"Let Food Be Thy Medicine" -- Addicted...to Slaw?
I’m here to introduce you to the type of crack that won’t get you arrested. This is an adaptation of a recipe circulating on the internet cleverly labeled “Crack Slaw” for how addictive it reportedly is. I haven’t written a recipe for our readers in a while and this one in particular caught my eye because if made properly, it fits perfectly with our anti-inflammatory goals.
From what I’ve read, the original recipe for crack slaw started on a Weight Watchers message board and became wildly popular. Now you can find any number of variations online, but my preferred version uses ingredients more commonly found in Asian cooking (e.g., Soy sauce and ginger). However, the star of the show here has to be the cabbage. I wrote about cabbage in the Sauerkraut Sagas several months ago but at the time I was more focused on fermented foods. In this case, the cabbage is not fermented but sautéed with meat and seasonings for a truly delicious and cost-effective one-pan plan.
Food historians have a difficult time tracing the origins of cabbage because various forms of this plant have been cultivated in Europe, Asia, and Africa. The cabbage we see today in markets most likely descended from the cabbage grown in Europe over 2,000 years ago that more closely resembled kale and collards at the time.
Why do I like cabbage so much in an anti-inflammatory diet? Well, because cabbage contains anti-oxidants, or more specifically the cells that contain anti-oxidants called anthocyanin (an-tho-si-a-nin). As oxygen is used up by the body, it breaks down into what we call “free radicals”. A free radical is a molecule that is missing an electron and really wants one. Free radicals want electrons badly enough to steal them from healthy cells in the body. When this happens, the healthy cells become damaged and often die. This process has been linked to heart disease, stroke, cancer, brain degeneration, and chronic inflammation. Anti-oxidants run through your body with a bag full of electrons like Santa with presents on Christmas Eve. They give electrons to the free radicals so healthy cells are protected. So, by increasing the amount of anti-oxidants we consume, we can prevent one underlying cause of many diseases. By using diet to fight off diseases, we give our immune systems a break and reduce inflammation. Anthocyanins give fruits and vegetables their bright colors...so a coleslaw mix of red cabbage, green cabbage, and carrots is an anti-oxidant powerhouse.
Image courtesy of https://vepkhviamania.wordpress.com/2016/11/13/tavisufali-radikalebi-da-antioqsidantebi/
I also like cabbage because, like other cruciferous vegetables, it’s full of vitamins, minerals, and most importantly -- fiber. Dietary fiber at 20 grams/day (and up) has been proven in human research to reduce inflammatory markers significantly (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1456807/). We know that fiber helps control blood sugar, insulin, and leptin. It also feeds good gut bacteria, lowers bad cholesterol, and the list goes on and on. Folks, I can’t stress enough the importance of fiber in an anti-inflammatory diet.
So...start with a 14 oz bag of 3 Color Deli Cole Slaw Mix. You could also use classic bagged Cole Slaw mix if you don't like red cabbage, or even just chop up your own head of green cabbage if you don't want the carrots. Your choice! We like it make it easier sometimes -- just grab a bag and go!
Let’s talk about the rest of the ingredients in this recipe. Note: we're not necessarily endorsing the brands in the photos below, but just showing how easy it is to find these items in your local grocery store. If you're looking to save time, buy what you can pre-minced/sliced, but please feel free to grate your own ginger and mince some garlic for an even fresher taste!
1 lb Ground Chicken Breast - excellent source of protein. You can use any protein that you like, but if you’re going to use beef, buy grass-fed to ensure that the fats are healthy omega-3’s. I like ground chicken breast for this because it’s lower in calories and I like the taste.
1 TBSP Grated Ginger - like turmeric, this root is well known for improving digestion and lowering inflammation
2 tsp. Minced Garlic - anti-cancerous, anti-bacterial, smells great, tastes great
1 TBSP Toasted Sesame Oil - this oil is high in oleic acid and unsaturated fats which are all good for the heart and the immune system
2 TBSP Low Sodium Soy Sauce (or liquid amino acids if you’re avoiding soy)
1 TBSP Mirin cooking wine (or rice wine vinegar)
1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce (or fish sauce if you have it on hand)
Splenda or stevia (I use two single serving packets)
1 Red Onion, Sliced
1 Green Onion (greens and whites, sliced)
Salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder as needed to season your chicken during cooking
Start by mincing the garlic, grating the ginger, and slicing the green onions (keeping the whites and greens separate).
Heat 2 tsp. of sesame oil of medium high heat. Cook the chicken until no longer pink, season with salt and pepper (I also add onion powder and garlic powder, but this is optional) and remove from the pan to a plate for later.
Return the pan to the heat reducing the temperature to medium. Add the remaining sesame oil to the hot pan along with the sliced red onions. Cook the red onion stirring frequently until soft and fragrant (about 5 minutes).
Add the ginger, garlic, and white part of the green onion to the pan and cook, stirring frequently until you can smell everything (1-2 minutes).
Add in the cabbage, season with salt and pepper, and stir. Once the cabbage has started to cook (but is still crunchy) add the soy sauce, Mirin/rice wine vinegar, Worcestershire, and sweetener.
Return the chicken back to the pan. Cook for another 2-3 minutes, stirring until everything is combined. Season to taste (with salt/pepper).
Top with the remaining green onion for garnish and serve with a lime wedge on the side. To ramp up the healthy fats, potassium, and fiber, you can serve with sliced avocado, sesame seeds, and/or chopped raw walnuts. If you like spice, service this with Sriracha hot sauce or gochujang chili paste.
Image courtesy of http://peaceloveandlowcarb.com/pork-egg-roll-in-a-bowl-crack-slaw-paleo-low-carb-whole30/
It's an addicting meal that you can feel good about.
Yours in good health,