Monday, November 30, 2009

Health benefits of Onions

Even though they make me stink and cry, I love onions. Fried, broiled, BBQ'd, green, yellow, red, white, you name it, I love it. And, not only are they tasty, they're very good for you. Here's what Winston Craig has to say about them:
What would life be like without onions? The onion has been used as an ingredient in various dishes for thousands of years by many cultures around the world. World onion production is steadily increasing so that onion is now the second most important horticultural crop after tomatoes.

There are many different varieties of onion, red, yellow, white, and green, each with their own unique flavor, from very strong to mildly sweet. Onions can be eaten raw, cooked, fried, dried or roasted. They are commonly used to flavor dips, salads, soups, spreads, stir-fry and other dishes.

Onions (Allium cepa) belong to the lily family, the same family as garlic, leeks, chives, scallions and shallots.There are over 600 species of Allium, distributed all over Europe, North America, Northern Africa and Asia. The plants can be used as ornamentals, vegetables, spices, or as medicine. There are over 120 different documented uses of the Alliums.

Onion and other Allium vegetables are characterized by their rich content of thiosulfinates, sulfides, sulfoxides, and other odoriferous sulfur compounds. The cysteine sulfoxides are primarily responsible for the onion flavor and produce the eye-irritating compounds that induce lacrimation. The thiosulfinates exhibit antimicrobial properties. Onion is effective against many bacteria including Bacillus subtilis, Salmonella, and E. coli. Onion is not as potent as garlic since the sulfur compounds in onion are only about one-quarter the level found in garlic.
The Value of Onions
Onions have a variety of medicinal effects. Early American settlers used wild onions to treat colds, coughs, and asthma, and to repel insects. In Chinese medicine, onions have been used to treat angina, coughs, bacterial infections, and breathing problems.

The World Health Organization (WHO) supports the use of onions for the treatment of poor appetite and to prevent atherosclerosis. In addition, onion extracts are recognized by WHO for providing relief in the treatment of coughs and colds, asthma and bronchitis. Onions are known to decrease bronchial spasms. An onion extract was found to decrease allergy-induced bronchial constriction in asthma patients.

Onions are a very rich source of fructo-oligosaccharides. These oligomers stimulate the growth of healthy bifidobacteria and suppress the growth of potentially harmful bacteria in the colon. In addition, they can reduce the risk of tumors developing in the colon.
Cardiovascular Help
Onions contain a number of sulfides similar to those found in garlic which may lower blood lipids and blood pressure. In India, communities that never consumed onions or garlic had blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels substantially higher, and blood clotting times shorter, than the communities that ate liberal amounts of garlic and onions. Onions are a rich source of flavonoids, substances known to provide protection against cardiovascular disease. Onions are also natural anticlotting agents since they possess substances with fibrinolytic activity and can suppress platelet-clumping. The anticlotting effect of onions closely correlates with their sulfur content.
Cancer Prevention
Onion extracts, rich in a variety of sulfides, provide some protection against tumor growth. In central Georgia where Vidalia onions are grown, mortality rates from stomach cancer are about one-half the average level for the United States. Studies in Greece have shown a high consumption of onions, garlic and other allium herbs to be protective against stomach cancer.

Chinese with the highest intake of onions, garlic, and other Allium vegetables have a risk of stomach cancer 40 percent less than those with the lowest intake. Elderly Dutch men and women with the highest onion consumption (at least one-half onion/day) had one-half the level of stomach cancer compared with those consuming no onions at all.

Western Yellow, New York Bold, and Northern Red onions have the richest concentration of flavonoids and phenolics, providing them with the greatest antioxidant and anti-proliferative activity of 10 onions tested. The mild-tasting Western White and Vidalia onions had the lowest antioxidant content and lowest anti-proliferative activity. The consumer trend to increasingly purchase the less pungent, milder onion varieties may not be the best, since the onions with a stronger flavor and higher astringency appear to have superior health-promoting properties.
Use and Safety
Onions have a universal appeal. They are safely consumed by most people. However, consuming large quantities of onions can lead to stomach distress and gastrointestinal irritation that may result in nausea and diarrhea. There are no known interactions with drugs except that they can potentiate the action of anticoagulants.
Onions, and other Allium species, are highly valued herbs possessing culinary and medicinal value. Some of their beneficial properties are seen after long-term usage. Onion may be a useful herb for the prevention of cardiovascular disease, especially since they diminish the risk of blood clots. Onion also protects against stomach and other cancers, as well as protecting against certain infections. Onion can improve lung function, especially in asthmatics. The more pungent varieties of onion appear to possess the greatest concentration of health-promoting phytochemicals.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Pubs Spared in Queen's Speach

Taken from The Publican

Industry spared in Queen's Speech
18 November, 2009

By John Dunne

Pubs avoid facing any new measures

The industry can breath a sigh of relief after being spared any new shake-up in the Queen's Speech.

Measures to steer Britian out of recession and to keep a tight rein on bankers' excesses were among the key policy proposals announced.

That contrasts with last year when licensees were in the firing line.

They were hit with the Policing and Crime Bill - which is now law and includes the controversial mandatory code of practice.

Mark Hastings of the British Beer & Pub Association said: "The fact that the pub industry has not been mentioned this time round is a blessing. The fact that there has been no increase in the legislative or regulatory burden in the pub sector is a good thing.

"Of course as a lobby we are always still looking for legislation that can assist the pub sector."

Why are the best things in life bad for you ?

Oh my beloved bacon, why do you hate me ? There's no surprise...I LOVES me some bacon. I could eat it all day and night. I have been told that I possess the very rare bacon gene. It creates an uncontrollable urge to gorge on bacon. Something this tasty can't be bad...right? Outside of the obvious...the fatty salty goodness, there's the heart stopping cholesterol badness...and did I say fatty goodness ? There's the other nasty bit. The link to Nitrates and Cancer. I'm not suggesting a mob gather and we run and burn down the deli and cured meats department at the local grocery store. No. It's more a "read the label" kind of thing. Here's some info from

What they are: Nitrates and nitrites are chemical compounds found in many foods, including some salts. Salt containing nitrates has been favored for preserving meat because it maintains color and flavor while inhibiting bacterial growth.

Why they're unhealthy: Nitrates have been linked to infant methemoglobinemia, a deficiency of oxygen in the blood. Also, nitrate can interact with the amines in protein to form nitrosamines, which have been linked to cancer in lab animals.

What's being done: The USDA now requires bacon processors to add antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E, which have been proven to inhibit nitrosamine formation. But if you're still worried, you can limit your intake by sticking with nitrate-free bacon products, having your bacon with a glass of antioxidant-rich orange juice, and not overcooking your strips. Studies have shown that well-done bacon contains more nitrosamines

Not to worry stomach...this won't put me off bacon...just have to find the nitrate free stuff.

Monday, November 16, 2009

A list of places I like to eat at in Calgary

Here is a sample (off the top of my head) of places we like to eat at (in no particular order).

This is just a sample...many more out there

Friday, November 13, 2009

Wildwood Grill & Brewing Company - Calgary

One of my favourite places to dine out is the Wildwood Grill & Brewing Company. It's located on 4th street south in the Calgary Downtown, and in my opinion is one of the best places to showcase local (Alberta) ingredients.
The dining room on the main level has an open kitchen and is rustic and very cozy, while the brew pub downstairs is very casual and welcoming.
I have sampled a number of dishes on the menu (every one being fantastic) with some of my favourites being the Duck Springrolls, Bison Tartare & the Elk Loin Medallions.
Not only have we dined upstairs, our company has had the last two Christmas parties in the downstairs pub. Both parties were top notch. From the service to the food. It's nice to go out to eat where everyone hosting, serving and cooking has a passion for the food & beer and takes the time to do things right.
I would highly recommend trying the Wildwood on your next outing !

Wednesday, November 11, 2009