Day 37: Down in the Cabbage Patch

You know that you are a child of the ’80s if you remember The Cabbage Patch kids. Ah, those were the days. Neon shirts, scrunchies, poufy bangs, The Smurfs and The Cabbage Patch kids. They have brought The Cabbage Patch kids. back for all of us 80’s mommies who now have kids of our own and we are now living vicariously through our kids…..but it’s not the same.

Anyhoo, too bad that The Cabbage Patch kids never really made me crave cabbage in the same way that Strawberry Shortcake made me crave strawberry shortcake. I’ve never been a fan of traditional cabbage, as far as cooked of boiled cabbage. However, in the early ’90s I did go on the Cabbage Soup Diet to lose weight. Oh my gosh, it was horrible! The first day wasn’t bad, but I still cannot smell cabbage soup to this day because I ate it for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day for seven days straight. I think that this diet works because the dieters get so sick of eating cabbage soup, they’d rather eat nothing at all!

Cabbage is a member of the brassica family, which also includes broccoli, kohlrabi, cauliflower, bok choy, Brussels sprouts and chard. Just like other members of the brassica family, cabbage is a powerful cancer fighter. I’ve spoken of the phytochemicals, called indoles, on my post about Brussels sprouts, but as a refresher, indoles are remarkable at fighting cancer, especially breast cancer cells. How does this work? Well, the indoles alter estrogen metabolism in a favorable way, therefore reducing the risk of cancer. Estrogen has three basic metabolites, two of which are “bad” (have a carcinogenic affect) and one is good. Indole-3-carbinol, one of the main indoles in cabbage, raises the “good” estrogen metabolite. Additionally, indole-3-carbinol has been shown to protect against the carcinogenic affect of pesticides and other toxins.

Cabbage also has many other phytochemicals that pack a powerful anticancer punch, including dithiolethiones, isothiocynates and sulforaphane. Sulforaphane increases the production of phase-2 enzymes which can disarm damaging free radicals. Research published in Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention shows that sulforaphane is the most potent inducer of phase-2 enzymes of any other phytochemical.

I always thought that the purple cabbage in the salad mix was added just to make it pretty, but it turns out that purple cabbage has special health benefits because the same substance that provides it with the purple color, acts as a powerful antioxidant. Anthocyanins have the strongest antioxidizing power of 150 flavonoids studied and the Anthocyanins in cabbage protect against toxins. The Anthocyanins are also known for their anti-inflammatory effects, thereby reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and allergic reactions.

As if the cancer-fighting and antioxidant properties were not enough, cabbage also contains calcium, magnesium, potassium, vitamin C, vitamin K, beta-carotene, luetin and zeaxanthin. One cup of cabbage is extremely low in calories and packed with fiber, which is probably why The Cabbage Soup Diet is so popular.

Now, as I mentioned above, I’m not a fan of cabbage in traditional terms. I don’t like stuffed cabbage, coleslaw or even the little purple cabbage in my salad. In fact I was dreading this day of eating cabbage until I realized that I don’t have to eat cabbage in its traditional form to reap its health benefits. And again, Trader Joes comes to the rescue! Trader Joes has changed me from a cabbage hater to a cabbage patch kid!

I fixed my family’s favorite dinner, homemade Chinese food with chicken marinated in Trader Joes Soyaki Sauce, Trader Joes Chicken Gyoza Potstickers, Trader Joes chicken egg rolls and Trader Joes frozen brown rice. This meal is an awesome way to get the Chinese takeout “feel” while still eating healthy and keeping your calories in check. It is also super quick and easy to prepare. I always marinate the chicken in the morning with the Soyaki Sauce and by dinner time everything is ready to throw together in minutes. Both the potstickers and the egg rolls have cabbage and they are delicious! I thought about trying to make my own egg rolls, but why should I go to all of this trouble when I can get it from Trader Joes, where it meets my top three CTQs (Critical to Quality) – Cheap, Fast and Healthy!

Do you enjoy cabbage? If so, how do you eat it? Are you a traditionalist or do you hide the flavor?