Falling for Cabbage
By Cheryl Forberg, RD
As the temperatures drop, and the leaves are beginning to display their gorgeous autumn colors, fall vegetables come to mind. In the grocer’s produce aisle, root vegetables (turnips, rutabaga, parsnips and carrots), hard squash and cabbage now vie for space where the fresh tomatoes, sweet corn and typical fresh summer veggies used to be.
Because I love cabbage, I find ways to eat it year round, but fall is my favorite time to prepare it. Whether it’s slow cooked to serve with roasted meats or pickled to serve with German dishes, most of my cabbage recipes are really quick and easy to make.
But let’s not forget their incredible health benefits. Besides the fact that cabbage is ultra-low in calories (one cup of raw shredded cabbage has only 18 calories!), it’s ultra-high in nutrition.
Cabbage belongs to the cruciferous vegetable family, which also includes broccoli, sprouts, and kale. Sulfur compounds are distinctive to all of these cruciferous veggies. These compounds are responsible for their characteristic pungent aroma. Cooking intensifies their odor and their protective powers. Once eaten, the sulfur compounds convert to one of several products in the body. Each of those products has different structures and subsequently, each has distinctive health benefits. One group of sulfur compounds, called indoles is thought to activate liver enzymes with detoxifying properties and assert their action over potential cancer-causing substances. Cabbage and broccoli are particularly rich in indoles.
Kale is another form of cabbage and an antiaging powerhouse. It promotes cardiovascular health as a rich source of potassium and calcium. Together, these nutrients promote a reduced risk of stroke by regulating blood pressure. Kale’s robust flavors are easy to enjoy in a salad, quick sauté or stir-fry.
Here is one of my favorite cabbage recipes – I hope it will become one of yours, too.
Wilted Cabbage with Bacon and Onions
This simple dish is perfect for a Fall dinner with roast chicken or pork tenderloin.
Yield: 4 one-cup servings
2 slices Center Cut Bacon or Turkey Bacon
1 medium White Onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon Mustard Seed
1 medium head Savoy Cabbage, quartered, cored and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon Smoked Salt
½ teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
2 tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar
1 tablespoon chopped Italian Parsley
Heat a large nonstick sauce pan over medium high heat. Brown bacon until crisp. Remove from pan and drain well on paper towels. Chop bacon and set aside. Drain any excess oil from pan.
Reduce heat to medium and add onion. Sauté for four to five minutes or until softened and just beginning to brown. Add mustard seed and cook for about one minute or until fragrant. Add cabbage, salt and pepper. Stir well, cover and continue to cook over medium heat for five minutes; stirring once or twice. Remove cover and add vinegar. Raise heat to medium high, stir and cook for about one minute. Remove from heat and garnish with parsley.
Nutritional Analyses – one serving:
Calories from Fat 15
Total Fat 1 g
Sat Fat 0.5 g
Cholesterol 10 mg
Sodium 475 mg
Fiber 5 g
Sugars 4 g
Protein 4 g
Vitamin A 30%
Vitamin C 80%