I’m not sure if the title grabbed you or not. I’m thinking this for two reasons. Just hearing the word cabbage may not excite you. Also, wondering if the general public knows the acronym “CABG.” I love my title and thought it was quite clever (hoping I’m not the only one). I also love cabbage and think it deserves more respect as a vegetable. Sure everyone is into kale and I can’t argue, it’s darn healthy. Cauliflower is one of the new food trends of 2014 and it is a member of the cabbage family. I bet one of next year’s food trends will be cabbage. Now as far as “CABG”, that stands for coronary artery bypass graft (basically open heart bypass surgery). Hopefully, not something you’ll ever learn from personal experience! I’m hoping (if you don’t already) you will add cabbage as a more frequent addition to your cooking repertoire. So, yes, the news you’ve been waiting and hoping to hear is finally here! Cabbage is a nutrition powerhouse so eat it as often and in as many varieties as possible!!!!!!
What heart healthy properties does cabbage have? Well, for starters it is an excellent source of soluble dietary fiber. Soluble dietary fiber interferes with the absorption of the “bad” LDL cholesterol helping keep numbers in check. Cabbage is also rich in various phytonutrients and vitamins such as A, C and K. In case you don’t know, “phytonutrient” is a term used to describe plant compounds that contain health protecting qualities. The vitamins listed are all natural antioxidants which help prevent heart disease and not to mention prevent cancer, too. Cabbage is low in calories (33 calories per cup) which can help with weight control. Controlling your weight is another way to lower your risk for heart disease! Not only does cabbage help keep your heart healthy it also has anti-inflammatory properties helping those suffering from any type of inflammation, its high vitamin C content can give your immune system a boost, it helps relieve constipation (unfortunately, not gas), and some studies say the lactic acid in cabbage can help relieve muscle soreness.
There are lots of different varieties of cabbage out there. Green cabbage is the most recognizable. It is high in vitamin C but also is high in folate. Red cabbage is similar to green, however, it is usually smaller and has a slightly sweeter taste. Due to its red color, it is high in anthocyanins – these are believed to have the anti-inflammatory properties that can help fight certain types of cancer. Savoy cabbage has the highest amount of beta-carotene (precursor to vitamin A). Savoy cabbage is less crunchy than red or green cabbage but has a milder and sweeter flavor. Napa cabbage (my favorite) is a milder tasting cabbage and is quite high in calcium. It has an oblong shape as opposed to round. Some say it tastes like celery (I don’t like celery but I do like Napa so go figure). Bok choy (and Napa) are Chinese cabbages and are commonly used in stir-fries but can both be used raw in salads. These are just some of the most common cabbages you will see in the grocery store. If you are looking to try something different, try a recipe using a different type of cabbage!
Now you know what it can do for your health. What are some simple ways you can cook with it? I use cabbage in a variety of ways. When making chicken “noodle” soup, I use cabbage instead of noodles. The cabbage increases the nutritional value of the soup (along with the carrots) and lessens the carb content. It is an awesome addition to a green salad adding flavor and crunch. I often shred cabbage, spray with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast or sauté. My family loves this as a vegetable (ok, four out of five love it). Cabbage also has a long shelf life relatively speaking for a fresh vegetable.
There are a lot of cabbage recipes I love, however, the one below is easy and is one of my favorites. Initially, I got this from a friend of mine. I got this one from www.allrecipes.com but have seen various versions of the same recipe.
Chinese Chicken and Napa Cabbage Salad
1 pound chicken breast (grab a rotisserie chicken or cook two large chicken breasts at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes)
1/2 cup sesame seeds, toasted
1 package ramen noodles
1/4 cup butter (you can use vegetable oil for this step if you prefer)
1/2 cup blanched slivered almonds
1 large head Napa cabbage, shredded
6 green onions, chopped
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1/8 cup white sugar
1. Crush noodles and place them in a medium skillet and brown in butter (or vegetable oil) over medium heat. Add almonds and sesame seeds. Stir often to prevent burning. Toss in a large bowl with cabbage and onions.
2. Prepare the dressing by whisking together the vegetable oil, rice vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil and sugar. Pour over salad, toss and serve.
Serves about 6 and is DELICIOUS!!!!!!
Maybe something to try for Chinese New Year coming up at the end of the month??? Bon appetit or better yet “chi hao he hao” (in Chinese) meaning “eat well and drink well.” Remember, everything heart health!