Cabbage Not Just For St. Patrick’s Day

It may not be the main staple of the Irish diet, but it is still an important vegetable featured in many traditional dishes. Whether it’s a hearty meal of Irish Bacon of Cabbage or Colcannon, a dish made with potatoes and cabbage, many Irish recipes call for this nutrient-rich vegetable.

While cabbage likely became an important crop in Ireland because its ability to withstand Irish winters, cabbage has some very important nutritional benefits. Cabbage contains antioxidants, glutamine and works as an anti-inflammatory, making it a cancer-preventing food. It is also an excellent source of Vitamin C and a good source of Vitamin A. It is also known for helping lower cholesterol levels and aids in digestion. In short, cabbage packs a nutritive punch and is often cited as one of the healthiest vegetables we can eat.

While cabbage plays an important role in some cultures, we don’t see it quite as much in North American food. However, that shouldn’t preclude you from incorporating this known superfood in your diet. Here are a few ways to add cabbage to your weekly menu plan.

Add it to your favorite stew and soup recipes. Whether it’s vegetable soup or your mother’s beef stew recipe, chunks of cooked cabbage make a great addition.

Making a stir fry? Make thin strips of cabbage and sauté them for extra flavor and texture in your dish. It doesn’t matter if it’s chicken, pork, beef or meatless, cabbage can easily be added.

Cabbage can be added to a salad or be its main component. Shredded red cabbage can be added to any green salad. If you’re not a fan of coleslaw, it needn’t be the sloppy mayonnaise mess that Aunt Jane insists on taking to every family barbecue. You can make light varieties with a bit of olive oil and add red onion, raisins and other ingredients.

Popular in Germany and other European countries, sauerkraut can be purchase ready-made in a jar or can. Add it to hot dogs and sausages. You can also cook sauerkraut with some sugar and a bit of bacon, making it a fine addition to pork chops or a roast.

If you’re into spicy foods, Korean kimchi might just do the trick. A spicy side dish, made from fermented coleslaw, it can also be added to soups and stir fries.

While traditional cabbage rolls might be common to Eastern Europe, you can make your own rolls as well. The basic idea is that you take cabbage leaves and stuff them with ingredients like rice, meat and vegetables. Then they’re baked or steamed and served with sauce.

Next time you’re at the grocery store, pick up a head of cabbage. Shred it and store it in an airtight container in the fridge. That way, you’ll be ready to use it for your next soup, stew, salad or stir fry. You’ll be surprised at how good it is and your body will thank you because it’s so good for you.

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