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Karen Schuppert

Karen Schuppert

How does a girl living in Mexico with an aversion to raw onions survive? By trying to remember to ask for ‘no cebollas’ on tacos unless they are grilled first. But just think about all those tasty salsas I am missing…

Onions may be known for making people cry, and in some cases it’s not just when they’re freshly chopped – it could be when they’re eaten raw, too. Raw onions are a common trigger for heartburn.

Onions have been shown to relax the lower esophageal sphincter, which may cause acid reflux and other digestive symptoms. According to a report by the National Institutes of Health, the stomach is unable to digest most sugars and they must pass into the intestines where bacteria can break down the sugar in a process that forms gas. Since onions naturally contain fructose, this can be a source of gas for some people. If you have an allergy to onions, you might experience a red, itchy rash when an onion comes into contact with your skin as well as reddened, itchy eyes.

Another member of the allium family – garlic—is also difficult for some to tolerate served raw. When cooked, I can devour onions and garlic and am totally on board with their health benefits.

On a positive note (and for the majority) a growing body of research suggests regular onion consumption can be helpful in managing diabetes, asthma and hypertension as well as helping prevent cancer. The minimum effective amount is generally two teaspoons a day of garlic or two tablespoons of onions or scallions, chopped or crushed.

When shopping, at the farmers’ market, of course, look for the freshest bulbs. Onions should be very firm with an intact outer layer. For garlic, look for a bulb with tightly packed cloves. Pick scallions that are bright green and skip any that are wilted.

In the kitchen, chopped onions or garlic are the starting point for many cooked dishes. They also add robust flavor to main courses, soups and omelets. A sprinkle of chopped scallions or chives makes a perfect garnish to add flavor to dips, sandwiches, salads and grilled dishes. Cooking does not diminish the protective effects of garlic, onions or other alliums. In my case, it’s the only way I can tolerate these gems.

Caramelized Onion and Veggie Frittata

You can sub any type of vegetables for the spinach and caramelized onion. I also love to add peppers, broccoli, and mushrooms into my egg dishes.

Crust

1 tsp. olive oil

1 large organic sweet potato

sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Frittata

2 tsp. olive oil

1 onion

sea salt to taste

8 eggs

4 cups organic spinach

1/3 cup parmesan cheese shaved or grated, omit if necessary

1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning

1/4 tsp. sea salt

freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

Shred the sweet potatoes (peeling the sweet potato first is optional). I do this in the food processor and it takes seconds.

Coat the bottom of a baking dish with 1 teaspoon olive oil.

Add the sweet potatoes, and lightly season with sea salt and black pepper.

Cover tightly with foil and bake for 30 minutes.

While the sweet potatoes are baking, thinly slice the onion, and add it to a frying pan with 2 teaspoons of olive oil. Cook over medium low heat, stirring occasionally, until the onions have softened. Season with sea salt. If they seem dry, rather than adding more oil, add a few tablespoons of water. Set aside when the onions are very soft and caramelized.

Beat the eggs and mix in spinach, Parmesan, and spices.

When the sweet potatoes have finished cooking, remove the baking dish, and let cool for 5 or 10 minutes.

After it’s cooled down a bit, loosen the foil. Use a dish towel to protect your hand from the heat and compress the sweet potatoes to form a crust. I allowed mine to cool for a bit longer so that I could form the crust up the sides of my baking dish as well and make the crust more uniform across the bottom— hard to do when it’s very hot!

Once the crust has been formed, add the egg mixture. Top the egg mixture with caramelized onions.

Cover the dish tightly with foil and bake at 425 degrees for another 20 minutes.

Remove the foil and lower the oven temperature to 320 degrees. Bake for another 10-15 minutes, depending on your oven, until the eggs are firm in the center.

Sprinkle with extra Parmesan, if desired.

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Karen is still in search of the ultimate fish taco – with grilled onions, of course. Follow along on Instagram for updates or at www.karenschuppert.com

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