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Any substitutes for onions?

post #1 of 70
Thread Starter 
I'm having some friends over for dinner and one is allergic to onions. Does anyone have a suggestion for a substitute for onions (I have trouble cooking without the onion family)? I'm planning something like a large gougere filled with mushrooms and a savory cheesecake (they're vegetarians.).
post #2 of 70
Sorry I cannot think of a substitute for onions. Leave them out. Does that mean they can't eat garlic either? What a shame.
post #3 of 70
I'm curious. Is it an allergy or a preference? I have never heard of anyone having an allergy to onions.
post #4 of 70
I've known a couple of people who are allergic to onions. A substitute might be
asafetida (it is spelled a few different ways).

shel
post #5 of 70
Thread Starter 
Kuan, it is a shame. Garlic is OK. I guess they are different enough that garlic isn't a problem. Onions, shallots and leeks create more sulfuric acid than garlic.

ajoe, since she isn't here, I can tell you what I really think. She has a bunch of food "allergies" and I think most are just dislikes-she's a very picky eater. I've even heard other people claim that disliking a food indicates an allergy!!!!

I have a niece with serious food allergies, hives, swelling throat etc. My friend's situation is nothing like that. I have actually met 2 people over the years with serious reactions to onions and close relatives (anaphylaxis), it's very rare but real. On the other hand there is this new field of dietary science concerning inflammation-basically that certain foods can cause minor reactions and if a person is eating a lot of these foods, the minor irritations build on each other. At first I thought is was bunk, but then I found this old book of my mother's about arthritis, and it had a chapter on what foods to avoid. I basically said the same thing.

I guess the reasoning behind it's new interest (and trendiness) is that 100-200 years ago people spent their whole lives eating more or less the same foods since birth. Recently -and especially in the last 30-40 years, the explosion of foods and ingredients available from around the world means that people sensitive to new foods are constantly exposed to new sources of the problem.

I don't know if it's true or not. Me, if I see a new ingredient, I say:

"Ooooh, what's that? I've never tried that before."


Anyway, ideas about subs would be helpful. I'm looking for the low, musky flavor. I can figure out the sweetness part. I read somewhere asofetida works, and I may have a little jar of it hidden away in some cupboard. Or maybe I tossed it.
post #6 of 70
Thread Starter 
Hey, Shell, you must have posted that while I was tapping away. I think I did toss it, maybe it's an excuse to go into the city for some hunting and gathering.
post #7 of 70
asofetida is more often used as a sub for garlic than for onions. But being as your friend eats garlic with impunity (which, btw, would indicate to me that it's a bogus allergy), no need to sub.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #8 of 70
Substitute for onions: No results found; make oatmeal. To try this search again, click on this link: porridge
post #9 of 70
Had you thought of leeks? They are milder than onions but could work alright, use the white part only, wash thoroughly first. (they get a lot of grit in them)
 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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post #10 of 70
I am allergic to onions The consequences of eating them can be very unpleasant. Stomach cramps bloating intestinal cramps and more. There are a lot of people with this allergy. This in uses shallots leeks white onion and the worst is onion powder. Although I can tolerate small amounts of Green onions /spring onions. Sone of my favorite foods have onion in them. One uses dry onion soup. I am looking for viable substitutes. Some one suggested celery but it is really bland. Suggestions?
post #11 of 70

From what I've read, there is a distinct difference between an allergy and a food intolerance.

 

An allergy releases histamines which result in rashes, hives, or other potentially serious medical problems, including anaphylactic shock.

 

A food intolerance causes a variety of symptoms, i.e. nausea, migraines, etc., but does not involve the release of histamines.

 

As such, I would suggest you clarify whether you have an allergy or a food intolerance as the treatment or solution(s) may vary.

 

Obviously, avoiding the offending foods works for both.

 

With regards to onions, the information I've read points to a problem with the sulfur content. There appears to be a tremendous amount of information, whether reliable or not is a separate question, on the internet that might guide you to a solution. Start with a search for onion allergy or onion intolerance depending on the severity and type of your reactions.

Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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post #12 of 70

An experiment you may want to consider . The oil of the onion is very potent. When we used to have smoked salmon carved in the dining room ,it was served with choped egg, parsley and diced onion . We first diced the onion then dipped it in boiling water for 30 seconds shocked it and then squeezed all liquid out of it in cheescloth or clean muslim. It then did not smell as bad, stayed white and didn't discolor at room temp for hours and tasted milder.  some time altering a product  changes its affect on people. When you blanch the dicedonion you destroy much of the sulfur and chemical contents.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #13 of 70

I'm intolerant of the entire Allium family.  Which is tragic as I do love cooked onions and garlic.  I'm not allergic.  I don't get hives or swelling - there is no risk of death.  I do experience nausea, retching, vomiting, diarrhea, sever headaches, mild confusion and then feel hung over for a day.  It's quite unpleasant.  I've had these symptoms for years and had a difficult time sorting it out.  I've been tested for glutton intolerance, had my colon scoped and biopsied, blood tests etc. - the docs couldn't identify anything and said it was stress.  I suspected onions but my wife thought it was all in my head - so she would use onions but tell me she hadn't.  20 years this went on - only last summer did she admit this to me.  I then took control of my diet, kept a food log and with much trial and error narrowed it down to all things Allium - and pistachios (but not cashews or mangos which are in the same family...).

 

My wife recently made two pork roasts - one for me, one for the rest of our guests.  Mine was onion and garlic free, but the other one, she sticks a knife in the roast and then stuffs garlic cloves in it - she makes a great roast, I wish I could still eat it!  But alas, I still got sick - they were cooked in the same oven.

 

My niece who is very conscientious and a wonderful cook asked if she could use asafetida as a garlic / onion substitute for me.  I had never heard of it and said it was worth a try.  Unfortunately, my symptoms were even more immediate and severe with asafetida.

 

My 'research' (web surfing) has stumbled on a few interesting things:  Ancient Chinese medicine listed the Allium family and asafetida as 'Pungent' Plants - all to be avoided - and they listed symptoms / reactions similar to my one experience.  Also, one site noted that military physicians for test pilots in the 1950s told them not to eat garlic 72 hours prior to a flight as it doubled reactions times (i.e. made the pilots slower to react) - some evidence apparently involving chemical changes in brain membranes.  I'm not a doctor or scientist.

 

Last week I ate at a very fine restaurant and explained my situation to my wonderful server.  She consulted with the chef and they offered to prepare a lovely fresh fish dish.  When the meal came, the gentleman (not my server) who brought my plate gave me the 'tour' of my meal explaining every little thing to include that the sauces were on the side.  They were very yummy! But after three dips of the cod into the sauce I was not feeling well at all (cramps, headache, confusion) and I asked what the sauces were.  Pureed carrots and onions!  When I asked why he would serve me something that I've saidI can not eat he explained:  'That's why I put them on the side."  My server came over and was very apologetic and sincere - but what could she do at that point?  The owner of the restaurant came over to take my desert order - and I'm assuming in an attempt at humor said:  'our deserts are all free of garlic and onion!'


I was up all night with the previously mentioned symptoms and sick the entire next day. 

 

The meal, service and ambiance were otherwise wonderful, but clearly they are ignorant of food intolerances.

 

 

 

post #14 of 70

A substitute for onions is Ginger. I use it all the time. If you want to mimic sliced onions then you can thinly slice Summer Squash and add ginger to it. Fry it like normal.

Also, those who can't have anything in the  Lily family (which includes onions), can't have:

Aloes, Asparagus, Bear's Garlic, Chives, Garlic, Leek, Onion, Shallot, Sparsparilla.

 

 

Onion allergy is not as uncommon as people thought. Its still considered "rare", but the problem is that some people assume (including experts in the field) that if you are not exhibiting hives, swelling or asthma then it can't be an allergy. However, there are many different ways an allergy can exhibit itself including vomiting, burning sensations, and so on. Often, the food you refused to eat as a kid might be a secret allergen. Radish I refused to eat as a kid. Well, I finally had peach soda that had radish in it for colouring. I had an anaphylactic reaction. This is why if someone doesn't like something, I don't care what they call it as long as they don't call it an "allergy" then eat it anyways. That's because it gives those of us with true allergies a bad name. We need people to take us seriously.

 

post #15 of 70

Also for Onion substituting, adding a little White Pepper and Oregano with the Ginger can make it taste a little more like Onion. the Oregano gives it the "juicy" flavour, while White Pepper adds more of a bite. This is what I use when the entire Lily family is banned and I'm not in a hurry. Otherwise, I just add the ginger and have done with it.

post #16 of 70

Try ramps, and cippolinis (sp) losts of flavor but not in the onion family. Cippolinnis are grape hyacinth bulbs.

post #17 of 70

I could be wrong, but I didn't notice anyone having mentioned Fennel bulb? An herb that's physically structured like an onion, slices up and cooks down, reducing the anise flavour altogether and sweetening during cooking. Looks like onion on a salad as well, but to my knowledge is chemically completely different.

 Have had pretty good luck with it in terms of customer palettes.

post #18 of 70

I suffer all the same things. I am also soy intolerant and lactose intolerant. I am going to attempt to make potato soup with lactaid "milk" which the recipe calls for onion. When I don't include onion recipes are bland. Any suggestion?

post #19 of 70

Rather intolerance or allergy re onions this substitute does not work. But thanks

post #20 of 70

I find that grated radish is a good substitute in most dishes. 

post #21 of 70

Hi "No Allium".  I have the same symptoms (including rectal bleeding) and after numerous tests, I finally came up with a hypothesis which 4 doctors agree with.  I get horrible open sores with sulfa meds and asked if it could be the sulfur in my problem foods (allium family, egg yolks and cruciferous veggies including my beloved cabbage & cauliflower).  My family doctor said one can develop cross-linked allergies with various forms of sulfur, so it's possible it's a true allergic response or maybe it just predisposed me to an intolerance. But, we decided I should just avoid them as much as possible since testing would probably involve me eating too much of a trigger food and swallow a camera!!!  Very expensive, not to mention painful, just to confirm I shouldn't eat what I already know I can't eat.  A little doesn't hurt much, but the logginess is still there.  It's really hard dealing with thistoo  as I also cannot eat untreated dairy, bell peppers, or much hot pepper (seems I can have just enough to flavor my Mexican dishes, especially since I've discovered the joys of cumin).  Since it seems to be the volume eaten rather than just if I ate it or not, I'm calling my problem an intolerance.  My doc is just worried that it may grow into a serious allergy.  Don't know if that's possible.

 

And, "TTTT", thanks for telling us that grated radish works well as a substitute, since that's why I came to this website in the first place.  I miss the sharp crunchiness of onions in my pasta salads and wondered if radishes (or parsnips?) might work well. 

 

Cabbage is out for me due to it's sulfur content, though reading ChefEdB's comment about the heat destroying much of the sulfur would explain why I can eat more of cooked sulfur foods than raw, especially boiled cabbage.

post #22 of 70

Many people are alergic to the actual fresh product but once processed with heat they are not. Have you given thought to onion powder or onion salt?? Do they know ff they are allergic to these? Mot people do not know cause they never tried.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

Reply
post #23 of 70

Thank you for posting this list.  I am allergic to onions and it is always difficult to explain when we go to friends to eat.   I experience symptoms similar to a first degree burn in my mouth if I get a raw onion and even the tiniest bit of onion powder can make my mouth warm enough to be uncomfortable.  There is no preference here!  Many people also say to me is it a real allergy or a preference or "I've never heard of that".  After many years I've decided I will do the cooking and try to have people come here rather than explaining the allergy.  If they want to bring something I ask for wine or desert!

post #24 of 70

I am intolerant to all root herbs, sesame, soy, safflower oils and butter fat protein.  Onions knock me out, garlic give me a migraine a Peracet wont touch.  There is a hugh misunderstanding between allergic and intolerant.  People allergic to foods can die from it. peanuts being one of the worst.  But they can use  epinephrine.  Those of use who are intolerant have little to help.  There is NO medical studies into in tolerances , only allergies.  The ONLY doctor that every dealt with this issue was Dr. Henry Bealer who wrote "Food Is Your Best Medicine".  He was the father of alternative medicine and health food.    I believe our intolerance is a product of the lack of enzymes to digest the proteins in the food.  Squirrels can eat mushroom that will kill us, they have the enzyme to digest the protein.  I use to take Omnigest and I could eat must things but the company has stopped make it.  There will Never be any study into this because it will not need a VERY expensive drug.  We are on our own. 

post #25 of 70

Any substitutes for onions?

post #26 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by chefedb View Post

An experiment you may want to consider . The oil of the onion is very potent. When we used to have smoked salmon carved in the dining room ,it was served with choped egg, parsley and diced onion . We first diced the onion then dipped it in boiling water for 30 seconds shocked it and then squeezed all liquid out of it in cheescloth or clean muslim. It then did not smell as bad, stayed white and didn't discolor at room temp for hours and tasted milder.  some time altering a product  changes its affect on people. When you blanch the dicedonion you destroy much of the sulfur and chemical contents.

Hey Ed,

 

Your comment on removing the sulphur from onions perked my interest.  I am most definitely allergic to it and the next time could be my last.

 

But,  I can eat onions not treated as you mentioned till the cows come home (and long after) with no ill effect.  Same goes for leeks garlic etc etc.  Maybe I'm just odd.  Is there someothing else that is common to the onion family that could be causing either an allergic reaction/ sensitivity?

 

Interesting....

 

DC

 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
Reply
post #27 of 70

The first thing that gastroenterology specialists recommend for people with severe IBS is removing all alliums from the diet.  Alliums are the leading cause of gastro problems - right up there with gluten, lactose, etc.   There is a diet called FODMAP which explains this.  The allergic person in this thread may or maynot be allergic but do not commend all onion avoiders.

 

The reason that I am on this thread is to locate an allium substitute because I love them and don't know how to cook without them.  The severe pain that hits when I eat them makes this necessary. 

post #28 of 70

Thank you so much for this! I definitely have an intolerance for onions and was dismayed at the negative reaction people on here had with their pfft pfft comments about maybe the question asker just "not liking onions". Good to have an actual useful answer to this question as it seems that just about every single recipe wants onions!

post #29 of 70

I also have an intolerance for onions.  I find that I have a harder time with white & red onions especially if they are not cooked.  Symptoms vary from mild abdominal tenderness to pretty significant pain, bloating and bad migranes.  I was actually diagnosed with IBD a couple of weeks ago and the gastroenterologist also recommended the FODMAP diet.  Nice to see some substitution recommendations for onions from others.  Now if only I could find substitutions for all of the other foods I am sensitive to haha!

 

~MissyD

~MissyD

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~MissyD

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post #30 of 70

I'm going to apologize in advance if I sound snotty, but many people have allergies to many different things that you may or may not have heard of.  If you haven't heard of someone being allergic to something it does not mean that that allergy does not exist.  My father, my brother and I are all allergic to onions, and have varying reactions to it.  I'm kind of tired of people asking if I'm sure!  I actually love onions, but I can't eat them.  I have a friend who's allergic to apples, and she also has to use an epi-pen if she gets bitten by mosquitoes.  Sounds weird but it's still true.  So please don't ask or make comments about stuff like that.  It makes me feel like people think I'm stupid or even lying.
 

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