Monday, January 26, 2015

How to Eat Clean (No matter your situation) Part 1

There are so many little gems I wish to share with you all. Little things I've learned that have added to the joy, ease, and enjoyment of my relationship with food. It's difficult to decide what I should share first, especially because so many of them go hand in hand with others.

Still, because I keep thinking of it, and it is actually a more recent personal revelation for me, I think I will share with you what I've discovered about one of my new very favorite foods:

Cabbage.

Red or green, cooked or raw, I have come to adore it! This crisp, nutritious, amazing veggie has truly surprised me with it's versatility.

Yes, I know. It sounds strange. When I was a little girl, the first thing that used to come to mind when I heard that word, was a line from an old movie where a man comes home from work and tells his cook that he could smell that cabbage she is cooking from a block away and she responds simply with, "Cabbage has a cabbage smell."
I do not even think I really appreciated the scene or really understood why they spoke that way about the vegetable. I had never really noticed cabbage having a specific smell, but it was also very rarely on the menu in my childhood home. Still, the line stuck in my head, and still comes to me sometimes, though not as much . . . because now . . . Now cabbage and I have gotten to know each other, and I have formed my own ideas and opinions that relate to cabbage, things from my own experience and not some fictional movie characters' experiences.

Firstly, however, I believe that I ought to to give credit where credit is due, and tell you that if not for my darling husband and his family, I might never have realized how much I love cabbage. While it was never a staple in my own family, it was a regular thing for my husband. Everyone in his family loves boiled cabbage and his Dad, my awesome father-in-law, even tried a cabbage based diet a few years ago, in an effort to lose weight. (Pretty successful effort, I might add.)
Also, because of my husband's experience living in Ukraine, and loving Ukrainian Red Borsh so much, I also found that when stewed with other vegetables, cabbage becomes something altogether wonderful. It absorbs and enhances other flavors, and the texture is a very pleasing softness that melts in your mouth. So much better than even the best noodles, IMHO.

Now as to raw cabbage, while it used to be that the only way I'd ever had it was in slaw or Chinese salad, because of this awesome raw tacos recipe that I found on Pinterest, the idea of using the leaves as tortilla substitutes opened my mind up to many other possibilities.

For instance; chips.

Last month, in the midst of all the Christmas preparations, I found myself suddenly missing salsa. Costco has a very good organic, sugarless salsa right now, and it was nice in the cabbage leaf tacos and other recipes that I had been using it in, but I kept thinking how much I missed just enjoying the plain salsa by itself, like with the old chips and salsa type snacking from bygone days.
Finally, it occurred to me on Christmas Eve day, as I was busy in the kitchen making homemade clean chocolates for our stockings, that I had both cream cheese and salsa, and wouldn't it be fun to try one of those cream cheese trees that I'd seen on Pinterest. It seemed like a perfect snack to have out on the table for the family while we worked on various preparations for the following day.
I didn't have chips of course, but it somehow came to me that I still had the last of a head of cabbage left. All those crisp, tightly packed little leaves did not tear off in large pieces like a tortilla shell, but they did rather resemble the size and crispness of chips.

Of course, cabbage does not offer exactly the same experience as a salty, dry, crumbly, corn chip . . . Obviously the flavor is more mild, less contrasting, and what not . . . Still, the the fact remains that it worked, and although it was a different experience, it was still a delicious one.
So, my tip for today is, when one has a desire for some yummy, healthy dip, but no desire for GMO-corn chips, or hydrogenated potato crisps, perhaps you can indulge in the glory of your awesome homemade dip without using a vehicle that is not worthy of it.
Use cabbage chips!
Easy, affordable, awesomely good for you, not to mention . . . Tasty!

Just think of the possibilities, the internet is full of clean versions of all your favorites . . . Clam dip, Ranch, Guacamole, Bacon herb & cheese, bean dip . . .

Even if your not missing a particular dip, it's still a great way to use the leftovers of a head of cabbage. Or using cabbage chips can be a great way to make a small amount of other leftovers go a little further. Use that leftover chicken curry, Spanish rice or chili as a dip for your cabbage chips, and a small amount of leftovers with a fair amount of chips becomes a nice little meal, tasty, fun to eat, and high in iron, thanks to the 'chips.'

Hope this tip was helpful . . . Even if you think you don't like cabbage, it seems to get better and better.
I confess, the first time I tried raw tacos, there was a slightly bitter aftertaste, yet haven't noticed this ever since. Maybe it was a coincidence and I just happened to have a bitter cabbage, but I'm thinking that it's more likely that my taste-buds have adapted to the flavor of cabbage so that it is only mild and pleasant to me now. I've even begun to call cabbage my daily bread. . . .

And speaking of bread, I believe my next post will be tips on how to enjoy more butter in your diet with yummy snacks that do not involve bread. Yes, that's right! Breadless Butter Snacks! Stay Tuned!