Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Spicy Thai Cabbage Salad

Recently the word “superfood” has entered into the lexicons of Americans. (I have to give credit to my friend Julie for helping to popularize it.) However, the way we apply the term to foods has been ad-hoc and inconsistent, at best. Typically, we use the term for exotic and expensive sounding foods such as acai, goji berries, sea-buckthorn and the like. Depending who you talk to, you might also hear kale and quinoa described in such glowing terms. However, rarely will more generalize foods, such as iceberg lettuce be described as “super,” even if it is a health promoting food. Another food that is often ignored, but certainly deserves more attention, and is clearly entitled to the entry of the exclusive membership of "superfoods" is cabbage.

Considering how much attention kale has been getting recently, it is surprising that it’s superfood cousin, cabbage, has been left on the sidelines. Perhaps cabbage needs it's own Ryan Gosling meme

This is especially surprising considering there are over 400 articles on cabbage and the role it can play in cancer prevention and treatment. According to one study done on cancer cells in a petri dish, cabbage was one of the best vegetables for cancer prevention displaying the ability to kill multiple types of tumor cells (in part, thanks to the high amount of sinigrin an antioxidant found in cabbage); cabbage has also been shown to lower cholesterol in multiple studies, and red cabbage was awarded the “best bang for your buck” by Dr. Greger because of the high concentration of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals as well as because of red cabbage's low price point. On top of all of this, cabbage is incredibly versatile, and can be added to just about any dish and prepared in nearly anyway!

This Spicy Thai Cabbage Salad is the perfect way to get more superfoods into your life!

Serves 3-4: 
For the salad:
1 ½ cups green or savoy cabbage, shredded
1 ½ cups purple cabbage, shredded
1 cup carrot, shredded
1 cup zucchini, shredded
3 stalks celery (optional)
1 large handful fresh basil, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped
½ cup peanuts or cashews (leave out if making a nut-free version)
Fresh or dried mint to taste

For the dressing:
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
¼ cup Liquid Aminos or low sodium soy sauce
¼ cup vegetable broth mixed with ground flax seed (see: oil replacement guide)
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 cloves garlic
1 inch piece of ginger, peeled
1 ½ tablespoons curry powder
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon hemp seeds
The dressing will keep for about one week in the refrigerator. 

In a large bowl, combine all of the salad ingredients and toss to mix thoroughly.

In a high-speed blender, combine all of the dressing ingredients and blend until smooth. Pour over the tossed salad ingredients, mix well, and enjoy. 

D. Boivin, et. allAntiproliferative and antioxidant activities of common vegetables: A comparative study,” Food Chem., 112(2): 374-380, 2009.

As always the information presented in this blog is for educational purposes only. It should not be considered as specific medical, nutritional, lifestyle, or other health-related advice.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Cooking without Oil

A while ago, I presented two research pieces on oils in general and one specifically on coconut oil. Not only are oils highly processed and bad for your arteries, but oil has around 4,000 calores per pound, making it the most calorie dense but nutrient-poor item in the American diet. Since my earlier postings, several people have asked, “well then, how do you cook?” Here are a few tips.

First, when buying pans, it’s best to buy heavier stainless steel or cast iron cookware. While any type of cookware will work, these higher grade metals are less likely to burn.

Dressings and Sauces:
·         My biggest suggestion is to become accustomed to using vinegars – particularly on salads. These are highly alkalizing and health promoting foods that taste great and can be found everywhere.
o   Try apple cider vinegar, balsamic, red and white wine but also look for flavored infused vinegars. I’ve had some delicious fig and berry infused vinegars. Even chocolate! I’ll be honest, pomegranate vinegar is gross.
·         To re-create creamier sauces or dressings replace the oil with blended silken tofu. I find 1 – 2 tablespoons does the trick.
·         You can also add ground flaxseed or chia seeds to hot water. Start using the same amount of water as you normally would use oil. Slowly add the ground seeds to the water and mix well until the water starts to almost gel and thicken. White chia seeds help make the most appetizing dressing color.
·         White beans or cashews are other great options for creating creamier sauces. Use the same amount of white beans as you normally use oil. If using cashews (always get the raw if you can,) I typically soak the cashews for at least 1 hours before – longer is better. I normally will do 1 part cashews and 1 part old fashioned oats. This creates a delicious creamy blend and helps cut the total fat from the cashews.

To sauté or Stir-fry:
·         Simply replace the oil you would normally use with either water or vegetable broth. First heat the pan and then add your food, add a small amount of water or broth as needed –note you will need less than you are expecting. Depending what you’re making, you can also try juices as well. Be sure to stir often.
·         Several vegetables such as mushrooms or onions contain enough liquid which will release while cooking. Heat the pan first and then cook at a slightly lower temperature for several minutes to caramelize onions or brown mushrooms. Stir constantly.

·          To replace oil or margarine in baking, try using non-sweetened applesauce as a substitute for cookies, cakes, and other sweet baked goods (check out our Peanut Butter and Oat Cookies, the Quinoa and Chocolate Chip Cookies, or Engine 2’s Banana Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies.)
·         Mashed or pureed tofu can replace oil in other (non-sweet) baked goods.
·         Ground Flaxseed can also be an excellent sub for oil as well as for eggs (mix 1 tbsp ground flax with 3 tbsp water to create an egg replacer). For baking, use 3 parts flaxseed for every part oil or fat you are replacing. This can cause baked goods to brown more quickly so keep an eye on your dish.
·         Parchment paper is a game changer. It’s safe to cook on and makes clean up a breeze!

As always the information presented in this blog is for educational purposes only. It should not be considered as specific medical, nutritional, lifestyle, or other health-related advice.