Archive for May, 2011

Onion Quiche

Each year a business client sends a twenty-five pound box of sweet Vidalia onions. I save many to freeze later with fresh squash from our garden. I’ve become spoiled to the luxury of numerous frozen one-cup packets of chopped onions for future dishes. Even then, I’m challenged to find ways to use all those onions.

Onions, one of many Alliums, belong to the lily family. Because of their abundance in thiosulfinates, sulfides, sulfoxides, and sulfur compounds, onions provide medicinal effects that tend to lower blood lipids and blood pressure. The sulfur content makes them natural anti-clotting agents. Also, onions contain flavonoids, substances known to protect against cardiovascular disease.

Georgia residents, where the Vidalia is grown, and people of Greece, whose population consumes large amounts of onions and other allium herbs, have lower mortality rates from stomach cancer. Likewise, China and other populations with high onion consumption report fewer incidences of stomach cancer. Other health benefits attributed to onions include improved lung function, decreased bronchial spasms and allergy-induced bronchial constriction of asthmatic patients, and protection against certain infections. Additionally, onions are low in calories, contain no fat or cholesterol, and have a minimal amount of sodium. They’re a good source of fiber, vitamin C and other nutrients. With all these great health benefits, how can you resist adding more onions to your diet?

To use my bountiful supply, I found a recipe for onion pie in the local newspaper and decided to give it a try. The pie failed to meet my standards. I felt compelled to try again, this time with my version.

My personal taster, with decades of training from yours truly, declared my version to have better texture and taste. You be the judge. As those Vidalia and sweet Texas onions inundate the market, try the recipe below and let me know. Have your own favorite? Feel free to pass along to share with readers.


 1                    unbaked 9″deep-dish pie crust

1                     tablespoon olive oil

4                     cups chopped or slivered sweet onions

3                     eggs

1                     cup evaporated milk

3/4                  cup Mozzarella cheese, shredded or grated

1/4                  cup Parmesan cheese, grated

3                     strips turkey bacon, cooked and crumbled

1/2                  teaspoon thyme

1/4                  teaspoon basil

                       salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper to taste

In a heavy saucepan, heat oil and add onions. Sauté about 10 minutes until onions are soft but not brown. In a large mixing bowl, beat the 3 eggs. Stir in milk and seasonings. Add cooled onions and Mozzarella cheese and mix thoroughly. Pour mixture into pie crust. Top with Parmesan cheese and bacon. Bake in a preheated 375o F. oven for 35-40 minutes until middle of quiche is set. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes before cutting.

Reference: http://www.vegetarian-nutrition.info/updates/onions.php  Accessed 5/18/2011.

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Asparagus Salad

When we moved into our home some fifteen years ago, my interest leaned more toward flower gardens than growing vegetables. I planted one clump of asparagus. The tender spears that emerged produced feathery plumes when left uncut—just enough to mix into floral arrangements.

It wasn’t as though we don’t enjoy this vegetable. A few favorite recipes include asparagus. I wasn’t optimistic my clump would produce enough to eat.

Asparagus tends to be more expensive than most vegetables, but you can take advantage of lower prices in early summer when production is at its peak. The delectable low-sodium spears contain no fat and make a great addition to meals.  Nutrient-laden asparagus abounds in vitamins A, C, thiamin, folic acid, and B6. It has about twenty calories per serving and adds substantial fiber to the diet.

This year my small clump produced an abundance of spears. I harvested asparagus for freezing and tried new dishes. I discovered how great asparagus is in salads. For a tasty side dish, add the salad below to your menus. To jazz it up to a full vegetarian meal, add a hard-cooked egg, black beans, walnuts, strawberries or Mandarin oranges, and feta cheese. For meat-lovers, crumble crisp-cooked turkey bacon on top. Drizzle lightly with your favorite dressing. Tasty and healthy.

Asparagus Salad (for each serving)

5                      asparagus spears

2                      cups baby spring mix greens

2                      2″-3″ strips pimiento

Rinse asparagus and place in a microwaveable dish. Cover with plastic wrap. Punch two small holes into wrap to allow steam to escape. If microwave has varied settings for vegetables, set for frozen vegetable. If not, cook until spears are bright green and still crisp. Rinse greens and place on individual serving dishes. Place spears across top. Lay strips of pimiento over asparagus. Serve with low-calorie balsamic vinaigrette.

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 If you are over fifty years of age, would you classify yourself as growing old or aging gracefully?

January 1, 2011 marked the beginning of Baby Boomers turning age sixty-five. Each day 10,000 Baby Boomers reach the golden retirement age. This new generation of old folks is unwilling to rock away their twilight years.

Growing old has a different definition than the one used by your mother. Lifestyles for senior citizens differ from past decades. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR), focus has changed from “just aging to healthy aging.”   

Today’s older population takes more responsibility for their health and seeks to live active, vibrant lives. Old age not only has changed in definition but encompasses a wider age range than other age groups. The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), considers those age fifty as senior adults. Age sixty-five marked the initial starting point for Social security. We now see older adults sub-divided into old and oldest-old, those age eighty-five and older. Today, more seniors reach the century mark with close to one million centenarians projected by 2050. Future years may also see more Supercentenarian, those over age 110. Who knows, you may reach that number. That makes age sixty-five look like just another birthday.

How can you stay healthier in later years? The AICR posted a quiz to help identify what you know and don’t know about aging and cancer. You can find the quiz at www.aicr.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id-20603                 

The quiz highlights, among other things, benefits of physical activity and eating vegetables and fruits. AICR cites the relationship between diet and cancers of the  mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, stomach, lung, pancreas, and prostate. It is never too late to make wise choice to abate the risk of cancer.

May is Older Americans Month. The theme for 2011 is Older Americans: connecting the community. The National Senior Health and Fitness Day is May 25. If you are near the half-century mark or beyond, what are you doing to remain younger by preventing cancer and other illnesses?

Healthy aging is possible. It’s up to you.

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How do you know if you make wise food choices? The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides guidelines to assure healthy food selections. The USDA developed the first food guide of five groups in 1917 with emphasis on the newly discovered vitamins and minerals. That guide remained the standard to good health until the advent of the “Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) from the National Academy of Sciences in 1940.

The National Nutrition Guide with seven food groups evolved in1946 from a 1943 version. Confusion over multiple groups resulted in the “Basic Four” recommendations of 1956. The USDA and Health and Human Services (HHS) conjointly developed Dietary Guidelines in 1980 and continue to revise this publication every five years. They released the 2010 edition on January 31, 2011. (see Blog for 4/5/11)

 The 2010 guidelines suggest increasing the food and nutrients below to improve eating habits.

Fruits and vegetables.  Choose a variety of dark green, red, and orange fruits/vegetables because they:

  • Contribute nutrients (folate, manganese, potassium, dietary fiber, vitamins A, C, and K) often inadequate in the diet.  
  • Reduce risks of chronic diseases.  As little as 2 ½ cups of fruits/vegetables per day reduce risks of heart attack and stroke. Some fruits/vegetables may  protect against cancer.
  • Lower calories. Fruits/vegetables help maintain appropriate weight by replacing less nutrient-dense foods. Whole fruit instead of juice increases fiber and aids weight loss. If you consume juice, select undiluted, pure juice.

Grains. Choose at least half of grain products from whole-grain sources:

  • Whole grains provide iron, magnesium, selenium, B vitamins, and dietary fiber.
  • They may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, lower body weight, and lower the incidence of type 2 diabetes.
  • Check the first or second item listed on the label under ingredients to confirm that the food product is primarily whole grain.  


  • Adults need the equivalent of three cups of fat-free or low-fat milk per day.
  • Milk products contribute calcium and (fortified) vitamin D to the diet and a significant amount of protein.

Protein Foods

  • Includes meats, seafood, poultry, eggs, legumes, and nuts.
  • Protein foods provide B vitamins, vitamin E, iron, zinc, and magnesium.
  • Select seafood, legumes, and nuts to cut solid fat in the diet.

According to the 2010 guidelines, selection of these food groups promotes adequate nutrients, helps control caloric intake, and may reduce risks of chronic disease. To assure you make wise choices , include these food groups in your diet. 

Sources:  http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/DGAs2010-PolicyDocument.htm, Chapter 4.

 “Healthy Eating Politics,” http://www.healthy-eating-politics.com/usda-food-pyramid.html  (accessed 4/30/2011)

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