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Cabbage is one of those vegetables you may have a love/hate relationship with. You love it raw, hate it cooked or vice versa. In the past, the only way I liked cabbage is when it is fermented and made into sauerkraut. I grew up smelling cooked cabbage and it really was not pleasant to me. That strong odor wafting through the air. How could anything that smelled so disgusting taste good? Since I am a grown up now, I am expanding my taste buds and trying it new ways and that's a good deal because cabbage, it turns out, is actually good for you.

Cabbage is very low in saturated fat and cholesterol, not to mention there are only 22 calories in one cup, chopped. It is also a very good source of dietary fiber, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin B6, Folate and Manganese. It is a good source of Thiamin, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus and Potassium.

Cabbage is often lumped into the same category as lettuce because of their similar appearance, but it is actually a part of the cruciferous vegetable family. Cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, kale and broccoli are notorious for being full of nutrients like those listed above. If you are wanting a good way to jump start healthier eating, try cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage.

Not all cabbage is the same. There is green cabbage, red cabbage, Napa cabbage and savoy cabbage, to mention a few.

Green cabbage has a round, compact head and is what most people think of when they think of cabbage. The queen of slaw, green cabbage can stand up to even the heaviest, creamiest or spiciest of dressings. It is good for just about everything. You can slice it for slaw, braise it, ferment it, stir fry it with some soy and protein, slice or chop it in a salad, even roast or grill it; all because it is so sturdy. The ribs, the thick parts toward the core are very hefty, which makes them hold up to more aggressive cooking.

There is also Napa cabbage with its barrel shape and crisp, pale green, tightly-wrapped leaves with a white mid-rib and a dense heart. Its flavor is more subtle and pleasant. It has a higher water content, creating a crispier and more refreshing texture. Native to China, Napa cabbage is the principle ingredient in soups, slaws and stir-fries. It can be used raw, stewed and even grilled. It is best with savory ingredients such as garlic, onions and leeks. Other complimentary accompaniments include ginger, mushrooms, soy sauce, pork, noodles, grains, potatoes, citrus and eggs.

Red cabbage looks like green cabbage except it's smaller in size. If you have purchased a premade bag of salad mix, you have tried red cabbage. Red cabbage is actually magenta in color. A word of warning, red cabbage can turn itself and everything in the pot a funny blue color when cooked, so it is best used raw. If you do cook it, a touch of acid such as lemon juice or vinegar can help lessen the effect.

Savoy can be used in any recipe that calls for green cabbage. It looks like green and red cabbage, except it has deep-green, crinkly leaves. Its mild yet earthy flavor makes it a favorite for many. Its leaves aren't as crisp as other cabbages, so it is best cooked, either roasted or sautéed. Its leaves are more tender than the leaves of other cabbages, which makes it good for sandwich wraps.

Green cabbage is showing up at the Gateway Farmers Market and probably some roadside stands. It is relatively inexpensive and adds texture, color, vitamins, minerals and taste to your meals. With less than 22 calories per cup chopped, it is a vegetable worth making room on your plate for.

For more information, contact the Miller County Extension Office, 870-779-3609 or visit us in room 215 at the Miller County Courthouse. We're online at cdue@uaex.edu, on Facebook at UAEXMillerCountyFCS, on Twitter @MillerCountyFCS or on the web at uaex.edu/Miller.

Try this Mexican Coleslaw; it is really more like a salad and can be made in 15 minutes or less. Eat it by itself, or use it as a topping for chicken or fish tacos. Don't let its creaminess fool you. It is loaded with flavor.

 

Mexican Coleslaw

3/4 cup mayonnaise

1/3 cup sour cream

2 tablespoons lime juice

1/2 packet taco seasoning

3 cups shredded cabbage, or 1 (14 ounce) bag coleslaw mix

1/2 cup black beans, triple rinsed and drained

1/2 cup cooked corn kernels

1/2 cup diced red bell pepper

1/2 cup finely diced red onion

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

1 jalapenos, seeded and sliced

1 avocado, chopped

1/4 cup sunflower seeds

 

In a small mixing bowl, combine mayonnaise, sour cream, lime juice. Mix well. Add taco seasoning. In a large serving bowl, mix cabbage, black beans, corn, red bell pepper, red onion, cilantro and jalapeno. Add mayonnaise mixture and stir gently to combine. Cover and let sit for 30 minutes to 1 hour. The longer it sets, the more flavorful it will become. Just before serving, add avocado and sunflower seeds. Toss gently.

Carla Due is a county extension agent-staff chair, with the Miller County Extension Service, part of the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture.

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