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Bring on the Cabbage

While corned beef is the quintessential St. Patrick’s Day food, it just wouldn’t be the same if it weren’t accompanied by its partner – cabbage. This leafy vegetable is an integral part of the St. Patrick’s Day meal and is one of those foods that are often overlooked during the remainder of the year. That’s too bad! Cabbage is full of nutrients and is quite versatile, perfect for a variety of recipes ranging from side dishes to main courses. It’s also fun to grow and many amateur gardeners make sure that the cabbage is part of their annual crop. Furthermore, there are hundreds of different varieties of cabbage including several regularly available in your supermarket, so it’s fun to try different ones to determine which you enjoy most.

Cabbage and Nutrition

Cabbage is a popular food throughout the world and in many cultures is even recognized for its medicinal qualities. And like most vegetables, cabbage is low in calories but is a filling food, which makes it ideal for those on a weight loss program. About 6 ounces of cabbage contains only 50 calories.

In addition, cabbage is a good source of Vitamin C, calcium, potassium, and manganese. It’s also high in iron and is an excellent source of fiber. Plenty of other vitamins can be found in cabbage in smaller amounts including Vitamins B1, B2, and B6; Vitamins A and K, niacin, and folate. All are essential to a balanced diet and a healthy body.

Kinds of Cabbage

Though there are dozens upon dozens of varieties of cabbage, you won’t find them all on your grocery store shelf, but you will spot these most popular varieties throughout the year. Depending on where you live, some types may be more readily available than others.

o Green cabbage – This is the most popular variety and the kind that is most often paired with corn beef. It is light green in color and comes in varieties like January King, Charmant, and Grenadier. It is also used in soups and is usually the main ingredient in most kinds of cole slaw. It is quite hardy and will keep for a few weeks in the refrigerator if stored properly.

o Red cabbage – Also known as purple cabbage, this variety is most often used for pickling but can also be found shredded atop salads or may be used to create color in cole slaw as well. It can commonly be used in any recipes where you might normally use green cabbage but the color will leak onto other ingredients, so be aware of that before choosing this type of cabbage. Also, cooking it in tap water with a high alkaline level will make it turn blue, so add some vinegar or lemon juice to the water if you’re boiling purple cabbage.

o Napa Cabbage – This is the cabbage often used in Chinese foods like stir fry. It has light green crinkled leaves and a very mild flavor. It is good when steamed as well and makes an easy side dish for any meal.

o Savoy cabbage – This crinkly-leaf cabbage is the sweetest tasting and most tender of all the cabbage varieties. It was first grown in Italy but is now cultivated in many places throughout the world. Its tenderness allows it to be commonly used for dishes like stuffed cabbage as the leaves are more pliable than those of green or red cabbage.