It’s a gorgeous day here in North County, San Diego.   I had a little time on my hands this morning, so I decided to craft a couple of new recipes.  There was a 7 pound head of green cabbage sitting in my refrigerator (thank you Suzie’s farm) well over a week old (gotta love the shelf life of cabbage) staring me the face each time I opened the door.   I decided to make tomato-braised cabbage with my two favorite spices: cumin and cinnamon.  I also added a bit of local honey, a splash of sesame oil, a shot of organic tamari and Bragg’s Liquid Amino Acids.  This recipe might sound a little wacky, but the end result was fabulous.  I started by sauteeing an onion.  As long as I had to chop an onion anyway, I thought that I would cut some extra for a large batch of aromatic black bean-turkey chili.

Here is where the swim goggles come in to play:  Through the years (now decades–am I that old?) of being a professional chef, I have tried numerous ways to combat the tears which flow when chopping onions (there is even a product called “Onion Goggles” which don’t work as the gaskets aren’t tight enough against your face and the onion fumes leak into your eyes). I discovered the culinary merits of swim googles last fall when I was poised to cut 10 onions for a paella dish.  I spied my swim goggles sitting on the counter and thought “A-HA!”  I put them on and began to chop away. Yes, I looked like a dork–think the Red Baron meets Julia Child–but they worked.  Beautifully. I now keep a spare pair of goggles in my utensil draw and don them on any time I cut onions.  If you don’t own a pair of goggles, you can pick them up at most sporting goods stores for under $15 (cheaper than the said “Onion Goggles”) or if you know anyone who swims, chances are they have an older, scratched up pair that are no longer suitable for swimming. Grab ’em.

What’s great about cabbage and this recipe

Cabbage Is Cheap The entire dish (and I’m talking at least 8 decent medium bowls of it) cost me under $4 to make.  Cheaper than a gallon of gas.

Cabbage Is Tasty Our culture seems to revere asparagus, broccoli, snap peas and fake “baby”carrots. Why not go outside the “basket” and try cabbage? And you know that most “baby” carrots aren’t really “baby” at all, but I’ll save that for another blog……

Cabbage Is Healthy Somewhere out there exists an entire diet plan devoted to cabbage; so there must be something good about it.  I’m speaking slightly tongue-and-cheek here as I do have some knowledge of the nutritional makeup of cabbage.  It contains lots riboflavin or B2; which plays a key role in energy metabolism; the metabolism of fats, ketone bodies, carbohydrates, and proteins; it is an excellent source of vitamin C. It also contains significant amounts of glutamine, an amino acid that has anti-inflammatory properties.  Along with broccoli and other brassica vegetables, cabbage is a source of indole-3-carbinol, a chemical which boosts DNA repair in cells and appears to block the growth of cancer cells.

Cabbage Is Filling I devoured my first bowl at 10:00 a.m.; just shy of 2 hours before swim practice. I ladled out a second helping any quickly discovered that I was fairly full. Full from about 50 calories of food. I returned to the stove and enjoyed another bowl at 11:00 a.m., 45 minutes before practice. This could get interesting, I thought.

Cabbage Is Satisfying It’s savory instead of sweet!  Often I return from a long workout and want something salty. I’m hungry and sick of the energy bars and gels that triathletes such as me eat during these workouts.  Rather than devouring a motherload of a calorically dense product (such as bag of Salt and Vinegar Potato Chips), I eat a giant bowl of something savory and salty such as cold herb-grilled vegetables or slow roasted cauliflower in addition to a recovery smoothie (the ratio of 4 parts carbohydrate to 1 part protein is key for the smoothie).  As Danny Abshire (running store owner and Newton guru) once said to me “racing and training for triathlon doesn’t give you the license to eat anything and everything”.  The cabbage is satifying yet low calorie.

Our swim workout today was about an hour long and roughly 3500 yards. We did one of those monotonous main sets of 12 by 200 yards. Some fast, some slow.  Mentally the set is a tough one.   The bowls cabbage sat surprising well in my stomach but most would probably enjoy them for dinner-ladled over a bowl of quinoa or rice.  Click here for my latest cabbage recipe–it’s sure to please.

-LM