I’ll Trade You One Onion and a Garlic for…

I am really missing stuff that makes my breath reek.

Along with some surprising veggies that have high contents of sulfites like mushrooms, olives and beets, onions and garlic are also two things that effect me very severely.  I am still doing research on all of this, but I did find some useful information on the topic…check ‘er out.  This is from About.com

Cooking Without Onions and Garlic:

Onions and garlic are two of the most commonly used alliums, a group of closely related plants in the lily family. (Leeks, scallions, and shallots are other alliums with culinary uses.) While they are not among the more common food allergens, there are reported cases of IgE-mediated food allergies to alliums. In addition to those who avoid garlic due to IgE-mediated food allergies, many people find that these foods irritate conditions like irritable bowel syndrome or that they have food intolerances that can be triggered by these foods. Cooking without them can be difficult. Here are some strategies.

How Garlic and Onions Are Used in Cooking:

Garlic and onions are often used in cooking as aromatics — foods that add a savory aroma and flavor to other dishes. They’re found in cuisines from around the world, making it difficult to avoid them by sticking to foods from a certain geographical area. Often, garlic and onions are added at the very beginning of cooking to mellow their flavors before building a sauce, soup, or other complex dish.

Leaving Garlic and Onions Out:

Can you just leave the garlic and onions out of a recipe? Sometimes. You’ll usually get acceptable results — it’s not the same as leaving eggs out of a cake. However, most people would find some recipes unacceptably bland. Consider adapting the recipe with a substitute rather than simply dropping the alliums if:

  • Onions or garlic are the only flavoring in the recipe;
  • Onions or garlic are a major part of the recipe; or
  • Onions or garlic are used raw or lightly cooked.

In these situations, the flavor of onion or garlic may be critical to a delicious dish. Most of the time, though, you can find a good substitute.

Aromatics Beyond Onions and Garlic:

No unrelated vegetable has quite the same taste as onions or garlic. But some aromatics that may be safe for your allergies are good options for cooking:

  • Fennel has a licorice-like taste but onion-like texture. Try it with chicken or fish.
  • Celery is among the most common aromatics.
  • Bell peppers are often used in Cajun cooking. Green peppers and celery are a good base for rice dishes or savory stews.
  • Carrots are used as an aromatic in French cooking in combination with celery.
  • Celeriac, or celery root, is the knobby root of one variety of celery. Peeled and diced, it can be used as an aromatic in sauces or stews.
Herbs and Spices for Onion and Garlic-Free Cooking:

Garlic chives, an herb with a garlicky flavor, are an obvious substitute, but be careful if you’re managing a true food allergy: chives are in the allium family. Ask your allergist before eating them.  I don’t know if I can do chives or not.  I have not tested them out yet.


Captain and Tenille

Peaches and Cream

Siegfried and Roy

I am pretty sure I am allergic to all of them.

Yes, we all know I am new to cooking, blah, ditty blah, blah…so my experience with using spices is limited.  I am really branching out, Blanche.  In my garden and/or in pots on my back stoop, I am growing the following:  basil, dill, cilantro, sage, rosemary, thyme, can’t stop thinking about Simon and Garfunkel, mint and what I thought was parsley, but I now I think it’s a weed.  (Still using it anyway.)

I am actually finding ways to use everything!  Nana Toad even reminded me that I can dry everything by leaving it out on the kitchen counter overnight and store it for winter.  BRILLIANT!

These are some of the ways I am finding to use the spices.  Please feel free to add onto this post if people have any other ideas.

Basil: salad dressings, marinades, pasta dishes, avocado mayo

Cilantro: beans and rice, chicken tacos

Rosemary: homemade potato fries, marinades

Mint:  Heatherita drinks, ice water

Dill: marinades, tilapia flavoring, sandwiches, salad dressings, my Heather of the hour de vourz (recipe coming soon.)

Sage, Thyme and the Parsley that is really a weed: seasoning to make my weekly chicken and broth….

My project for next week is to take a bunch of the herbs and start drying them for winter.  Maybe I can freeze some of them?

I have questions:  (Tracy!!! Oh, Tracy!!!)


How the heck do I get my hands on spices that are sulfite free, like cumin or cinnamon and nutmeg?  I need help with all of that.  I am going crazy without cumin.  That word looks dirty.

Over and out.

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10 Responses to “I’ll Trade You One Onion and a Garlic for…”

  1. July 14, 2010 at 1:47 am

    Dried Herbs are good for a pretty long time. I would think at least a year if you store them adequately.

    Your parsley is probably flat leaf, which is why it looks like a weed. It’s probably still parsley, just not the kind you are used to seeing as a garnish.

    Keep it up Heather!!

    • July 14, 2010 at 2:03 am

      I always wondered hoe long they last before they start to lose flavor…an expert on one of the sulfite-free boards I am on mentioned to me that we should stay away from blended spices…single ones are ok…I am waiting for final verification on that. If that is true, I will do a cumin dance and I bet you all wish you could see it. It’s spicy.

  2. July 14, 2010 at 1:52 am

    there’s this invasive plant here in Michigan, and probably in Illinois too, called mustard garlic. Every spring there are all these psa’s about pulling it out of your yard etc and they always say that you can eat it, and that the leaves taste like garlic.
    I think it’s in the mustard family, not an allium.

    I know you just started cooking and that I’m suggesting you start foraging next spring, but maybe you can eat it!

    I’ll ask my wacky hippie, “wild food” hunting friend about it.

    • July 14, 2010 at 2:01 am

      Thanks, girl! That sounds so awesome…I know you, like your mom, are quite comfortable in the kitchen so I super appreciate the tip…and let me know what your wacky hippy uncle has to say:)

  3. 5 Terri
    July 14, 2010 at 2:57 am

    Hey, I love reading your blogs. Thank goodness I can still have garlic and onion. (I think I would die without them) I just found a new market in a town about 40 miles away. The Whole Food store. It is awesome. I have found so many good things there, like Ketchup with agave nectar (which is outstanding) You still have to read labels but they have so many good things I am like a kid in a candy store when I get to go! If you have one close by you might be able to find some great things and maybe your cinnamon and nutmeg!
    Good Luck and thanks for all your writings, I look forward to finding out new things all the time. This allergy is very new for me.

  4. 6 Tracy
    July 14, 2010 at 4:42 am

    Hey Heather! Well – it depends on the herb. Some, like chives, cilantro and dill don’t retain their flavor when dried. Those should definitely be frozen. Others, like the basil, sage, rosemary and thyme do pretty well. I usually take the bunch of herbs, tie tightly at the base and hang upside down in the basement for a couple of weeks until nice and dry and then clean and store in an airtight container. They can last a couple of years without much loss in flavor. I have a nice marble mortar and pestle so I can grind them up and release the oils and flavors just before cooking. As long as you keep the leaves pretty whole and just grind them up immediately before using, it seems to really give a good flavor. The problem I have for some of the herbs is the stems. Thyme is particularly difficult to get those little leaves off without getting a bunch of those woody stems in there. The mortar and pestle helps grind up the smaller pieces, though.

    As far as the sulfite free exotic spices – it depends. For the most part, if it is ground or crushed and organic, you should be ok. It is the powdered spices that can be a problem. Sulfites are often added to the powdered spices to keep them from clumping. I would try the Spice House in Evanston for the individual spices. Here is the link for cumin – they have an organic one that you can get whole or ground. Give them a call and they will be able to tell you whether any individual spice has sulfites. It is a REALLY FUN place to go and browse if you are up in these parts. Did I mention that I found two more flavors of salt there and now have TWELVE DIFFERENT KINDS OF SALT? It is a sickness, truly. But – so many good herbs there – you must check it out! If I don’t grow them myself, I am getting them there.


    Where did you find out about the beets, olives and shrooms? I have not been able to figure these out – sometimes it seems like only the processing of the shrooms is where the sulfites come from, but post a link if you have one.

  5. 7 Bobbi
    July 14, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    I second spice house but you can also check out Penzey’s spices. http://www.penzeys.com/cgi-bin/penzeys/shophome.html they have stores in the area (one in Oak Park) and their workers are *super* knowledgeable.

    I totally clip my spices in bunches to dry and then twisty tie them to a hanger, upside down, in my kitchen to dry. And cilantro, when it goes to seed (makes pods at the tips of the plants) is coriander. Grind the pods, there you go. I know its not cumin, but its close. Also most any herb and spice an make an interesting salad dressing.

    You’re doing finnnne honey.

  6. July 19, 2010 at 6:48 am

    One herb you might want to see if you could track down is giant fennel. 🙂
    You can find info. about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asafoetida

    It reeks like mad when it is dried, but once cooked, people usually say it smells a bit like garlic or leeks. I’ve used it(pre-dried) as a garlic substitute a few times and it didn’t do too badly.

  7. February 10, 2011 at 2:18 am

    This Italian chica (hmm mixing my languages there ~ nice) … would absolutely DIE if I couldn’t eat garlic! I’m sooo glad it doesn’t bother me, or at least I’m not noticing it yet … and if it does I will gladly take a dose of benadryl after consuming mass quantities of it.

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Heather Moran

Crazed sulfite-free woman.

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