Cabbage gets a bad rap. Sure, it’s not as sexy as its cousin the brussels sprout. But more often than not, I think the word elicits a scrunched nose, not a sigh of delight, and I think that's a shame. One of the reasons I think cabbage has negative emotions associated with it is one of my favorite things about it – it’s cheap, and it goes a LONG way. I think there is a strong association with a big vat of boiled cabbage stinking up the house - whether you personally experienced that growing up or not.
But the low cost truly is a great benefit. According to the USDA Economic Research Service, the average cost of green cabbage is $0.58/lb. Taking into consideration that you toss the core, and a few of the outer leaves, that means cabbage costs you about $0.25/cup. Given that most people would be hard-pressed to eat more than 1 cup (even after it cooks down), you’re doing all right for yourself and your budget by choosing cabbage.
It's not just cheap. It's good for you, too!
You’ll often see the nutrition information of fruits and veggies based on 100 grams. If we all had scales in our kitchen, that would make this number more meaningful. But since I don’t assume that you have a scale to weigh everything you eat, consider it a little more than 1 cup chopped (1 cup chopped = 90g).
In that 100 grams of cabbage, you get:
- 25 calories
- 6 grams of carbohydrates (including 2 grams of fiber)
- 1 gram of protein
In terms of vitamins and minerals, cabbage is an excellent source of both vitamin C (61% DRI) and vitamin K (95% DRI). Additional health benefits of cabbage are in the phytonutrients leutin and zeaxanthin (eye health), and isothiocyanates and sulforaphane (cancer prevention).
One small caveat: cabbage is a goitrogenic vegetable. This means that it can cause a goiter in people with thyroid dysfunction. But for people who are healthy, there is no risk of “overdose”.
Overall, cabbage provides lots of great nutrition, it's low in calories, and is easy on the wallet. Now that you're sold on the concept, let's talk about how you can enjoy it!
During the summer, I love making slaws. Unlike most pre-dressed salads, slaws can be prepared in big batches and enjoyed throughout the week. Makes my heart happy to know that there are easy-to-enjoy vegetables on-hand that are more exciting than carrot sticks. My husband, however, doesn’t share the same passion I have for this raw vegetable. I get it, not everyone loves vegetables the way I do (let’s be honest, few people do).
But, he does enjoy cabbage cooked. So in the fall and winter months, I’m happy to come up with some hot and delicious versions of this nutrition powerhouse. When it comes to vegetables, my favorite recipes are the super simple ones, that highlight the produce while keeping my hands-on time to a minimum.
We got some cabbage in our last box from Door to Door Organics [if you’re thinking about joining, contact me for a referral – we’ll both get $15 towards groceries] and then got asked to bring a side dish to our friend’s house for dinner. Now is about the time you might be considering never inviting me to dinner – you’re bringing cabbage?! But, my friends, it was a hit.
I started with a package of Applegate Natural Sunday Bacon that I cooked up in a big skillet (saving the grease). See, I can feel you getting less skeptical, already. In this situation, you definitely want crispy bacon, so I cooked it longer than I would if I was just eating it plain.
In the meantime, I shredded up a head of cabbage. When the bacon was done, I set it aside to drain. In that skillet with all the bacon grease, I sauteed the cabbage. Depending on the size of your skillet, you may need to do this in batches. While it was cooking, I added 1 tsp of sugar, ½ tsp Tony Chachere’s creole seasoning and 1 tsp back pepper. When the cabbage had a little wilt to it, I chopped up the reserved bacon and stirred it in. Voila!
While some of you were won over by the bacon, some of you might think that this is a rather indulgent recipe for a dietitian to post – an entire package of bacon?! But if you look at the nutrition information on the package, you’ll see that you’re only adding 240 calories, 20 grams of fat, and 16 grams of protein... to the entire recipe. Each person will probably get the equivalent of 1 slice of bacon, or 30 calories, 2.5 grams of fat, and 2 grams of protein. That is very much worth the flavor injection you get form the bacon! And if you’re worried about sodium, try the Applegate Natural Reduced Sodium Bacon.
If that doesn't do it for you, or you just want a few recipes in your arsenal, I’ve got more ways to enjoy your cabbage this winter. Consider these the next time you’re looking for a cheap and filling veggie!
- Braised Sausage and Cabbage by Joy Bauer
- Sautéed with bacon (see below for the recipe card)
- Sweet and Sour Cabbage rolls from Eating Well
Have you ventured into cabbage? How do you enjoy it? What prevents you from trying it?