Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Spiced Apples and Cabbage

Guys, I'm super excited to announce that today... we have our first guest blogger!! Sam is another plant-based nutrition enthusiast who is my MIT cycling teammate and also a PhD student at MIT. Well, I am now a postdoc but he is lucky enough to still be a student. I actually met Sam while we were both in physical therapy when I was rehabbing my shoulder after surgery. At that time, he was focusing on triathlon, but I somehow convinced him that it would be a good idea to come out to the MIT bike race that I was on the planning committee for. Since cycling is awesome, the rest is history! This post is the first of a two part series where Sam will be sharing two awesome cabbage recipes. I've been super excited for his recipes since cabbage is a really worthwhile food that I've been looking to incorporate into my life, but I haven't found a good way yet. Now I know! I'll be buying some red cabbage tonight to give these gems a try!


This recipe is one of my favorites because it brings me back to my childhood.  My dad used to buy bushels and bushels of apples every fall. We would stop by the “Apple Lady’s” truck on the way home from church to pick up the season’s freshest, crispest, orchard-fresh apples.  Most of the garnet orbs would be steamed, cooked, and pressed down into a winter’s worth of apple sauce.  The remainder would go towards other exciting apple condiments, desserts, and …dinner mainstays!  The smell of sweet cabbage and sour apples melding on the stove-top makes me long for winter’s snow! Time to ring in the festive season with some Mass-local produce.

As an athlete, this dish is a nutritive complement to the health benefits of training. Antioxidants?  You want antioxidants?  This recipe packs a ton of the top biggest-antioxidant-bang-for-your-buck foods!  Keep those skins on the apples and enjoy the cloves. Even better, concentrates from cruciferous veggies like red cabbage have been shown to reduce the production of cancer cells and improve immune function.  And if you’ve got diabetes, cassia cinnamon is your friend!

Braising is a wonderful way to bring out the sweetness of dense veggies, as well as meld flavors.  Pick out the brightest, freshest cabbage you can find and braise it long enough that it melts to unveil its internal saccharine nature.  The apples can be thrown in later so that they don’t completely disintegrate (the crisper the apple, the less “apple-saucy” the dish). Feel free to spice it up how you feel, though cinnamon and cloves make this dish almost dessert-like.

Too bad I didn’t have a hot mug of spiked, spiced cider to go along with it.

Spiced Apples and Cabbage

1 tbs neutral oil
1 large sweet onion, chopped large
1 lb red cabbage, chopped into strips
1/4 c water
3 orchard-fresh apples, cored and chopped
1/4 c apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp powdered ginger
1 Tbs maple syrup, honey, molasses or agave (optional for added sweetness)

1.     Heat a large skillet on medium heat, and add to it the oil.  Sauté the onions in the heated oil for 5 minutes until they turn translucent, reducing heat as necessary.
2.     Add in the cabbage and stir to combine.
3.     Pour in the water, and cover the skillet for braising on low-medium heat.  Stir as necessary for 15 minutes.  Add water if it all evaporates.
4.     After the cabbage starts to wilt, stir in the apples, and continue to braise covered for 10-15 minutes, stirring as necessary.
5.     When the apples are almost soft enough to stab with a fork, mix in the spices (and sweetener).  Cook for 5-10 more minutes to reduce and finish cooking the apples.
6.     Serve warm from the pan, or cold any time of the day.

The brilliant purple of the cabbage starts to come out as it is braised. Keep cooking to incorporate the color and flavor with the rest of the ingredients.

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