Savvy Savoy Stew
Posted by Andrea Nakayama
This month’s featured ingredient: Savoy cabbage
Cheers! 2011 is the year to upgrade your health. You may struggle with a health challenge that affects your immunity, strength, vigor or clarity, or you may feel in tip-top shape. Either way, your improved health might not have been among your new year’s resolutions, but it is among mine. I invite you to join me in an exploration of seasonal vegetables to promote our collective well-being and longevity.
In the past posts have focused more on the sweet, less on the savory. Not only do I have a sweet tooth, but I delight in giving you tips to satisfy yours in healthful and gratifying ways. I like to demonstrate that treats can be both delicious and devoid of the refined and processed stuff ~ the things I like to call anti-nutrients.
Yet my resolution this year isn’t to eat more healthy treats. My resolution is to increase my vegetable intake. I thought I’d invite you along for the ride. I’ll do this by sharing my explorations and inspirations at the market and in the kitchen. I wrote about my commitment to greens in my New Year’s article for Spud.com. Yet my goal extends beyond the leafies, to the roots and shoots, fungus and bulbs ~ the orange, yellow, purple, red, brown, and green.
Why? The US Department of Agriculture recommends between five to nine servings* of fruits and vegetables a day, with an emphasis on the vegetables. Higher vegetable intake is correlated with a lower risk of disease and aging. I could go on about vitamins, minerals, anti-inflammatory agents, phyto-chemicals, fiber and more (and sometimes I will!), but lower risk of disease and aging?. . . sign me up! Are you with me?
As the Center for Disease Control’s slogan about fruits and vegetables says: “More matters”. This year, let’s do more. More veggies.
And if you’re not in it to upgrade your health, join me for the good textures and flavors we’ll enjoy. We might just find sweetness from the soil.
* A serving size is about one cup, depending on the fruit or vegetable. Start your day with a smoothie and you’re well on your way!
Savvy Savoy Stew
There are many varieties of cabbage, yet the Savoy was bred specifically for the winter months. It’s heartier than many other cabbages, and may even be at its best after a frost.
Some say the leaves of the Savoy look like intricately woven lace or a delicate spiderweb. To me the head looks comical, like some kind of Muppet. The ribs of the Savoy are flexible, making it ideal for stuffing, and it requires less cooking time than other varieties to become light and tender.
6 cups mushroom broth (see below*)
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons coconut oil or sesame oil
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon ginger, peeled and grated
4 cups Savoy cabbage, thinly sliced
1 cup parsnips, sliced
3 tablespoons coconut aminos or wheat-free tamari
sea salt to taste
- Place the sliced onions in a large heavy-bottomed pot and turn the heat to medium. Allow the onions to release a little of their juices and then add the coconut or sesame oil. Cook the onions for 15 minutes on a low-to-medium flame so that they brown but do not burn.
- Add the chopped garlic and grated ginger to the onions. Mix and cook for another two to three minutes.
- Now add the cabbage and parsnips to the onion mixture. Stir and cook over medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Add the mushroom broth to the pot, along with the coconut aminos or wheat-free tamari. Stir and taste. Add sea salt to your liking.
* I was seduced by the fresh maitake mushrooms available at my co-op, but knew that not everyone would have access to these. I made a simple super-food broth with the ingredients below. You can use what you have in your fridge, throw in any kind of mushroom, and even add some dried varieties that are readily available at most health food stores. You can also use the organic mushroom broth from Pacific Foods.
My Superfood Mushroom Broth
6 cups water
2 cups mixed mushrooms (or 1 cup dried)
1 burdock root, sliced (not peeled)
2 strips wakame seaweed
1 small handful goji berries
1-inch ginger root, sliced
Combine all ingredients in a soup pot. Bring to boil. Lower heat and simmer for one hour, partially covered. Strain. Remove and use any of the ingredients from the broth that you’d like to include in your stew. I kept the maitake mushrooms, sliced them up, and added them in the final step of the stew.
If you don’t eat mushrooms, any type of rich broth will work nicely here, including a good bone broth.
Savoy: The Queen of Cabbage
Savoy cabbages originated in a region of Europe which borders Italy, France, and Switzerland. It’s quite an old variety, dating back to the mid 1500’s and has provided people with their winter greens for many centuries. Though hardy, it’s tender and sweet, and lacks some of the sulphur-like odors that can waft from many other cabbage varieties. If you can find Savoy cabbages, buy them and eat them!
The Health Benefits of Cabbage:
Cabbages are in the family of cruciferous vegetables, otherwise know as brassica. This class of vegetables contains potent anti-cancer phytochemicals ~ more than any other family of vegetables. In fact, populations who eat more cruciferous vegetables are documented as having lower rates of cancers related to the colon, lungs, prostate, and breast.
Those same phytonutrients that help to protect us against cancer also aid the body’s detoxification of excess hormones (like estrogens) and toxic chemicals.
Cabbage also contains the amino acid glutamine. Glutamine has been proven to help in the regeneration of the cells in the gastrointestinal tract. For this reason, cabbage is great if you’re healing a leaky gut, dealing with irritable bowel syndrome, or recovering a peptic ulcer.
The fibers found in cabbage, especially if steamed, provide great cholesterol regulating benefits.
And you can count cabbage among your top anti-inflammatory foods due to its abundance of phytonutrients, vitamin C and carotenoids.
Getting More Cabbage in Your Diet:
The Savoy cabbage tends to keep about one week in the refrigerator, while the other green and red varieties might hold-up for two weeks. They must be kept cold, in the crisper. This cold-storage will also help to retain the vitamin C content of the cabbage.
Cut your cabbage in half or quarters, wash under cold water, and remove the core before slicing or shredding and adding to any number of dishes.
Raw cabbage can be added to smoothies or juices, but should be eaten in moderation if you suffer from any hypothyroid disorders.
Sliced cabbage can be mixed with mayonnaise and other shredded vegetables and spices of your choice for a simple coleslaw.
Cabbage can be transformed into a fermented delight such as sauerkraut or kimchee!
Saute sliced cabbage into any stir-fry.
Add strips to winter soups or stews.
Cabbage can be steamed, boiled, and even roasted.
And don’t forget that the Savoy cabbage is ideal for stuffing. I grew up with stuffed cabbage as a staple and I foresee a kitchen experiment brewing!
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