Got cabbage? Ttry Tracy’s Thai Cabbage Noodles
It’s one of those under-rated vegetables. No one’s built a campaign around it asking if you’ve got any. I don’t know of a national cabbage council so it may be a while before anyone’s avidly promoting it in magazines, in TV commercials, or on t-shirts or billboards (not a bad idea for a shirt though!). It’s just not as popular milk and probably never will be. In fact, you may have forgotten it even exists outside of the occasional serving of coleslaw plunked on your plate at a picnic, potluck, or restaurant. I hadn’t prepared cabbage at home for a few months, then I happened upon a recipe that sounded great and tasted better than anything I’d made with it in a long time.
I was recently reminded of just how delicious cabbage can taste cooked with enough fat. I follow Don Matesz’ blog, Primal Wisdom and his current Primal Eating on a Budget posts. Considering what a single restaurant meal can cost if you’re buying something other than fast food, his meals for less than could solve a host of health and financial woes. Anyway, Don’s fiancée, Tracy, came up with a phenomenal sautéed Thai-inspired cabbage recipe that caught my attention.
But I don’t like cabbage
Even if you don’t think you like it, I encourage you to give this recipe a try! I made it yesterday, had some of the leftovers today, and will have more tomorrow, freezing the last portion for a future meal. It has a slightly sweet taste (really!), not like honey or maple syrup, but a subtle, satisfying sweetness. The onions and the fat help. (I used to cook cabbage with far less fat and the flavor seriously suffered.)
Cooking with economy in mind
Cabbage is a bargain food. I picked up a large, dense head of cabbage at a local farmers’ market for a dollar. The recipe called for half a head of cabbage and produced four generous servings (a heaping cup each in size). Even with half a bell pepper, an onion, some olive oil, bacon fat, and a few seasonings it came out to about 37 cents per serving. I thought the leftovers tasted just as delicious the second day heated briefly in a heatproof custard cup in my Cuisinart Convection Toaster Oven.
What’s in it for you?
A member of the cruciferous family, this hardy vegetable grows well in most climates. It’s a good source of potassium, vitamin C, and fiber and makes a contribution to your daily calcium, iron, thiamine, fotate, manganese, and phosphorus requirements, and has a low calorie density (a good reason to be generous with the fat you add to it).
Cancer protection on your plate
Cabbage also contains indoles, a class of phytonutrients associated with a decreased risk of breast, colon, and prostate cancer. These nutrients boost the production of enzymes that inhibit the formation of malignant tissue, block carcinogens from causing mutations in your DNA, neutralize the effects of excess estrogen, and protect your cells from free radical damage.
What’s not in it for you?
Although many sites and sources erroneously state that cabbage and many other vegetables a good source of vitamin A, that’s a bit inaccurate. Vitamin A is only found in animal source foods. Cabbage contains pro-vitamin A (aka betacarotene), which some people can convert into vitamin A; however, the same and the conversion rate can be appallingly low for humans. According to at least one study, 47 percent of Women Genetically Incapable of Getting Adequate Vitamin A From Plants. To read more about the vegetarian fallacy that beta carotene is equivalent to vitamin A and to check out the references, click here.
In The Garden of Eating, the paleo diet book I co-authored with paleo and primal diet expert Don Matesz, Don’s perusals of nutrition literature pointed to research indicating that at least 45 percent of adult men and women do not efficiently convert carotenes to vitamin A (retinol), making dietary retinol, found only in animal products, an essential nutrient for these folks. But, I digress. I really want to sell you on the benefits of eating more vegetables overall and more cabbage in particular.
Tracy’s Thai Cabbage Noodles
Prep: 15 minutes
Cooking: less than 15 minutes
Yield: 4 to 5 servings
This recipe is actually grain-free. Cabbage, cut into ribbons, bears a slight resemblance to noodles. If you follow a paleo, primal, low-starch, low-carb, grain-free, or gluten-free diet, or looking for some new vegetagble recipes, don’t be shy. Give this recipe a try.
Thanks go to holistic health practitioner Tracy Minton of Barefoot Acupuncture in Phoenix, AZ, for this delicious recipe posted on the Primal Wisdom blog. It’s worth making again for company. To get the noodle-like effect, Tracy cut the onion and cabbage in half along the axis, then sliced them perpendicular to the axis, making ribbon-like pieces about 1/4-inch in width.
1 onion, sliced into thin ribbons
1/2 cabbage, sliced in ribbons (use only the ribbon-like slices from outer layers, about 1/4 of cabbage; I used the entire half a head)
1/2 sweet red pepper, cut into thin slices crosswise
2 tablespoons olive oil (avocado oil also works)
1/8 teaspoon salt (I used 1/4 teaspoon since I didn’t have kelp flakes)
2 to 3 teaspoons kelp flakes (optional); I didn’t have any so I left this out
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 tablespoons bacon fat (or palm shortening or more olive oil)
1 teaspoon chili-garlic sauce
- Slice the onion, cabbage, and bell pepper, and set aside in separate bowls.
- Heat the oil in a wok or heavy 10 to 12-inch skillet. Before it gets very hot, add the onion, sea salt, and optional kelp flakes (you can get them from Larch Hanson’s Maine Seaweed Company). Stir and cook until tender, translucent, and wilted, then add the turmeric, cabbage, and bell pepper.
- 3. Add the bacon fat (if you have some, or substitute palm shortening, more olive oil or avocado oil). Stir, then add a few tablespoons of boiling water, cover, let it come to a steam, then Cook for about 10 to 12 minutes, until wilted and tender, stirring periodically. Add the chili-garlic sauce, stir, remove from heat (do not leave the lid on) and serve.
- 4. Refrigerate leftovers and serve at room temperature or heat for 5 minutes in a heatproof dish in a toaster oven at 300 to 350˚F before serving.
Source: Primal Wisdom Blog December 14-17, 2010