Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Cool Cabbage

The cabbage; a St. Patrick’s Day favorite is a great vegetable that should be included in your diet during the rest of the year. St. Patrick’s Day is a fun and festive time that celebrates an occasion with traditional favorites such as corned beef and stewed cabbage. The cabbage becomes a comfort food that people are drawn to because of taste, familiarity and tradition.

During the rest of the year it’s important to remember the great health benefits from the cabbage. No matter the color of green, white or purple, they’re loaded with vitamin C and studies have shown it has cancer-fighting components that help prevent colon and rectal cancer. They’re loaded with tons of phytochemicals and antioxidants that help your body fight against free radicals.

Though foods are always better in their whole state, many are enhanced by slight cooking methods. Cabbage, in the form of tea, can be used in many eastern remedies to cure things like the whooping cough, constipation and common colds and, believe it or not, even frostbite. Studies have shown that by concocting and steeping a few ingredients with the cabbage, a tea is created that can fight off these typical ailments.

Cabbage is part of the cruciferous family; the leaves create a cross formation at the base. For instance, the brussel sprout, cauliflower, broccoli, collard greens and kohlrabi are just a few on the long list. They offer some of the great properties that cabbage offers but are slightly more popular. These should be added, along with the cabbage, to your weekly menus.

Whether it’s chopped in a salad, steamed with other vegetables or sautĂ©ed with meats, cabbage is a terrific additive to many dishes and by reading the ingredient list on popular recipes you’ll find it’s already prevalent. Examples are pulled pork sandwiches with cabbage slaw, garden salads and mu shu chicken or pork.

The cabbage, forgotten for most of the year, is a prized vegetable on St. Patrick’s Day. By transferring some of those feelings of comfort to the vegetable the rest of the year may help you eat it on a more regular basis. There are plenty of health benefits that will encourage you to make an extra effort to include cabbage into your weekly eating routine and, believe it or not, it’s easier than you think.

St. Patrick's Day- Corned Beef Recipes

Dear Chef Mary,

What type of meat is Corned Beef? Can you make a healthier version of the traditional St. Patrick’s Day favorite?

Patti

Dear Patti,

Corned beef, the traditional St. Patrick’s Day favorite, is always made of brisket. It was described to me as the love handles of a cow. It’s a flat muscle that runs across the stomach. The brisket is a tough cut (meaning chewy, flavorful and demands slow, low cooking) of meat that has lots of fat.

You either buy the point or the round. The point is the pointed end that has more fat and the round is the leaner side with more meat but a little less flavor.

Most stores carry brisket that is prepackaged and already brined so all you have to do is braise it. If you want to make it a healthier way, consider using a different cut of meat such as the short rib or the chuck roll. They’ll give you a similar flavor but different consistency.

“You can try using the top portion of the short rib or chuck roll for a healthier version. These cuts of beef will give you a similar flavor with less fat because they’re located above the brisket. The chuck roll and short ribs are softer pieces of meat so they’ll give you a softer consistency,” said Art from Art’s Meat Market in Glendale California.

If you do decide to go for the healthier version, you’ll have to prepare the meat in your own kitchen. This means brining your meat for up to six days in preparation for the big day.

Consider brining your own Corned Beef to reduce the salt content. Reducing the salt may change the consistency but it will help reduce your sodium intake and decrease the salty flavor in the beef.

Patti, also make sure that you remember your portion size. You only need 4-6 ounces of meat so you can easily add extra calories if you eat more than that allotted amount. Just by sticking to a proper portion size you can enjoy eating something that is slightly unhealthy. Life in moderation!

Cheers, Patti, and Happy St. Patrick’s Day

Chef Mary