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Do Onions Bring Tears To Your Eyes?

One of the most versatile ingredients for many dishes has to be onions.  The majority of mine have onions in some shape or form, whether they’re red, white or just small shallots.

Without going into too much depth, there is a lot of goodness in our onions and we’d all do well to eat more of them than we actually do, depending on our current intake.

Why are onions good for us?

In a word, phytonutrients, or plant nutrients as I know them better.  The substances that help prevent some diseases and are good for our health.  If you don’t know what those are, you’re in good company.  Neither did I, until I skimmed through the notes from my University course from years ago.   I must have known at some point, but it had been very well forgotten.  All I could remember was that they beat tomatoes and carrots hands down.

Onions 255

Where are the nutrients?

What I did remember, was to peel onions very lightly, taking off only the outer skin where possible, to keep the best flavour of the onion.   I grew up having the benefits of a thin peel for potatoes from my grandmother, but the benefit of onions hadn’t been drummed into me so well.

When onions are cooked for soup making, they don’t lose their health benefits.  Some will leech into the water or stock, but they’re still there, doing us a lot of good when they’re cooked into our food.

There is also some discussion around whether onions help reduce our stress levels.  Just for that reason alone, it’s worth adding them into our diet.  I find that when they’re cooked into food, a strong oniony taste disappears, which is always good if we’re cooking for children and making smooth soups, where the individual taste of vegetables can be easily hidden from children.

Cooking onions for soup.

Using the sauté method, where we slowly cook our onions until they’re soft, brings out the natural flavour that many of us love.

Happy hearts.

Like garlic, onions have a beneficial effect on our hearts.  There has been talk about onions helping to stop clots forming in blood, but how true that is, I haven’t had time to research fully.   As a mum, I’m happy to go with the old wives tale of onions being a natural reducer of cholesterol.

A kitchen garden vegetable.

As a plot renting household, we tend to always have plenty onions on the go.  They’re easily grown and fresh onions always seem to taste sweeter than their shop bought companions.  We successfully grow traditional onions as well as the small sweet spring onions and their leeky companions.

Our onions tend to differ in size and colour, often with different varieties mixed together, but we find the small yellow ones easiest to grow in our cool climate.


Where did onions come from?

On the internet, I found that people tend to say they came from Egypt, thousands of years ago.   They were held in high regard and even buried in tombs with important people.

Choosing and Storing Onions.

Make sure your choices have a good round shape with an unbroken stem and a crispy top layer.  Soft spots and dark spots can mean the onion is past its best and are best avoided.   In the past, I’ve made the mistake of putting onions in my fridge, but that should really be avoided as often as possible.  Keep them in the dark, in a dry but well ventilated room.  I’ve kept onions for up to a month, but sweeter varieties can degrade more quickly.

Helping the Stinging Eye Syndrome.

I suffer from this badly, yet my youngest child can chop the meanest of onions and shed never a tear.  When we cut into onions, we release a natural gas that can bring a tear to the eyes.  Apart from being incredibly useful for actors, there seems to be little other benefit for the rest of us.

I’m told the following can work, but for me, these seem to do  nothing.  And I’ve tried them all.

  • Using a very sharp knife.
  • Cut low and stand tall, maximising the distance between your eyes and the onion.
  • Wear glasses.  I have to say that I wear glasses most days and they don’t help me with this problem at all.
  • Stick the onions in the freezer for a few minutes before chopping.
  • Chop them up outside.
  • All of the above.


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What NOT to feed our pets !!!!

Most of us are guilty of it, and I have many a time scraped the leftover food into our dogs dish, or given her a treat or few from what we are eating.  Apart from a vague knowledge that grapes and chocolate are not that great for dogs, I had not really looked into it in any depth.

I’ve seen a few statements recently about dogs and wolfing down the Christmas candy, and I am guilty of giving the lolloping labrador of the house the odd square of chocolate and she is highly addicted to melon.

I am however, going to change my mind on the chocolate issue as having a look at some of the symptoms of doggie overdose have me utterly convinced that one more square of the cocoa variety is going to have her rolling onto her back with all four paws up in the air for her final breath.

Just to put things into perspective, I had a look for the most poisonous foods I could find for dogs (and other pets).  If your pet shows any of the signs or symptoms of poisoning after eating any of these foods, call your vet urgently.

1 – Cocoa  and Caffeine Treats

Chocolate – say no more, and coffee bean type treats.   Seemingly they overstimulate the heart and the nervous system.

Signs of Poisoning :  Increasing heart beat, agitation, diarrhoea, shaking, very thirsty, restless, seizures

2 – Fruits – Grapes and Raisins 

Thankfully I found no evidence of poisoning with melon as a result, but the possible effect of grapes and raisins opened my eyes as they can damage or cats and dogs precious kidneys.

Signs of Poisoning: Very thirsty, being tired, being sick and needing to pee more often.  As few as 4 – 5 raisins could be poisonous for a dog up to about 10kg.

Fruits – Seeds

Keep away form apple, cheery, peach and plum seeds as they contain cyanide.

It doesn’t take much to realise that a pet ingesting cyanide may become very sick, very soon.

Signs of Poisoning: Sickness, heavy breathing, irregular heartbeat, coma.

Fruits – Avocados

As well as having a high fat content, persin can cause problems in dogs.

Signs of Poisining: Sickness and diarrhoea.

3 – Alcohol and Yeast

I have heard of people laughing at stories of tipsy toms or drunken dachshunds (well, not really, but you get the picture).  It seems that alcohol has a similar effect to chocolate in poisoning our pets.  I think we might have been more aware of the dangers of alcohol in comparison to chocolate, but it is still a bit of a shock to realise that it affects all pets nervous systems.

Bread doughs and uncooked yeasty mixes are attractive to dogs but give the same effect as the yeast turns to methanol.

Signs of Poisoning : Increasing heart beat, agitation, diarrhoea, shaking, very thirsty, restless, seizures

4 – Vegetables – Onions

Any of the onion family can cause problems for our pets, and can also include garlic and chives.   They can destroy blood cells and damage kidneys.

It is difficult to know how much is too much, but effects from these can build up in the system.   Watch table scraps for cooking with onions and garlic in it.

Signs of Poisoning : Increased heart rate, tiredness, lethargy, being sick, diarrhoea, pale gums, blood in pee.

5 – Xylitol

This is a sweetener, used as a sugar free replacement and often used in chewing gum and sweets.  It does not agree with dogs, and causes an increase in insulin leading to low blood sugar, and can cause severe liver damage.

It does not take much to poison a dog so be aware if your four legged friend gets into a pack of your sweeties.

Signs of Poisining: Staggering, collapse and seizures, being weak and could be sick.

6 – Macademia Nuts

Pets in general tend to like nuts, especially dogs and small animals, so I was surprised to see that macademia nuts can cause muscle and nervous system problems for dogs.

Signs of poisoning: Being sick, being lethargic, shaking and body temperature increasing.


For the future, out goes chocolate for my girl, and thankfully her favourite melon gets to stay.   It is important to remember that not all animals will show all symptoms, so if your animal has overdone one of the things on this list, and begins to show the symptoms – please get good advice from a vet.

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My Vege Bags

My little pots are growing their leaves and flowers, and I hope, that eventually we will manage to have some lovely little flowers from the pots and containers that are full of gorgeous leaves.  Whether they actually have some fruit or not remains to be seen, but hopefully they do.     I have spent hours (ok minutes) tending these lovely pots and bags to try to turn my non gardening fingers into some semblance of a growers beginnings.

Here for your enjoyment, in all the Scottish dreary weather are some shots of my growing pot collection.

I did try to hold off until the sun showed its’ smiley face again, but I suspect that might not be anytime soon.

Ok, ok, I know these are not vegetables, but some pansies and geraniums make lovely pictures.

The strawberries are nearly ripe for picking (all three of them).  There are two more, honestly, there are.

Leeks and Onions and Lettuce are really doing well.

My potatoes are growing up a storm.

And apart from the carrots on either end, I have no idea what is growing in the  middle of my trough.

My neighbour gave me the seedlings and I planted them.  She cannot remember what they were.  If you recognise the leaves, do let me know.

Thats it for now.  I’ll post more when I start to harvest my little crop.