Cry Me a River
"I will not move my army without onions!" --Ulysses S. Grant
When I was pledging my fraternity back in '93, the actives had a great hazing game called "Apples and Onions." They would line the pledges up in a straight line, start at the one end of the line, and tell you to eat a bite of the apple and a bite of the onion. See, they had been starving us for the 24 hours, so we were pretty hungry. We were on that border of basic hunger and desperation hunger. The mental apsect of this hazing ritual was this: a good brother would take a small bit of the apple and a large bite of the onion so that his brother down the line would be able to enjoy more of the apple.
But it all depended on how hungry you were, how much you cared about your pledge brothers and how much you care about getting yelled at by the actives.
After reading about the health benefits of onions, the old Apples and Onions hazing came straight to my mind. Because as I have learned, apple and onions are very similar in nutritional value. Both have similar vitams and mineral. Both have dietary fiber. Both contain flavenoids and anti-oxidants, and both contain the same cancer-risk reducing compounds that we know and love.
Don't be fooled by the pungent aroma and tear-producing properties of the versatile onion. Yes, you may cry. But you will be doing your body a world of good.
The question came up in my kitchen this weekend while making a batch of Onions and Shrooms. "Are onions good for you? Or are they just for flavor and smell?" Justin Wilson put onions in nearly every dish he made, and he lived to be almost 100 years old.
Onion USA states: "Onions are also a source of vitamin C, potassium, dietary fiber and folic acid. They also contain calcium, iron and have a high protein quality (ratio of mg amino acid/gram protein). Onions are low in sodium and contain no fat."
Of course, drenching onion slices in batter and deep-frying them may negate some of the health benefits, but there are myriad different ways to get the most out of your onion and retain all of the wonderful nutrients that mother nature has given them.
Just think of all the recipes you know and try to remember how many have onions? I can think of hundreds. Onions are a staple in my house; they're just as common in my pantry as canned foods or bread. Onions are one-third of the holy trinity of cajun cooking and one-third of the French mire poi.
Here's a good onion tip. Next time you grill steaks, slice a large white onion into about four or five discs, keeping all the rings together. Brush on a little bit of olive oil and sprinkle them with salt. Grill them right over the coals after the steaks are done. Get them nice and charred on the edges on both sides, then serve right on top of the grilled steaks.
So next time you grab that onion to throw in with some shrooms or to put on a burger, don't just neglect it as a condiment or a useless flavoring. The onion is a very versatile vegetable and an equal of the beloved apple for keeping the doctor away.
Source: Onions-USA.org, the National Onion Association.