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Cabbage is low in price and high in vitamins

By Dana Carpender

United Feature Syndicate

What's low-carb, widely available, tasty, incredibly versatile, highly nutritious and among the cheapest vegetables in your grocery store? Cabbage, which is in season right now, and even cheaper than usual. With the cost of lettuce, cucumbers, peppers and other summer salad vegetables at their predictable winter high, cabbage makes a lot of sense.

One cup of green cabbage has 3.8 grams of carbohydrate, with 1.6 grams of fiber, for a usable carb count of 2.2 grams, and just 17 calories. It's also one of the best sources of the little-known vitamin K, needed for strong bones, blood clotting and proper kidney function. You'll also get appreciable amounts of vitamin C and potassium, plus a grab bag of other vitamins. Go for red cabbage and you'll enjoy more than the pretty color -- you'll get all the aforementioned vitamins, plus roughly a day's worth of vitamin A.

Many medical studies suggest that sulfur compounds found in vegetables in the cabbage family reduce cancer risk. I found studies citing reductions in breast, prostate, colon and even lung cancers. (Just so you know, other vegetables with similar benefits include broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, bok choy and kale. All of them are low-carb.)

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So what to do you do to make your taste buds excited about cabbage?

Coleslaw: It's a favorite, but most commercial coleslaw dressing contains a lot of sugar. To make dressing, mix 1/2 cup of mayonnaise and 1/2 cup sour cream with 1-1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, 1-1/2 tablespoons prepared mustard, 1 teaspoon of Splenda and salt to taste. This is enough for a dozen servings of coleslaw (approximately an average-sized head of cabbage), and will add about 1 gram of carb to each serving. Serving that slaw to company? Use red cabbage and stir in one grated carrot, and it will be almost too beautiful to eat. Add red cabbage to tossed salads for color and added nutrition.

Cabbage for kids: Cook red cabbage with a little acid -- vinegar, lemon juice, or the like -- or it turns blue.

Stir fry: Napa cabbage, with its distinctive texture and mild flavor, is particularly good in stir fries, and cheaper than snow peas. Good for Asian-style salads, too.

Simply sautéed:; Try frying a few slices of bacon and sautéing; the 4 cups of shredded cabbage in the resulting grease until it has a few brown spots. Then stir in a tablespoon of cider vinegar and two teaspoons Splenda, and the bacon, crumbled, and serve.

Corned beef and cabbage: This dish is about as easy as a supper can get. Peel a couple of onions and a few turnips; cut them in chunks; and put them in your slow cooker. Plunk your hunk of corned beef on top; add the seasoning packet that comes with it (purchase corned beef for simmering which always comes with a seasoning packet), and water to cover. Simmer on low all day -- 10 hours is good. Then turn the pot up to high, add coarsely chopped cabbage, recover, and cook for another half--hour. Serve with butter for the vegetables and mustard or horseradish for the beef.

Bag it: Don't forget about bagged coleslaw mix. Of course you can use this for slaw and other salads, but it's great for making quick cabbage soup, too.

Dana Carpender can be contacted online at www.holdthetoast.com.

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