Posts tagged cabbage

our rationale, and mushroom cabbage wraps

2014-08-27 19.32.42

Honestly, any diet that allows me to serve a fruit swimming in a shallow lake of butter and maple syrup or honey is a diet that I can on board with. And I realized that on Tuesday I didn’t really describe WHY we are doing what we’re doing. At the risk of offending anyone, I’ll admit that we aren’t doing what is referred to as the “paleo” or “ancestral” diet, primarily because the science doesn’t convince me, but secondarily because I think the entire thing is pretty illogical. However, the fact is that our diet–like, I think, most Americans’–has revolved around grains and meat. This is natural, considering that grains are a “staple” food–they make up a fairly large percent of, I think, most diets worldwide. But while some people may not have a problem healthily integrating their grains with large amounts of vegetation, we are not those people.

We, like many, can make entire meals out of macaroni and cheese, or bread and a roast chicken. This isn’t because we don’t enjoy vegetables, though. On the contrary, when prepared properly they can be just as enjoyable as grains, and sometimes even more enjoyable on their own. I guess it’s because grains are easy and we’re so habituated to them being a staple, and because preparing grains, meats, and vegetables all deliciously without restoring always to one-pot meals can get exhausting. And finally, we eat far too much refined sugar.

I wanted to make this a change of habits, not just a change of ingredients. If I just swapped out the ingredients, we would no doubt be eating copious amounts of cauliflower “rice,” almond flour, and coconut flour. And let’s be honest, even if those options are healthier, would it really be healthy to have a diet comprised heavily of those items? I doubt it.

As I suggested, there may be a few exceptions to the “no-substitute foods” as time goes on. One is granola, which we are using to top our fruit crisp in the mornings, and which has been made of pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, pineapple, dates, and coconut flakes. Another is crackers, which I will be making out of lentil and/or chickpea flour. Another is our homemade “Larabars,” since my husband was making a meal out of his Clif bars until now anyway and it’s what works for him. And finally, at some point I will probably dip into the vast pool of grain-free, nut-free bread options, choosing something with as few ingredients as possible (I’m looking at you, sweet potato buns or butternut squash flatbread) to help me conquer those insistent bread snack cravings without messing up what I’m trying to do here…

Which is ultimately to see. Just…to see. If it does anything. If it changes anything.

For day three (of 42):
Breakfast: cup of garlic soup with poached veggies and egg; “baked” apple with maple syrup and butter

Lunch: skipped

Snack: a little of my parents’ leftover chinese food (mostly onions, cabbage, carrots, mushrooms); a half-portion of our leftover pumpkin chipotle chili from last night

Dinner: mushroom cabbage wraps


Mushroom Cabbage Wraps

(serves 2, with some leftover mushroom mixture. might perhaps serve 3 or 4 with additional cabbage leaves. if you don’t have any pre-cooked vegetables, mince or process the same amount of raw veggies, and cook with the onion mixture until softened before adding the mushrooms.)


  • 1 T vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1 t fresh ginger, grated
  • ~20 mushrooms (enough to fill a 10-c food processor bowl)
  • 2 c cooked vegetables (we used carrots, celery, radishes, turnip)
  • 1/4 c teriyaki sauce
  • 2 T chile-garlic sauce
  • 1 T soy sauce (or to taste)
  • 2 t sesame oil
  • 2 t rice vinegar
  • 2 t lime juice
  • 1 small cabbage, leafed
  • carrot and daikon pickles, if desired
  • fresh green onion, if desired


  1. Heat oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook several minutes, until softened. Add garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant.
  2. Meanwhile, add mushrooms to food processor and pulse until chopped finely, about 10-15 one-second pulses. You may have a few mushrooms that stay stubbornly whole–if that happens, remove the chopped mushrooms and re-process the whole ones.
  3. Add mushrooms to saute pan. Stir frequently, cooking until the mushrooms have released their liquid and cooked it off, and are beginning to brown and crisp again.
  4. Meanwhile, add cooked vegetables to the food processor and pulse until chopped, about 2-3 one-second pulses. Add to mushrooms and stir until well combined.
  5. Add remaining ingredients (to taste) into the mushroom vegetable mixture and cook, stirring frequently, until it has reached the taste and texture you desire. It should be wet enough to hold together on a spoon, almost like sloppy joes.
  6. Serve with cabbage leaves for rolling, as well as the carrot and daikon pickles, green onion, or any other garnishes you desire. In the picture I snapped, you can see my husband has helpfully added chicken to his, which you can certainly do (although I prefer pork).

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quick pickled red cabbage

Another post, another “p,” another no picture.  Oh well.  I didn’t make dinner tonight, so there’s that.

Quick Pickled Red Cabbage (makes about 1 quart)


  • 1 head cabbage
  • several tbsp. salt
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 1/2 c. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 c. white vinegar
  • fennel
  • cloves
  • white peppercorns
  • mustard seed


  1. Core and shred cabbage.  Place in a bowl and sprinkle with the salt.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  2. Rinse cabbage and squeeze excess moisture out.
  3. Bring water, vinegars, and spices to a simmer.
  4. Pack cabbage into glass jars, and pour hot brine over the top.  Let sit out at room temperature for 1-3 days, and then refrigerate.

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A New Direction: Korean Grilled Beef (Bulgogi) and Jap Chae

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what I guess would be called “nutri-diversity,” sort of like biodiversity.  The concept of biodiversity tells us that the more different species there are, the healthier an ecosystem will be.  Similarly, the more diversity there is within one given species, the healthier, stronger, and more likely to survive that species is.

It seems to me the same is true with the way we feed ourselves.  It’s relatively common knowledge that a variety of fruits and vegetables gives us the greatest variety of nutrients.  From there, I’ve been thinking about the other types of foods we eat and how incredibly limited so many of us are.  Maybe it’s not that big of a deal since, of course, each ancient people had its primary grain and is primary sweetener, but it certainly couldn’t hurt to branch out, right?

That’s why, as of this week, I’ve decided that I’m going to try and introduce more variety into our diets.  Perhaps we eat too much cane sugar and wheat flour.  I’m starting with sugars, exploring: date sugar, agave nectar, honey, brown rice syrup, barley malt syrup.  Then I’ll move on to flours: spelt, teff, possibly others like chickpea, potato, rice, etc.  Finally, we already have a more diverse dairy diet, eating cheeses made of goat’s and sheep’s milks, but we may also try alternative yogurts and, as a byproduct, frozen yogurts.

But we’re starting out slowly.  Tonight I replaced cane sugar in both components of our meal, bulgogi (a Korean marinated grilled beef) and jap chae (Korean-style noodle dish).  They may not be strictly authentic recipes, but they are tasty, though very mildly flavored.  I prefer a stronger, saltier, more garlicky flavor, so next time I make this I may play around a little with the recipe, or just fry up some minced garlic and sprinkle it over the dish.

Bulgogi (Korean Grilled Beef) (2 servings)


  • 1 c. apple cider
  • 1/2 c. soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp. toasted sesame oil
  • 1/3 c. agave nectar
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced or thinly sliced
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 lb. steak (cut is up to you but sirloin would work well)


  1. In an 8-inch square baking dish, whisk together all ingredients except steak.  Place steak in the marinade, and turn over.
  2. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least four hours, turning every half hour or so to marinate evenly.
  3. On a hot grill, place meat and cook about 3-4 minutes on each side for medium rare, depending on thickness of steak.
  4. Let rest ten minutes, then slice thinly against the grain.

Jap Chae (Korean-Style Noodles) (2 servings)


  • 2 oz. Asian-rice noodles (the kind you soak and then fry)
  • half head of Savoy or Napa cabbage, shredded
  • 6 oz. Shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 c. soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp. maple syrup


  1. Place rice noodles in a small baking dish.  Boil water and pour over the noodles to cover, reserving some of the water.  Let noodles soak for 10 minutes, then drain.
  2. Meanwhile, wilt cabbage in several tablespoons of lightly salted water.  Set aside in a bowl.
  3. Heat a little vegetable oil in the same pan.  Saute sliced mushrooms for a few moments, and then remove to the same bowl as the cabbage.
  4. Mix soy sauce and 1/4 c. of the boiling water with the maple syrup in a small bowl.
  5. Heat several tablespoons of vegetable oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat.  Add noodles and sauce mixture, and fry several minutes or until some of the water has evaporated.  Add cabbage and mushrooms, and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated and everything is heated through.

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