Cooking Tips!

Those of us with chronic illnesses tend to have sensitivities to different foods – anything ranging from full-blown Celiac to true food allergies and metabolism difficulties to simply experiencing various “disagreements” with foods. In all of my “years” speaking with others with Behcet’s I have discovered that one thing we all (or at least everyone with whom I have spoken about the issue!) have a terrible time “digesting” tomatoes in some shape or form. Some people can’t eat tomatoes at all. Some people can’t eat raw tomatoes. Some people, like me, are okay with raw tomatoes (usually; I do much better with “heirloom” and homegrown types), but get horrible stomach pain and actual lack of digestion from tomato sauces and pastes, &c. (not all, but most). I don’t know how common it is with Behcet’s in general, but I also have a personal “problem” with anything that is “onion” – from your regular cooking or “Spanish” onion to scallions to leeks – these things, when prepared “poorly” or consumed raw, tend just to sit in my stomach for days (no joke) and the taste remains in my mouth for days (again, no joke; I can brush my teeth 4x/day with the most potent toothpaste you can find and use the most potent mouthwash and I will STILL have onion breath and onion “mouth” if I have eaten raw onions); I also have the added problem that the onion smell / chemicals actually remain in my skin for many days as well (I have come to wear NON-POWDERED gloves now whenever I cut any sort of onions!). With all of that said, I do not seem to have trouble with WELL-COOKED onions; I LOVE leeks and scallions are something of a staple food for me in my “everyday” cooking.

Which brings me to my point! I posted my “Fried Rice” recipe (or a basic “outline” for one, if you will) and in it, I used scallions that I had leftover from New Year’s cooking. I just wanted to share with you – especially those of you who also suffer from this “onion obstacle” – how I “prepare” scallions so that I do not encounter any digestive discomforts when eating them. The first rule is obvious – MAKE SURE THEY ARE COOKED! It doesn’t matter if you have poured boiling water over them or soaked them in boiling water or you have added them to a stir-fry like my fried rice (or my soba noodle soup on New Year’s Eve) – they MUST be COOKED.

Aside from actually cooking the scallions, I have found the following “method” to work the best (for me personally, at least!). I buy my scallions (I ALWAYS BUY ORGANIC SCALLIONS – MY RULE IN GENERAL IS THAT ANYTHING YOU EAT THE OUTSIDE OF YOU SHOULD BUY ORGANIC). When it is time to use the scallions (I prefer to “do” the whole bunch at once and store extras in a zip-top bag or in a Pyrex bowl or a “Rubbermaid” type of plastic storage container – whatever works for you!), I wash each one CAREFULLY; I use my hands to physically wipe the vegetables as gently as possible but thoroughly (it is like washing your hands; it is the ACTION of proper washing  that actually removes most of the germs once you rinse!) under running water and then set them aside on a paper towel or kitchen towel. I then work with each green top layer going DOWN; you will find that they peel the closer to the bulb you get and frequently there will be little baby “scallion” sprouts inside that haven’t pushed through and opened into the circular shape yet (these are actually my favorite part – I just think they’re A+ deeeelicious!); when I get to the white end, I chop it off right about where the light green color is just starting to show. At this point, there is likely another layer of “slimy” onion skin around the piece you are working with; be patient, have a paper towel or two nearby, and just wipe it away to toss. I then start chopping from this area UP; if you’re working up to the “baby scallion,” you can end there. If you are working on a “mature” scallion (the dark green leafy circles) piece, you will probably encounter more “slimy” layers (again, just remove them!) and you will come to a point where your knife doesn’t “slide through” the onion as cleanly as it had at the bottom and middle portions. This is the point at which I stop cutting and I just do not consume this part of the scallion (they tend to be the dirtiest, the “roughest,” and the chewiest – and I’m not a big fan of any of that!). It does take a little bit of time to work through a bunch of scallions this way considering each individual scallion contains usually at least 3-4 “pieces” that I divide up and chop / dispose of accordingly.

Once you have done chopping your scallions, it is time for WATER! I literally fill a glass bowl with fairly cool water, drop the scallion “O’s” inside, give them a good swish, and let them SIT for at least an hour. You might notice what looks like chunks of “slime” before you add the scallions to the water – I try just to pick those bits out as well before putting the chopped bits in the water. The water seems to help “dilute” some of the chemicals that bother me (there is no “scientific” backing of this – this is just what I have found from personal experimentation and experience!) and it also seems to “draw out” the remaining slimy bits that might still be in your cut scallions.

After I have let my scallions “soak” for whatever period of time I “need” (like I said above, I try to do this for at least an hour ahead of time!) and then strain them into a medium strainer (nothing like cheesecloth or something very fine like that – I actually use a rice washing bowl just because the holes are large enough to let the “gunk” out but small enough to keep even the little baby scallions from escaping!) and then give them a good rinse and swish IN THE STRAINER just to remove any remaining “icky bits.” I then let them dry (usually in the strainer until I am ready to use them and then store the rest!).

And that, my friends, is a very long explanation of how I manage to consume one of my favorite “onions” without incurring tummy troubles! If you also have a difficult time with scallions or other onions, please try this tip out (even with round onions this helps because there is a thin layer of immature “paper” between the layers of the onion that makes up that “slimy gunk” I mention!)! I do hope it helps some of you out there to enjoy these awesome and healthy foods!

I hope to write more recipes here – I have A LOT – and to write more here in general very soon! For now, and always, I hope you are having a happy and healthy day wherever you are in the world! Happy cooking!!

❤ Always, Beth

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