usually too strong to be consumed raw, but they work well in sautés, sauces, and on kabobs.
Tasty Onions Recipes
Now that you know how to shop for and store onions, let’s talk recipes. While they can be added to a variety of dishes, including soups, salads, and sandwiches, onions shouldn’t be typecast as a mere ingredient. They can easily stand on their own as the star of the dish. We’ve pulled together some truly sensational recipes that showcase these versatile vegetables:
- Caramelized Onion and Chevre Toasts
- Pork Chops with Sweet Curried Onion
- French Onion Soup
- Caramelized Onion and Bacon Tart
- Onion-Cheese Bread
Don’t be afraid to experiment with these cancer fighting powerhouses in your next recipe. Dig in! Just don’t forget the breath mints.