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    Celebrating Cabbage!

    iStock-1087915918Did you know that traditionally in Ireland, the Irish would serve boiled bacon and cabbage on Saint Patrick’s Day? Beef was far too expensive for the Irish peasants, so they prepared bacon, which was readily available and less expensive. However, when large numbers of Irish immigrants settled in America, they couldn’t afford pork so they bought beef brisket (often known as corned beef) from the neighboring Jewish immigrants, and served it with cabbage. An American tradition was born.

    Cabbage (or Brassica oleracea L. var. capitata) is thought to be a humble food but we mustn’t underestimate its health benefits. One study found that red cabbage packs a huge nutritional punch, with important antioxidants such as phenols and flavonoids like quercetin. Chinese, Savoy and green heads have the highest anti-inflammatory activity, which could greatly help support those with chronic health issues.

    A second study noted the incredible stress resistance benefits of red cabbage and how this simple vegetable could target multiple longevity mechanisms including Sirtuin signaling, HSF-1 pathway, and the CaMKII pathway. A further study found that cabbage is a valuable food that can be employed as part of a nutritional therapy, or a functional ingredient, for those with type two diabetes mellitus.

    When cabbage is fermented and served as Kimchi, researchers have discovered a wide array of health benefits, including supporting colorectal, brain, immune and skin health, as well as offering probiotic and anti-aging properties. Another study found that health-promoting benefits of cabbage were myriad, with potential for use in nutraceuticals. 

    Adding to all of this is the recognition of the robust flavonoid content of red cabbage, high fiber content and it is worth noting that half a cup of cooked cabbage has about a third of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C. It also provides fiber, folate, potassium, magnesium, vitamins A and K, as well as a range of carotenoids, antioxidant enzymes, polyphenols and certain sulfur-organic compounds.

    Here are some great recipe ideas to add some zest to your St. Patrick’s Day celebrations (and beyond).

    Colcannon

    A traditional Irish potato and Cabbage dish.

    Ingredients

    • 1 pound russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
    • 1 pound red potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
    • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
    • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • 1 small head savoy cabbage cored and shredded
    • 4 medium scallions, thinly sliced 
    • 1/2 ground black pepper
    • 1/2 cup whole milk
    • 1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth

    INSTRUCTIONS

    1. Boil the potatoes until tender.
    2. Bring the butter to a simmer and cook until it browns and smells nutty,. Pour off 1/4 cup of the browned butter into a small heatproof bowl and set aside.
    3. Cook the cabbage. Return the pan with the remaining browned butter to medium heat and add the cabbage and the whites of the scallions. Cook until tender and lightly browned
    4. Drain the potatoes. Add the milk and mash. 
    5. Add the chicken broth to the cabbage pan and scrape vigorously to remove any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook until the broth is reduced
    6. Add the warm cabbage and greens of the scallions to the mashed potatoes and fold to combine. Pour the reserved butter into a well in the center of the potatoes and serve immediately.

    Kimchi

    INGREDIENTS

    • 1 medium head napa cabbage 
    • 1/4 cup iodine-free sea salt or kosher salt 
    • Water
    • 5 to 6 cloves of garlic, grated
    • 1 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger
    • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
    • 2 tablespoons fish sauce 
    • 1 to 5 tablespoons Korean red pepper flakes (gochugaru)
    • 8 ounces Korean radish or daikon radish, peeled and cut into matchsticks
    • 4 medium scallions

    Instructions

    1. Cut the cabbage into thin strips. Then salt & leave for 2 hours
    2. Rinse the cabbage.
    3. Mix the remaining ingredients (apart from the scallions and radish) into a paste
    4. Add the cabbage to the spice paste. Add the radish and scallions & mix
    5. Pack the kimchi into a 1-quart jar. Press down on the kimchi until the brine rises to cover the vegetables, leaving at least 1 inch of space at the top. Seal the jar.
    6. Let the jar stand at cool room temperature, out of direct sunlight, for 1 to 5 days. 
    7. Check the kimchi daily, pressing down on the vegetables to keep them submerged under the brine. When the kimchi tastes ripe enough for your liking, transfer the jar to the refrigerator. It is best after another week or two.

    Healthy Red Cabbage Slaw

    Ingredients

    • 1 red cabbage 
    • 2 carrots 
    • 1 jalapeno 
    • 2 green onions 
    • fresh parsley

    For The Dressing

    • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    • 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar 
    • 1 tsp maple syrup or honey
    • Pinch cayenne powder
    • 2 cloves garlic minced
    • Salt and pepper

    Instructions

    Whisk the dressing ingredients and pour over the chopped and sliced slaw.

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