Nutritionist Lucy Hyland

Cooking with onions

November 24, 2023
Posted by Lucy

Hey All,

Hope you had a great week cooking. Last week I talked in Cork and Dublin to almost 150 people about the practical implementation of healthy eating and the response was overwhelming! There are just so many people who want to start making positive changes in terms of their health, most of them are only looking for the path.

So this week, lets cover an ingredient that you can use everyday and is bursting with goodness...

Healthy Eating with Onions

Onions are part of the allium family, remember all those benefits I talked about a few weeks ago with leeks. They are good to include in any healthy eating recipe.

Due to their sulphur containing phytonutrients and their relatively high levels of chromium, onions help to balance your blood sugar levels through out the day. So having a little chopped red onion in your omelette or scrambled eggs is a tasty and healthy addition to your breakfast.

They also contain phytonutrients such as flavanoids, carotenoids and phytosterols making them good for heart health, cholesterol and anti-inflammatory benefits.

Onions are also great for digestive health as they are a good source of fibre, are linked a to reduced risk of colon cancer and are considered a prebiotic (feed your good gut bacteria)

The stronger the smell and irritating effect on your eyes, the greater the phytonutrients! The main types of onions are yellow and red (both containing powerful antioxidants), Spanish, white or pear.

Spring onions remain in the soil longer and therefore lose some of their phytonutrients and therefore their eye watering effect!

Buy onions that are clean and well shaped, have crisp, dry outer skins and have no opening at the neck. Lovely onion

Store onions in a cool dark place, keep them well ventilated and do not store with potatoes as this will make them go off quicker!!

When cooking onions, I always saute them first, for about 5-10 mins before I add the other ingredients. I have got out of the habit of frying them in oil, now I use a little water and cover them and let them sweat. Remember the less oil you use in cooking, the healthier your heart!!


In both these recipes, I simply water saute the onions before adding the other ingredients.

Healthy Recipes: Spiced Cauliflower soup

I made this healthy eating soup for a family dinner this weekend and I thought it was yummy - not sure about the colour though - turmeric seems to give everything this off yellow colour - this is where lashings of chopped coriander comes in!!

120g desiccated coconut (soaked in a little water first)
225g onions
4 garlic cloves
1/2 inch root ginger
1 red chili
1 tsp coriander seeds
Pinch of mustard seeds
Pinch of fenugreek seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp powdered turmeric
1 tsp paprika
225g potatoes – peeled and cubes
1 large cauliflower
1 400g coconut milk
400ml boiling water
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat the cumin and coriander in a pan for a few minutes and grind.
Cook onions in a little water till soft and add garlic. Add chili, coriander, mustard, fenugreek, cumin, pepper, turmeric, paprika, ginger and cook for one minute, stirring
Add potatoes and desiccated coconut with the soaking water.
Cook until potatoes start to stick to the bottom of the pan.
Add the boiling water and cook till potatoes are almost done. Add cauliflower and coconut milk and cook for 12 mins.
Liquidise and blend till smooth.
Garnish with loads of coriander leaves

Wheat free, gluten free, dairy free and sugar free

Healthy Recipes: African Stew

I love this recipe as it means you need to go out and buy some yummy 100% peanut butter from the health food store!! A great additional to any healthy eating plan. Nuts butters are great snacks on some sliced apples or pears or on some wholemeal toast. I thought this stew was just so rich and filling - a great one pot meal. This recipe also uses grey chicken meat, which is cheaper and more nutritious than the white meat and, in my view, tastier.

4 chicken thighs, deboned and cut into bite-sized pieces
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 onions, chopped
1 large potato, diced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon salt
250ml (8 fl oz) water
100g (3¾ oz)100% peanut butter
1 (400g) tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
In a large frying pan with a tight-fitting lid, heat a little olive or peanut oil over medium high heat.
Add chicken and brown quickly.
Remove chicken from pan. Reduce heat to medium low and onion and a ittle water to the pan and saute for 5 mins.
Add garlic and potato to the pan and sauté for another 2 to 3 minutes. Season with cumin, coriander, black pepper, chillies and salt. Do not let garlic brown.
Mix in water and browned chicken, and any accumulated juices. Place lid on frying pan and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 15 minutes.
Remove lid and stir in the peanut butter and chickpeas. Ensure the peanut butter is blended in. Replace lid to simmer for 15 more minutes or until chicken is cooked through and potatoes are tender.
Remove from heat, adjust seasoning and serve with a little chopped parsley.

Wheat free, gluten free, dairy free and sugar free


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