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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Braised Cabbage: How I Learned To Live Without Take-Out, Part 1

When I first began to develop the symptoms of Fibromyalgia, I was in pretty bad shape. I had so little energy that I came to rely on prepared food - mostly frozen dinners, deli meat, highly processed breads, cookies and cakes (for my relentless sweet-tooth)  and a lot of take-out (or in my case, delivery.) Aside from being prohibitively expensive, in general, take-out food is staggeringly unhealthy - it tends to be high carb, high fat and contains things like cornstarch and MSG. When I began to  feel better, I wanted to eat better, which meant ditching take-out altogether. And that meant finding alternatives to my favorite take-out meals. And one of my favorites was pasta.

I've said it before - imposing any dietary restrictions in your life means you needs must give up certain things. When doing low carb, the major losses tend to be in the "grains-you-can-no-longer-eat" category: bread, rice and perhaps the most devastating one of all, pasta. Pasta is a big part of the diet of the western world. From Ramen Noodles to whole grain organic, Americans consume a lot of pasta. It's no big mystery as to why - it's easy, it's cheap, it's versatile and it's filling. Too filling in some cases, such as the one I like to refer to as "carbohydrate-challenged." This refers mainly to Type II Diabetes and people on low-carb diets. There are some low carb pastas on the market, but they aren't gluten free.

Braised cabbage turned out to be a great substitute for pasta. It's filling, has a lot of fiber and protein, and if prepared properly, can taste amazing. Whenever I crave pasta, I make braised cabbage and I'm never disappointed.

Braised Cabbage


4 oz green cabbage, thinly sliced
1/2 oz leeks, thinly sliced
1/2 T butter (You can use olive oil if you're vegan, but it won't brown or taste like butter)
1/2 C water
sea salt &
freshly ground pepper, to taste


1 T heavy cream


*In a medium-sized  sauce pan, melt butter over a medium high heat. Add leeks and cabbage and sauté for a few minutes. Add water, salt and pepper, cover and braise over a medium-low heat for 6-8 minutes. Keep a close eye on it - it can burn easily. You can use a lower heat, but it will take longer to cook. If necessary, you can add more water - you just need to check on it.  If you're using the cream, add to saucepan when all the water has evaporated. Transfer to a bowl. Eat immediately (or, rather, eat when it cools down to the point where it won't scorch your esophagus and give your tongue third-degree burns).

Makes 1 serving and has 95.5 cal, 5.5 net carbs, 5.5 g fat, 4 g fiber and 4 g protein.

Variation with heavy cream:

Makes 1 serving and has 150.5 cal, 5.5 net carbs, 11.5 g fat, 4 g fiber and 4 g protein.