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(Guest Post from Bonnie Brost, licensed and registered dietitian at Essentia Health}
St. Patrick’s Day brings out the cabbage. It’s the biggest holiday for fresh green cabbage consumption in America, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The Irish found cabbage a sustainable vegetable during the Great Potato Famine that began in 1845. Cabbage grew well in Ireland and when the potato crops failed, cabbage was the main course in many meals. The Irish ate a lot of it – about 65 pounds per person each year based on crop production at that time.
Cabbage is a green leafy vegetable that is known as a cruciferous vegetable. It’s related to broccoli, cauliflower and Brussel sprouts. High in vitamin C, cabbage also contains vitamin K that’s good for bone health and contains phytochemicals called indoles that may help prevent cancer. The inexpensive vegetable is easy to grow and stores well through the winter.
Varieties include green cabbage, which is known as the king of cabbage, and red cabbage, which is similar but has dark red or purple leaves. Then there’s Napa cabbage, also known as Chinese cabbage, which is oblong shaped and has thick yellow-green leaves. Savoy cabbage has the round shape similar to green cabbage but has crinkly dark green leaves. Bok choy is another loose-leaf variety with dark green leaves and tender stems.
Cabbage can be prepared in a variety of ways. It can be eaten raw, steamed, stir-fried, sautéed, stewed or pickled. Pickling or fermenting is one of the favorite ways to preserve cabbage, such as creating sauerkraut or kimichi. Kimichi, which is often made with Chinese cabbage, is a spicy condiment often found in Korean recipes.
Avoid overcooking cabbage. Its characteristic flavor comes from glucosinolates, which contain sulfur. Overcooking cabbage produces a hydrogen sulfide gas that releases its unpleasant odor.
Expand your menus beyond corn beef and cabbage on St. Patrick’s Day. Here are some tasty recipes that use the budget-friendly and healthy vegetable.
Here’s a great low-sodium alternative to corned beef and cabbage.
Cabbage and Beef Hot Dish
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound 90 percent lean ground beef or ground turkey breast
1½ cups onion, thinly sliced
4 medium carrots (about 2 cups), grated
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic (3 cloves)
3 cups green cabbage, shredded
3 cups red cabbage, shredded
2 tablespoons fresh grated ginger or 1 teaspoon of ground ginger
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon hot pepper flakes or hot sauce (optional)
Add olive oil to large skillet over medium heat. Add ground beef and brown. Add onions, carrots and garlic. Cook until vegetables are starting to soften, about 5 minutes. Add ginger, salt, pepper and hot pepper. Cook until cabbage is soft, about 15 minutes. Yield: 6 servings.
Serving size, 2 cups; calories, 215; total fat, 10 grams; saturated fat, 3 grams; cholesterol, 50 milligrams; sodium, 200 milligrams; potassium, 640 milligrams; carbohydrates, 15 grams; fiber, 4 grams; protein, 17 grams.
Celery Seed Coleslaw
14-ounce package classic coleslaw mix (or 4 ½ cups shredded fresh cabbage and 1 cup shredded carrots)
2 stalks (¾ cup) celery, diced
1 small (¾-cup) green pepper, chopped
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons distilled vinegar or red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon celery seed
⅓ cup olive oil mayonnaise
Combine all vegetables in a large bowl. In separate small bowl, combine sugar, vinegar, olive oil, celery seed and mayonnaise. Mix well with a wire whip. Add dressing to vegetables and mix well. Yield 10 servings.
Servings size, ½ cup; calories, 55; total fat, 3.5 grams; saturated fat, 0 grams; cholesterol, 0 milligrams; sodium, 65 milligrams; potassium, 110 milligrams; carbohydrates, 5 grams; fiber, 2 grams; protein, 1 gram; and calcium, 25 milligrams.
This recipe is a lower sodium alternative to sauerkraut. Sauerkraut has about 750 milligrams of sodium in one-half cup.
Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage
2 tablespoons canola or olive oil
1 small head (8 cups) red cabbage, shredded
1 large (1 1/2 cups) Granny Smith apple, chopped
1 small onion, sliced
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup water
¼ teaspoon salt (optional)
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
Put oil, cabbage, apples, onion and sugar into a large pot. Pour in the vinegar and water. Add salt, pepper and cloves. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer until cabbage is tender, about 20 minutes. If you want it thicker, mix 2 teaspoons cornstarch and 2 teaspoons cold water in a cup until smooth. Add to cabbage mixture and simmer on medium heat for 2-3 minutes until liquid thickens. Yield: 8 servings.
Serving size, ½ cup; calories, 120; total fat, 3.5 grams; saturated fat, 0 grams; cholesterol, 0 milligrams; sodium, 90 milligrams (if you added optional salt); potassium, 200 milligrams; carbohydrates, 22 grams; fiber, 2.5 grams; protein, 1 gram.
This soup is a great low-calorie, low-sodium vegan option.
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced (2 teaspoons)
1 large onion, chopped (about 1 ½ cups)
½ pound carrots, sliced
½ bunch celery, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
½ pound frozen green beans
28-ounce can no-salt-added diced tomatoes
8-ounce can no-salt-added tomato sauce
½ head green cabbage
6 cups unsalted vegetable broth
¼ bunch fresh parsley, chopped
1 ½ teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon dried thyme
1-2 tablespoons lemon juice
Add garlic and onion to a large soup pot along with the olive oil and sauté over medium heat until the onions are soft and transparent. Add carrots, celery, bell pepper and frozen green beans. Add diced tomatoes (and their juices) and tomato sauce. Stir to combine. Allow the vegetables in the pot to heat while you chop the cabbage. Chop the cabbage into 1-inch strips or squares, then add to the pot. Add the vegetable broth, chopped parsley, paprika, oregano and thyme. Stir to combine. Place a lid on the pot and bring it up to a boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down to medium-low and allow the pot to simmer until the cabbage is tender (about 20 minutes). Finish the soup with lemon juice. Start by stirring in one tablespoon of lemon juice and add more to your liking. Yield: 8 servings.
Serving size, 2 cups; calories, 120; total fat, 2 grams; saturated fat, 0 grams; cholesterol, 0 milligrams; sodium, 200 milligrams; potassium, 730 milligrams; carbohydrates, 22 grams; fiber, 6 grams; protein, 3 grams.
Bonnie Brost is a licensed and registered dietitian at Essentia Health