Can you take on the challenge of a day full of onions?

(BPT) - The onion now has its very own day. It’s a day to cheer one of the nation’s most popular and versatile vegetables. June 27 is National Onion Day.

This is the perfect time to get adventurous and put onions in every meal.

The onion is the third-most consumed fresh vegetable in the United States, and it is packed with heart-healthy nutrients to keep disease and some cancers at bay. A recent study published in the Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Oncology suggested that eating 35 pounds of allium vegetables (onions and garlic) per year (half an onion per day) reduced the risk of bowel cancer by as much as 79%. That works out to less than a pound a week per person. (A good French Onion Soup calls for 5 pounds and serves six in one sitting.)

While the onion has a solid nutrient value, its flavor — unlike many good-for-you foods — continues to shine in a variety of forms from grilled or stuffed, to sautéed or pureed. This is a day you can slice and dice and caramelize to your heart’s content.

Don’t worry about overeating this phenom of Mother Nature. One onion — Nature’s Ninja — contains 20% of your daily vitamin C and 12% of your daily fiber needs. And don’t forget, it’s naturally sodium-, fat- and cholesterol-free and only 64 calories per one-cup serving.

The many varieties — yellow, spring fresh, sweet, white and red — all contain their unique flavors by the way they are prepared.

So load up and get cooking. Let the luscious smells waft through the kitchen to tempt the hungry bellies and serve up onions for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack — even dessert.

Try all varieties and spread them throughout the day. See how many red, white and yellow onions you can incorporate into your day.

How about a healthy Chipotle Egg Breakfast Sandwich to start your day, or serve up a hearty Onion and Egg Hash for the family? A Spicy Onion Panini or that French Onion Soup could easily turn lunch into a decadent treat. Maybe try a little Creamy Onion Dip for an appetizer before dinner? Have an onion dinner party, and pack it with onion dishes, such as Pasta Primavera with Caramelized Onions or Garden-style Fish with Onions and Bell Peppers.

Let’s not forget dessert. The sweetness of the onion complements the chocolate and pecans in the Vidalia Onion and Georgia Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies (see recipe below). See the NOA website, www.onions-usa.org, for these and more recipes for inspiration.

Can you do it? Can you take on the challenge of a day full of onions? Ditch the breath mints and go all in to celebrate National Onion Day on June 27.

Vidalia Onion and Georgia Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients

1 cup butter softened

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup brown sugar

2 eggs

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp fine salt

1 tsp baking soda

12 oz. semisweet chocolate chips

1 cup Georgia Pecans, chopped

1 cup Vidalia onion, diced small

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cream butter, add sugars and beat until light and fluffy. Add flour, salt and soda and mix until well blended. Stir in chocolate chips and pecans.

Rinse the Vidalia onion with ice water and drain well. Fold the onions into the dough to blend. Drop dough by large spoonfuls on a parchment or wax-paper lined cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned (add about a minute to time at high altitudes). Remove from oven and enjoy immediately.

Note: These cookies are meant to be eaten warm; if you want to keep them past the day you make them, add some dried cranberries to the batter to absorb some of the moisture.

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