Tag Archives: Shallots

Onions and Garlic Keep More Than Vampires Away

Onions and Garlic Keep More Than Vampires Away

Photo Credit: www.complementaryoncology.com
Photo Credit: www.complementaryoncology.com

According to Wikipedia, “vegetables in the onion family are anti-allergy, antioxidant, anti-cancer, anti-histamine, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral!” While we can’t confirm they actually ward off vampires, bacteria and viruses are certainly kept at bay.

Vegetables in the Allium or onion family include onions, chives, leeks, scallions, shallots and garlic. In Ayurveda, we state that they provide the Sweet and Pungent tastes, although Garlic is also considered Bitter and sometimes Astringent as well. Because of their heat, Pitta types needs to be cautious of overconsuming them. Kaphas need to manage their consumption of Leeks and Shallots, which can provide a little too much of the Sweet taste. Vatas are best to cook their onions prior to consumption to ensure proper digestion of them. According to www.joyfulbelly.com, “The laxative and diaphoretic qualities of raw onion are particularly useful for a late spring cleanse whenever the feet or hands feel swollen.” This makes raw onion particularly supportive of Kaphas and particularly in the spring. In general, this family of vegetables have a grounding effect on us and can make a person sleepy (tamasic) when cooked. Cooked or raw, shallots stimulate desire (rajasic) and are considered an aphrodisiac. The longer they cook the sweeter and less Pitta-aggravating they become.

Curious about the differences between each and their uses throughout history? Here’s a brief recap from an article entitled, “All About Allium Vegetables” posted on TheVegetarianSite.com.

“Onions have been cultivated for thousands of years and originated in the Near East and Central Asia. They were grown not only for use in cooking, but for their antiseptic qualities. In Egypt, onions were used in mummification. The most familiar allium is the common, or bulb, onion of the species Allium cepa, which may have a yellow, white, red, or purple skin. While onions may be fresh, they are most commonly purchased dried. Fresh, also called “sweet”, onions have a milder taste. Dry, also called “storage,” onions, have a stronger flavor. Dry onions have thick, paper-like skins. The vast majority of onions purchased at the supermarket are yellow storage onions. Pungent yellow onions are the best “keepers” and are great additions to soups and stews, while red onions are very sweet, but a poor choice for long-term storage. Red onions are good sliced and eaten raw in salads or sandwiches, or for topping a veggie burger. Common mild onions include Bermuda and Spanish varieties. Pearl onions — which are most often white — are the tiniest of the bulb onions, and are the top choice for boiling or pickling.

Many people think that scallions are a type of onion, but in fact they’re simply the immature plants of any bulbing onion, harvested before the bulb is fully formed. Scallions may also be called spring onions, green onions, or salad onions. The green tops and the white root (the developing bulb) of scallions are both eaten. One type of onions, commonly called “bunching onions,” are members of the species Allium fistulosum. They’re called bunching onions because they’re usually sold in bunches at supermarket. Bunching onions produce the best scallions with a milder taste than other onion varieties.

A native to Central Asia, garlic (Allium sativum) has historically been prized for both culinary and medicinal use. Garlic has the strongest flavor of all the alliums. A hardy perennial, garlic grows as bulbs, which are made up of cloves. One type of garlic that has become popular recently is Elephant garlic, which is a separate species (Allium scorodoprasum or Allium ampeloprasum). Elephant garlic has huge, very mild heads, and can either be sliced and eaten raw in salads or cooked and used as a substitute for onions.

It’s believed that shallots (Allium ascalonium) found their way to Europe by way of the Crusaders from Ascalon, an ancient Israeli city, from which shallots get their botanical name. Like their garlic cousins, shallots grow as bulbs divided into cloves — usually two, but occasionally as many as ten. Shallot bulbs grow in clusters. Shallots have a distinctive tapered shape that sets them apart from other members of the onion family. Most often a copper brown color, they may also be reddish or gray. Their flavor, sometimes described as a blend of sweet onion and garlic, make them a favorite of gourmet chefs.

Leeks (Allium ampeloprasum var. porrum) are the largest member of the allium family and look like gigantic scallions. They may grow up to two feet long and two inches thick, and they do not form a bulb. France, Belgium, and the Netherlands lead the world in leek production, and leeks are often featured in French, Belgian, and Dutch cooking. Also called “poor man’s asparagus,” leeks are a good complement to potatoes — in potato leek soup, for example. Wild leeks, or ramps, are a spring delicacy in eastern North America.

Chives (Allium schoenoprasum) look like tall tufts of grass. A hardy perennial, chives are in fact closely related to grass. Chives can be clipped with scissors to use straight from the garden: to top a baked potato with vegan sour cream, or to add a mild onion flavor to dips, salads, or soups. Garlic chives (Allium tubersosum), also called Chinese chives or Oriental chives, are good as a mild substitute for garlic.

Why not experiment by adding different types of alliums to your meals — to spice up your soups, stews, dips, and salads!”

And back to our original question about how well onions and garlic protect against vampires. Do you eat a lot of these alliums? Have you seen any vampires lately? There’s your answer! 🙂