The Benefits Of Cooking With Onions

Cooking with onions

Onion (Allium cepa L) is a widely cultivated and consumed plant due to its pungent flavors; it is part of the allium family of plants which includes chives, garlic, shallots, scallions and leeks. It is believed that onions were first domesticated in Central and Western Asia; onions were also pictured on ancient Egyptian monuments around 5,000 years ago. Onion is a nutrient-dense food containing enormous health and medicinal properties; it contains incredible polyphenols such as quercetin compounds that have powerful anti-inflammatory, antioxidants, and antimicrobial effects. It also contains sulfur compounds that possess anti-carcinogenic properties. Some of the beneficial ingredients include vitamins E, C and B-complex and minerals such as calcium, iron, folate, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium. Some of the benefits of onions include:

Anti-Cancer Benefits

Onions provide effective prevention for cancer. A study in “Nutrition Health” shows that it is rich in organosulfur compounds that inhibit tumor growth, mutagenic reactions and reduce the DNA damage to cells. Besides, Onion is a source vitamin C, a strong antioxidant that protects one from free radicals known to cause cancer, especially esophageal cancer, renal cell cancer, breast cancer, and prostate cancer, stomach and colorectal cancers. Besides, Quercetin compounds contained in onions have potent and diverse anti-cancer effects.

Treatment of Acne

A Journal in “Wound Care” shows that onions extracts contain anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial qualities that help reduce acne scar and prevents inflammation and discoloration on the skin. Their anti-microbial effect acts as a potent antiseptic that protects the skin from acne infections caused by bacteria; it helps reduce redness and swelling related to acne. Onion extracts applied regularly to a scar helps to minimize the amount of collagen production which lowers the fiber content in the skin. Thus, it lessens the appearance of a scar making it less noticeable on the face.

Reduce Glucose Levels

Daily intake of onions helps regulate the blood sugar level. Publication in “The Endocrine Society” has shown that the trace amounts of chromium in onions have significant blood sugar-lowering action. Quercetin, an active compound contained in the onions help to actively regulate the blood sugar and cholesterol levels by increasing glucose metabolic rates and appetite levels; it also boosts glucose tolerance and minimize fasting sugar level.

Promotes Cardiovascular Health

Onion exhibits potent cardiovascular benefits; studies from “The University of Wisconsin-Madison” found that onions provide protection to the heart that helps decrease the risk of coronary artery and peripheral vascular diseases. The sulfur compounds, vitamin B complex and chromium compounds in onions helps prevents a heart attack by lowering homocysteine levels, a potential risk of cardiac stroke. The sulfur compounds contain anti-clotting effects that inhibit thrombocyte biosynthesis, thus helps prevent the clumping together of platelets and clot formation. The allium and allyl disulfide decrease blood vessel stiffness. Also, quercetin in onions offers antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that boost cardiovascular health.

Anti-ageing Benefits:

Onions contain anti-ageing benefits; a publication on “Natural Cures and Healing” shows that the antioxidant vitamins A, C and E in onions help to prevent free radical damage and excessive exposure to harmful UV rays that are responsible for causing premature ageing. Quercetin compound is an excellent antioxidant and a detoxifier; it enhances the elimination of toxic chemicals which helps to keep your skin wrinkle-free. The presence of sulphur-rich phytochemicals in onions boosts the anti-ageing qualities; it keeps the skin supple and ensure a smooth, youthful and radiant appearance. Besides, regular massaging of the skin with fresh onion juice facilitates a continuous blood circulation that improves the overall appearance of your skin.

Cold and Respiratory Benefits

Onions are rich in essential vitamins A and C that help alleviate respiratory conditions. Sulfur contents in onions have beneficial effects for colds, coughs, and bronchitis; it boosts the melting of phlegm in individuals suffering from severe coughing. A Journal on “West Indian medical” states that onions contain antimicrobial properties that destroy active microbes including Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, Pseudomonas and Candida found in the throat which is responsible for sore throats and infections that cause coughs. Onion syrup is regarded as a household antimicrobial remedy for croupy coughs.

Possible Side Effects

Notably, onions are known to cause eye irritations and for making people cry; it do not contain severe side effects on consumption. However, it is important to note that, onions cause allergic reactions to some individuals; one may experience a reddish, itchy rash when an onion is into contact with the skin. It may also cause a breathing problem, oral swelling, tingling, and a drop in blood pressure in patients suffering from anaphylactic allergic reactions. Individuals with gastrointestinal gas production are advised not to consume onion food. Besides, American Journal of Gastroenterology suggested that patients having chronic heartburn or gastric reflux disease should not take onion since it worsens these symptoms.

There have been numerous diet-based studies conducted in journals of agricultural and food chemistry have confirmed that onions are one of the richest sources of flavonoid; Quercetin and sulfur compounds contained in onions contributes to its anti-cancer, antibacterial, antiviral, anti-allergenic and anti-inflammatory properties. Onions are naturally low in calories and abundant in vitamins and minerals. Other benefits of onions include improvement of digestion, protection against allergies, treatment of anemia, maintenance of bone health and prevention of oral infections.

Onions are one of the most widely used ingredients in cooking and for good reason. They provide a strong kick, great texture, and are easy to prepare. But not only do they add to the taste of your favorite recipes, but they can also do a body good. Hopefully, after seeing the tremendous positive impact that they can have on your health, you will find more ways to use this versatile vegetable in your kitchen.

The Toaster Oven That Will Make You The Hit Of Christmas

toaster-oven-big

With the holidays literally right around the corner, it is time to do some last minute gift shopping for family and friends. Well when we were out the other day we cam across the exact toaster oven that we have used for the past couple of years and it dawned on me that we could not think of a better present to give to a couple of people we know who love to cook as much as we do. The countertop oven that I am referring to is the TOB-195 from Cuisinart. This has been one of our better appliance purchases that we have made in the last few years, so we picked up a couple of these to pass it forward, especially since the price has come down since we first bought it.

So what makes this such a great oven? This little work horse has a lot going for it, so we decided to write a short review for anyone looking for an excellent gift idea for loved ones. To start, it continues to get excellent customer reviews, like from me, and it is still rated as the best convection toaster oven for the money. This countertop oven is extremely versatile in the cooking chores that it can handle, and it also looks sharp with its stainless steel design. Below are just a few of the reasons you should consider getting a TOB-195 for your kitchen.

Features and Specifications

  • 1500-Watt Oven
  • Automatic shut-off after every 4 hours
  • Easy to sue touch pad controls
  • Slice Capacity of 6 slices
  • Brushed chrome exterior
  • Always-even shade control
  • 2 rack positions
  • Functions: Toast, Pizza/Bake, Convention; Reheat, Bagel and Defrost buttons
  • Broiler pan and drip tray
  • Exact heat sensors for precise and consistent oven temperature
  • Polarized 2 prong plug
  • Dimensions: 18” W x 17” D x 10”
  • 3-year limited warranty

Pros

1. The oven warms up very fast

When in use, the toaster’s oven takes a few minutes to reach up to the required temperature. With the help of the broil function, the toaster takes only a couple of minutes to crisp up cheese. Toasts can be ready in 3 minutes using the default medium setting.

2. It has a long timer

With a maximum cook time of 4 hours, one can cook any food evenly. The time is much longer when considering what other brands have to offer. Majority of the toasters in market have a maximum cook time of 2-hours which is way too low for preparing food.

3. The toaster is durable

Cuisinart TOB-195 can consistently prepare food for years before one considers replacing it with another one. Most of the online reviews even state that the toaster can go up to 5 years and even more while producing top quality work.

4. Works like conventional ovens

When preparing smaller meals, it’s not necessary for one to heat up the big oven. Cuisinart TOB-195 can handle virtually any type of food and transform it into a delicious dish that the family can enjoy.

Other Notable Benefits:

  • An attractive design
  • LCD display and Digital control panel
  • It’s versatile
  • Comes with a 3 year warranty

Cons

1. Difficulty in crumb tray access

Cuisinart TOB-195 is designed with a crumb tray access at the back as compared to other models like Cuisinart TOB-135 that is accessible from the front. It thus means one has to move the unit forward or turn it in order to slide the crumb tray from its rear end.

2. Complicated settings

The Cuisinart unit is not easy to control like the manually dialed toaster ovens. Most ovens are naturally easier to use as they only require 3 dials to complete the temperature setup. But for Cuisinart 195 TOB-195, an individual is required to press a button to set the function, another for the temperature as well as timer. Hence it requires one to read the toaster manual first before operating it.

3. Inflexibility

Cuisinart TOB-195 comes with some functions which have default time and temperature that can’t be changed. Its timer for instance, only works for bake and broil functions only while the standard temperature for the broil temperature is set on a default of 500 degrees with no alteration allowed. So the inflexibility cannot allow one to cook food that is in line with the desired tastes and recipes.

The TOB-195 is another shining star for Cuisinart as they have an excellent reputation for making some of the most dependable small kitchen appliances.  This toaster oven has really performed well for us over the years and we are going to feel really good about seeing our friends unwrap this in just a few days.  If you have a loved one who spends more time in the kitchen then any other room in the house, this is perhaps the best gift that they will get.

Cooking a Little Taste of Italy

italian recipes for the kitchenA recent survey by CNN ranked Italian as the best cuisine in the world. Hardly surprising, since Italian recipes bring to our tables the perfect blend of fresh wholesome ingredients, simple home-style cooking, sheer variety and of course amazing taste. So if you are planning a dinner for your friends or family – a formal occasion or a casual get together, Italian is the way to go.

Things to Know

Before you start planning your Italian meal, there are a few things you need to remember.

The Magic is in the ingredients: Great cuisine depends largely on the freshness and quality of the ingredients. So take a little extra care with your groceries shopping.

Simplicity does the trick: It does not need a long list of ingredients to cook up a good Italian dish. Sometimes three or four will be enough.

Get your hands involved: Knead that dough, make that pasta, sprinkle that pepper with your fingers. Italian cooking is a deeply personal experience. Feel it. When you cook from the heart, your guests will feel it too.

The Courses

Traditionally, there are three main courses to an Italian meal. The Antipasto or the Appetizer, the Primo or the first course and the Secondo or the second course. To make the meal more complex, add a cheese and a dessert. Maybe even a salad or an aperitif.If you are thinking of cooking an Italian meal, we have brought together three easy recipes that come together beautifully to dazzle your guests. And the best part – they are so easy to cook.

The Antipasto – Mozzarella in Corrozza

This seems so simple and then when you pop one into your mouth, it is full of delightful surprise. It looks like grilled cheese though the flavors are a little more like bread pudding. The bread is crisp and crunchy on the outside, and soft on inside. The melting mozzarella makes things more interesting.

The Ingredients

2 oz Mozzarella Cheese

2 slices of soft fresh bread

1 large egg

2 tablespoons of Half and Half

Chilli Flakes

Salt & Pepper

Flour

Olive Oil

How to Cook

Make a sandwich of the bread and mozzarella. Add pepper to taste.

Take two dishes. On one add the flour, on the other whisk the eggs with two table spoons of half and half. Add salt and pepper to taste to the second dish.

Take the sandwiches and dust them with the flour. Dip both sides in the other dish.

Heat olive oil on a pan. Fry sandwiches on the pan for about ten minutes till they are golden brown and crispy. And you are all set to serve.

The Primo – Lemon Linguine with Shrimp Zucchini and Spinach

This is a great pasta dish. Amazingly sophisticated and elegant in taste but so easy to make. Just one thing to remember – pasta should always be cooked al dente. So follow cooking instructions as given in the packet but undercook by a minute or two. This makes the pasta much more flavorful and it goes better with the sauce.

The Ingredients

A pound of pasta

2 shallots diced small

4 garlic cloves minced

Olive Oil

2 zucchini cut into half inch slices

2 lemons

10 ounces of Spinach leaves

Salt & Pepper

A pound of shrimp (remember to remove tails and devein)

A cup of pasta water

Parmesan cheese

How to Cook

Cook your pasta a minute or two less than the directions given in the package. Keep aside a cup of the water from the pasta for later use.

Saute shallots on a pan in medium heat. Add garlic and sauté for another minute. Now add the zucchini and go on for two minutes. Add juice from the lemons and salt and pepper to taste.
Now add more olive oil. When the oil is heated add the shrimp and the spinach and sauté for 2 minutes.

Add the pasta to the pan and stir.

Add a bit of the starchy water to loosen the sauce.

Garnish with cheese.

The Secendo –Chicken Parmigiana

This classic Italian chicken dish can add class and unforgettable taste to every meal. And the best part is – you can make this exquisite restaurant style dish in a little over an hour. To get best results, make your own tomato sauce.

The Ingredients

4 pieces of thinly pounded boneless chicken

Olive oil

2 cups of flour (add a pinch of salt and pepper)

4 large beaten eggs

1 pound mozzarella

1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan

2 cups bread crumbs

Basil and parsley

1 finely chopped onion

Paste of 4 cloves of garlic and salt

A puree of 2 cans of plum tomatoes

1 can of crushed tomatoes

1 can tomato paste

Bay leaf

Parsley

Chopped chilli pepper

How to Cook

Before you start cooking preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Dust them with flour and then dip them into the beaten eggs. Dust them with bread crumbs.

Cook the chicken with olive oil on a pan till golden brown (2 minutes per side will do).

Put the chicken into a baking sheet. Top it with your special homemade tomato sauce, Mozzarella, a tablespoon of grated Parmesan and of course salt and pepper. Bake for about five to seven minutes till the chicken is cooked through and through. To garnish, add basil and parsley.

To make the tomato sauce, cook onion and garlic in a saucepan with oil till they go soft. Add tomato puree, crush tomatoes and tomato paste. Add a cup of water, bay leaf, parsley and one chopped pepper.

Bring to boil and add salt and water to taste. Reduce the heat and let the mixture cook for half an hour.

Enjoy the Best of Italy

If you love Italian food then hopefully some of these recipes will help bring some of the great flavors of Italy into your kitchen.  It is always great to experiment with new and different dishes so check back as we plan to add more great tasting ideas in the near future.