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Cabbage Basics

Cabbage has its own unique flavor; here's how to take advantage and enjoy its healthy side

Cabbage is inexpensive and best of all it's available at any time of year for most of us. It's also low in calories, high in Vitamin C and carries a host of other health benefits.

There are several cabbage varieties, including green and red heads that are smooth, Savoy with its wrinkled leaves, and those that are elongated such as Napa and bok choy. Green cabbage is perhaps the one many of us use most. Don't forget Brussels sprouts, the mini-versions that taste very similar to their larger cousins. The Chinese cabbages tend to be easier to digest.

Cabbage can be eaten raw or cooked in a number of ways: sauteed, boiled, stirfried, and steamed. First, however, the outer leaves should be removed. For green and red heads, cut the cabbage into quarters (inspect for bugs) and then slice as finely as you wish. It can be placed on a shredder as well.

If you're preparing cabbage for slaw, make it on the same day you plan to serve or it will become soggy.

When cabbage is overcooked, it releases a sulfuric chemical that most people do not like. The longer the cabbage cooks, the less Vitamin C it will retain. In fact, Vitamin C is released when you first cut into a cabbage, which is a good reason to avoid the pre-shredded versions at the grocery store. It will, however, keep for several days (or longer) if placed in plastic and refrigerated.

There are plenty of cabbage recipes in cookbooks and on the Internet, including old standbys like coleslaw and corned beef and not to mention the Cabbage Soup Diet. Here's my favorite low-carb cooked version.

Quick and Easy Cabbage Alfredo
Two servings

½-3/4 cabbage shredded
1/2 pound lean ground hamburger.
½ medium onion, sliced in half-strips
½ jar Alfredo sauce (some off-the-shelf varieties are low-carb)
½ small can mushrooms
Olive oil
Ground black pepper to taste

Cook hamburger and set aside.

Add olive oil to a second skillet and bring to med-high heat. Add cabbage, onions, and ground pepper; cook until onions are transparent, or to taste (test the cabbage - it can remain crunchy or somewhat limp - your choice).
Add hamburger, mushrooms, and alfredo sauce. Reduce to medium-low heat and continue cooking until all food is hot.

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